In 2016, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR launched in an attempt to kick-start a virtual reality phenomenon in gaming. While there were some impressive early software offerings, the high price of VR headsets combined with a general lack of many high quality games left many consumers skeptical.
However, in 2018, virtual reality really seemed to hit its stride, thanks to hardware price cuts and the release of some games that publications have hailed as VR’s killer apps. This year was arguably one of the strongest years for virtual reality to date, and anyone who is looking for an excuse to dust off their VR headsets should give the games listed here a try.
These are the best virtual reality games of 2018.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission
Not only has Astro Bot Rescue Mission been called one of the best VR games of the year, it’s also been considered one of the best games of the year period. One of the 10 highest-rated video games of 2018, Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a platformer that really makes the most of both virtual reality and motion controls. A truly unique entry in the platforming genre, Astro Bot Rescue Mission is one of 2018’s must-play games for anyone that owns a PlayStation VR headset, and it’s also worth pointing out it that it won the award for Best VR/AR Game at The Game Awards 2018.
Thanks to some clever social media marketing, Beat Saber has become one of the most easily recognizable virtual reality games on the market, and seems to be successfully drumming up interest in VR for the more casual crowd. The basic concept of Beat Saber is Guitar Hero met Star Wars, and the result is a highly entertaining rhythm/music game experience that doubles as a genuinely good way to get some exercise. Beat Saber will leave VR headsets sweaty, but it’s also some of the most fun players can have in VR.
Firewall: Zero Hour
In the early days of virtual reality, many traditional video game genres were either ignored or botched, but a couple of years into the life of these headsets and we’re finally seeing some strong representation. Firewall: Zero Hour is the go-to game for anyone wanting to show how a first-person shooter can succeed in VR, with tactical multiplayer gameplay that focuses on teamwork above all else. Firewall delivers a hardcore gaming experience that is truly challenging, and while it may be a bit disorienting at first, it never fails to get the adrenaline pumping.
In Moss, players help a young mouse named Quill on her journey through a beautifully-realized world. Along the way, they have to overcome obstacles and solve puzzles, all the while getting lost in an engrossing story. Moss does for the adventure game genre in virtual reality what Firewall did for shooters, and it stands as one of the most critically-acclaimed virtual reality games to date.
Unlike every other game on this list so far, Tetris Effect is not a VR-exclusive, meaning players can still play it and have a good time if they have yet to invest in any virtual reality headsets. However, most critics agree that playing Tetris Effect in VR heightens the experience a great deal, allowing the bright, over-the-top visuals to truly make their mark. Combine this with the excellent audio design and it’s easy to see why Tetris Effect has earned so much praise since its launch earlier this year.
Like Tetris Effect, Transference doesn’t require players to use a virtual reality headset. However, what makes Transference a unique entry on this list is that without a VR headset, it’s a fairly mediocre, run-of-the-mill horror game. But when playing in virtual reality, Transference becomes infinitely more immersing, and exploring the creepy apartment building where it takes place is genuinely terrifying in VR. With a virtual reality headset on and some headphones in, Transference is without a doubt one of the scariest gaming experiences of 2018.
Unlike traditional big game releases, virtual reality titles rarely seem to get much hype before release. They tend to launch out of nowhere, and then start building their audience if they happen to be a big hit with critics. We saw this with games like Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Moss in 2018, and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue in 2019.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t virtual reality games coming in 2019 that haven’t already caught our eye. 2019 promises to bring with it some interesting virtual reality projects, including the Population: One battle royale game, the Metroid-inspired Star Child platformer, and maybe even Golem, which is being developed by former Destiny and Halo developers.
Regardless of what the future holds, the success of VR in 2018 proves that the audience for virtual reality is growing, and it will be interesting to see how VR games evolve in the future.