UploadVR’s Best Of 2017 Nominees

by David Jagneaux • December 18th, 2017

Update: Since this list was originally published we’ve continued internal discussions (while also considering feedback from the community) and decided to make a few updates. LA Noire is out now and has been added to a handful of the categories, Raw Data was added to the list for Best Multiplayer, and we’ve also included both VRChat and High Fidelity to the list for Best Social.

Stay tuned for the winner announcements later this week!


Original: This has been one busy year for the virtual reality industry. As the first full calendar year of consumer-grade virtual reality we’ve got a lot to digest. From consistently great new game releases, inventive and creative tools, to the gripping, emotional experiences that pulled at our heart strings, there has truly been something for everyone this year so picking our best of the year nominations wasn’t easy.

Whether you prefer the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR (PSVR), Gear VR, Daydream, or something else all together, VR is here to stay. To commemorate such an amazing year, we’ve put together a few lists of nominations for some of the biggest and most important categories that we could think of.

This list of nominations is not set in stone and if new experiences launch over the next week that deserve inclusion on the list we will certainly consider adding them. Next week we plan to host a livestreamed discussion in which we’ll make arguments for our favorites in each category and will plan to have a full, finalized winner list by the end of next week, which is December 21st.

And also take note that the featured image for each section is chosen based on the first game/app listed in alphabetical order. It’s not meant to be an indication of which app is most likely to be selected as the winner. Now without further ado, let’s get to the list of nominations!

Best VR Hardware

If 2016 was the year of VR hardware, then 2017 was definitely the year of VR software. We didn’t see any major new hardware releases this year and instead got some small, incremental upgrade and a few stand out peripherals.

Nominees:

Deluxe Audio Strap for HTC Vive
Samsung Odyssey Windows VR Headset
Pixel 2 / Daydream View
PS Aim Controller
TPCast Wireless VR Accessory
Vive Tracker

Best PSVR Game

Out of the three major headsets the PSVR arguably had the best overall year from a pure quality of content perspective. It has a fantastic library of awesome games and already has a major slate of new releases coming in 2018. Check out our list of the best PSVR games for more suggestions, but this is our short list of the best new releases this year on the platform.

Nominees:

Arizona Sunshine
Farpoint
Invisible Hours
Resident Evil 7: biohazard
Superhot VR
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR

Best Oculus Rift Game

Going into the year we had high hopes for the Oculus Rift and it didn’t disappoint. With a new Oculus Studios title each month to sink our teeth into the Facebook-owned VR giant was hard at work releasing quality content on a consistent basis. It was hard narrowing down the list, but we’ve got a solid collection of apps to pick from this year. And don’t forget to check out our best Rift game list for more.

Nominees:

From Other Suns
Lone Echo/Echo Arena
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
The Gallery: Episode 2 – Heart of the Emberstone
The Mage’s Tale
Wilson’s Heart

Best HTC Vive Game

There haven’t been a lot of big tent pole releases for the HTC Vive this year on either Viveport or Steam, but the last few months have been stronger with releases from Bethesda and a handful of smaller developers. Regardless of your VR platform of choice it’s a good time to be a VR gamer and this list of best Vive game nominees proves that. You can see more of our favorite Vive games here as well.

Nominees:

Fallout 4 VR
Form
LA Noire: The VR Case Files
Project CARS 2
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
The Gallery: Episode 2 – Heart of the Emberstone

Best Windows VR Game

The Windows VR (also referred to as Windows Mixed Reality) ecosystem is the newest one on the market and it’s still growing. All of its major titles were also previously released on other platforms or are ports of SteamVR titles, but it’s still a good entry-level VR platform if you can’t handle the more expensive devices or don’t want external trackers.

Nominees:

Arizona Sunshine
Form
Space Pirate Trainer
Superhot VR

Best Mobile VR Game

Between the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream mobile VR gamers were not at a loss for content this year. While the spotlight may have shifted to the bigger, more powerful units that doesn’t mean mobile VR platformers were forgotten. There were some really solid, innovative, and inspiring experiences on the smaller headsets too.

Nominees:

Augmented Empire
Eclipse: Edge of Light
Lola and the Giant
Rez Infinite
Skylight

Best Story Experience

Not every good VR app is a game, though. We wanted to use this category to highlight some of our favorite narrative-based non-game VR experiences that anyone can enjoy without gaming chops. It’s hard to really pick a favorite from this list because they’re all so moving in unique ways, so we absolutely recommend checking them all out if you can.

Nominees:

Dear Angelica
Dispatch
If Not Love
Melita
Miyubi
So Let Us Melt

Best Visuals

Since VR headsets are still trying to catch up to flat interfaces like computer monitors and 4K TV screens nothing in VR is going to look as good as its non-VR counterparts. But that being said, the nominated apps do an amazing job of taking advantage of what they have access to. Check these out if you want your jaw to drop in awe of some amazing visual splendor.

Nominees:

Arktika.1
LA Noire: The VR Case Files
Lone Echo/Echo Arena
Project CARS 2
Robo Recall
The Gallery: Episode 2 – Heart of the Emberstone
Wilson’s Heart

Most Immersive Experience

What makes VR so powerful as a medium is how it can really make the user feel truly immersed in a completely new world. That sense of presence is magical when captured correctly and these are a few of the experiences we thought did the best job of really making us feel like we’re part of fantastical (or terrifying) new worlds.

Nominees:

Duck Season
Echo Grotto
Lone Echo
PS Aim Controller
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
The Void

Best Multiplayer VR Game

There is a common misconception that VR experiences are necessarily isolating. People believe that if you put on a VR headset, you’re cut off from the world and can’t interact with other people at all. However, these VR games prove that’s not entirely true. If you want to enjoy immersive digital worlds with others, these are some of the year’s best new ways to do so with VR games.

Nominees:

Echo Arena
From Other Suns
Raw Data
Sparc
Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Best Social Experience

But not all multiplayer VR experiences are strictly games. These apps are more about social interactivity, artistry, connection, and communication. Some of them may enable or include games, but at the core of each of these experiences is the underlying concept of bringing people together with the power of VR. Since social experiences are always evolving as well, we’ve included some Early Access titles unlike in most other categories.

Nominees:

Bigscreen
Facebook Spaces
High Fidelity
Mindshow
Rec Room
VRChat

Most Innovative Experience

Since VR is such a groundbreaking new medium for entertainment we established a category that’s all about recognizing the most innovative experiences around. These apps may do amazing things we haven’t seen before or redefine previously accepted conventions. If you’re looking for ways that VR can fundamentally change how we interact with digital spaces, then these are the apps to keep an eye on. Since these innovative VR experiences are always evolving as well, we’ve included some Early Access titles unlike in most other categories.

Nominees:

Blocks
Exa: The Infinite Instrument
Invisible Hours
Lone Echo/Echo Arena
Mindshow
Statik
Wilson’s Heart

Best Creative App

VR is such a complex space to get involved in. If you’re not already an established, seasoned developer with game engine experience or 3D art as a background it can be tough to even know where to start. That’s where these creative apps come into play. Using these amazing tools you can get started, right now, creating your own content and art inside VR. Since creative apps are always evolving as well, we’ve included some Early Access titles unlike in most other categories.

Nominees:

Blocks
Exa: The Infinite Instrument
Gravity Sketch
Masterpiece VR
Mindshow

Best Developer of the Year

This category was tricky to narrow down. At first we’re inclined to just nominate all of the developers that have games featured in other categories, but it’s not that simple. We want to recognize developers that have made profound, robust, and/or far-reaching contributions to the industry this year — not just the ones that made a good game or two.

Nominees:

Bethesda
Cloudhead Games
Croteam
Google
Oculus Story Studio
Ready At Dawn

Most Anticipated VR Game of 2018

There are a lot of great VR games on the horizon. In fact, we’ve got an entire list coming later this year that’s entirely focused on upcoming VR games we can’t wait to play, but we had to narrow things down for this nominee category.

Nominees:

Budget Cuts
Echo Combat
Firewall: Zero Hour
MARVEL Powers United VR
The Inpatient
Valve VR Games
Wipeout VR

Best Overall VR Game of the Year

This is the big one. After going through all of the VR games we played and reviewed this year there were a ton of really, really good ones to pick from. Just look at this list of nominees — all of them are fantastic titles that we can’t recommend enough. But which one is, according to us, the very best of the year?

You’ll have to check back next week to find out!

Nominees:

Form
Invisible Hours
Lone Echo/Echo Arena
Resident Evil 7: biohazard
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
The Gallery: Episode 2 – Heart of the Emberstone

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  • Rothgarr

    I still loves me some RE7. Plus any game that still gets free content almost a year later gets bonus points in my book.

  • iUserProfile

    So where do we vote?

    • These will be debated among UploadVR staff on a livestream next week.

      • Alexandra Sofen

        Great! When will the livestream be and how can we access it?

  • ivan

    Best Overall VR Game of the Year

    Form
    Invisible Hours
    Lone Echo/Echo Arena
    Resident Evil 7: biohazard
    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
    The Gallery: Episode 2 – Heart of the Emberstone

    Lone Echo/Echo Arena – no competition at all

    • koenshaku

      My guess would be RE:7 or Skyrim

      • ivan

        Nah, VR realisation in this games is very lame
        Re7 does not even support motion controllers

        • DeeHawk

          Subnautica will beat everyone on that list when it’s fully optimized for VR, and that is a seated/standing game as well. 80 hours and counting for me. Seated = Endurance.

  • Justos

    Lone echo is the best game. Nothing else comes close. The mages tale was my #2 but the long loading times take away from the experience. Don’t even mention RE7 because while a good game its a bad VR game. It makes no creative use of the medium. We got over the ‘looking around’ in VR phase years ago. The fact that it won at the game awards shows how out of touch those judges are.

    • Rothgarr

      “Looking around?” Are you thinking of The Kitchen demo? While I haven’t played a huge number of VR games, no other game played on my fears and emotions or made a lasting impression on me the way RE7 has. The only other game that came close was Robinson: The Journey where it played hard on my fear of heights — no other game made my hands sweat so much playing a video game

      • Justos

        Like i said. RE7 is a good game. Its just not a game worthy of VR game of the year. It’s gamepad only and doesn’t do anything that can only be done in VR. It’s scary, and thats all. Its VR implementation only does 1 thing, and thats control the camera.

        Lone echo CANNOT be done on traditional monitors. Thats VR game design innovation. VR GOTY.

        • David D. Taylor

          I agree. They didn’t make it scary for VR. It was already that way. Port any of the more scary PC games to VR the same way RE7 did, and it will be just as much more scary. VR scares are incredibly easy to acheive. In regards to immersiveness, the only reason that is so high, is because it is a AAA game, ported from PC/Console to VR. In my mind, the only reason it won GotY at game awards is because the mass of PSVR players, and because there are little to no other high quality VR games on that system the choice is easy for them. Anywho, just my opinion. Fun, GREAT game. Not Best VR game.

    • Chris Thorpe

      Lone Echo is the most overrated piece of shit ever. Press a button to open a door to another button to open a door to press a button that opens a door that leads to a switch to another button. That’s Lone Echo gameplay….Mages Tale had some of the worste locomotion in VR immediately disqualifies it from the running. You seem to think “good graphics = best” because that’s all those games bring.

  • Graham

    Ha ha – can’t wait to see the absolute fanboy frenzy when you announce the winners!

  • drd7of14

    Ubisoft definitely deserves a nominee for best Developer.

    Only other error I noticed is that Rec Room PSVR should just be Rec Room. It is available on PC as well for Vive, Rift, and WindowsVR platforms through Steam.

    • Right, but it came out on Rift/Vive last year — we were just specifying it’s new on PSVR 🙂

      • drd7of14

        Gotcha…Still. While I’m impressed with the PSVR version as I was with the PC release and continue to be, I’m not sure if a 2017 nomination for a port release is valid. I wouldn’t personally dismiss it entirely, as a port with constant support, the game has been fantastic and certainly deserves honorary mention. I just feel it’d be better suited for a continuously updated category.

        Ultimately of course, it’s down to you guys…But even to the developer’s own omission, the game is still in Beta, it’s just Open. It’s pretty much free early access, which won’t likely change even at the “release date”, but Idk…

        I’d give it props for major consistent updates in 2017 instead, though definitely the expansion to PSVR and crossplay support has more than tripled the userbase for Rec Room launching it ahead to one of the top Social games, if not The Top. Just don’t know if it’s entirely fair given the port situation. Just my view on it. Not against it…Just not entirely for it, since it was already out on PC.

  • Only 4 nominees for best social experience? I think you may have missed a social VR app that is bringing a whole lot of people together and driving VR adoption in the process https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f88f1ac10aa1fbf5c525662d0d60fea62295c6bf58512e6d0529eae064795608.png !

  • Why isn’t VRChat a nominee for best social VR?

  • Fear Monkey

    Best PSVR game for me is Skyrim VR, I haven’t been able to stop playing it since it released.

  • dan bryant

    Best VR developer nominees
    Bethesda?
    Lol
    You played Doom VFR right?

    • Chris Thorpe

      That is Idtech who developed Doom VFR….Bethesda developed Skyrim and Fallout 4. Worthy. But Croteam should take that hands down.

  • CaptainMurphy

    Oculus Rift: Lone Echo (Also the best VR game of the year)
    PSVR: Resident Evil 7
    Vive: Fallout 4
    Story Experience: Kingdom City Drowning (vastly superior to anything nominated here)
    Best Visuals: Robo Recall
    Most Immersive: Lone Echo (duh)
    Multi-Player: Echo Arena
    Most Innovative: Invisible Hours

  • Brian

    These lists are basically 10 things just reordered around several times… and where the f is The Wave? Your list sucks.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    The solus project is the best VR game ever released.

  • Chris Thorpe

    I honestly dont see how FORM can be nominated over Raw Data or Fallout 4 vr or Dead Effect 2, the list goes on. FORM was cool and all but it wasnt even close to Raw Data