We’ve made our picks for the best virtual reality games, experiences and hardware of 2020!
2020 was an enormous year for VR with huge games, apps and hardware that are completely changing the world’s understanding of what it means to put on a headset. First, we whittled down to 16 categories with strong entries in each leaving us with some hard decisions to make. After some hearty internal debate, we made our selections and picked out a winner in every category.
Without further delay, read on to find out who won in every category or watch the video with David Jagneaux, Jamie Feltham and myself explaining our decisions and how hard it was to make a choice in some of the categories.
Most Promising Early Access Game Of 2020 — Phasmophobia
Ghost-hunting game Phasmophobia is our 2020 winner for the most promising early access game!
Also nominated were Blade & Sorcery, STRIDE, Contagion VR: Outbreak, and Zero Caliber.
Most Innovative VR Design — The Under Presents: The Tempest
Tender Claws surprised us this year with an incredible imagining of The Tempest in The Under Presents that brings players into the performance. It was an absolute delight and we hope to see more experiences like it in the future.
Also nominated: VTOL VR 1.0, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners’ Physics System, Waltz of the Wizard’s Hand-Tracking Update, Hand Space’s Hand-Tracking Experiments, Half-Life: Alyx ‘s Russel Gloves, and The Room VR: A Dark Matter.
Most Improved Social Platform — VRChat
Social VR applications evolved quite a bit this year — in some cases becoming the connective tissue to communities that couldn’t meet any longer in the real world. We continue to be impressed with the changes we’re seeing to VRChat, which launched a new avatar system and visual scripting features that helped make it our selection as the most improved social platform of 2020.
Also nominated: Rec Room, AltSpaceVR, and BigScreen.
Best VR For Fitness — OhShape
This was a very tough category to decide due to the level of competition and innovation we saw in VR workouts this year. But we thought the range of movement and fun you can have in OhShape warranted recognizing it as the Best VR for Fitness of 2020.
Also nominated: Supernatural, Beat Saber DLC, VRWorkout, Until You Fall, and FitXR.
Most Anticipated Game — Assassin’s Cred & Splinter Cell VR
We don’t know anything about it yet other than the names of the franchises themselves, but the eventual release of Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell in VR is going to end up being an enormous draw for the medium and that’s why we picked them as the most anticipated VR games.
Also nominated: Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife. Maskmaker, Low-Fi. Ilysia, Sniper Elite VR.
Best Developer — RUST LTD.
You’re unlikely to find another development studio in VR that updates and expands its game as regularly as RUST LTD. — and that’s been true since Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades debuted for PC VR back in 2016. For example, for Christmas this year the developers issued an update every day through the holiday. What’s more, we think future VR developers are probably watching Anton Hand’s regular developer logs and learning about what it takes to make truly complex simulations feel great — and that’s something we wanted to recognize with this award.
Also nominated: EA Motive, Skydance Interactive, MirageSoft, and ARVORE.
Best Co-op Multiplayer — Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale
Resolution Games is figuring out how to make exciting and fun multiplayer games and Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale is proof the developers are zeroing in on a winning formula.
Also nominated: Spaceteam VR, Star Wars: Squadrons, Real VR Fishing, Path of the Warrior
Best Competitive Multiplayer — Population: One
Multiplayer VR was a competitive category this year but Population: One edges out the competition with its expansive map and exhilarating gameplay.
Also nominated: Star Wars: Squadrons, Eleven: Table Tennis VR, Beat Saber, and Medal of Honor: Above And Beyond.
Best Quest Game/App — The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners shines on Oculus Quest 2 and we think it represents a preview of the types of games we’re likely to see more frequently in VR over the next few years.
Also nominated: Population: One, Echo VR, Ghost Giant, Onward, Until You Fall, In Death. Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted
Best PC VR Game/App — Half-Life: Alyx
Half-Life: Alyx gave PC gamers a reason to buy a headset this year and, if they did, they’d have an amazing experience visiting one of the most iconic environments in video game history. Of course it is the best PC VR game of 2020.
Also nominated: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Star Wars: Squadrons, Population: One, Thief Simulator
Best PSVR Game/App — The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
Just like on Quest, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners shines on PlayStation VR hardware as our best PSVR game of 2020.
Also nominated: Dreams, Iron Man VR, Star Wars: Squadrons, Star Wars: Vader Immortal, and Pixel Ripped 1995.
Most Immersive Moment — Star Wars: Squadrons – The cockpit experience
The feeling of actually being in the cockpit of the iconic ships we’ve seen on the big screen for so many years couldn’t be matched in 2020 — and that’s why we picked Star Wars: Squadrons’ cockpit experience as the most immersive moment of the year.
Also nominated: Half-Life: Alyx – Jeff, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Your first zombie kill, Phasmophobia – Your first ghost encounter, Eleven: Table Tennis VR – Quest multiplayer, Pixel Ripped 1995 – Avoiding mom, and Phantom: Covert Ops – Learning to paddle.
Best Experience — Paper Beast
A kind of digital alien zoo, mysterious and beautiful, unfolds in front of you in Paper Beast and it is an astonishing experience to behold.
Also nominated: Gloomy Eyes, The Line, The Key, Paper Birds, and The Under Presents: The Tempest.
Best Hardware — Oculus Quest 2
Oculus Quest 2 lowered the barrier to entry for a great VR experience down to $299 this year. That’s a remarkable moment for the VR industry and, without it, we’re not sure where VR would be right now.
Also nominated: HP Reverb G2, Pico Neo 2 Eye, and PlayStation 5.
Best Game — Half-Life: Alyx
This was actually harder to decide than you might imagine but Half-Life: Alyx is our selection for game of the year. Its world is an incredible experience from the very first moment and it will be a place we expect to revisit for decades to come.
Also nominated: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Population: One, Star Wars: Squadrons, Until You Fall, The Room VR: A Dark Matter
So there you have it, our full list of best VR of 2020 awards!