Now that E3 2016 is officially in the books, it’s time to take a look back at what some of the best VR games were. If you want a roundup of all of the VR news from E3 – gaming and otherwise 0 you can find that all in one post right here. Some of the new game announcements, like Killing Floor and Superhot, weren’t actually playable, but the vast majority of the other new games were there ready for us to get our sweaty hands and faces on them.
From the Batman VR game to Final Fantasy XV, plenty of large, AAA-properties were seeing their debut in the new medium thanks to Sony and PS VR, but in most cases those games were far from the best of the bunch. What really stood out to us at UploadVR, were the games that were built, from the ground up, to take full advantage of the latest VR hardware and deliver entirely unique and immersive VR gaming experiences.
Since there were so many great choices this year, we’ve decided to split things up into two fundamental categories: VR games that focus on singleplayer and games that focus on multiplayer. Each category has a “Best in Show” selection, in addition to a handful of honorable mentions. First, let’s take a look at the best singleplayer VR games, then I’ll move onto the best multiplayer games.
E3 2016 – Best Singleplayer VR Game Honorable Mentions
There were a lot of really solid singleplayer VR experiences at E3 2016. If you look at both the Oculus Home store and Steam, you’ll find that the vast majority of VR games right now are entirely singleplayer. You can chalk this up partly due to the fact that it’s simply easier to develop a singleplayer game that doesn’t have any networking code to deal with, but also because of the general collective mindset of what to do in VR. Before we can branch out with immersive social environments, we have to nail that singular sense of presence first.
Two of the best upcoming singleplayer VR games we saw at E3 2016 were Obduction, an immersive narrative adventure game from the creators of Myst, and Robinson: The Journey, a beautiful and engaging adventure game from Crytek, the same people behind Dinosaur Island and The Climb. While both games sound similar when you describe them, they’re actually quite different. Obduction is launching in the Rift as a gamepad only title and is a more traditional take on the adventure genre, whereas Robinson will debut on the PS VR. Both titles are looking to release later this year.
E3 2016 – Best Singleplayer VR Game Winner
It was essentially unanimous from everyone on the UploadVR team that Wilson’s Heart was far and away the best singleplayer VR experience at E3 2016. Interestingly enough, this was also one of the games that we knew literally nothing about before the show started. It wasn’t even announced until mere days before we got a chance to play it and we can’t wait to see more. Our own Joe Durbin wrote the hands-on impression, coming away with extremely positive thoughts:
“Wilson’s Heart is the first VR project from veteran games studio, Twisted Pixel. Despite being new, these guys could teach most established devs a thing or two about VR game design. They are pulling off some truly amazing tricks that should drive the art form forward as a whole. Suffice it to say that the sense of dread, paranoia, and all around creepiness of this game creates the most potent VR experience I’ve ever tried.”
E3 2016 – Best Multiplayer VR Game Honorable Mentions
The tricky thing about multiplayer VR games is that they’re incredibly difficult to pull off correctly, but when they work, they are almost always the best and most immersive types of VR. Interacting with a virtual world is great, but when you can emotionally and physically connect with another actual human, from outside VR, inside of the virtual space, that amplifies everything immensely. Some games like Pool Nation do a great job of letting you take part in a shared activity, Hover Junkers is great fun, and social apps like Altspace have seemingly endless potential, but sometimes playing a built-from-the-ground-up VR experience with intense multiplayer action is what you really need.
Luckily this year E3 had several great VR games to play. There were expected standouts that we had seen before, but the main ones (other than our winner) that stood above the rest were The Unspoken from Insomniac and Ripcoil from Sanzaru Games. We previously covered The Unspoken from a private Insomniac event and not much had changed in the E3 demo we played, but it still stood tall as one of the most exciting VR games coming up for Oculus Touch. Additionally, Ripcoil is another one that hadn’t even been announced prior to last week and came out of nowhere. You can see in the video above how intense and fun a simple concept can be with some great polish and pitch-perfect balancing.
E3 2016 – Best Multiplayer VR Game Winner
While those two games were lots of fun, easily the best multiplayer game was Star Trek: Bridge Crew from Red Storm and Ubisoft. Once again, coming out of nowhere without so much as a peep as to its existence, Star Trek absolutely blew us away. You can see in the video above a small glimpse of the experience, but it’s hard to capture the sense of presence afforded without putting the HMD on for yourself. This is also one of the few true multi-platform (Oculus Touch, HTC Vive, PS VR) games we saw at the entire show. In my own hands-on impression of the game, I wrote:
“What makes Star Trek: Bridge Crew so special isn’t the gameplay, it’s the social interaction between the crew. I walked away thoroughly impressed and honestly feel like this is one of the best VR experiences at all of E3 this year. I felt like I was actually part of a real Star Trek crew, aboard a starship, piloting it through the stars. An experience like this would not work outside of VR.”