As the age of true consumer VR dawns, so too does a new age of consumer-focused VR coverage. At UploadVR we’ve always been dedicated to providing the most exhaustive and detailed coverage of the fast-paced and evolving VR industry, so in order to continue doing that as these technologies and experiences evolve into purchasable products, it’s up to us to help you make informed decisions. You’re not on the outside looking in anymore – these are devices and experiences that you can actually buy with your own money and use with your own time. Because of that, we need to shift our focus a little bit when it comes to covering some stuff, specifically games and other types of VR content.
As is customary for media publications, we’ll be producing full, detailed reviews of finished games, interactive experiences/films, and other types of VR experiences. These reviews will be in addition to our existing features, interviews, previews, and editorials that we’re known for. But since VR content is available out in the wild as finished products now, it’s important that we address their quality and value to end users like yourself. Naturally, one of the best ways to do that, is via detailed reviews. As a result, unless specifically stated in a unique circumstance, Early Access titles and similarly unfinished content will not be given formal review scores.
We’ll provide long, detailed reviews for larger apps, shorter and more concise reviews for simpler ones, and in many cases, even supplement the written reviews with video reviews as well.
Across all lengths and formats of our game reviews, one constant that you’ll see is an overall Final Score attached to each and every review at the end. These are used to serve as an overall barometer for a piece of content’s quality, as the individual reviewer determines, but the writing within the review itself should be the primary force used to guide your thoughts on the particular piece of content.
However, some reviews may initially take the form of a review-in-progress. This means that we were unable to play enough of the game to render a final verdict, such as in the case of bugs that will be patched before release or multiplayer that is not live or active yet. In those cases the review-in-progress will be published without a score and will be finalized, then republished with a score once we’ve reached a final verdict. It will not be a new URL, but just an update to the in-progress review to make it final.
And although reviews-in-progress don’t have a score attached, we do consider them a valuable service to our readers when making a purchasing decision as they provide our thoughts, opinions, and insights on products.
For non-gaming content, we’ll do things a little differently. Instead of numbered scores, we rate these with a Final Say. While a 10 point scale has been the norm for game reviews for many years now, we feel this new breed of VR content should be summed up a little differently.
Since ratings on final reviews are so tricky and carry a lot of baggage, we’ve put together this review score breakdown guideline on what each number means when reviewing a game at UploadVR.
10/10 – Masterpiece
Games and other pieces of VR content that receive a score of 10 aren’t totally flawless, since nothing is quite flawless, but they are masterworks in essentially every aspect. Everything comes together in such a perfectly orchestrated way that it leaves you utterly breathless. Few apps achieve this mark, but when they do, they’re landmark titles in their respective genre.
9/10 – Amazing
These are must-experience pieces of content that do almost everything correctly, and then some. These are the types of experiences that you buy a platform specifically to try – the system sellers, if you will – and they deserve immense praise and adoration. Just a couple minor snags are keeping them from reaching true Masterpiece status.
8/10 – Great
These are the apps that go above and beyond their primary intention to deliver something truly memorable. While a Good piece of content you might stop thinking about after finishing it, a Great one typically leaves an impression on you and keeps you coming back for more.
7/10 – Good
At this tier, the experience delivers on most promises and accomplishes what it set out to do, but it usually has a few mistakes that are too glaring to overlook. It’s far from bad, it’s labeled as Good after all, but it’s missing that “special” sauce that would have really pushed it over the edge. Good experiences are definitely considered worth trying for most people.
6/10 – Decent
Experiences at the Decent tier aren’t Bad, they’re just not really that Good either. Everything works properly and is likely accomplishing what the creators intended, it’s just not an overly compelling or engaging experience. Decent content usually only appeals to a certain audience and aren’t always worth trying right away.
5/10 – Mediocre
Experiences that receive a Mediocre score exist and don’t do a whole lot else. They may take the form of shallow tech demos, unrealized potential, or just flat out boring implementations of an unoriginal idea, but in all cases, they’re bland and uninspired. While they may not be necessarily Bad or painful to try, they’re just…blah. Usually not recommended.
4/10 – Disappointing
This tier is reserved for the experiences that leave no impression on you whatsoever other than the fact that you’d rather not be experiencing them. They’re not Good, but they’re not so Bad that it ruins your palette for other things. Meaningless experiences that leave you no different than when they found you. Not recommended.
3/10 – Bad
This score is reserved for experiences that you truly have trouble finding redeeming qualities for. In most all cases this is a Bad app in every way and has no value for potential players, other than to possibly sour their appetite for better things. Not recommended.
2/10 – Horrible
These are the experiences that future designers and developers should look at as textbook examples of what not to do. Not only are they bad, but they are often in such an irreparable state that it’s borderline painful to try them. Under no circumstances are Horrible rated experiences recommended.
1/10 – Unforgivable
This is the lowest tier and should be reserved exclusively for experiences that are unplayable, broken, and absolutely unsalvageable. Unforgivable experiences may even be regarded as offensive to think that they were released in such a horrid and miserable state. Stay far away from these at all costs.
Essential experiences successfully harness the best of VR to create incredibly compelling experiences. They may not be perfect, but they’ll make a great case for what this new medium can do and stand apart from anything you might see on a traditional screen or other media. Even if you’re more interested in games than experiences, you have to check this out.
For those that see VR as more of a storytelling and atmospheric tool than a gaming platform, Recommended experiences will be well worth seeking out. They might not be the most powerful or unique examples of what the platform can do, but they’re assured in their delivery and engaging enough to warrant a look.
These experiences will have some nice ideas that are strong enough to warrant a look. Overall things might not piece together into a cohesive whole, but their brighter elements are worth celebrating all the same. These will be worth seeing to expand your VR vocabulary at the very least.
These experiences aren’t necessarily bad, they’re just not entirely interesting, either. Either they don’t fully consider the nature of the platform and what it can do, or they’re just pretty uninspiring. If you’re a keen enthusiast you might want to check them out to expand your VR vocab, but you’re not missing anything skipping over them.
These are woefully misguided experiences that are likely broken some fundamental levels. It might be that the experience just isn’t optimized for VR in the least bit and is either distractingly uncomfortable or redundant. Or it could just be that the content itself is utterly devoid of intrigue or, worse yet, downright offensive in its use of VR. Don’t watch these under any circumstances.
Update 5/09/2019: This guideline was updated to account for our Experience Reviews category
Update 6/19/2018: This guideline was updated to account for reviews-in-progress.
Update 4/30/2017: This guideline was updated to apply to all types of VR content, not just games.