Having played around with PSVR a few years ago before losing interest and passing it onto my nephew, I’ve recently had a yearning to return to those virtual worlds. Having a decent PC is handy, but those headsets can set you back several hundreds of pounds and I only want to dip my toe in the water. That’s where Riftcat Vridge came in. For a fraction of the price, £15 for the software & £15 for a headset with a decent FOV, I’m able to at least sample some full on VR games through Steam VR. Your phone is key here though as it acts as the VR viewer, but luckily the Razer Phone II I got has a 1440p 120Hz VRR screen which works wonders for this purpose. Only real downside I guess is you don’t have motion controls, unless jumping through hoops to setup other phones via Riftcat, so some games are locked out (much to my dismay after buying Wolfenstein Cyberpilot) but anything with controller support works great. Let’s take a look at a few of the games tried so far.
Battlezone: Gold Edition
What better place to start than with something I really enjoyed on PSVR and now play again on PC. Its a relatively simple game really for anyone versed in Battlezone, you’ll generally be destroying enemy vehicles whilst dealing with any further objective in that sector. The campaign you’ll be on will consists of a map broken up into sectors with your foes main base usually on the other side. Ideally you want to blast your way through quickly to keep the enemy power & nemesis enemies down, but you’ll need to divert to supply points etc. to restock your Tank and equip new weapons.
In VR the game has a real good sense of immersing you. You never once leave the cockpit of your vehicle, main/pause/map menu is like a hologram in the cockpit and blast shields lift or come down to cover the windows when starting & finishing a mission. All the information you need is displayed across various screens and panels around the cockpit during combat, keeping you up to date with battle progress and enemy movement. Having come from PS4 Pro, the graphics aren’t much better as it already ran supersampled at 120fps, but the Tron-esque style of the games environments are still treat as the Judge Dredd bobblehead in my cockpit will attest.
The game is as short or long as you desire really. The campaign map size increases with difficulty and there’s the added bonus of online co-op with your campaigns. Battlezone doesn’t require a VR Headset so you could get some keys for friends, I’ve seen it around on various sites for about £5 – which is a nice price.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR
One game I had no idea was in VR but quickly decided to try it out of curiosity is Hellblade. The game is still effectively the same, offering the exact same journey you find in the standard edition of the game, with the VR providing a different way to experience Senua’s descent which is obviously more immersive. All the graphical bells & whistles are available here too, with an optional performance mode if your hardware can’t keep up, so the game can look just as good as its flat counterpart.
I guess really you’ll be wanting to know how it all fares in VR. Think of it as kind of following Senua on her journey as the game is still third person but you can freely look around. This actually gives Senua added presence in the world as the added depth & space make everything look a little more alive, some enemy attacks such as by Valravn can also have you bobbing and weaving as they fly towards you . That presence of Senua’s spills over into some of the cutscenes, which are now somewhat interactive in that you can look around while the scene plays out. This works extremely well when used, the scene towards the beginning when Senua gets infected by the darkness and is talking towards the screen is a little eerie, but isn’t always used unfortunately. Regularly the cutscenes will play out as a simple video and it can really draw you out of the game sometimes.
For me this one of the best VR experiences, offering the full Hellblade experience only now more immersive – especially when you factor in the games awesome audio as well. I’m not sure if its available free to those that have the regular version as I picked up a key on Kinguin at around £12 for the VR release, but if not the price isn’t too bad if you look around.
When it comes to VR there’s plenty of things you can download that look to offer an experience, but Adrift does a fine job of straddling the line between what you would consider an experience or a game. You wake up to find your foot tethered to a destroyed space station with no memory of the events that transpired, with your cracked visor venting oxygen so you can’t really sit around to mull things over. As you explore the various sections of the station in an attempt to get things up & running to possibly get back to Earth, you’ll also be picking up clues as to what happened via recordings etc. left by crew.
What really sells it all in VR is how its setup. You are in a spacesuit effectively and have to navigate your way around using thrusters on the suit to guide your general direction. This also uses up oxygen – so firing in short bursts is the way to go. The UI for the game and any information shows up on the suits visor so there’s nothing to distract you from the experience. What really seals the deal for me, outside of the decent graphics, is the silence. There’s no BGM or anything like that, with only radio chatter & static breaking up the quietness of life in a spacesuit.
The 4-6 hour runtime ain’t so bad considering it can be sourced cheap enough, I got it for £1.99, so it’s one I highly recommend if starting out with VR.
Expect another volume soon, there’s plenty more VR games I’ve been playing recently!
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Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.