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The Best VR Games of 2016

Beginning to believe.

We got a lot of fun and unique VR games this past year, many of which are still improving in early access. For this article, however, we’re going to focus on the best full-release VR games of 2016.

Thumper was one of the best games this year. Period. You don’t need PlayStation VR to play the game, but holy hell, does it excel with it. While rhythm is a huge aspect of Thumper, with thunderous taiko drum beats that dictate the pace of the game, this isn’t your typical rhythm game.

You control a chrome-plated beetle blasting down a super fast luge littered with dangerous obstacles to dodge. The path ahead is filled with trance-inducing colors, but the game also surrounds you in darkness. It’s a trippy game, to say the least.

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Thumper is also brutally hard. It requires intense focus, and pushes you to form a near symbiotic relationship with your beetle in order to survive the threats ahead.

VR injects a steroidal level of immersion to the game. The fact that you’re separated from the outside world allows you to be totally enveloped in its vicious and psychedelic dimension.

Rez Infinite is another rhythm game that excels in VR. You fly through a Tron-like cyberscape to hack a super network. As you can imagine, the premise pairs wonderfully with VR.

For the most part, the game is a rail shooter. In VR, you look at your target to lock onto them, but Rez Infinite also offers an Area X mode, which removes the rails. Area X feels tailor-made for VR, as it lets you look and fly anywhere you want.

While Edge of Nowhere looks like a game that you can play on your TV, it’s actually a third-person adventure game designed exclusively for the Oculus Rift.

Influenced by 80s horror movies like The Thing and Aliens, the premise is that you crash your plane in Antarctica and sustain a head injury. In addition to the monsters that you encounter through the frozen tundra, you start to experience intermittent hallucinations, and it’s not clear whether they’re real or induced by trauma. VR heightens these tense moments and makes it feel like you’re being consumed by darkness. The game is extremely disturbing and has some stirring set pieces, which are brought to life with eerie detail in VR.

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One game that fundamentally requires VR is Fantastic Contraption. The game debuted with the HTC Vive and showed what room-scale experiences could do.

Fantastic Contraption is actually based on a 2D flash game by the same name. It tasks you to build vehicles, or contraptions, to carry a pink ball into a pink area. There are wheels and stems that you can stretch to build car-like vehicles, catapults, and much more. There's almost an infinite number of contraptions you can build. The levels get really challenging, too. For instance, the game often throws gaps for your contraptions to overcome. The beauty of Fantastic Contraption is that there are always multiple ways to solve puzzles. For instance, you could construct a catapult or a slide to pass crevices.

Fantastic Contraption also does a great job of inducing a sense of presence. When you’re physically on your knees tweaking your contraptions, you often forget that you’re simply in your living room. It helps that the game has a colorful and trippy art style that teleports you into its whimsical world. It’s one of the best games to take advantage of room-scale, and it’s simply, well, fantastic.

The last game on our list is Superhot VR, which is a standalone experience that’s separate from the original release. Superhot VR doesn’t feel like it was built for VR; rather, it feels like it was born in it.

Like the original release, time moves when you do, and you’ll punch, shoot, and throw ninja stars at red polygonal goons. With Oculus’ motion-tracked controllers, everything just feels right. Dodging bullets in slow motion while snatching guns away from enemies and firing back feels indescribably cool. This game will make you feel like you’re Neo in the Matrix.

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The game sports multiple levels that are each divided into multiple stages. When you die on any one stage, you restart the level all over again. This creates an unforgiving process of trial and error and you have to remember where to duck, when to punch, and who to shoot first to stay alive. Effectively chaining these movements together make you feel like a beautiful ballerina of death. The game is not only Superhot, it’s also super cool.

GameSpot's Best VR Games of 2016

Thumper

Rez Infinite

Edge of Nowhere

Fantastic Contraption

Superhot VR

GameSpot will be unveiling its picks for the best games of the year throughout all of December. Click here to see more.

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Avatar image for MAXTHUNDER99
MAXTHUNDER99

Thumper and Rez over the likes of: Rigs, Until Dawn Rush of Blood, Eagle Flight or even Robinson the Journey. I guess if they never tried those games. Thumper is awesome but only in small doses where as the others I listed everyone who tries my VR has enjoyed those games even more so then Thumper.

Avatar image for rossiko
rossiko

Superhot

Assetto Corsa

Elite Dangerous

Chronos

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TonyTwist_basic

Hmm... and here I was thinking that Battlezone VR, Driveclub VR, and EVE:Valkyrie were some of the best VR games I've ever played. I guess it's a matter of taste in games. I dig Ghost Recon, but don't care much for CoD. I played the hell out of Doom (every ID Software game to date, in fact), love Neverwinter, NWN1&2, Freelancer, Freespace1&2, Descent 1,2&3, and pretty much everything 3D that Psygnosis ever did both before and after the original crew was cannibalized by Sony --for better...or worse. For a gamer like me that's been at it for more than 3 decades, games like Rez & Thumper just don't cut it. Resident Evil 7 on PSVR is one of the most hellacious games I've ever experienced, and that was just the most recent demo. Driveclub VR is SO realistic, I only wish I had the hardware to simulate the feel of the cars' seats beneath me -along with the rumble effect of the engines and road-against-tires vibrations. Otherwise, the experience is spot on with real racing.

I've heard some of the complaints about motion sickness, but I haven't experienced it... but then, there are people who love skydiving versus those who the utter thought of it terrifies them. Like I say... a matter of taste. :)

The only reason I bring issue at all is because I've long given this site more credibility than most because I've used it for many years, and in that time, I've seen a trend of these 'best of the <insert-here>' articles that seem to be playing to the lowest common denominator... the casual mobile oriented gamer. If that's what Gamespot has become... if there's noone left that has the guts to play anything more violent than the newest Pokemon, gaming news has lost much, indeed.

Avatar image for khaos107
khaos107

Top HTC Vive games I've played

Out of Ammo

Fantastic Contraption

AudioShield

Vanishing Realms

Zombie Training Simulator

R.U.M.A.

Drunkn Bar Fights

I'd mention these but they're programs not games.

Tiltbrush

KingSpray Graffiti

Google Earth VR

Soundstage

Modbox

Avatar image for jimmythang
jimmythang

@khaos107: A lot of those titles are great! Unfortunately, most of them are in early access, which disqualifies them from this list.

Staff
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khaos107

@jimmythang: Most I listed are out of early access. A lot of the games that are in early access are already good and always getting better. The one game I want on this list that's not on the Vive yet is Superhot VR. That game looks so fun.