With the return of launch bundles and some seriously high quality games, it’s a fantastic moment to buy or own the PlayStation Virtual Reality (or PSVR) headset. Between the AAA titles like Paranormal Activity and the updates to some classics, there are plenty of solid VR titles to sink some time into, so I decided to round up some of the best PlayStation VR games with an eye to selecting a wide range of genres.
Survival horror is the A-lister here that clearly lends itself to the medium, but there are some great exploration, story and party games out there too. Developers are now beginning to really fulfill the potential of VR games, and it will only get better from here.
Maybe you’re already a VR fan but want to discover something new, or perhaps you want to introduce your friends to the hobby with a kick-ass title to blow them away. There’s something here for everyone, even the kids!
Best Playstations VR Games
There’s just something about Survival Horror which makes it such a good genre for Virtual Reality, and the freshly released Paranormal Activity – The Lost Soul (based on the movie franchise) is a fantastic example of this deliciously terrifying match of theme and technology.
Exploring the haunted house in the game is exactly the kind of goose-bump-inducing experience any horror fan will love. The story, which we won’t spoil here, lasts about 5-10 hours and it’ll keep you hooked until the very end, but it’s the fact this game was designed for VR specifically which makes it shine and you scream.
You can play both standing and Room Scale, and the game does away with teleportation for movement (a common mechanic in VR) – you have to slowly inch your way through every corridor of this dark and brooding house with only a flashlight.
This forces you to see every gory little detail the devs have put in, and even disabled the classic “click-to-turn” function has been disabled which means you have to turn around to look or run away. Don’t play this in tight spaces!
Technically VR has been around for quite a long time, but it was execution that was lacking so far.
Resident Evil 7 is the game that executed well and made audiences stand up and take notice. Biohazard, as this RE is known, moves away from the action focus of previous games and really puts an emphasis on the “survival” part of survival horror.
As you’d expect from Capcom, the narrative is pitch-perfect, like a very well directed movie. Set in a derelict plantation with strong echoes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the VR really puts you at the very center of the story.
The use of virtual reality here enhances the story more than the mechanics – Resident Evil 7 began the design without VR in mind, and you will, of course, be shooting at stuff, but that’s not why you should pick up the game right now – it’s about the immersion. Playing through the harrowing story of the Baker family using Virtual Reality is the difference between being in the audience and being an actor on the stage.
Have you played an escape room? It’s a game in which you and some friends are locked in a room and have an hour to solve all the puzzles and challenges within it to get back out. This is exactly what “I expect you to die” feels like.
The game is like a kindergarten version of the SAW movies – bright colors! Sunny skies! Cartoon villain voiceover! Ridiculous life-and-death situations!
You’ll have to use your wits to get out of the various scenarios – like being locked in a car with a time bomb – but the beauty of the VR here is that you are physically looking for stuff. You’re not just clicking that drawer to see if it has the hint you need to defuse the bomb, you’re reaching for it, tugging at it before turning your head to scan the room for a key. It’s an exhilarating experience, but expect to die. A lot.
You have to defuse a time-bomb. You know nothing about defusing bombs, but here you are; a ticking explosive right in front, staring at a messy combination of wires and switches thanks to PlayStation’s VR headset.
Your friends, however, know about defusing bombs – they have the (printable, IRL-physical) manual right in front of them, the information at their fingertips. But they can’t see the bomb. They have to tell you what to do.
“What do you see?” they’ll ask you, and you’ll frantically try to describe the wires and switches in front of you while they flip the pages to find out which color wire to cut first.
This is one of my favorite party games ever. It’s been out for a while, and initially was not a VR release – you would play on a computer with the screen turned away from them, and it’s an absolute blast (I’m sorry) for an evening with friends.
While only one person is using VR at one time, the puzzle it presents reaches new highs in virtual reality – and the conversations it generates are amazing: “You don’t know what I saw in there! You don’t know what it’s like! Go on, you try!”
You are an eagle, flying around a crumbling Paris where you can do battle against other eagles, complete missions or just soar above the city in free flight mode.
The game is quite simple and the best thing about it is how well the Virtual Reality here was handled by Ubisoft. In theory, everything about it would make for some serious motion sickness, but gamer after gamer has said they can play this for hours and be free of nausea.
Some actions are handled with a controller, but motion and vision are mostly done through head motions. Flying, banking, turning and swooping is all extremely intuitive, and the constant soft light of dusk over the French capital actually makes it quite a relaxing experience too.
There are a few things you should know about Batman: Arkham VR. First and foremost, it is a story more than a game, and thus you’ll only really play it once. But oh boy, what a story.
Having the villains and the characters stand in front of you, look you in the eye as they speak, their mad cackling surrounding you… it will raise give you a thrill like no other.
The twists and turns that take you through the plot are very well written, and the tactile sensations the VR gives you – there’s a particular section in a morgue in which you’ll feel dirty, much more than a controller could ever convey – really make this quite an intimate experience.
Speaking of getting your hands dirty, Surgeon Simulator lets you do just that, though I think Surgeon Simulator as a title is a bit reductive – it would be more precise to describe it as “Crazy Surgeon Operating in Ridiculous Situations Like Sometimes in Space Simulator.”
You may have heard bad things about this game, and that’s fair enough: when it initially came out it was extremely buggy and the VR tracking and controls were sub-par. The devs have since apologized, listened to the community and patched it up and while not the perfect game, a quick-fire operation or two is a great way of spending ten minutes gaming and it’s also a classic “Yeah you think you can do better?! Show me” game to enjoy with friends.
You might think EVE, the biggest and most cutthroat MMORPG out there, is not ideal for VR – its sometimes lumbering gameplay, steep learning curve and focus on stats do not good virtual reality make.
But then it dawns on you that of course, EVE is a fantastic VR game – it’s got the biggest space battles out there. Space Battles in VR. That’s what Eve: Valkyrie is and if you’ve ever enjoyed Battlestar Galactica or Babylon 5, you have to play it.
It’s immediately fun: the controls are very intuitive and easy to learn before you’re thrown right into the void to fight with and against other players online. “Checking your six” has never been cooler than you actually looking over your shoulder to see enemy and friendly ships screaming past in a hail of laser fire.
Valkyrie shares the world and lore of EVE: Online, but that’s as far as it gets. This is a deep-space team dogfight that will keep you coming back.
It was never going to take long for VR to be used in a mech game. Don your Exosuit and start beating on other robots (both AI and other players) in the mechanized combat league through a range of arenas and sport. The game is set 50 years in a future where Robot Wars has gotten seriously out of hand and forgotten about health and safety, but you’re not here for the story.
The immersion here is intense – you’ll use the controller a lot, but RIGS requires a lot of situational awareness, so you’ll be cranking and turning your head to scan for and aim at opponents. The game options range from your classic Death Match to sports similar to Football or Basketball except with mechs and guns. I really don’t need to sell this to you, do I?
Robo Recall is probably the most action-packed in this list alongside RIGS. Plenty of people have described this as an over-the-top 90s action flick where the guns never run out of bullets and the good guys can land headshots while shooting behind their back. In Epic Games’ Robo Recall you are an agent “recalling” faulty robots, and the movie that immediately comes to mind is actually I, Robot.
It’s the controls that really make the experience exciting – there are plenty of little touches (like the way you reach for the gun in your holster) that keep you at the center of the action. It never feels like there’s a disconnect – it’s extremely responsive, high adrenaline and will have you holding your breath as you cleave through swarms of robots with combos that look a little like the crazy stunts Dante pulls off in Devil May Cry.
Robinson: The Journey is beautiful. There will be moments, and many of them, where you stop playing and just stare in awe at the scenery in front of you.
Crytek have become very good at this over the years (especially with Far Cry 3) but Robinson, with its mix of sci-fi and Jurassic Park, is truly a notch above on all scales of immersion and wonder.
There are downsides: unfortunately, the VR is not implemented fully, as the game lacks motion controls, and on the mechanics-story spectrum, The Journey is heavily weighted towards story.
The puzzles are nothing to write home about, but they’ll keep you engaged. It’s the story and the way its told that will have you putting on the VR headset, however. The awe comes not just from active storytelling, it comes from the environment and the visual clues around you. You can tell this place has been lived in, that a story has happened and wasn’t just “placed” here by the developers.
Frankly, if they removed the puzzles and made this game a walking simulator, a la Dear Esther, I would be exploring it most evenings.
Virtual Reality not in the first person.
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But Wayward Sky does exactly that, a point-and-click adventure set in a gorgeous 3D city floating in the sky which lets you switch between first and third person views.
To solve the puzzles of this cute adventure, you need to really understand your surroundings and explore, and by doing so you’ll fall in love with the world and the care that’s gone into it. It’s like looking into a colorful dollhouse made by a master craftsman, noticing the details and realizing that’s how the door swings open by itself.
It’s a relatively simple game, but a fantastic proof of concept for the power of non-first-person VR and a great puzzle for kids to solve.
Ever wondered how you would fare shooting your way out of a bank heist? Of course you have.
The London Heist is one of five games in the “PlayStation VR Worlds” bundle, which sometimes feel more like a demo disc for Sony’s Virtual Reality. It’s a decent bundle to try out VR and see if it’s for you, but London Heist could stand alone really.
The story (of a London Heist, surprise surprise) involves a lot of firing guns and getaway cars and has some impressive London gangsters talking to you – the attention to detail is notable.
It’s the shooting galleries side-games that will really grab your attention, though.They’ve got cool ideas oozing out of them like using your left hand to pop cartridges into your shotgun or the user interface not keeping track of bullets (so you have to keep count yourself unless you want to be caught with an empty clip at the wrong time.)
Shooting at moving targets and having to pick out the correct ones amongst “friendlies” is also great fun in VR. It’s the kind of game you’ll play for five minutes at a time when you want a quick break before moving on to something meatier, and a great introduction to PlayStation’s Virtual Reality.