UploadVR's Best Of 2021 Awards – Winners

It’s time! What VR games, experiences and hardware walk away with an UploadVR Best of 2021 award? Find out below.

It’s been another big year for VR, with software taking front and center against fewer major hardware releases. And developers started to flourish, releasing deeper, better games and experiences that more intimately understood what makes this medium tick. Several of this year’s categories proved incredibly hard to choose, but we feel the below list is a fitting representation of how VR shaped up in 2021.

Make sure to check out our video announcing the winners below!

UploadVR’s Best VR Of 2021 Awards – Winners

Best Competitive Multiplayer – Gorilla Tag

It’s been an eventful year for competitive multiplayer VR games with a lot of amazing entries but, really, there was only one game that could walk away with this one. Gorilla Tag has enjoyed phenomenal success this year thanks to an innovative take on a game we all played as kids. The game really highlights a kind of physicality you just can’t get with traditional flatscreen games and keeps players active throughout. Granted older players might want something a little more familiar, but you can’t deny that Gorilla Tag is one of the most innovative and fun multiplayer VR experiences out there today.

Other nominees:

  • Larcenauts
  • Hyper Dash
  • Loco Dojo Unleashed
  • Ragnarok

Best Co-op Multiplayer – Demeo

Another hotly contested category, we gave long and serious thought to going in another direction for Best Co-op. After The Fall and A Township Tale both offer incredible teamwork experiences but, in the end, we just kept coming back to how collaborative and rewarding Demeo is as a multiplayer experience. It’s not just the game itself but how it captures the sensation of sitting around the table with friends, and the comradery that comes with strategizing and then winning or losing (mostly losing) together.

Other nominees:

  • After The Fall
  • A Township Tale
  • Legendary Tales
  • Warplanes: WW1 Fighters

Best Experience – Battlescar

If you listen to UploadVR’s weekly Gamescast on Thursdays, you’ll know that we’ve been big fans of Battlescar for a long time. Creators Martín Allais and Nico Casavecchia did an incredible job tackling the conundrum of the VR movie head-on with a 30-ish minute short that rapidly switches up narrative styles and visuals to keep you constantly engaged.

Other nominees:

  • Madrid Noir
  • Goliath
  • Sentenced
  • Welcome To Respite

Best Updated Game – Waltz of the Wizard

Some of VR’s best games released two or three years ago now, but consistent updates have kept them just as relevant as they were at release. Every nominee in this category is deserving but, ultimately, we went with Waltz of the Wizard for its focus on remaining at the bleeding edge of VR. Every time Quest gets a new feature, be it hand-tracking or voice recognition SDKs, developer Aldin Dynamics is at the forefront of working out how these concepts can work in the context of an actual game. Waltz is a five-year-old experience now, but it’s never felt as fresh as it does today, and that’s a simply remarkable achievement.

Other nominees:

  • Space Pirate Trainer DX
  • Pistol Whip
  • GOLF+
  • Cubism
  • Blaston

Best DLC – Beat Saber

Some categories are tough to decide. This was not one of them. Beat Saber has had yet another massive year for DLC, bringing artists like Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish to VR whilst not forgetting its roots with new updates to the OST and more. This is one of the few VR games that’s tough to imagine getting a full-blown sequel simply because the game’s doing such an incredible (and no doubt profitable) job of sustaining its original release. Here’s to another year!

Other nominees:

  • Star Wars: Tales From The Galaxy’s Edge – Last Call
  • Jurassic World Aftermath – Part 2
  • Walkabout VR Minigolf – New Courses

Most Immersive Moment – Arashi: Castles of Sin

Sure, lots of VR games have dogs you can pet, but Arashi: Castles of Sin’s wolf companion Haru is, without a doubt, the absolute best, most thoughtful realization of a virtual animal yet seen. Not only does developer Endeavor One get a fluffy perfection out of her coat but the way she looks lovingly into your eyes and how her ears bend as you ruffle her head leave a genuine impression on you. Endeavor One spent time with real wolves to make sure Haru’s animation and behaviors were just right, and it really paid off.

Other nominees:

  • Soloing in Unplugged
  • Chopping trees and crafting backpacks in A Township Tale
  • Joining Puzzl in Floor Plan 2
  • Behind the stage with I Expect You To Die 2
  • Impending crashes in Traffic Jams

Most Innovative Design – Unplugged

Innovative Design is always a fun category to pick as so many VR games try so many radical new things. In the end, Unplugged’s genius design, which lets you essentially play a  Guitar Hero game without any plastic peripherals taking up space, took the crown. Not only does the hand-tracking technology work well but it’s actually the best game to use the feature since it arrived on Quests last year. Unplugged is proof you can get deep, immersive experiences out of even the most experimental of VR features.

Other nominees:

  • Carve Snowboarding
  • Puzzling Places
  • Hand Physics Lab
  • Gorilla Tag
  • Eye of the Temple

Hidden Gem – Mare

Mare feels like playing an ICO game inside of VR. From the impossible scope of its mist-swept ruins to the silent confidence with which its story is told, Visiontrick Media pulled off a fantastic point-and-click adventure that feels unique to VR and wonderfully nostalgic at the same time. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ve seen on this developer in VR.

Other nominees:

  • Vanishing Grace
  • Crashland
  • Arcsmith
  • Eternal Starlight
  • Eye of the Temple
  • Carve Snowboarding

Best VR Developer – Resolution Games

VR Developer is always a hard one to pick as so many studios put so much effort into not just new games but updating older ones and supporting the industry at large too. For its part, we felt this was the year to recognize the extraordinary achievements of Resolution Games, a studio that released one of our favorite titles of 2021, continued to update some of its best past projects, helped bring the excellent Carly & The Reaperman to Quest and even announced its first project for 2022. But it’s not just about the quantity – Resolution’s library of games also offer a welcome range of the most accessible VR titles mixed with fiendishly difficult ones for more dedicated gamers. The developer has real scope and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

Other nominees:

  • Beat Games
  • Resolution Games
  • nDreams
  • Fast Travel Games
  • Schell Games

Best PC VR Game – Demeo

Strategy games are something of a favorite at UploadVR, and PC has always been the best place to play those types of games. It’s fitting, then, to award PC VR Game to easily the best VR tactics game we’ve yet seen. Demeo is a great social experience, yes, but it’s also a really satisfying dungeon-crawling RPG that really requires you to think through battles to overcome its devilish difficulty.

Other nominees:

  • Lone Echo 2
  • Sweet Surrender
  • I Expect You To Die 2
  • Song in the Smoke

Best PSVR Game – Song in the Smoke

If we had an award for the nicest surprise of 2021, Song in the Smoke would definitely win. We really weren’t expecting big things out of this VR survival title, and it caught us completely off-guard with its fantastic, fleshed-out structure that gave us the genre’s best elements reimagined for headsets. The PSVR version was a particular highlight, too, navigating the platform’s wonky control schemes with ease and running just as well as the PC edition. No matter which headset you own, though, you shouldn’t miss out on Song in the Smoke.

Other nominees:

  • Fracked
  • Hitman 3
  • Sniper Elite VR
  • I Expect You To Die 2

Best Quest Game – Unplugged

If we’re talking about a game that made the best use of Quest hardware in 2021, Unplugged is the clear winner. Its overall presentation really holds up on the standalone headset and doesn’t appear compromised in any way. In fact, if anything, it’s the PC version of the game that’s a step down from Quest, which makes incredible use of hand-tracking in a way you’ve never seen before. When you hit your stride and nail notes in Unplugged you get a genuine sensation of playing along to your favorite tracks, and the game is near-instantly graspable for just about anyone that tries it. It wasn’t an easy pick, but we ultimately thought Unplugged represented the best of Quest in 2021.

Other nominees:

  • A Township Tale
  • Resident Evil 4 VR
  • Song in the Smoke
  • Demeo

Best Hardware – HTC Vive Flow

We have some heavy caveats about the HTC Vive Flow. It’s not a perfect device by any means, and its price seems quite high for what’s essentially a VR media viewer. But we also immensely respect the design philosophy behind HTC’s latest headset, with its ultra-light, goggles-like form factor laying out a template for where standalone VR is ultimately heading. It’s a truly innovative device that isn’t just brute-forcing high-performance specs but approaches the industry from a new angle. We hope to see a lot more from Flow in 2022.

Other nominees:

  • VR Power 2
  • Varjo Aero
  • Anker Quest 2 Charging Dock
  • DecaMove

VR Game Of The Year – Demeo

If you’ve been reading or watching our coverage since May, you’re probably not too surprised to see Demeo walk away with the title of UploadVR’s Game of the Year for 2021. We quickly fell for the game’s smart implementation of tabletop mechanics and, more importantly, its fantastic multiplayer support, which genuinely brought the vibe of in-person D&D games into VR. It transformed a fun game into an essential experience — especially in the middle of the ongoing pandemic — and really highlighted how VR differs from any other medium out there. Add to that the fact the game has already seen two generous expansions delivered for free with more to come in 2022, and Demeo was an easy pick for our Game of the Year.

Other nominees:

  • Resident Evil 4 VR
  • Song in the Smoke
  • Unplugged
  • I Expect You To Die 2

Congratulations to all the developers, companies and games nominated for UploadVR’s Best of 2021 awards! What do you make of our picks? Would you have changed any choices? Let us know in the comments below!

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