The Best Virtual Reality Games Of 2019

2019 was a pivotal year for virtual reality. While developers and industry leaders may not see the market potential of VR yet, there have never-the-less been major strides in VR that have paved the way for things to come. The Oculus Quest released in May, giving players a platform at a console competitive price without the need for a high powered gaming PC. Further, the library has grown to include a wide variety of exceptional games in a multitude of genres. While none have managed to capture a mainstream audience the way Half-Life: Alyx undoubtedly will, there has been no shortage of AAA quality games from major developers like Insomniac, Bethesda, and Capcom.

Below are our choices for the most innovative, highest quality, and most fun VR games that came out in 2019. We’d like to be upfront about some notable titles that, while highly regarded, didn’t make the list simply because our team wasn’t able to give them their due. Games like Blood and TruthPistol Whip, Vader Immortal, and Falcon Age are still on our backlog, while games like Boneworks, Death Lap, and Path of the Warrior came out too recently to make the cut. We can’t vouch for any of these games, but we’ve certainly heard good things.

Without further ado, here are our favorite VR games of 2019

Stormland

Stormland is Insomniac’s 4th VR title and its biggest one to date. Not only is it just about the smoothest FPS experience you can have in VR, it also demonstrates Insomniac’s penchant for thrilling mobility by giving you the ability to power jump, glide, fling yourself, and surf along the clouds at super speed. While many VR games still struggle to provide natural feeling locomotion, Insomniac has managed to create a system that offers real freedom and precise control.

Stormland also has an innovative weekly reset system, adopted from live service games, like Destiny 2, that gives players a fresh experience week after week and new challenges to pursue. It’s a highly replayable game for the “hardcore” crowd, something VR is certainly in desperate need of.

Golem

Generally speaking, PSVR tends to give players a pretty poor impression of VR. The experiences are fairly limited, as are the Move Controllers, and the library of exclusives aren’t exactly “must-haves.” Then there’s Golem, a game that proves PSVR is a perfectly viable platform for deep and complex games.

Golem has a remarkable visual identity, compelling combat that evolves over time, and a soundtrack so engrossing it almost begs for a replay all on its own. While the game has limitations in terms of locomotion (Move Controllers have no sticks, therefore you must lean to move back forward) Golem still feels like a step forward for the budding medium.

Asgard’s Wrath

After half a dozen hours fighting the forces of Tyr’s army, solving environmental puzzles, and eventually defeating the God of War in one of the best VR boss battles ever, I felt pretty satisfied with what Asgard’s Wrath had to offer. That’s when I realized that I had only played the first chapter in a sprawling, multi-character campaign that never stopped surprising and delighting me for over 4o hours.

Asgard’s Wrath is without a doubt the most ambitious game to release in VR, and while it has it’s flaws (too many followers) it’s so jam-packed with cool combat styles, hidden collectibles, and crafty puzzles that you can’t help but forgive any of its shortcomings. Asgard’s Wrath is cognitively demanding and pretty much as low as you can get on the “comfort scale,” but for those that can handle intense VR, this is the current bar for full-length AAA in virtual reality.

Until You Fall

Until You Fall from Schell games is technically in Early Access, but it’s perfectly stable and far more feature-complete than many “released” VR games, so it deserves a spot on this list. Until You Fall is my personal favorite VR game this year, and a model for the type of VR I hope we see a lot more of in 2020.

It’s a roguelike, meaning it can be played in short or long sessions with equal satisfaction while still offering progression. It also has the best melee combat of any VR game I’ve played. It has a striking visual style, relying on bright neons, and dazzling particle effects to engross you in the world. In short, Until You Fall makes you feel like a badass.

Last Labyrinth

Likely the least known of all the games on this list, Last Labyrinth is an escape-the-room game that is everything Until You Fall and Stormland is not. You have practically no use of your body whatsoever in Last Labyrinth aside from looking around and nodding/shaking your head. Your goal is to direct a young girl (who speaks a different language) through bespoke puzzle rooms by directing her to interact with objects to solve puzzles and unlock doors. Failing doesn’t just mean slowing progress, it often means the death of both you and the little girl, often in grotesque and disturbing ways.

The best way to describe Last Labyrinth is “haunting.” It’s an intimate experience, and though your communication is limited, your reliance on the girl is so complete that you can’t help but quickly develop an connection to her, making her frequent deaths that more much upsetting. It’s a kind of emotional immersion that needs to be explored in VR a lot more. Last Labyrinth proves that the most powerful experiences can sometimes require the simplest interactions.

Honorable Mentions – Audica and OhShape

While Beat Saber pretty much has the VR rhythm game genre on lock, there are some great alternatives, too. Audica from Harmonix blends rhythm with FPS gunplay for an Equilibrium-esque ballet of bullets, while OhShape, a game that requires you to fit your body through tight spaces that fly at you to the beat of the music, is the best cardio you can get in VR. Both games are less popular than Beat Saber, but definitely worth checking out.

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