PlayStation VR2’s launch lineup was packed full of games. And while most of them were ports, it was still quite a lot to sift through. Here’s a quick rundown of a good portion, including the best, the rest, and everything in between.
Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village is one of the best Resident Evil games outside of VR, and playing it in virtual reality just adds another dimension to it. The intimacy afforded by this perspective bests even the regular experience since its terror is all-encompassing. Capcom even tweaked the mechanics to better fit the perspective since players have to physically mess with their flashlight, reload, and use items in a more realistic sense. All of this is a lot to juggle since actions that were automatic now take more thought, making some of the early parts a bit of a struggle.
Acclimating to the controls does take time, but rewards players with yet another way to experience one of the franchise’s strongest entries. Pulling off headshots becomes even easier, although it can be a little harder to avoid melee swipes in close quarters. Capcom has even changed around the Duke’s storefront and how players interact with puzzles to be more intuitive and take advantage of the medium.
The scale of some of the larger beasts and, of course, Lady Dimitrescu is also something that VR can more easily convey. Some of the cutscenes can be awkward (especially as Ethan gets tossed around) or play in a flat, 2D window and it’s a shame that players can’t transfer their base game saves or unlock any trophies, but they’re small gripes that can be easily overlooked in an otherwise incredible experience.
Kayak VR: Mirage
Kayak VR: Mirage can be either soothing or a little aimless since paddling is the goal here, but it’s still a pretty game that can show off what the headset can do in an enemy-free environment. There are also some time trial races that dial up the intensity, too, but those aren’t the focus here. However, despite how calm it is, this can be an extremely nauseating experience since players are rarely going to go in a perfectly straight line. There are multiple comfort settings that can limit how sickening it can be, but they still can’t completely nullify how rough these waters can get.
Cosmonious High doesn’t have much in common with Owlchemy Labs’ other games like Job Simulator or Vacation Simulator, but it also doesn’t have much in common with most other games. It’s a unique title where players attend an alien high school full of endearing students and teachers and go through all sorts of bizarre classes that yield new powers to mess with like ice, water, and the ability to change the size of objects, just to name a few. Even if it isn’t that challenging, combining these to solve puzzles is novel and makes for a decent gameplay loop. Scavenging the school and putting out its many literal and metaphorical fires with these powers also means there’s plenty to do at Cosmonious High, and it doesn’t feel like homework.
The Last Clockwinder
The Last Clockwinder is, simply put, one of PS VR2’s best launch games. Solving puzzles by setting up and interacting with multiple recordings of yourself is a novel concept that takes advantage of the medium to make something truly unique. It’s also open enough to encourage players to come to the solution in any way they see fit and that sense of freedom is liberating. Thinking critically and coming up with efficient solutions is as rewarding as sitting back and watching your little army of robotic caretakers flawlessly execute their job.
Pistol Whip was a hit on other VR headsets, and that has remained the case on PS VR2. This rhythm-based shooter is also among the best titles in the launch lineup since blasting, dodging, and reloading to the beat is still an exhilarating and stylized workout. Cloudhead Games has also updated the title quite a bit in the last few years, meaning this launch benefits from all of those substantial patches that have added a ton to the game. With a ton of modes, modifiers, and thumping songs, Pistol Whip is a multifaceted experience that continues to get better and better.
Horizon Call of the Mountain
Horizon Call of the Mountain is not the best game in PS VR2’s launch roster, but it is the most technically impressive, which is a feature that an exclusive first-party release needs to have. The natural vistas look fantastic and the sheer scale of the mechanical beasts is something to behold. Firesprite and Guerrilla Games know this and even let players take an on-rails safari ride that gives players an intimate look at each one of the metallic creatures, a perfect feature for showing others the power of the headset.
The actual gameplay is a bit more inconsistent. Shooting a bow can either be unnaturally accurate or wildly off. There’s no built-in crosshair, but it seems to take advantage of the eye tracking to fill in the blanks and have arrows hit their mark if the player has generally lined it all up. Combat is surprisingly thrilling, though, and has players dodging around a predetermined radius while picking off machine parts with well-placed arrows (or bombs); a loop that more or less emulates the other entries. However, climbing is not as exciting since grabbing handholds just isn’t thrilling or challenging, even though the game tries to add in new tools like climbing axes and a grappling hook to mix it up.
And with a weaker story led by a less likable protagonist, Horizon Call of the Mountain is the least impressive Horizon game and not as great as a first-party launch title should be. Despite its flaws, Horizon’s world is still engrossing enough and its combat is rather exhilarating, both of which are aspects that make for a great showpiece and make up for the all-too-prevalent climbing.
Moss and Moss Book II
Moss was one of the PS VR’s best games and that still rings true. The titular mouse’s cuteness has not faltered in the years since, as she’s just as charming as ever, which is mostly thanks to this game’s incredibly fluid animation that perfectly illustrates her personality with every motion. The puzzle gameplay is also intuitive and letting players overlook the action from a third-person perspective is a novel way to play a platformer. Polyarc has tweaked some aspects of the game, but it’s the core experience built all around the technology that still makes Moss and its sequel essential VR titles.
PS VR2 doesn’t have many puzzle games at its launch, but that’s where Puzzling Places comes in. This title places players in a void with a 3D puzzle that has to be assembled like a traditional jigsaw one, which is an inventive concept that meshes so well with the medium because of how it takes an established concept and intelligently changes it into something that is able take advantage of the virtual space. A 3D puzzle wouldn’t work as well in the real world, but it works so well in VR. While they don’t quite cover as much of the globe as they should, it has a ton of real-world places that players can assemble and get a more intimate view of.
Each puzzle has multiple settings, too, meaning that it’s possible to assemble a fairly simple one with 25 pieces or an absolute monster with 400 (or multiple denominations in between). The PS VR2 version even comes with an exclusive 1,000-piece puzzle for those who want to be truly tested (which is further reinforced by a tough trophy list). With a calming ambient soundscape that evokes the subject, multiple reference pictures and hints, and a customizable abyss, Puzzling Places is a unique cerebral challenge that has carved out its own space in the PS VR2’s library.
Devolver Digital published Tentacular, and that descriptor is as concise as it is accurate. Tentacular is a hilarious physics-based puzzle game where players play a giant sea creature that has to do busywork around a town that sounds like it’s some forgotten European island. Of course, it’s hard to do these tasks effectively with giant tentacles, and that’s where the comedy comes in. It’s a silly concept that knows it is silly and embraces that at every turn, but the controls are still decent enough to make it mechanically sound and a few of the puzzles give the player a surprising sense of freedom. It’s not just a joke for a joke’s sake, even though that is a big part of its appeal.
What the Bat?
What the Bat? almost exactly fits the pejorative description of VR games only being cheap tech demos, but that’s mostly because it’s a spiritual predecessor to What the Golf?, a title that excelled because of its goofy mini-games. This bat-oriented game takes that same game plan and takes players through a ton of silly levels that buck expectations and have players doing increasingly dumb things as a character with bats for hands like eating cereal and going bowling. A good portion of these present a joke and cleverly defy expectations, while more than a few are pointless and miss the mark. It’s not a grand slam, but it is a decent enough base hit in the PS VR2’s launch roster.
Startenders: Intergalactic Bartending
Startenders: Intergalactic Bartending takes a stressful job of being a bartender and turns it into an enjoyable video game. Having to multitask and juggle orders evokes the panic a game like Overcooked has, and, like any service job, practicing leads to getting the task done even faster and more efficiently. It’s a satisfying climb that even rewards players for doing fancier bar tricks like flipping drinks and pouring drinks high above the cup. Becoming a better bartender also opens the door for more upgrades, meaning players level up their internal skills as well as their equipment. Even though some of the alien designs are bizarre and can get repetitive, Startenders is an inventive take on the Job Simulator-esque genre.
Swordsman is PS VR2’s biggest melee action game at launch, but that doesn’t automatically make it a notable gladiator. While it can initially be engaging to dual wield clubs and bludgeon a pirate’s face in like he’s full of candy, Swordsman is too basic and janky to be worth playing for more than 30 minutes. Enemies are very stupid, as almost all of them die from just a few simple crotch stabs. Being so easily killable makes battles a tedious exercise and not ones fraught with skill and good timing. The physics are also erratic and rarely behave nearly as realistic as they should, something most notably seen when foes clip through each other and violently snap back into place.
The campaign is also laughably simple, as it just consists of a few barren and poorly detailed arenas that magically spawn in one or two goons at a time. These are supposed to take place around the world, but they all have the same basic strategies and character models; the swordsmen from Japan strangely look and behave just like the Nordic ones. Sinn Studio has already added a ton to the game since its 2020 launch and more is promised (as noted by the closed archery room in the base). However, this sword needs a lot more sharpening before it’s fit for combat.
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition is initially appealing because of the license, but the game itself doesn’t live up to those aspirations. Interacting with aliens at the cantina is delightful because of the performances and how well they animate, yet that’s far and away the best part of the experience.
Many of the early hours are spent shooting at thugs in the wilderness with mechanics that are less than ideal. Gunplay is inaccurate unless players buy an expensive upgrade and almost explains how Stormtroopers are notoriously bad shots. Picking items off corpses is tedious and should have been automated through some sort of drone. The tool-based puzzles are repetitive and mostly consist of just a few dial-spinning mechanisms and welded-shut (or screwed-shut) boxes.
The later episodes that star different characters (including IG-88 from The Mandalorian and a lightsaber-wielding Jedi) change things up just a bit and vastly outclass the terrible first level, as they are shorter and have better gimmicks. But it’s still a thin and poorly paced experience that is only noteworthy because it is in the Star Wars universe.
Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded
Shooting galleries are an easy pick for virtual reality, which makes Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded seem like a safe bet. However, this shooter, while more fully featured than its original release, should be double tapped.
The hideous character models based on the actors from the films and groan-inducing comedy try to invoke the movie franchise it is based on, but those aspects can’t hide how shoddy the mechanics are. The shooting is inaccurate mainly because of the recoil that makes it hard to nail a shot and activate its bullet time-esque double tap mechanic. Hitting anything that isn’t a few feet away becomes an exercise in patience as bullets spray wildly and pelt just about everything but the target. Reloading and grabbing a secondary weapon are also dodgy and rarely behave as they should, which can lead to a lot of frustrating deaths.
Between the upgradeable weapons, handful of modes, alternate B-side levels, shooting gallery missions, and thoughtfully designed trophies, Reloaded is built to be played over and over again. But the core act of firing a gun is annoying enough to make this licensed shooting gallery a chore and almost invalidate how replayable it actually is.
Jurassic World Aftermath Collection
Jurassic World Aftermath Collection was never a great game and that hasn’t changed even with this upgraded headset. Seeing a big dinosaur in VR is quite appealing, but the ugly, basic environments, simplistic puzzle-oriented gameplay, and boring story full of weak characters make this title a chore to get through. Getting stalked by a velociraptor is theoretically enticing since it demonstrates how naturally the Jurassic World formula would fit to an Alien Isolation-style experience, but the Aftermath Collection isn’t quite far from that dream and not worth the trip to Isla Nublar.
Gran Turismo 7
Gran Turismo 7 is one of the few titles that doesn’t support the PS VR2 Sense controllers and instead forces players to use a DualSense controller instead. However, that’s not really a bad thing since GT7 thoroughly supports virtual reality rather than limiting it to an individual mode like Gran Turismo Sport. Like its predecessor, it remains one of the most impressive VR offerings because it instills a thrilling sense of speed. Driving around in VR just translates naturally, too, as it is second nature to quickly utilize the mirrors in VR as if you were driving in real life. Polyphony Digital did a great job making one of the PlayStation 5’s best games even better with this free VR update.
Unplugged: Air Guitar
If you’ve missed the feeling of a rock god that a good run in Guitar Hero could infuse you with, then Unplugged: Air Guitar is a worthy pick-up. Featuring some great licensed tracks, such as “Roadie” by Tenacious D, the game is a blast as you mimic fret placement with one hand and strum with the other on your air guitar. Sure, you look like a total dork while playing, but you feel awesome and that is what matters. There are a few potential tracking issues that hopefully will get improved with patches, but it still doesn’t diminish the experience much.
While Ragnarock is a pretty basic rhythm game at its core, it takes full advantage of PS VR2’s tracking to be a great time (and even a decent cardio session). You’ll be banging drums to the beat of songs as you attempt to cheer on your group of Vikings as they row. It results in a satisfying high-score chase as you aim to get better and better at timing your drum pounds.
Who knew Tetris could be such a spiritual experience? Tetris Effect remains the most stylish offering of the iconic puzzle game available, and you get to drop blocks while being immersed in colorful locales where superb music thumps in the background. Tetris Effect‘s focus on keeping players immersed through its visuals and music is what makes it such a fitting experience for VR since those effects are more, well, effective when isolated inside of a headset. It’s an incredible trip and one that you’ll find yourself going back to repeatedly.
Rez received new life last generation thanks to virtual reality making Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s 2001 rail shooter all the more engrossing. The latest port of the stylish game is just as phenomenal and continues its streak of being tech-forward since it takes full advantage of eye tracking, which players can use for aiming. The Area X mode returns in all its visual splendor, and looks better than ever due to the better screens and horsepower, remaining a tease for a sequel that could become one of VR’s best games if it ever winds up being made.
It’s absolutely wild that a new Fantavision game has been released, but it’s an example of how virtual reality can freshen up a very basic game. The original was practically a glorified tech demo for the PlayStation 2, and this isn’t much different because it’s a far too simple game when played traditionally. However, when played in VR, the spectacle of linking together colored fireworks and then watching them go off is quite the treat, and that depth adds a lot to the overall experience. It’s hard to recommend unless you have nostalgia for the original or truly love fireworks, but it’s a neat treat for those that fall into one of those categories.
A true spectacle, Drool’s “rhythm violence” game is still a delight to play in virtual reality. It’s much easier to get fully engrossed in the gameplay, which sees a cosmic space beetle going down an interdimensional highway at rapid speeds. It’s as surreal as it sounds and rapid inputs are required to stay alive during its intense levels and boss encounters. It was one of PlayStation VR’s best titles and it looks and this port just looks and feels so much better.
Disclosure: The publishers provided PlayStation 5 copies of each game (except for Horizon Call of the Mountain and Fantavision 202X) for our feature.