Virtual reality has been the dream of all gamers since the 1980’s. Everything in the 90’s seemed to be pointing to a future inside our computers. From the Nintendo Power Glove to VR Arcades to depictions of VR in our films, we seemed to be on the cusp. And then the dream died. The arcades shut down, the Virtual Boy went back into its box, and we saw neither hair nor hide of VR for fifteen years. Sure we had some fun forays into massive multiplayer worlds. World of WarCraft opened the door to social experiences like SecondLife and many other online games. But they had one problem: they weren’t immersive.
Sure, you could meet up with your friends, dress up your avatar, pretend you have a job (you know, like designing unique salon opening hours signs or something and selling them to fake hairstylists), and even have virtual sex. But you were stuck with a limited view.
Fast forward to 2012 and the world of consumer virtual reality exploded. Palmer Luckey built a passable VR headset with two cell phones, some cardboard, and two lenses. His Kickstarter Campaign was one of the most successful in the history of Kickstarters. And within a few years, Facebook bought out his company.
Now, in 2018, the dream of VR is real. And Palmer Luckey’s headset, the Oculus Rift, is one of the most advanced headsets you can buy. But let’s look back at 2017, the year VR took off, and check out the top five Oculus Rift Virtual reality games.
1. Ready At Dawn’s Lone Echo/Echo Arena
Have you ever wanted to just float around in space? How about experience the life of Ender Wiggin? Whenever someone jumps into Ready at Dawn’s Lone Echo or Echo Arena, the first thing they exclaim is: “This is just like Ender’s Game!” Ready at Dawn performed a feat no other VR space game could. They created a comfortable way to move around a zero gravity environment in virtual reality. Any other VR game set in space would make anyone unaccustomed to virtual reality barf. Poor design choices like lack of 1-1 controls, no hand presence, or jolting visuals when the player even brushed up against an object made spacefaring a disorienting and painful experience.
Lone Echo and Echo Arena (the free multiplayer arm of Lone Echo) both utilize 1-1 movement controls. You grab a surface and your body responds correctly. In Lone Echo, you play an Echo robot named Jack. Your job is to help Captain Olivia Rhodes aboard her space station near Saturn as she solves complex problems. Mystery ensues when an anomaly appears near Saturn’s rings.
Echo Arena is the multiplayer arm of Lone Echo. You inhabit the body of an Echo robot. With other players, your mission is to win. This is basically ultimate frisbee in space. And the arena in which you play closely resembles the Battle Room in Ender’s Game. You can punch and disable your fellow robots for a split second, you can steal from them, and you can taunt them with your faceplate emote feature. Echo Arena is one of the most immersive experiences in VR to date.
2. Gunfire Games’ From Other Suns
Perma-death, laser guns, robots, and aliens. All of these were promised when Gunfire Games, creators of the wild west shoot’em up, Dead and Buried, announced their project From Other Suns. And boy did they deliver. Board your ship with two other crew-mates and grab your guns, cause an alien force is about to wipe out the galaxy and Earth is their final destination. The goal of the game is to make it back to Earth alive. And doing this isn’t all too easy.
Your entire crew has five lives between them. When you die, your consciousness is transferred to a robot body. If everyone dies, the game is over. You have to start again no matter how many hours you’ve played. You meet raiders, pirates, pretty damsels in distress, nasty aliens, robots bent on destroying you, and so much more. Remember, no one can hear you scream in space.
3. Ubisoft’s Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Most Trekkies wet dreams include the bridge of the Enterprise. And while the woman in the red uniform will constantly look up at the engineering station as if she wants you, Star Trek: Bridge Crew isn’t *that* kind of video game. But with Star Trek: Bridge Crew, you can live your other Trekkie dream of being a starship captain or the engineer or helmsman or tactical officer. You are part of the crew aboard the U.S.S. Aegis and you can play through a host of missions with other real-life players.
You mostly encounter Klingon bird of prey, so the missions eventually get a little repetitive. But for a while, you will forget that you’re not actually in space aboard a starship. As added bonus the game comes with the bridge of the original Enterprise from the Original Series. This mode is a little challenging to figure out as all the buttons are exactly as they were in the TV show with no labels.