The 2017 Virtual Reality Game of the Year

VR is becoming more and more popular as the months go by, and 2017 brought us some of the most exciting VR experiences so far.

It was a very big year for VR, and we saw a lot of quality games released across all three major headsets. There were a lot to choose from, but these were some of the best VR experiences of 2017.

Honorable Mention: SUPERHOT VR

Although SUPERHOT VR was released in 2016, it was so late in the year for the HTC Vive that it flew just under our radar, which is a shame, because we’ve played so much SUPERHOT VR this year that it could have easily swept up our game of the year award without breaking a sweat. Although simple in concept, SUPERHOT VR delivers a visually stunning experience that forces you to bend it like Keanu while shattering enemies left and right with everything from bullets to coffee mugs. It’s a crazy blend of slow motion, accuracy, and mind-bending mechanics that’s more than worth playing again and again and again.

Honorable Mention: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality

Job Simulator-style VR games have been worked a little hard recently, but Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality is easily one of the best in the bunch. It comes from the developers of the original Job Simulator, and one of the twisted minds behind Rick and Morty; Justin Roiland.

The creativity and fun factor that’s here absolutely qualify it for an honorable mention this year, because Virtual Rick-ality manages to shove you in a sandbox that’s oozing with the atmosphere of Rick and Morty’s world.  Here, you have the freedom to experiment and play with virtually anything and everything you can reach. It’s an experience that’s unique to VR, and any fan of the show is sure to love it.

Runner-Up: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

This PSVR title had us skeptical through its entire pre-release lineup, partly because it was coming to the PSVR, but also because it featured traditional locomotion, plus content that was nauseating in its own right. As a result, we were pretty sure VR motion sickness and the gross nature of some of the content was going to create a vomit fest for the majority of users.

Turns out, we were half right, but the other half of the game was a quality full-length VR experience that was more than worth playing if you could keep your breakfast down. The tension and atmosphere of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard alone was enough to make it one of the best horror games of the year, and strapping it to your face in virtual reality brought it to a whole new level that made it a serious contender for VR game of the year.

Runner Up: The Gallery - Episode 2: Heart of the Emberstone

The Gallery – Episode 2: Heart of the Emberstone is the second iteration in one of the most popular narrative experiences in VR to release last year, and the sequel takes the concept and blows it out of this world.

With new mechanics, mind-bending VR puzzles, and an interesting but nuanced world to explore, Heart of the Emberstone manages to capture everything we love about virtual reality and roll it into a beautiful experience that pushes the boundaries of what we thought was possible in the medium.

The developers over at Cloudhead Games clearly know what they’re doing, and if you were a fan of the first episode of The Gallery, or if you’re just looking for an interesting adventure that tugs at the heartstrings and the very nature of human curiosity, you owe it to yourself to pick up this title as soon as possible.

Runner-Up: Lone Echo/Echo Arena

There’s no doubt that Lone Echo and Echo Arena (two halves of the same whole) deserve their own game of the year awards. They offer a unique and revolutionary sense of motion and movement in VR that you absolutely can’t find on any other platform. Between the two they offer a quality narrative experience on one hand, and an addictive multiplayer experience on the other. They both send you floating across a zero-gravity space with either a sense of purpose and wonder, or a competitive edge as you work with teammates to score goals in a visual feast for the senses.

It also had one of the best stories in single player gaming. The sense of character was very real despite the fact you’re controlling a robot, and the camaraderie with your human companion was strengthened by the excellent writing and beautiful graphics.

Echo Arena in particular is ridiculously fun, and combines everything we’ve ever wanted to see out of a sci-fi zero-gravity game of quidditch, and as a result it was a really tough decision to make these titles runner ups, rather than the winner.

Winner: Fallout 4 VR

Fallout 4 VR is our winner of 2017’s VR Game of the Year Award for a number of reasons, but the most important two revolve around VR implementation, and the sheer scale of quality content it has to offer.

Fallout 4 VR changes things, because it represents 100’s of hours of VR content that lets you explore a massive open world from a company that’s made a name for themselves exploring that exact concept. It isn’t perfect, but it’s immersive, fun, and it represents one of the best VR adaptations for a AAA title to VR that we’ve ever seen.

One of VR’s unfortunate shortcomings right now revolves around the lack of longer, more detailed experiences, and Fallout 4 VR represents a VR game that blows that statistic out of the water while still catering to the varied playstyles and controller preferences of the community at large. It’s a groundbreaking game because of what it means for the VR community at large. Fallout 4 VR is by far the biggest VR game we’ve ever explored, but more importantly, it’s a sign of the kind of VR experiences to come, and what they might look like in terms of scale and complexity.

Fallout 4 VR is a VR game that lets you get lost in the Commonwealth; it’s an immersive, atmospheric, post-apocalyptic world that’s familiar to some, but in VR becomes a whole new experience just waiting to be explored by fans and newcomers alike. 

Congratulations to Fallout 4 VR for winning VR Game of the Year for 2017!

Check out our full 2017 award list for more.