It's hard to think of a better example of what VR does so well than Pistol Whip. An immensely enjoyable soundtrack that directly feeds into the core gameplay loop and some wonderfully vibrant visuals all add together with addictive gameplay to make this a fantastic experience. For a great workout it's perfect but with the modifiers allowing more relaxed gameplay, it also can appeal to those who just want some escapism. 2089 adds a new layer on top with an actual narrative tying together the gameplay, adding to what is already a pretty great package. The fact that all the content was added as free updates also goes to show not all VR games need to be extortionately priced.
In Death: Unchained might not be one of the fanciest or idea-rich experiences in VR, but this is definitely one of the most fun to step into and play. An addictive gaming loop of meaty and satisfying bow-play, mixed with the rogue-lite incentive to keep playing, makes this title one that is easy to just keep coming back and playing time and time again. With a really impressive visual style, some fantastically scary moments, and some great AI, as well as developer being so committed to adding ever more content, In Death: Unchained is one that comes highly recommended to Oculus Quest users.
Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is a fundamental shift in how this operates - literally. From space to the ground. Taking those first steps on a planet's surface after having landed there is simply awesome, and is decades in the making for fans of the Frontier franchise. The unfortunate reality however is that the performance is currently letting it down. Serious optimisation work is a necessity to iron out a multitude of issues - albeit it's probably not as bad as some are portraying in the immediate aftermath of release. While the new gameplay mechanics come with some variety for those bored of simple space combat, the shooting on the ground also needs a good deal of attention, with AI, and the general standard of combat, alongside the amount of different locations generated on planets, all in need of work. The thing is, this is a journey; a road map, and this is just the first staging post. Hopefully there's a lot more to come down the line.
FitXR's new subscription and membership model isn't going to appeal to everyone, in the same way that fitness games in general are not going to appeal to everyone. For those who are invested in complimenting their real life workout with something a bit more lighthearted and fun in their spare time, this is a very compelling offer, even if the UI and usability experience can be a little rough around the edges compared to the more polished VR titles on the market. However, the meat of the title - a regular schedule of new classes, a good variety of workout types, and, most importantly, multiplayer - all combine to make FitXR an enticing offer.
Despite the relatively short run-time, B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas is an entertaining family friendly adventure that everyone can get involved in. The simplicity of running it plays in its favour in a big way as it will avoid those less tech-savvy getting flustered when trying to join the fun. Puzzles can be tough, but never too difficult to be massively frustrating, and the addition of a hint system should alleviate getting stuck at any point. While it would have been nice to have a few more rooms to explore and solve puzzles in, it's a great social means of playing games together from a distance.
Battle Brothers feels like a really natural fit on the Switch. The open-world nature of the game is one that is easy to get lost in and therefore having the ability to take it on the go is a fantastic attribute. As good as that is, the clunkiness of some of the controls on the console will take a bit of getting used to. However, the fact is there is not really any other title like this on the console with such a uniquely procedural role-playing feel. Making the player care about characters is one of the hardest tricks in gaming and Battle Brothers delivers this, with the sense of loss after a tough battle being really palpable.
Apex Legends is a live service experience, so there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the title. The best advice at the moment to is to turn off cross-play and just compete against others with the same limitations. At its core, though, there is something really good here. Unfortunately, it's just hidden behind a wall of technical issues in terms of graphics, frame rate, resolution and overall stability. Panic Button is the king of Switch ports, though, and it feels like the developer deserves the chance to try and put this right. Fix the stability, adjust the graphics and work on cross-progression. If Panic Button can put things right, it will enhance its reputation to no end.
VirtuaVerse isn't all bad. It is a solid 10-plus hour plot that is a clear homage to some of the best portrayals of this dystopian vision of a futuristic world. There are a few nice set pieces here and there, and from a graphical standpoint, the visuals pop on the screen and are incredibly memorable. Likewise, the musical score compliments them ideally. However, this is an adventure that never gets off the ground thanks to lacklustre main characters, forgettable dialogue, and a clichéd plot. Worse still, the puzzling point-and-click adventure aspects of gameplay detract from the above more often than they enhance.
Shut In captures these unprecedented times in a small but unique package. With depth far beyond the initial on-the-surface horror story, this experience taps into the evocativeness of a mental health crisis, and the commentary it makes on the dread suffered by those with mental illnesses is powerful. It isn't all deep, though. The narrator successfully plays on the Undertale vibe and the comedic elements within such a tonally dark tale come across very well.
Beat Saber feels like the title that has propelled VR gaming into the mainstream and its effect on inspiring a whole host of other developers to enter this space cannot be underestimated. The core gameplay loop here is one the whole family can get involved in and it is not an over exaggeration to say this game can consume hours once it gets its hooks in. The BTS tracks are a welcome addition and if there is one band whose music seems to fit perfectly with this, it surely has to be theirs. Energetic, bombastic and addictive - prepare to be replaying Dynamite a lot to perfect its tough beat map. While some will argue the game itself and subsequent packs are ever so slightly overpriced, with multiplayer now active and the ability to add as many custom songs as one desires, for any VR owner this is simply a must-buy.