Category Archives: Oculus Rift News

Top 5 Oculus Releases – March 17th-30th – Ready, Players One and All

This week was a little bit of a slow one for new Oculus releases, but large in other ways. Due to this weekend’s surprisingly entertaining new Spielberg film – based on a novel with…fairly mixed reviews – it doesn’t take the cutting edge technology prophets here at Oculus Game Reviewer to predict a spike in the general public’s interest in VR.

Keeping that in mind, we offer you a double-sized, two-week list of top new Oculus releases (ubiquitous ‘80s references not necessarily included):

Catan VR

from Experiment 7

Settlers of Catan - screenshot courtesy Oculus
Settlers of Catan – screenshot courtesy Oculus

A virtual version of a board game might not seem like the most exciting offering compared to a flying Delorean with spray-painted Ghostbuster logos, but this is a great entry point for new players. A calm and well-designed environment prevents shock and motion sickness, guaranteeing VR newcomers without hardcore game experience don’t just bounce right off the medium, never to return.

Plus, it’s Settlers of Catan, one of the most acclaimed board games of all time. And with input on AI opponents from original board game designer Klaus Teuber, cross-platform play for both Rift and Gear VR users, and a fully animated island playing board complete with weather effects, Catan VR is a definite must-have (and not just for VR newcomers, either).

Oculus Rift | 393 MB | $14.99 from Oculus
Gear VR | 254 MB | $9.99 from Oculus

Apex Construct

from Fast Travel Games

Apex Construct - screenshot courtesy Steam
Apex Construct – screenshot courtesy Steam

Aesthetically the most similar offering to Ready Player One, thanks to a futuristic setting and a plot featuring warring AIs, Apex Construct is a story-driven shooter that somehow combines cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic sci-fi with archery-driven combat.

Originally released for Sony PSVR and now available for the Rift, this release from Fast Travel Games offers a solid simulation of archery, plenty of action, and a visually stunning setting.

Oculus Rift | 5 GB | $29.99 from Steam

L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files

from Rockstar Games

L.A. Noire: The VR Csae Files - screenshot courtesy Steam
L.A. Noire: The VR Csae Files – screenshot courtesy Steam

The big budget VR film du jour might be all about the ‘80s, but how about a game that transports you to the ‘40s? The VR spin-off of Rockstar Games’ acclaimed detective adventure from 2011, L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files offers seven new cases to solve.

Featuring a variety of game mechanics, ranging from puzzle-solving to shooting to fisticuffs, all delivered in a full-color but faithfully film noir setting, this one offers a solid cross-section of experiences for new and experienced VR players alike.

Oculus Rift | 18 GB | $29.99 from Oculus or from Steam

The Steadfast VR Challenge

from LANCLAN LLC

The Steadfast VR Challenge - screenshot courtesy Steam
The Steadfast VR Challenge – screenshot courtesy Steam

Requiring both reflexes and tactical skills, the somewhat bland name of The Steadfast VR Challenge belies this game’s entertainment value. Combining wave shooter and tower defense elements with a comfortable interface that will get pulses racing without stomachs roiling, this one has the added bonus of a graphical presentation that recalls Team Fortress 2 with its charming, cartoonish violence.

Oculus Rift | 750 MB | $19.99 from Oculus

ARK Park

from Snail Games

ARK Park - screenshot courtesy Steam
ARK Park – screenshot courtesy Steam

The VR-exclusive spin-off from the much-hyped but critically mixed ARK: Survival Evolved, this latest entry into the burgeoning genre of VR Jurassic Park simulator offers a mix of crafting, exploration, and above all, dinosaurs. While the game mechanics could use some improvement here and there, the dinosaurs themselves are unparalleled.

Oculus Rift | 25 GB | $39.99 from Oculus or from Steam

Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think of its portrayal of VR? Let us know in the comments!

Brass Tactics: Arena - screenshot courtesy Steam

Top 5 Oculus Releases – February 17th-23rd – Steam-Powered Sharks and Nuclear Kittens

Getting past the obvious hype of steampunk strategy, this week’s most intriguing new Oculus releases offer an array of educational experiences, from exploring the ocean to gaining a better understanding of nuclear disasters:

Brass Tactics

from Hidden Path Entertainment

Brass Tactics - screenshot courtesy Oculus
Brass Tactics – screenshot courtesy Oculus

After last week’s free multi-player preview – Brass Tactics: Arena – the long-awaited full version is out at last, and all reports indicate that it actually lives up to the hype.

With a single-player campaign lasting up to six hours, plus over a dozen maps, multiple units and a variety of single and multi-player game modes and an interface somewhere between a high-end tabletop war game and a retro-futuristic general’s war room, Brass Tactics is the latest and greatest in VR strategy.

The detailed backgrounds and well-executed steampunk unit designs don’t hurt, either.

Oculus Rift | 8.7 GB | $39.99 from Oculus

Operation Apex

from Curiscope

Operation Apex - screenshot courtesy  Oculus
Operation Apex – screenshot courtesy Oculus

Games like Subnautica and Ocean Rift have highlighted particular suitability of VR for experiencing underwater environments – no SCUBA certification necessary and no risk of nitrogen narcosis.

Operation Apex is more realistic than the former and more story-driven than the latter, with players taking on the role of oceanographic researchers in search of the legendary great white shark. That appeals to our scientific side, as does the promise of simulated marine life reacting to us as we enter its native ecosystem.

Oculus Rift | 3.8 GB | $19.99 from Oculus

FukushimaRMI

from Michael Vallance

FukushimaRMI - screenshot courtesy WEARVR
FukushimaRMI – screenshot courtesy WEARVR

A free interactive experience intended as an educational tool, FukushimaRMI is a fascinating glimpse into the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Players guide a robot gathering radioactive bins, and the presence of wandering animals and birdsong in the otherwise eerie quiet is a juxtaposition that better conveys the dangers of radiation than any Fallout knock-off.

Oculus Rift | FREE from WEARVR

Konrad the Kitten

from FusionPlay

Konrad the Kitten - screenshot courtesy Steam
Konrad the Kitten – screenshot courtesy Steam

Essentially a virtual pet, the simplicity of the concept belies the innovative nature of Konrad the Kitten. Now out of Early Access, this game offers a “plush toy” mode combining real world tactile feedback with virtual pet antics (just strap your controller to your favorite stuffed animal) – and highlights the potential of VR to create meaningful experiences for audiences well outside the gaming and technological community.

Oculus Rift | 500 MB | $14.99 from Oculus or from Steam

Tomb Raider: Lara’s Escape VR

from Warner Bros.

Tomb Raider: Lara's Escape - screenshot courtesy Steam
Tomb Raider: Lara’s Escape – screenshot courtesy Steam

For a free movie promotion, Tomb Raider: Lara’s Escape is a surprisingly solid little experience for mobile VR, offering an amuse bouche of all the signature Lara Croft experiences, from shooting arrows to rappelling down walls to being impaled by spikes.

Gear VR | 704 MB | FREE from Oculus

Google Earth VR - screenshot courtesy Steam

Best Oculus Experiences of 2017

2017 was far closer to the “Year of VR” that everyone promised a year earlier – new head-mounted displays from Microsoft’s spec (Acer, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung), peripheral updates – HTC Vive Tracker, and major permanent price cuts across all platforms meant higher adoption. Games and apps improved beyond being mere demo-grade downstream shovel-ware as the early developers matured into major players. 2018 will advance all of these elements substantially, and as arcades evolve and Spielberg enters the fray with the spring release of Ready Player One, mainstream awareness will start to trickle in.

Among the offerings that came out in 2017, here are those experiences we found most succinct and worth of your time.

Cat Sorter VR

from Pawmigo Games

Cat Sorter VR game screenshot courtesy Steam
Cat Sorter VR – screenshot courtesy Steam

Despite the goofy premise, this game about taking apart cats and putting them back together again as a worker on an assembly line in some feline equivalent to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory captured the public imagination – and mainstream media attention – in ways that few other VR releases did this year. Helping elevate Cat Sorter VR from a novelty game are the cats themselves, which feature mutations like extra eyes or scorpion tales, making the whole process all the more addictive. This fusion of cute and creepy were enough to garner the Aesthetic Award at IndieCade 2017.

Oculus Rift | 2 GB | $12.99 from Steam

Gorn

from Free Lives

Gorn game screenshot courtesy Steam
Gorn – screenshot courtesy Steam

Though it’s technically still in Early Access, everyone we know has been playing Gorn nonstop this year. Created by the team responsible for indie PC hit BroForce, this gladiatorial combat game provides a sense of gleeful, cartoonish violence that’s so over-the-top it’s somehow almost innocent. Gore plus porn – get it?

Instead of destructible environments and explosions, the theme this time around is spiked clubs and fisticuffs – not to mention ludicrously huge blood droplets spattering everywhere each time a swing connects with a face.

Oculus Rift | 2 GB | $19.99 from Steam

Bigscreen

from Bigscreen, Inc.

bigscreen vr screenshot

Bigscreen is a recently socialized virtual desktop app for Vive and Oculus Rift that lets you echo your desktop in virtual space. You can play games, scribble, throw a LAN party – we have yet to figure out how to not spill Mountain Dew in our lap while doing so – and most obviously, watch movies with others in a virtual theater. Spatialized voice chat ensures you can echolocate your buddies in the metaverse.

You can also manipulate screens with controllers or even Leap Motion‘s IR-based input method. They recently hosted an online viewing party of Top Gun in 3D. Now VR starts to demonstrate how it is unlike any other medium.

Oculus Rift | 1.5 GB | FREE from the Oculus Store or from Steam

Star Trek Bridge Crew

from Ubisoft

Star Trek Bridge Simulator game screenshot courtesy Steam
Star Trek Bridge Simulator – screenshot courtesy Steam

VR’s strength is its use of space to create experience, and what science fiction fan wouldn’t want to visit location as iconic as the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise? Star Trek Bridge Crew gives players the chance to not only explore the bridge but also team up with friends online “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Oculus Rift | 10 GB | $49.99 from the Oculus Store or from Steam

Lone Echo

from Ready at Dawn

Lone Echo  screenshot courtesy Oculus
Lone Echo – screenshot courtesy Oculus

Lone Echo draws on hard science fiction, both classic (Arthur C. Clarke) and modern (The Expanse), setting players to work investigating weird goings-on aboard a space station orbiting Saturn. Apart from its puzzles and evocative renditions of believable technology as well as the awe-inspiring feeling of space, the game excels at locomotion, giving players an experience of zero gravity without the attendant expense of training at NASA or chartering a reduced-gravity aircraft.

If that all sounds too esoteric and thought-provoking, there’s also the included Echo Arena spin-off, a multi-player zero gravity sports game a bit like Ultimate Frisbee.

Oculus Rift | 17 GB | $39.99 from the Oculus Store

Luna

from Funomena

Luna game screenshot courtesy Steam
Luna – screenshot courtesy Steam

An interactive fairy tale from Funomena (best known for such acclaimed works as Journey and Flower), our favorite VR game of the year is so perfect because of its use of space to both tell a story and offer up gaming elements in a space-based diorama filled with wonderful nature pastiches. Its puzzles are fairly easy, but are fun and addictive enough to keep us pulling at spiderwebs not to progress in the game, but just because we enjoyed the sensation so much. Delightful art and a score by Austin Wintory made Luna a memorable and joyous experience.

Oculus Rift | 2 GB | $16.99 from Oculus or from Steam

Other Major Releases of Interest

Rift Core 2.0 update

from Oculus

Rift Core 2.0  screenshot courtesy Oculus
Rift Core 2.0 – screenshot courtesy Oculus

This is no mere update but a sea change, catching up to Steam and Windows MR to allow you to build your own crib the way you like it. The Rift 2.0 Core update adds so many features it becomes an experience all unto itself. Allowing you to bring your own Medium creations into your animated, customized home base adds to the joy. Socialized features and virtual desktops via the new Dash interface make it harder than ever to leave once you’re in. The first steps towards the universe envisioned in Ready Player One.

Oculus Rift | FREE from the Oculus Store (Beta Opt-In Required)

VRChat

from VRChat Inc.

VRChat is STILL technically in Early Access – and even while AltSpace died and cried and then Palmer Luckey considered buying it with cash and then Microsoft actually did and while High Fidelity looks amazing but no one is there and it takes FOREVER to load and while Project Sansar looks even BETTER than that and has cryptocurrency but no one uses it yet – VRChat crept up and grabbed society by the jugular, and now grandmas and kids and drunk uncles all can’t get enough of it. Amazing to see a sleeper pop like this and restore hope for us all.

Oculus Rift | 1 GB | FREE from Steam

Google Earth VR

from Google

Google Earth VR - screenshot courtesy Steam
Google Earth VR – screenshot courtesy Steam

Although VR implementation for Google Earth actually arrived in 2016, this year has seen major updates to the project, including faster load times and – more significantly – direct integration with Google Street View. A terrific travelers’ pre-visit tool and surprisingly emotional.

Oculus Rift | 4 GB | FREE from the Oculus Store or from Steam

As VR games and experiences continue to progress, we’re more than a little excited to see what 2018 has to offer, but in the meantime, what were your favorite Oculus offerings of the past year?