The Oculus Rift is about to get a lot better, with the upcoming launch of its Touch controllers. Ahead of the full scoop on that, which we expect next week, let's recap some of the biggest and best gamepad-laden Rift releases from the last two months.
Earlier this year we interviewed the CCO of High Voltage Software, developer of Damaged Core, and he promised that "the game has come so far" since the demo we'd played at the time. He wasn't kidding: The much more polished launch version of Damaged Core just may be the best game in VR.
We love the way the first-person shooter blends practical VR gameplay with the story and game world, from the ground up. While many VR games use teleportation for movement, without any real explanation as to how or why your character has such wizard-like abilities, the justification for Damaged Core's movement is built perfectly into its premise (you're an AI entity possessing enemy robots, machines and computers).
More importantly, the gameplay is fast, furious and loads of fun. If you own an Oculus Rift, this instant classic is a must-buy.
Damaged Core by High Voltage in the Oculus Store
Mountain Goat Mountain
It's a bit strange going from an essential, AAA title like Damaged Core to what amounts to a modern-day Q*bert, but Zynga's Mountain Goat Mountain makes for a surprisingly delightful and addictive arcade fix.
Much like Q*bert, the Rift's Mountain Goat Mountain has you hopping up a pyramid, one cube at a time, using only diagonal planes for movement. Unlike the 80s arcade and console classic, though, the pyramid isn't a small contraption but an enormous mountain, and your goal isn't to change colors of cubes but to make it to the top while collecting as many coins as possible.
Mountain Goat Mountain by Zynga in the Oculus Store
Evil Robot Traffic Jam HD
We think tower defense games work brilliantly in VR, and Gear VR port Evil Robot Traffic Jam ticks that box. It's much more simplistic and cartoony than the quintessential Defense Grid 2 VR, but still not a bad purchase for US$12.
Evil Robot Traffic Jam HD by Element Games in the Oculus Store
Heroes of the Seven Seas
A pirate game where you sail a ship, making quick turns and blasting away at scurvy-laden scallywags? That sounds like a perfect recipe for a pukefest.
Fortunately I experienced zero nausea during Heroes of the Seven Seas, a mobile-styled high-seas adventure. While a little on the repetitive side, it's more than a solid buy for a mere $7.
Heroes of the Seven Seas by Mirage Interactive in the Oculus Store
From the developers of the excellent Edge of Nowhere, Insomniac's Feral Rites aims for a AAA sheen of polish, but we were disappointed. Imagine repetitive and choppily-animated 90s-era arcade brawler gameplay, interrupted far too frequently at the beginning by boring exposition and tedious tutorials voiced by actors who make WWE wrestlers sound like Sir Ian McKellen.
The writing isn't much better, with zingers like "I feel so powerful! What has come over me?"
If you're 10 years old, the all-around cinematic presentation would be acceptable, but how many little kids have expensive Oculus Rifts? For an adult, it's a cringe-worthy chore – and a far cry from the top-notch storytelling in Edge of Nowhere.
You do get to transform into a beast, though, so there's that.
Feral Rites by Insomniac Games in the Oculus Store
Press button, fly down mountain in wingsuit, try to fly through the rings. While I (somewhat surprisingly) didn't feel nauseous playing this one, I also didn't have much fun. It's also far too similar to a handful of other falling/flying games for the Rift dev kits and Gear VR.
Mount Wingsuit by Ninja Whale Studios in the Oculus Store
Stay tuned to New Atlas next week, as we'll be on the ground at Oculus Connect 3 with all the details on Oculus Touch and the platform's first motion-controlled games.