VR is new and complicated technology. It’s going to allow players to experience games in a new and exciting way that we haven’t before. You’re going to need something to ease you into this experience, and PlayStation VR Worlds seeks to be that. Consisting of five different VR minigames, does it manage to get you used to VR while being entertaining, or should you hop over these worlds and find another entry point?
Since these are five different and totally unique games, I’ll be reviewing them individually. Connecting the games is a hub room, where you can select which game you want to play. Each game is represented by a statue, and each game has a set of challenges associated with it. Complete the challenges and you’ll level up each statue, making them more and more pretty. It’s a decent system to keep you coming back to VR Worlds, but nothing that isn’t seen in many other games available on the market. At the very least it may encourage you to try something you didn’t think about.
The London Heist
Perhaps the star of the show, The London Heist is the most prominent experience available in VR Worlds. First things first, it’s the only game in the five that can be played with the Move controllers and I highly suggest you do so. Using the controller limits you to only one hand, whereas using two Move controllers lets you use both. There’s an extra bit of both immersion and fun in the act of having to grab a magazine in one hand and slam it into the gun in your other hand, rather than just hitting a button to reload, among other actions having two hands let you do.
The London Heist has you playing as a gangster tasked with stealing a super valuable diamond from a Russian mafia. Things begin to get suspicious when a member of your gang is killed and part of the heist goes wrong, leaving you to decide who is worth trusting. As far as plots go it’s really nothing, but the use of VR does help with some elements. An interrogation scene feels more intense simply because the characters can be more in your face than ever before. Even the simple act of lighting someone’s cigar can bring some entertainment.
For the first half of The London Heist‘s story, you’ll mostly be watching characters talk and doing some light environmental interaction. There’s not much to it, though there’s a nice level of immersion in the events. Light yourself a cigar, bring it to your mouth for a moment, then exhale and your character on screen will blow out a puff of smoke, the mic having picked up on your exhale. The interaction segment ends with the story’s sole puzzle, a quick scene of trying to find a code and open a safe while ducking out of the way of flashlights. It’s a good start that gives you some fun and interesting ways to interact with the environment, but once the guns come out the experience really shines.
There are only two combat scenes in The London Heist, which is a bit of a shame, but both are extremely entertaining. The first scene has you taking cover behind a desk with a pistol, while the second puts you in the passenger’s seat of a car with an uzi. Taking cover behind the desk, using a small hole in it to look at the other shooters while giving yourself covering fire is exhilarating. During the van chase, I was able to use one hand to open my door, lean out, and open fire on a motorcycle riding along side me. I left both fights with a giant smile on my face and having been sold on VR as a real new gameplay experience.
As great as The London Heist is, it’s over in a flash with the whole story mode taking about thirty minutes to finish. After you finish the story you get access to a few shooting galleries, where you need to shoot at targets to get points. It’s a fun enough diversion, and it does use the same simple but effective shooting mechanics the story uses, but it lacks the same dramatic tension and oomph that the firefights have. Still, it’s something to do.
While the other four options are all games, Ocean Descent is a collection of three short experiences. All three put you in a diver cage, having you simply look around as you listen and watch the story unfold. The first, Shark Encounter, has you investigating a crash site that may have some sort of secret treasure. You get attacked by a shark, as you may have guessed. This is really the main experience in Ocean Descent, taking about ten minutes and telling a short story while giving you some pretty visuals to look at. They are pretty too, at times I wanted to reach out and touch the fish. A scene involving a school of jellyfish was particularly breathtaking the first time.
Sadly the other two dives aren’t as interesting. Both are just pieces of the Shark Encounter dive, but with the story removed. One does about half the dive, stopping before the big reveal, while the other just sits at the starting area for two minutes. Both let you look at the fish, and that’s about it. In the end, Ocean Descent consists of some cool video to look around it, but nothing to actually do. It’s a pretty showcase, and that’s about it.
I’m going to be honest, I could only spend about three minutes max with VR Luge. The basic idea is that you’re on a luge board, sliding down hills at extreme speeds to partake in races. You move your head to the right and left to move your board, avoiding objects to keep up super fast speeds and finish the races before time runs out.
In practice, VR Luge feels like it’s made specifically to make you motion sick. It’s an awful experience that I couldn’t handle for very long, my first run ending in twenty seconds when I ripped the headset off my head and laid down, feeling dizzy and nauseous. In following runs, before I once again had to stop, the game barely worked. Moving your head left and right feels more like a suggestion, and often my luge racer (luger?) would crash into walls or smack into cars because he’s clearly not doing what I asked. It doesn’t function on a basic level and should be avoided.
Every collection of games has to have one stinker. VR Luge would be PlayStation VR Worlds‘ stinker.
The best way to describe Danger Ball is “Pong with your face.”
There’s two modes in Danger Ball, and the more fleshed out and interesting one is the tournament. In this mode, you’ll play six back-to-back challenges against various opponents. You have a paddle that moves with your head, and you need to smack a ball to the opponent, your goal being to pass by them and hit the wall behind them. It sounds simple enough, and it really is. You have a few trick shots you can do, like pushing your head forward when you hit the ball will speed it up, or flicking your head to the side when you hit it would send it in a curve. Each opponent had tricks of their own, like sending the ball back in a spiral or creating a second ball.
It’s fun in the short term, but a few rounds of Danger Ball were enough for me to feel like I’ve seen everything. I almost feel like it would have been improved by giving you a few more skills, make use of the controller to select them and giving the ability to play online. As it stands, Danger Ball has all the ingredients for a good game yet doesn’t quite put them together right.
Besides the tournament, there’s also a score attack mode. Here you’ll just have to bounce the ball into a wall to get points, with various sections being worth different values. Miss the ball three times and you lose, the game tossing your points onto a leader board. It’s not nearly as interesting as the tournament, and one go was all I needed to know I wasn’t going to bother spending any more time in the score attack.
A full first person shooter in VR, Scavenger’s Odyssey is another highlight to come out of PlayStation VR Worlds.
In Scavenger’s Odyssey, you’ll play as the Scavenger, an alien criminal who finds and sells scrap for money. He does so in a mech suit that connects him to a pushy AI interested in only making more money. The two have chosen to explore an asteroid belt, looking for a rumored relic, only to discover a mysterious voice calling out for the “Pilgrim” that will save the universe. It’s surprisingly compelling, thanks to some good voice acting. Unfortunately, just when the story starts to hit its peak it ends on an unsatisfactory cliffhanger. The world of Scavenger’s Odyssey is one I wouldn’t mind exploring more.
The game uses some simple mechanics that gives you the ability to run and jump along a set path. You have an aiming reticle on the screen that is tied towards where you’re looking, this being for your gun and grappling hook. Any enemy in the rather large reticle will be locked on to, and your unlimited ammo lasers can make quick work of them. Your grappling hook is for objects, both being used to tear doors and debris out of the way to advance, but also you can use it to toss pieces of the environment at enemies. Your grappling hook can also be used to read data from lost capsules or pick up power-ups that temporarily turn you into a death machine.
Using these, you’ll be moving along a linear path through asteroids and wrecked ships, trying to make your way to the center of the belt and to the mysterious relic. Naturally, you’ll be attacked along the way, either by swarms of small blobs that try to overwhelm you or larger ones that spit acid at you. Constantly being on the move and keeping your eyes on your targets is a must, leading to some frantic gameplay of ducking and dodging. It can be a thrill, and it hits its peak with the end-game boss fight that sees you dealing with both the blobs and a massive whale-like enemy that flies overhead.
There are a few breaks in the fighting. Most are just platformer segments, using a line that lets you jump from one spot to another automatically. They’re visually interesting but not very challenging. One segment has you dodging lasers from a ship’s cannons, and that one, in particular, is an interesting change to the formula. Getting caught there means either having to quickly jump around to avoid oncoming rocket swarms, or hope to stand your ground and shoot them out of the air.
Similar to The London Heist, Scavenger’s Odyssey is over before it really begins, only taking about 30-45 minutes to finish. Unfortunately, there’s no shooting range or other modes that allow you to continue to use the mechanics in new ways, so all you can really do is replay the story.
The London Heist and Scavenger’s Odyssey are the clear winners here, both providing intriguing, if short, VR experiences. I’d even go to say that The London Heist is the perfect “how to introduce someone to VR” game. On the other hand, VR Luge is a total disaster that should be avoided by everyone. PlayStation VR Worlds offers two fantastic experiences, two decent ones, and one awful one, so you can do a lot worse when you want to get started with VR.
PlayStation VR Worlds was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
The London Heist and Scavenger's Odyssey both provide well made and fun experiences that serve as great introductions to VR. Danger Ball is a decent, if not exceptional, Pong-like, while Ocean Descent offers a neat short film and two uninteresting ones. VR Luge is a total disaster in every sense of the word. Overall, PlayStation VR Worlds is a good starting package that would have done better as a pair of full games.
- The London Heist
- Scavenger's Odyseey
- Danger Ball's tournament
- Half of Ocean Descent
- VR Luge
- The other half of Ocean Descent
- Danger Ball's score attack