The VR games industry is hurdling forth from its content slump. What’s next?

Active games are VR games that get you up and moving. Back in the day, most VR games were very simple and purely experimental. Sometimes, physical gameplay was the only thing that a VR game had in its favor, but without offering much else to tie the experience together, tended to lose steam quickly.

No more.

Active gaming now pervades all popular genres in VR as developers realize that the best way to immerse players is by keeping them physically engaged in their virtual worlds. By the end of 2019, there will be plenty of stuff to keep you busy in VR, and most of it will get your heart going. Here are some of the top active games to watch out for as the year progresses:

No Man’s Sky VR

Freshly released last week on SteamVR and on the PlayStation Store, Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky brings an entirely new element to active VR gaming. With a lot more physical interaction involved than it ever originally had a right to, No Man’s Sky VR will see you pioneering your way through a galactic quest with fully customizable ships, bases, exocraft landrovers, and more. Nobody expected a VR update to this three-year-old space adventure, but nobody expected it to let you punch everything in your path, either. What makes this title active is the fact that shadowboxing your way through every obstacle is, currently, more efficient and practical than using your laser gun (called a Multi-Tool in the game), which is fine by us.

Boneworks

Coming shortly to SteamVR from developer Stress Level Zero, Boneworks has been called “the first game of PC VR’s second generation” by UploadVR’s Ian Hamilton. It looks like a game that knows its claymores from its SMGs, and luckily you’ll have a chance to swing both around with full physics support and IK bodies to make the experience seem more real than it is. If gladiator arena titles like Blade & Sorcery and GORN pleasantly wear you out, imagine if either title had feature-length campaigns and you’ll get the picture. Suffice it to say, we’re excited to play through this one when it releases later this year.

The Walking Dead Onslaught

Survios, the studio behind classics like Creed: Rise to Glory and Sprint Vector, returns once more with The Walking Dead Onslaught. Coming straight to SteamVR and the PlayStation Store this fall, it promises to bring zombie-killing carnage to VR like never before with “visceral real-motion combat” and a “progressive dismemberment system”, both detailed on the title’s Steam Store page. In addition to that, we can expect to see series classics Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Carol take the stage. It’s likely that we’ll be stepping into their shoes, so get ready to wield Michonne’s katana into battle very shortly.

Stormland

Insomniac Games, popular for developing games like Ratchet & Clank and Spider-Man outside of VR on Sony’s PlayStation platform, is bringing one of VR’s most hyped games to the Oculus Rift later this holiday season. In Stormland, you’ll play as a robot that ventures through an expansive open world to save your buddies. It looks like a game that’s going to include a lot of climbing, flying, and melee-bashing ala Echo Arena. As such, it totally counts as an active game and we’re certainly excited for when it lands.

Budget Cuts 2

If you’ve never played Neat Corporation’s Budget Cuts before, you might want to check it out. It’s a pretty physically involved game, mainly about espionage, and most of the interactions are purely physical rather than abstracted out to button presses. Thus, you actually spend a lot of time (really) crouching, throwing items to distract guards, or throwing blades directly at guards. Budget Cuts 2 looks to be an evolution of that same type of gameplay, so we definitely recommend checking it out later this year.

Asgard’s Wrath

Asgard’s Wrath is one of the first big VR RPGs coming from Oculus and Sanzaru to the Rift platform, and we have to say that we’re excited to unleash the wrath of the gods with shape-shifting animals and powerful weapons. Based on a high fantasy setting, you can expect to get down and dirty with an arsenal of swords, maces, bows, and axes as you progress through 30-40 hours of content. We got the chance to try it out at GDC last March and while it doesn’t seem to hold much of a candle to Blade & Sorcery in terms of melee combat, the systems that do exist are fun and physically engaging. And once again, 30-40 hours of content is a lot for a VR game.

Acron: Attack of the Squirrels!

Supposedly coming to VR and mobile devices “this summer”, Resolution Games introduces the first true asymmetric multiplayer VR game. In Acron: Attack of the Squirrels, one person hangs out in a VR helmet and throws “wood chunks, boulders and sticky sap” at the various squirrels running amok in their forest of life. The squirrels, of course, are played by mobile device users. It’s an interesting multiplayer concept that could get more people interested in VR.

Space Pirate Arena

Returning to the active VR beat for its first major release since Space Pirate Trainer, I-Illusions brings arena-scale gameplay to the Oculus Quest with Space Pirate Arena. Naturally, it’s going to require a large play area to enjoy the game in full, but it’s essentially multiplayer laser tag with the same core gunplay featured in Space Pirate Trainer. Hopefully, all our training will finally pay off.

Espire 1: VR Operative

Espire 1: VR Operative, coming from developer Digital Lode and published by Tripwire Interactive, looks like the next big spy game we deserve with fully physical combat, climbing, and the ability to tell enemy guards to “freeze!” in their tracks. In similar fashion to Budget Cuts 2, most of the interactions seem like they’ll be about sneaking around rather than fully engaging guards, but regardless (reguardless?) there’s reason to believe that Espire 1 is the kind of espionage that’ll get you stretching your muscles out at the very least. Look for it on SteamVR, the PlayStation Store, and the Oculus Quest this next few months.

Undead Citadel

If you’re looking to turn your gladiator skills against some restless undead hordes, Undead Citadel may be the game you’re looking for. Developer Dark Curry seems to have turned up the heat with a ton of weapons to play with, including firebombs and explosives, and it looks like there will be over 40+ melee weapons and 10+ levels to hack and slash your way through. Between this and The Walking Dead Onslaught, who can say VR is lacking in zombie games? Not us!


Which active game are you most excited for, and did we leave any of your personal picks out? Let us know in the comments.


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