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April 2017 - Virtual Reality Platform Software Showdown

By Liam Kivirist of TechSocket.net

When discussing the potential and immersive capabilities of virtual reality (or, VR for short), the center of the conversation is often the screen, sensors and other technologies that give VR its power. The hardware under the hood may be an integral part to the immersion and potential of VR. But without anything worthwhile to experience, what’s the point?

In Buying your first Virtual Reality headset, we focused on the hardware because it’s an intimidating factor to compare as a first time VR headset buyer. Now we’re going to shift gears and look through the highlights and storefronts for each of the most popular VR platforms. The levels of experience are relative to the cost of the hardware platform, but each system has some strong software across the board.

Virtual Reality

Mobile VR

Game Prices: Free - $10
Small studio game developers from around the globe have found how to make the most out of the relatively limited hardware inside of smartphones. Mobile phones are host to a large number of diverse and creative games, films and experiences for VR. Game controls, in most cases, are limited to your head’s orientation. Meaning all of your interactions with the game are based around staring at various buttons in VR. Phone-based VR truly shines in 360 film and pictures; it’s an inexpensive way to experience video and pictures in a whole new way. Overall, the available apps for Android phones and iPhones are in some ways different, but there seems to be more than enough intriguing content for each.

Some of the highlights of software available for mobile VR: Within VR, formerly VRSE, is one of the best ways to find and view 360 content on your phone; Proton Pulse, a neon arcade style high speed brick breaker game; Titans of Space, take a tour of your solar system from the comfort of your own home; End Space VR, pilot a small fighter in a wave-based space arcade shooter.

PlayStation VR

Game Prices: $20 - $60
Sony has realized the need for a strong software lineup and have put their best foot forward. With the PlayStation VR set to have a grand total of 70 games available by the end of January, surely you’ll be able to find something that tickles your interest. Sony has also provided a downloadable demo disk filled with short clips of a variety of VR games.

Some of the highlights of the PlayStation VR’s catalog: Rez Infinite, a psychodelic rail-shooter remake of the classic Dreamcast game; Batman: Arkham VR, take the reigns of the dark knight and become Batman; Thumper, a drop-dead gorgeous rhythm game; RIGS Mechanized Combat League, pilot a mechanized rig in a future where combat and sports are combined.

Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift

Game Prices: $10 - $60
The Rift has an ensemble of experiences, applications and games available for traditional controllers as well as the Touch with more on the way. The Oculus Home storefront is clean and simple but nominally curated at times. Oculus, indie game developers and movie makers alike have also released a collection of free experiences, games and applications that are definitely worth your time.

Some of the game controller highlights: Virtual Desktop, possibly the best app available for productivity in VR; Obduction, a visually stunning game of exploration and discovery from the creators of Myst; Eve Valkyrie, a high speed space combat flight simulator; The Climb, an immersive and breathtaking depiction of an incredible journey.

Some of the Touch controller highlights: The Unspoken, use your hands in VR to cast spells and duel other players; SUPERHOT VR, an adrenaline packed shooter where time only moves when you do; Medium, Oculus’ own impressive foray into the world of VR social apps.

HTC Vive

Game Prices: $20 - $60
Out of all VR devices available today, the Vive has been the only shop on the block for hand controllers until recently. This allowed much more time for indie developers to brainstorm, create and release software designed for hand interactions in VR. A multitude of really impressive and ingenious VR games are available with hand controls today because of this extended window.

Some of the highlights of Steam’s VR library: Audioshield, quickly block incoming projectiles with shields to the beat of a song; Raw Data, battle off waves of robots with shotguns and katanas; Tilt Brush, create intricate and gorgeous pieces of 3D art and sculpture; Hover Junkers, command your very own hover craft in high octane player vs player madness.

Virtual Reality

*Game prices listed are meant to be a general representation of the average cost of software on the platform. It is not meant as a minimum or maximum value, free games are available and more expensive software may also be available.

**Games listed under any platform are not inherently only available on that platform.

Liam Kivirist

is a freelance writer for national magazines and editor for TechSocket.net. Follow his work at LiamKivirist.com.
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