After a long road adorned with the corpses of terrible 3D movies and even worse gaming systems, the promise of virtual reality appears to have finally come to fruition. The past few weeks have seen the launch of both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, two of the three major VR headsets to launch this year (the third, Sony’s PlayStation VR, won’t be out until October).
VR still has a long way to go: current generation headsets fail to simulate a player’s real-life peripheral vision, while freeform movement is still a riddle that has yet to be solved. Nonetheless, a few notable games have emerged from the dust of VR’s consumer launch. These games, though largely imperfect, demonstrate the potential of virtual reality to reshape the way we imagine games, building on the promise of total immersion that has tantalized players since the first iteration of Pong. They are:
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As is the case with theatrical film releases, the month of January has typically been something of a dumping ground for video games, and while recent releases like Amplitude, The Witness, and That Dragon, Cancer are working to challenge that notion, February is still generally when the gaming industry starts to trot out its heavier hitters. With that in mind, here are ten games due for release in 2016 that look to be among the year’s most exciting and innovative titles:
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The Los Angeles Times boldly proclaimed 2015 to be the year when video games “were better when they stepped away from the guns,” marking it as a cornerstone moment for the medium to grow beyond its narrow origins and evolve as an art form. In compiling a list of my personal ten best games of the year, I have a hard time disagreeing with that sentiment. 2015 was a landmark year for the medium, where the best experiences were no longer the games with the shiniest graphics or deepest combat systems, but rather the most insightful exploration of themes like existence, humanity, and love. Even the games that put gameplay before story – and, yes, many games of that sort can be found on my list – put aside a focus on weaponry in pursuit of experiences that capture the imagination and seek to provide a type of fun not seen in many of the industry’s larger, more bombastic titles.
In past years, I have had to cling to a couple of standout titles to fuel my hope that video games would finally achieve their potential as a medium, oftentimes struggling to put together a proper top ten. In 2015, my hope became a reality, as these ten games easily blew me away:
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