From the return of a historic franchise to ambitious new originals, 2020 is shaping up to be one hell of a year for VR gaming.
2019 was one hell of a year for VR hardware. Not only did we get our hands on Oculus’ long-awaited standalone headset, the Oculus Quest, but we also received the Oculus Rift S as well as Valve’s flagship VR headset, the Valve Index. With all this incredible hardware out in the wild, the stage is now set for a new wave of equally-incredible games and experiences.
That being said, let’s take a look at five upcoming VR games we can’t freakin’ wait to play in 2019:
Coming March 2020
No surprise that Valve’s recently-announced Half-Life prequel sits at the top of our “Most-Anticipated” list. Set before the events of Half-Life 2, Half-Life: Alyx places players in the shoes of Alyx Vance, a skilled hacker and future side-kick to series protagonist Gordon Freeman who, alongside her father, is about to kickstart a human revolution against an oppressive alien force.
Along with being the first official Half-Life game in 13 years, Half-Life: Alyx promises to revolutionize modern gaming with a next-gen experience built from the ground-up for VR. Though Valve has designed the experience specifically with their Valve Index headset and “Knuckles” controllers in-mind, the company has stated that the title will be playable on nearly every major PC VR headset, including the Oculus Quest via Oculus Link.
Half-Life: Alyx launches on SteamVR in March 2020.
MEDAL OF HONOR: ABOVE AND BEYOND
After nearly two years of secrecy, Respawn Entertainment this year announced that its long-rumored VR game is in-fact a new installment in the legendary Medal of Honor franchise. Available on Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S sometime next year, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond follows an Allied agent of the Office of Secret Intelligence working alongside the French Resistance to disrupt Nazie operations across Europe during WWII.
Along with a rich, satisfying campaign, Respawn promises a robust online multiplayer experience in which players can duke it out using a variety of WWII-era weaponry. There’s no doubt that a franchise as recognizable as Medal of Honor is sure to help bring additional eyes to VR. Beyond that, it’ll just be nice to have another high-profile online multiplayer shooter on the scene.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond launches on Oculus Rift/Rift S in 2020.
PHANTOM: COVERT OPS
I’ll admit it: I couldn’t help but laugh when I first heard the concept behind Phantom: Covert Ops. A stealth-based military shooter where the player navigates the in-game world using a tactical kayak? I mean, that’s a pretty outlandish premise for a game. Eventually, however, I had the chance to grab hold of the paddles myself, and after completing just a single mission, I’m happy to admit I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
Whether it be hiding in thick river marsh while waiting for a patrol boat of heavily-armed enemies passes by, or causing a distraction by firing my sniper rifle at an explosive barrel and paddling like crazy past the ensuing chaos, Phantom: Covert Ops is chock full of little moments that do an incredible job at immersing you in the role of a bad-ass special forces operative. Unfortunately, the game was delayed to 2020; but at least now we’re getting a souped-up version for the Oculus Rift S in addition to just the Oculus Quest!
Phantom: Covert Ops launches on Oculus Rift/Rift S and Oculus Quest in 2020.
THE WALKING DEAD: SAINTS & SINNERS
(January 23rd, 2020)
A massive open-world environment, robust weapons and item crafting, a complex dialogue system; these are just a handful of the many incredible features included in Skydance Interactive’s upcoming survival-horror VR RPG. Set three years after the initial zombie outbreak, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is an open-world choose-your-own-adventure experience in which users navigate the increasingly-hostile streets of post-apocalypse New Orlean.
Players will be free to explore a massive open-world environment filled with valuable resources, deadly new weapons, and plenty of enemies—both human and undead. Using a brand new VR physics system, players can engage in visceral hand-to-hand combat that Skydance promises will leave their hands trembling. Stab a zombie with too much force and you risk your weapon becoming lodged in its rotting flesh. Fire your weapon out in the open and you’ll soon have a horde of walkers raining down on your position. Attack an enemy from a certain faction, and risk ruining your reputation with that group; everything you do in Saints & Sinners comes with a consequence.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners launches on SteamVR and Oculus Rift/Rift S January 23rd, 2020 followed by the Oculus Quest at a later date.
LONE ECHO II
I’m a sucker for a good campaign, which explains my unabashed love for Lone Echo. Considered one of VR’s first great narrative-driven experiences, this critically-acclaimed title somehow managed to instill me with a sense of dread, hope, and love all within a 4-hour window.
So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that developer Ready At Dawn would be continuing the story of Jack and Olivia. During E3 2019, Ready at Dawn stated that Lone Echo II would be 50% larger than its predecessor, promising new updates to the original games already stellar zero-g locomotion, combat, and VR interactions.
Lone Echo II launches on Oculus Rift/RiftS in Q1 2020.
Feature Image Credit: Valve Corp.