UploadVR’s Best of VR 2022 – Game Of The Year & More
Welcome to UploadVR’s Best of VR Awards for 2022.
2022 was an interesting year for VR.
Towards the end of 2021, the year approaching looked set to be packed with new hardware and headset releases, with a large shadow of big games and software releases hanging over the schedule. What eventuated, however, was a much smaller year, likely thanks to delays brought on by the aftermath of the pandemic and the ongoing supply chain constraints and shortages.
Nonetheless, there’s been some interesting developments, engaging releases and compelling new hardware. This year, our Best of VR 2022 highlights the latest and greatest virtual reality hardware and software (including headsets, accessories, games and more) to see general release during the 2022 calendar year.
Our nominations and winners recognize works released broadly, in full release – this means that we may exclude hardware and software that’s only available in limited or early release from consideration.
For each category, we’ll give a short paragraph detailing some of our wider picks and nominations, before revealing our overall winner for each category.
This year, we’ll also be launching a separate awards category that will put a spotlight on the best experiences available for new and existing content alike – UploadVR’s Best Virtual Places. Keep an eye out for those awards in a separate article before the year is out.
Here are UploadVR’s picks for Best of VR 2022.
Best Updated VR Game
There’s a number of worthy competitors for VR games that saw regular updates throughout the year, such as Zenith: The Last City, the popular VR MMO that launched in January. Ramen VR provided the game with a wealth of new content across the year, including a recent overhaul to player onboarding and tutorial experience for new players, ahead of the PSVR 2 launch next year. Likewise, Population: One is a shining example of how to consistently provide valuable updates to players, this year launching many updates, including ranked mode and the recent addition of sandbox creation tools (although it’s also worth noting that the game ended support for the original Quest headset in October). Meanwhile, Synth Riders is giving Beat Saber a run for its money by offering consistent updates and new free tracks alongside its premium paid offerings.
However, the Best Updated VR Game of 2022 has to be Demeo, which continues to go from strength to strength. With three new campaigns launched across the year, mixed reality support and more, Resolution Games built on the strong foundation that made Demeo our 2021 VR Game of the Year. In 2022, there were plenty of reasons for players to return to the Demeo game board, and 2023 looks no different.
Best New Paid DLC or Expansion
When it comes to paid DLC or expansions for existing games, Beat Saber has been a mainstay of the conversation for a number of years now, and 2022 is no different. This year, Meta and Beat Games launched some fantastic new DLC for its flagship rhythm game, including the juicy Lizzo DLC Music Pack, some amazing tracks from The Weeknd (which also added support for an impressive new lighting system) and the recent Rock DLC Mixtape, which includes all nine minutes of the Lynyrd Skynrd epic Free Bird.
Meanwhile, Purple Yonder and nDreams not only launched Little Cities this year, but also released the winter-themed Snowy Islands DLC Expansion a few weeks ago, adding two new islands and brand new mechanics for you to tinker with.
That said, our overall pick for Best New Paid DLC or Expansion of 2022 goes to the Jim Henson’s Labyrinth DLC course in Walkabout Mini Golf, based on the iconic 1986 movie. It’s not only a beautiful homage to a cult classic, but an incredibly fun and inventive minigolf course in its own right.
Best New VR/AR Hardware
Even though we didn’t get PSVR 2 or the rumored Apple mixed reality headset this year, we still had a lot of interesting hardware to dissect this year. In terms of accessories, the Logitech Chorus attachment for Quest 2 brought Index-like audio quality to the headset that almost felt built-in. Quest 2 users are also now able to upgrade their controllers by purchasing the Quest Pro’s controllers. While they were developed for Quest Pro, the controllers are also sold standalone and compatible with Quest 2, offering improved tracking and haptics.
In terms of headsets, Meta Quest Pro was one of the year’s biggest releases, offering first generation mixed reality for devs and early adopters who can justify the high price point. In terms of AR, Tilt Five began shipping in earnest early this year and offers the most compelling version of consumer AR available on the market.
However, our overall pick for Best New VR/AR Hardware of 2022 is Pico 4. The headset offers sharper, wider and taller lenses in a slimmer & lighter design that makes Quest 2 look outdated. The catch is that the accompanying software and content ecosystem is far less developed, but in terms of hardware alone, Pico 4 blows the competition out of the water.
Best VR Developer
One of our favorite games of the year, Little Cities, was largely created by just two people, James and Kelly Howard from Purple Yonder, making the studio a strong contender for Best VR Developer. Similarly, Mighty Coconut continue to produce outstanding new content for Walkabout Mini Golf and secured a number of strong partnerships to bring prominent IPs to the game in 2022. Meanwhile, Resolution Games is paving the way as one of VR’s leading studios, with updates to Demeo, new game announcements and an incredible new mixed reality multiplayer experience.
When it comes to amazing technical feats though, we’d be remiss not to highlight Vertical Robot as our pick for Best VR Developer of 2022. Red Matter 2 was one of (if not the) most impressive looking games to launch on Quest 2 this year, pushing the limits of standalone hardware. However, the studio also brought Red Matter 2 to Pico 4, running at an even higher resolution than Quest 2. Plus, Red Matter 2 was the first major title to support eye-tracked foveated rendering on Quest Pro, which resulted in a 30% boost in base resolution. Not only did the studio’s major release push the limits of hardware this year, it did so across several headsets, leveraging the unique features and capabilities of each in the process.
Best New Multiplayer VR Game
It was a great year for VR multiplayer releases, with titles like Ultimechs presenting a compelling arena-scale experience and Broken Edge paving the way for immersive 1v1 fantasy duels. Meanwhile, Zenith: The Last City is perhaps the most compelling and fleshed-out example of a VR MMO yet. While it was technically released in 2021 (and recognized in our Best of VR 2021 Awards for Best Competitive Multiplayer), it’s worth giving a shout-out to Gorilla Tag, a multiplayer sensation that moved from App Lab to an official store release on Quest at the end of the year.
There’s definitely nothing sus about Among Us VR, our overall pick for Best New Multiplayer VR Game. Schell Games successfully adapted the viral flatscreen game into a thrilling VR release, exhibiting top tier VR design that heightens the stakes and drama from the original in a whole new medium.
Most Anticipated VR Game of 2023
Next year is looking absolutely stacked with releases. Stranger Things VR is on our radar as a major IP-tie in for Tender Claws, a studio looking to wow after a bug-filled debut for Virtual Virtual Reality 2. Meanwhile, PSVR 2 is just around the corner and we can’t wait to get our hands on Horizon: Call of the Mountain, Resident Evil 8 VR and Firewall Ultra. We’re also keeping our eye on the Portal-like Warp Lab coming to PC VR next year.
That said, who else are you gonna call but Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord for the Most Anticipated VR Game of 2023. This co-op release is set to come to Quest and PSVR 2, and the latest trailer from The Game Awards got us even more excited to don our virtual Proton Packs in 2023.
Favorite New PSVR Game
This is a bit of a strange category – the original PSVR is at the very end of its lifecycle and PSVR 2 is just around the corner, so there wasn’t a whole lot of notable new releases on the platform, especially not exclusives. However, we wanted to make mention of a few titles nonetheless, such as Wanderer, which is one of the few big releases to release on PSVR alongside PC VR this year. Similarly, Moss: Book 2 did launch as a PSVR exclusive, but it wasn’t long before it made its way to PC VR and Quest 2 as well.
Our pick for Favorite New PSVR Game of 2022 goes to Zenith: The Lost City. While the game is also coming to PSVR 2 next year, it was probably the most significant PSVR launch of 2022 – former UploadVR Editor Jamie Feltham enjoyed the PSVR version and spent significant time playing on that platform for his review in January. It’s a release that could have easily been held back for PSVR 2, but instead provided original PSVR owners with a huge and expansive new world for them to explore alongside other headset owners, thanks to cross-play support.
Favorite New PC VR Game
Similar to PSVR, it was a relatively quiet year for PC VR, which is getting less attention than ever as standalone headsets like Quest and Pico lead the market forward. Nonetheless, there were some notable releases, such as the stunning vistas of Kayak VR, the full survival experience of Green Hell VR or the optional VR support offered in F1 2022. While technically a Quest-focused release, Bonelab also launched on PC VR with better visuals and lighting than standalone, offering a new sandbox framework and campaign after 2019’s Boneworks. There was also the fantastic release of Half-Life 2 VR, a mod several years in the making, now available free on Steam for owners of the original title.
However, our overall pick for Favorite New PC VR Game in 2022 goes to Hubris. While not the most inventive or ground-breaking action-adventure game, Hubris offered stunning AAA-like visuals, the type that you only ever see with PC VR releases. The fairly standard gameplay was nonetheless enjoyable, but it is the graphics that elevated Hubris to another level.
Favorite New Quest Game
Out of all the VR platforms, it’s probably no surprise that Quest saw the most releases this year, with a varied range of titles available. Iron Man VR was perhaps the most notable port, finally realizing the game’s vision in a way that the original struggled to on PSVR. Among Us VR was another solid release, perfect for the standalone platform ahead of the holiday season. For those looking for something more intense, Green Hell VR offered a paired down yet engrossing version of the popular survival game. For those who enjoy unique puzzle games, The Last Clockwinder is a phenomenal release that uses roomscale action and player-made clones to create (and solve) intriguing automation-based problems with dynamic and ever-changing solutions.
One game stood out from than the rest – Little Cities is our pick for Favorite New Quest Game in 2022. With Little Cities, Purple Yonder created a blueprint for a perfect city simulator that is immaculately designed for VR and a perfect fit for Quest. Subsequent updates and expansions only improved the game even more, making it one of the best new releases on the platform in 2022.
VR Game of the Year 2022
With larger releases seemingly held back until next year and beyond, it was a year of smaller proportions for VR games, with indies and smaller-scale releases taking the spotlight in 2022.
Among Us VR was one of the more high-profile games to release this year, which saw Schell Games translate the notoriously popular flatscreen title into a fantastic and well-designed VR release that uses the medium to heighten the game’s stakes to a whole new level. Polyarc Games brought us Moss: Book 2, a solid follow up to one of VR’s seminal platformers that continued Quill’s story while adding in some new game mechanics along the way.
Ultrawings 2, an earlier release of the year, was one of our Essential picks, providing players with an unmatched flight game experience in VR. Meanwhile, indies soared on Quest, with releases like Tentacular presenting a modern take on the VR physics puzzle and The Last Clockwinder presenting a fantastic, immersive roomscale clone-based puzzler that’s so much more than just picking fruit. Likewise, Little Cities from developers Purple Yonder is the blueprint for VR design done right, with a city simulator that works brilliantly on the Quest platform.
However, for a year dominated by indie releases, it feels fitting that our pick for VR Game of the Year is What the Bat? from Triband. What the Bat? is an absolute home run and a title that will be enjoyable by VR veterans and newcomers alike. It’s full of charm and while some of the puzzles aren’t always perfect in VR, it nonetheless displays a relentless sense of creativity that will keep you laughing and begs to be shown to family and friends.
Those are UploadVR’s picks for our Best of VR 2022. We wish our readers a happy holiday season – here’s to 2023.