The VR games and apps I've been playing in December 2022 – TechRadar
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Who’s up for a round of VR mini golf?
This month has been pretty busy for me, what with holiday preparations and pitching in with TechRadar’s Black Friday coverage, but I’ve still made time to play some excellent VR games and apps.
Since last month’s roundup, I’ve picked up the DLC for the best Oculus Quest 2 game (Walkabout Mini Golf), tried the Survival Nation beta on my Pico 4, and even wrote some of this piece while wearing a VR headset thanks to Virtual Desktop.
Here’s what I thought of all of those experiences:
I will never stop wanting to tell people how amazing Walkabout Mini Golf is as it’s frankly the best VR game out there. Whether you’re playing on the Oculus Quest 2, the Pico 4, or through a PCVR headset like the Valve Index the game’s premise is super simple: it’s mini golf. But Walkabout’s execution of its simple idea is exemplary – the controls feel perfect, the level of challenge is just right, and the diverse courses are a joy to exist in.
The game’s base levels – which include courses set in a pirate cove, in space, and in a Japanese garden – are superb, but the DLC courses are definitely worth their added cost. This month I’ve finally caught up on a few of the latest drops that I’ve missed, and boy do I wish I’d given them a try sooner.
My favorite is the Myst-inspired level; not only is it full of callbacks to the classic game for fans to enjoy but the holes are some of Walkabout’s most unique yet. This is all thanks to the introduction of puzzle-like mechanics, which I hope are expanded upon in future courses. Still, that’s not to say the El Dorado and Labyrinth courses are anything less than spectacular. Every time I think the game couldn’t get any better, developer Mighty Coconut proves me wrong with its latest release.
If you own a VR headset, you have to play this game. Even if you aren’t the biggest mini golf fan there’s something magical about Walkabout Mini Golf that will win you over; it wins over everyone I know that’s played it.
If you need a game with a bit more action then Survival Nation might be more up your alley. This open-world zombie survival game is currently in beta and I’ve been trying out its current build using my Pico 4.
After creating your character you can hop into a solo or multiplayer world where zombies have taken over and there are only a few human survivors remaining. At a permanent camp out in the wilderness, you’ll learn valuable skills from the people there like cooking, hunting, and a good fashion sense, all of which will aid you in your adventure through the apocalypse.
Just like any zombie survival game, it’s not only the undead monsters and your health bar that you have to worry about. While on your adventures, you need to make sure that you’re well-fed and drink plenty of water – though picking up supplies is often a lot more difficult than just popping into shops. This tried-and-tested survival genre feature works just as well in VR as it does on more traditional gaming platforms, with titles like 7 Days to Die, and State of Decay.
Another feature I love is that character interactions are voice-acted. Not only does this help to bring the game’s cast to life but it also makes the experience a lot more accessible, especially for a dyslexic person like me who struggles when games bombard me with walls of text.
That said, Survival Nation is by no means perfect; the gunplay is much more clunky (especially the reloading) than other VR titles like The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners; I couldn’t get teleportation to work at all (nor find any comfort features); and the object interaction doesn’t feel as realistic as it could be. But for a game still in early access, I’m very impressed with what Wenkly Studio has produced so far and I’m very excited to see the polished product when it’s ready.
Survival Nation doesn’t have a release date yet but we do know that it’ll be exclusive to the Pico 4 for a limited time. The wording of the official statement – “standalone VR gamers will only be able to access Survival Nation on Pico headsets” – leaves open the possibility that it’ll launch on PCVR headsets at the same time, but for those of you on the Quest 2 you’ll like have to wait a little longer to play this game even after it has come out.
I’m writing this last section while wearing my Pico 4 headset using the app I want to tell you about: Virtual Desktop. It’s also available on the Quest 2 if you want to pick it up there instead.
By downloading the app onto your headset and pairing it with the Virtual Desktop program on your PC, you’re able to use your PC in VR. Your screen is projected in front of you as if on an enormous curved monitor, and you can use your programs just like you would with a typical mouse and keyboard setup except you’re using your headset’s controllers.Best of all if you boot up a PCVR title on Steam or the Oculus PC app you’ll load into it as if it were any other VR game on your headset. If you hate using the Quest 2’s Air Link or using a wired connection to play PCVR games with your standalone headset, this could be the solution. While Virtual Desktop did stutter occasionally, I found the experience to be pretty stable in the games I played.
Though one major downside of Virtual Desktop that this exercise has made abundantly clear is that typing using the in-app keyboard is an utter pain. It’s fine for typing quick messages, login info, or a website URL, but you really don’t want to be writing out longer works like I am. If you’re a confident typer, you can instead use the keyboard at your desk like normal, or you can pick up a VR headset-compatible keyboard and use that – your headset can show a virtual model of the device that’s mapped onto it perfectly.
But as I’m not confident – and without a VR keyboard – I’m going to end there as this is so tedious.
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Hamish is a Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.
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