Jumping the Soapbox: Games of 2020 (Part 3) – The Budget Friendly VR Guide!

When you buy an Oculus Quest and you DON’T have the kind of beast computer to take advantage of Oculus Link, one of the things you have to accept is that everything’s going to be pricier than you’d hope it would be.  There are almost no games below the fifteen dollar mark, and the sales are usually like five percent per game or a whopping ELEVEN percent if you buy five games bundled together.  That MIGHT be changing as I’ve seen a few deeper cuts in the last few months, but being on the cutting edge usually comes with a premium; even if the cutting edge is what, three years old now?  Fortunately for all of you, my thrifty and curmudgeonly attitude kept me from indulging in the more expensive fair which means I can pass the savings onto you!  Are there some fun and worthwhile experiences on the Quest without breaking the bank?  Let’s find out!!


Drop Dead

Developed by Pixel Toys Ltd

Last year I highlighted Crisis VRigade as a fun throwback to old school arcade shooter that was marred by some unfriendly design choices here and there.  This feels like the more polished version of that very same idea, but unfortunately it also sands off some of the more interesting edges in favor of what I can only assume is maximum appeal.  Thankfully you don’t need to physically crouch down to avoid gun fire and I will give this game a HUGE thumbs up for that alone, but it’s also a very easy and barebones experience that feels like it’s doing the bare minimum to hit the necessary marks for a game like this.  The zombies move really slowly, the weapons don’t take long to master, and there’s always more than enough health, power ups, and whatever to keep you nice and safe.  The lack of required movement is definitely a plus here but it is yet another area where the game feels very limited in scope and imagination where games like say Superhot VR make the most of the space around you.  Now granted there were A LOT of light gun arcade shooters just like this so I guess I can’t fault them too much for being at about the same level, a bit more speed or more surprises would have done wonders for this game that otherwise is a bit of a snooze.   Out of all the games I bought on the cheap for the Quest this is the one that felt the most like its price point.  Not too expensive for a not too exciting game, but still fun enough to enjoy once in a while; especially with friends who may not be used to the platform.  Oh wait… we couldn’t have friends over in 2020, could we?


Premium Bowling

Developed by Sadetta

The sweet spot for a lot of VR games, at least for me, is getting one thing done so well that you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.  Granted, it couldn’t have been easy to make somewhat realistic bowling physics, but I managed to while away SO many hours into this thing throwing the same balls down the same lanes hitting the same pins (and getting the same lousy splits).  It definitely calls to mind the days of playing Wii Sports bowling for hours upon hours, and while there’s perhaps room for a bit more CHARM to it as there are a few alleys to play in but not much more to give it a unique style, it does get the job done where it REALLY counts which is the bowling physics.  I’m far from an expert and there’s nothing they can really do to replicate the WEIGHT of a ball, but I never felt the ball moved in unrealistic or predetermined ways despite kind of hoping it would because I’m REALLY not that good at it.  For all its simplicity it’s still one of the better experiences out there for the asking price and is a fantastically immersive experience; especially if all the bowling alleys are closed FOR SOME REASON.  However, I will say that this is DEFINITELY a game that can only work if you have enough space for it.  To throw a bowling ball properly you do want to be able to take a few steps and it’s probably not worth smashing your very expensive headset into a wall just to try and get it to work in a more cozy play area.


The Thrill of the Fight

Developed by Sealost Interactive LLC

EVERYONE talks about the Creed game when it comes to VR boxing, but as much as I love those movies and wouldn’t mind having Stallone’s voice in my head, I couldn’t justify the thirty dollar asking price and instead opted for its SUPER cheap counterpart.  With all that I was not going into this game expecting anything worthwhile, but for the price I paid and the content that IS in here, I still think I got a bargain!  Its bare bones but not in the ways that matter because if VR being such an immersive experience means that you can get very far with very little (that’s basically the running theme for these games), and the mechanics are varied enough that you can really get into the action and get the blood pumping.  Of course there’s no force feedback from the opponent so you can only get so immersed in it, and I can never quite get the power where I need it to be.  Perhaps I need to tack on some muscle mass and improve my punching technique, but jabs never seem to have much of an effect and big swings only slightly more so.  It will definitely give you a workout if nothing else, but this is another game that more or less REQUIRES a nice roomy play area.  You don’t need to have one the size of an ACTUAL boxing ring, but you do want to have a bit of maneuverability if you need it, and throwing in a few bobs and weaves here and there definitely helps to immerse you in the experience. 


Topgolf with Pro Putt

Developed by Golf Scope Inc

Out of all the games I got for the Quest this year, I can’t think of one that got you more bang for your buck.  The golfing mechanics are responsive and intuitive, and while I couldn’t tell you if the physics are right, it certainly FEELS right as I can’t golf in real life and certainly can’t hit a ball straight in this game either.  What sets it apart though is the wealth of features; so much so that they actually changed the name of the game (it was originally called Pro Putt by Top Golf) as the bonus content ended up eclipsing the original putting game itself.  You get about forty holes of putting action across big maps with a pleasing enough art style and quick access features so that you don’t get bogged down adjusting the camera here or trying to access a feature there, and unlike the bowling game which for whatever reason tries to incorporate BOTH controllers, this one lets you play with just one without any issues.  The putting campaign alone was enough to sell me on it, but since its release they’ve added more and more to the Top Golf simulation feature which tries to recreate the experience of going to one of these places.  I’ve never been to one myself so I can’t exactly say how it compares, but the driving range is fantastic to just while away some time swinging at balls and they have this interesting YouTube integration feature where music videos are playing on screens in the virtual Top Golf center which is a great touch that adds to the immersion of the experience.  It doesn’t stop there though as there are various games to try and get high scores in from target based driving range games to this REALLY fun putting game that’s kind of like curling or shuffleboard; in that you have a bunch of holes on the green in front of you and try to get as close to them as possible to earn points.  Sadly, there is one drawback at least for the moment which is the menu interface.  I understand that Cornhole and some sort of Pong game are also available at the moment, but for the life of me I could not find how to get to them.  As far as I can tell, there’s a Home screen that they USED to be on, but now the Home screen has an advertisement to get $10 a trip to a Top Golf location.  Perhaps I decided to check those features the very day that ad went up and it’s already gone by now, but the whole thing is kind of a mess in trying to find the features.  You can’t access the putting section of the Top Golf lounge if you’re at the driving range for example and have to go all the way out to the main menu to just go back to a different area in the Top Golf lounge.  Aside from that, and it’s hopefully a feature they fix very soon, this is worth every cent of its $20 asking price and I’d put it up there as one of the best games the platform has to offer; right up there with Beat Saber and Superhot which by the way are both more expensive than this one!


So there you have it!  If Santa saw fit to deliver you an Oculus Quest 2 this year (you’d have to have cured COVID or something to get THAT high on the nice list!), these are some titles that will definitely not break the bank.  It seems that Oculus is getting the hint that lots of people who have these devices aren’t rich enough to pay full price for all of these games (as of right now I have a $10 coupon they sent me for no apparent reason), but even if they don’t we at least have a few developers out there making quality experiences at a darn good price!  That’ll do it for the games I played the year that has thankfully come to a close!  Let me know what you thought in the comments below, and I’ll see you in 2022 for another yearly games roundup!

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