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Top 5 Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games of 2016 (and 2015 and 2014, too)

Top 5 AR/VR Games

Our Top Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games ranking has been going strong since 2014. We periodically update this post with the latest and greatest releases, so read on for the top AR and VR games of 2016, or scroll down for our rankings of games from 2014 and 2015. For a rundown of the biggest developments in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality from the past 12 months, check out our 2016 roundup, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – The Year In Review. And for a look ahead, check out the 5 top Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology trends for 2017.

Top Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games of 2016

Video games created for Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have made a major leap forward in 2016. Multiple VR headsets have hit the market, along with some mind-blowing titles that are changing the very nature of gaming. As you’ll see below, VR has gotten off to an exciting start, but it’s AR gaming that has already seen its first mega-hit. Here’s our list of the Top 5 Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games of 2016.

Pokémon Go

It’s official: Pokémon Go has taken the American by storm! Produced as a joint venture between Niantic, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo, Pokémon Go has been nothing less than a cultural phenomena since it’s release in early July. The game has spawned dozens of news stories, seen mobs of people playing it in public, and is so popular the game’s servers keep crashing under the strain. While there is some debate about whether or not Pokémon Go is a true AR experience, the game is close enough to the real thing that it’s being credited with bringing Augmented Reality to the masses for the first time. A number of Marxent employees have been playing, and their enthusiasm only continues to grow. That said, Marxent AR Developer Patrick Rasmussen got an interesting reaction when demoing Pokémon Go for his significant other. “When I showed my wife me walking around my apartment on the map system in Go last night she said that was creepy,” he reports.

House of the Dying Sun

House of the Dying Sun is a tactical space shooter that puts you in the cockpit of “the universe’s most terrifying starfighter” for Virtual Reality space combat. The game will appeal to anyone who saw Star Wars and thought to themselves, “I’d LOVE to fly that X-Wing and blow up the Death Star!” — so everyone, basically. Marxent Marketing Creative Director Joe Johnson has played through House of the Dying Sun, and calls the game “An example of how VR can completely change the gaming landscape, reviving a long dormant game archetype. It’s outstanding.”

Batman Arkham VR

Superhero titles and VR seem like a match made in comic book heaven, and early looks at Batman Arkham VR have fanboys counting the days until they can put on the mask and fight crime as the Caped Crusader. There’s a natural synergy between strapping on a VR headset and donning Batman’s cowl, which will make it easy for players to suspend disbelief and get lost in Virtual Gotham. The teaser trailer has us excited, as does the advance hype on the game, which is calling it “the beginning of the Virtual Reality experiences we need.” Batman Arkham VR is expected to be released in October, along side the heavily anticipated PlaystationVR.

Elite: Dangerous

Though Elite: Dangerous has been floating around since last year (by late last year you could get it to run on the Oculus Rift developer’s kit with minimal hacking), we’re going to consider it a 2016 release since the official Rift version launched in March. The game itself is pretty spectacular, and has really grabbed the attention of Marxent Program Manager Shawn Rothery. “I like it so much I’m building a cockpit with motion simulation for it!” he says. “For the record, Elite looked like this the first time I played it: Keep the ‘You’re so old…’ jokes to yerself. Newbs.”

Vanishing Realms

Vanishing Realms gets my vote.  While Vanishing Realms is still in early access, the developer is using an episodic content release schedule, which means the first two chapters are out now (providing 3-4 hours of content) and other chapters will follow in the coming months. Project Engineer Chris Jones has been playing Vanishing Realms, and says “The mechanics and overall feel of the gameplay is fantastic. Sword/shield combat, bow and arrow, or using magic — it all *feels* great. The haptic feedback of the Vive controllers add a lot to the experience of fighting enemies. The game itself feels like a combo of Dungeons & Dragons and The Legend of Zelda, with the art style coming across as very Torchlight-y.” Chris’ final take: “The game looks, performs, and plays great. Plus, you get a decent workout playing through it! While the game progression flows very linearly, there’s honestly a good amount of replay value in just letting other players try it out. It’s a very entertaining title to both play and to watch. It’s easily the most interactive and immersive VR experience I’ve had.”

Honorable Mention: The Foo Show

Marxent front end developer Trace Palmatier went outside the box by highlighting The Foo Show, which is more interesting concept related to VR gaming than a video game itself. It’s basically a talk show in VR, with the first episode featuring the developers of the game Firewatch. They are interviewed about their game while virtually walking around inside it using Vive headsets, picking up 3d models and talking about them. You can also download the episode through Steam and walk around with them. “A lot of the animation and 3D models look pretty goofy right now,” Trace points out, “but they’ve talked about how as their tech improves, they’ll be able to go back and update the visuals of past episodes after the fact. Pretty cool.” Here’s the first episode:

For more information on how retailers are using mixed commerce solutions, check out our Mixed Commerce Glossary, which defines the terminology being used to businesses to describe the changes currently sweeping retail.

Top Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games of 2015

We liked our Top Augmented Reality games ranking for 2014 so much that we decided to add the top AR and VR games of 2015 to it. Want to see just the 2014 games ranked? Scroll on!

Have you ever wished that your favorite video games would come to life in 3D space instead of just being contained by a monitor or TV? With Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games, this is quickly becoming possible. Developers all over the world, big and small, have started incorporating AR and VR technologies  into their games. AR games allow players a unique perspective, innovative gameplay options and the ability to interact with games directly rather than through a controller or a keyboard. Curious and ready to get started? In our 2015 survey of AR and VR games, we looked at factors such as inventive use of AR within the game, accessibility and gameplay. The outcome: Here is our list of the Top 5 Augmented Reality Games of 2015.

P.S. If you’re curious about other trends in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, check out our guide to the 5 top Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology trends of 2016. For a flashback to last year, check out our 5 top Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology trends of 2015.

What makes an Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) game extraordinary?

Truly remarkable Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games seek to warp players’ perception of reality through combining storytelling, imagery, and the latest hardware. In 2015, Virtual Reality devices from the likes of Oculus, Microsoft, and Sony, have created brand new opportunities for immersive experiences. These new devices, in turn, rely on content creators to maximize the capabilities of headsets and motion controls. This rapid device-content collaboration has resulted in some standout experiences. Our top 5 AR/VR games show the extreme diversity of experiences that can be achieved with combined game design and AR/VR systems.

1. Invizimals: The Resistance

Running on Sony’s handheld gaming device, the PS Vita, Invizimals: The Resistance is a follow-up to the popular Invizimals game that was originally released on the PSP. Players are tasked with capturing special creatures that can only be seen using special devices. In the game, over 150 different creatures have fallen under the control of the evil Maximillian Black and can be captured in over 20 different ways, including table-top, online and offline multiplayer modes.

2. Mirror’s Edge VR

Mirror’s Edge VR went mega viral as an unofficial mod of EA DICE’s extremely popular game. Mirror’s Edge puts players in the shoes of a courier named Faith who lives in a futuristic dystopian city. Tasked with delivering messages while evading government surveillance, players find themselves scaling, traversing, and tight rope walking across massive skyscrapers. Hang onto your chair. Throwing this game into a VR headset is sure to make your head spin.

3. Clandestine: Anomaly

The new AR game Clandestine: Anomaly starts with a warning – your phone has been hacked! Developed by Zenfri Inc., this location based AR game turns the player’s home into ground zero for an alien crash landing. Players are hurled into the middle of an inter-galactic conflict. The story draws players through this conflict, battling aliens and using clues found in the immediate area to progress through the game.

4. Minecraft

Minecraft, originally developed by Markus “Notch” Persson, and now owned by Microsoft, has been one of the single most popular games to ever sweep the gaming community. This is due largely to its endless customizability. That is to say, f you can think it, you can craft it. The modding community is also incredibly prolific, creating totally unique worlds and places to explore. Add VR to that DIY culture and sparks fly. Taking advantage of its first-person nature, one existing VR mod has totally changed how players can experience the Lego-like building game. The pairing of Minecraft with the Microsoft HoloLens is nearly unrivaled by anything else in the immersive AR space. Check out Microsoft’s incredible demo from this year’s E3 conference.

5. Temple Run VR

Temple Run is a heart-pounding game of running away from beasts while dodging obstacles and picking up collectables. Players are used to viewing this game through the tiny window of mobile phones, but no longer. The new Temple Run VR version of the infinite runner from Imangi Studios is now available on the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR. Now, instead of wondering just how close those beasts are, VR players can simply turn around!

The future of AR and VR games

These Top 5 AR and VR games are to capitalizing on new devices and create totally new experiences for players. AR and VR devices have added a new layer of possibilities to the art of game design, and we expect games like these to take greater advantage of VR space in the next 6 months.

What were the top AR and VR games of 2014?

Here’s our list of top AR and VR games of 2014. It was the beginning of an era of gaming awesome. Even in the past year, tools, techniques and technologies have evolved to create crisper, more exciting and more immersive Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality games. However, we still love these early-to-the-table games and they deserve to be recognized.

1. Google’s Ingress for iOS

Ingress is an immersive, geo-location based AR game produced by Niantic Labs, a division of Google. The story setup is that in conjunction with the discovery of the Higgs boson particle at CERN, a new form of matter called Exotic Matter (XM for short) was also discovered.  XM has the power to control human thought, and is constantly leaking into our world via various portals. The world is divided into two factions over who controls these XM portals and it is up to the player to pick a side and help that side achieve victory. The game is phenomenal. Incorporating real world locations and landmarks as portals using geo-location based AR, in combination with an arsenal of cool tools to hack and take over portals, and a constant stream of social interaction, this game has it all. Surprise yourself this afternoon. Download it and play.

2. Drakerz-Confrontation

For decades, people all over the world have enjoyed trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokemon. Peoleo Entertainment broke the mold with the next generation of trading card games. Their new game Drakerz-Confrontation, currently available on the Steam Store, uses AR to bring trading cards to life as 3D animated monsters called Drakos. Using a computer webcam, the 3D monsters pop off the cards to throw down in an epic battle.

3. PulzAR

PulzAR is a different take on puzzle games. Available in the Playstation Store for PS Vita, this game uses the Vita’s camera and built in AR capabilities to create dynamic puzzles. The puzzles are  aimed at guiding a laser around a series of obstacles until it can be redirected into space to destroy an inbound asteroid. As one of the top rated AR games in the Playstation Store, this is a must have for any gamer who enjoys an Armageddon spin on puzzle games.

4. Table Ice Hockey

Another one of Playstation Store’s top rated AR games is pretty self-explanatory. Table Ice Hockey uses the Playstation Vita to literally put an entire hockey rink on your kitchen or living room table, where you can view the action from any angle. Boasting a wealth of extra features like tournament and multiplayer modes, boxing match-like fights and cool team customization, this game is the perfect way to bring the hockey rink home.

5. Pokedex 3D Pro

I grew up playing Pokemon and have always thought, “How cool would it be if Pokemon were real?” Using Augmented Reality, Nintendo has developed Pokedex 3D Pro, which allows gamers to use the AR Viewer in order to view Pokemon from generations I-V as an animated 3D character standing on a table. The game itself functions much like the device does in the other popular Pokemon games, providing a description and encyclopedic level knowledge of every Pokemon in existence. The game also provides a number of challenge modes designed to test your Pokemon identification skills.

 

Curious about AR games? Start playing!

Don’t be intimidated by AR games. The five top Augmented Reality games of 2014 that we’ve listed here are accessible to gamers of all levels. If you’re in the process of learning about AR and it’s many possibilities,  jump in and start trying them out. Playing AR games is a great way to understand the potential creative applications of Augmented Reality across many disciplines.

John Petty is a Unity Developer at Marxent.

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Talk to the Virtual Reality experts

To learn more about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality applications for sales and marketing, contact us at any time. Email Beck Besecker or call 727-851-9522.

More VR and AR resources

Virtual Reality is constantly changing and there is much to learn. Here is a supplemental list of VR/AR resources for you to enjoy and share.

Marxent’s VisualCommerce 3D Cloud + Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality Showroom Solutions for Retailers – June 2017

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