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UploadVR's Best VR Of 2021 Awards - Nominees

UploadVR's Best VR Of 2021 Awards - Nominees

Roll out the red carpet, it’s time for UploadVR’s Best of 2021 awards nominees!

2021 was a year unlike any else the VR industry has ever seen. With relatively few major new headset releases, all eyes were on big new software debuts to satiate the ever-growing list of PC VR gamers, devoted PSVR fans and the swarm of new Quest 2 customers that took their first dip into the world of VR this year.

And developers rose to the occasion. This isn’t a year of huge flashy new shooters and sequels (though there is some of that), but a lot of genuinely new and different experiences that really proofed out just how different VR gaming can be. And, of course, there are plenty of other moments, developers and hardware releases to recognize. We also revealed our nominees live in our virtual studio today, which you can see in the video below. Check back for the full list of winners later in the week!

UploadVR’s Best VR Of 2021 Awards – Nominees

Best Competitive Multiplayer

The quest for VR’s competitive crown really heated up in 2021. Whilst new shooters like Larcenauts and Hyper Dash aspired to esports glory, returning favorites like Loco Dojo Unleashed and Ragnarock gave us a spin on what VR multiplayer could look like. Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the standout success of Gorilla Tag, which John Carmack himself recently noted had more players than many multiplayer AAA VR games.

  • Larcenauts
  • Hyper Dash
  • Loco Dojo Unleashed
  • Ragnarok
  • Gorilla Tag

Best Co-op Multiplayer

Upload VR Best Of 2021 Co-Op Multiplayer

Competitive multiplayer might be a tough category to choose, but Best Co-op is an even harder choice. 2021 saw the release of fantastic co-op titles up and down the board, from the Left 4 Dead-like horde-slaying of After The Fall to the dungeon-crawling adventures of Legendary Tales. Demeo, meanwhile, made tabletop gaming possible once more in the middle of a pandemic, whilst many of us lost hours gathering resources in A Township Tale. And then there are the experiences that came out of the blue, like the fantastic versatility of Warplanes: WW1 Fighters. This’ll be a tough one.

  • After The Fall
  • Demeo
  • A Township Tale
  • Legendary Tales
  • Warplanes: WW1 Fighters

Best Experience

Upload VR Best Of 2021 Experience

VR headsets are still seen as gaming devices first and foremost, but we’re gradually starting to see more and more excellent experiences that blur the lines between movies and gaming creep onto headsets too. Festival circuit darlings like Battlescar, Goliath and Madrid Noir finally found their way to consumer headsets, whilst Welcome to Respite teased the power of live VR performances. Sentenced, meanwhile, pushed the boundaries of VR comfort zones with a bloody tale of morality.

  • Battlescar
  • Madrid Noir
  • Goliath
  • Sentenced
  • Welcome To Respite

Best Updated Game

Upload VR Best Of 2021 Updated

Just as with traditional games, the way we interact with VR games is changing. Many titles are no longer just about a day one purchase and the package you get there and then, but instead a rolling series of updates that improve, augment and expand upon that foundation. Some games get this approach really, really right, like Pistol Whip’s stream of new campaigns and features, the additional modes and cosmetics added to Blaston, or the steady drip of experimental extras added to Cubism. Sometimes it can also be major singular updates that entirely overhaul a product, like Pro Putt’s transformation into GOLF+, The Walking Dead’s long-awaited Aftershocks content, and the excellent arena-scale multiplayer dueling of Space Pirate Trainer DX.

  • Space Pirate Trainer DX
  • Pistol Whip
  • GOLF+
  • Cubism
  • Blaston
  • Waltz of the Wizard

Best DLC

Upload VR Best Of 2021 DLC

DLC has been the lifeblood of many a VR game this year. Having sold copies to basically anyone with a headset, Beat Saber pushed on with packs from major artists, whilst Walkabout Mini Golf expanded on its near-perfect mechanics by simply giving us more courses to master. Meanwhile, both Jurassic World and Star Wars delivered DLC packs that rivaled the size of some standalone games.

  • Beat Saber – Music Packs
  • Star Wars: Tales From The Galaxy’s Edge – Last Call
  • Jurassic World Aftermath – Part 2
  • Walkabout VR Minigolf – New Courses

Most Immersive Moment

Upload VR Awards 2021 Immersive Moment

One of our favorite categories to debate, Immersive Moment cherry-picks singular moments from some of the year’s best games that really made us feel a part of their reality. Unplugged offered a lot of fun across its many tracks, but nothing felt quite as good as letting your fingers shred a solo, whilst A Township Tale’s physics-driven mechanics made crafting a meticulously detailed affair. Awaiting car crashes in Traffic Jams had us biting our fingers, meanwhile, and sequentially solving the ridiculous opening puzzles of Floor Plan 2 felt like visiting the set of Sesame Street live. Finally, few moments rival negotiating the stagehand equipment in I Expect You To Die 2’s best level, or the heart-melting affection of petting Arashi: Castles of Sin’s Haru.

  • Petting Haru in Arashi: Castles of Sin
  • Soloing in Unplugged
  • Chopping trees and crafting backpacks in A Township Tale
  • Joining Puzzl in Floor Plan 2
  • Behind the stage with I Expect You To Die 2
  • Impending crashes in Traffic Jams

Most Innovative Design

Upload VR Best Of 2021 Innovative Design

Designing any VR game is hard, but some titles go above and beyond to deliver immersive experiences unlike anything else you’ve ever played. Hand Physics Lab showed us what weird and wonderful directions developers could take hand tracking tech, whilst Unplugged used it to make Guitar Hero without the need of a plastic peripheral. Carve Snowboarding, meanwhile, expertly recreated the snowboarding experience with a unique control scheme, and Gorilla Tag made monkeying around in VR a must-see experience. Puzzling Places, meanwhile, was a real lightbulb moment for 3D puzzling, whilst Eye of the Temple gave us a callback to the power of fully room scale VR.

  • Unplugged
  • Carve Snowboarding
  • Puzzling Places
  • Hand Physics Lab
  • Gorilla Tag
  • Eye of the Temple

Hidden Gem

Upload VR Awards 2021 Hidden Gem

A new category for this year, Hidden Gem seeks to highlight all of the indie darlings and low-key hits that might’ve flown under a lot of people’s radars. These might not necessarily have a shot at best game, but they impressed us with their unique visions all the same. That includes the rustic, wind-swept scenery of Mare, intuitive storytelling of Arcsmith and the Firewatch-inspired narrative of Vanishing Grace. Crashland, meanwhile delivered brutal arcade thrills, Carve Snowboarding perfected extreme sports and Eternal Starlight realized the VR RTS dream. PC VR also got some great new experiences, like Eye of the Temple.

  • Mare
  • Vanishing Grace
  • Crashland
  • Arcsmith
  • Eternal Starlight
  • Eye of the Temple
  • Carve Snowboarding

Best VR Developer

Upload VR Best Of 2021 VR Developer

2021 really feels like the year a lot of VR’s most committed developers stole the spotlight. Resolution Games’ tireless updates and releases paid off with Demeo and Schell Games continued to push the boundaries of consumer VR releases and beyond. Fast Travel Games and nDreams, meanwhile, sought to cement themselves not just as great developers but premiere VR publishers, too. And we can’t forget the round-the-clock devotion to Beat Saber that Beat Games displayed once again, delivering easily the game’s best year of content yet.

  • Beat Games
  • Resolution Games
  • nDreams
  • Fast Travel Games
  • Schell Games

Best PC VR Game

Upload VR Best Of 2021 PC VR Game

We didn’t see too many games take full advantage of the power of PC VR in 2021 but, when they did, they provided some stunning experiences. Lone Echo 2 provided yet more jaw-dropping visuals and immersion, whilst indie hits like Sweet Surrender, Song in the Smoke, I Expect You To Die 2 and Demeo all played and looked best on a PC headset.

  • Lone Echo 2
  • Sweet Surrender
  • I Expect You To Die 2
  • Song in the Smoke
  • Demeo

Best PSVR Game

Upload VR Best Of 2021 PSVR Game

Sony’s aging VR headset still had plenty of fight left in it in 2021. As we waited for PSVR 2 news, AAA releases like Hitman 3 kept us coming back, whilst exclusive new games like Fracked carved a name for themselves. And, of course, the best of VR’s multiplatform titles also came to PSVR, including Sniper Elite, I Expect You To Die 2 and Song in the Smoke.

  • Song in the Smoke
  • Fracked
  • Hitman 3
  • Sniper Elite VR
  • I Expect You To Die 2

Best Quest Game

Upload VR Best Of 2021 Quest Game

Meta’s newest headset didn’t wait around when it came to establishing a strong software library. Both Quest 1 and 2 saw a slew of great new titles showcase standalone VR this year and, although we started to see more and more Quest 2 exclusives towards the tail end, most of the very best games, like Demeo, Unplugged, A Township Tale and Song in the Smoke, released on both. But will that extra exclusive boost help Resident Evil 4 secure the crown?

  • A Township Tale
  • Resident Evil 4 VR
  • Song in the Smoke
  • Demeo
  • Unplugged

Best Hardware

Upload VR Best Of 2021 Hardware

2021 was a decidedly quieter year for VR hardware. But, in some respects, that makes it an even more interesting category to judge, as innovative new headsets like the HTC Vive Flow and powerhouses like the Varjo Aero get a little breathing room. We also saw accessories like Anker’s Quest 2 Charging Dock and the VR Power 2 really take off. And, though the DecaGear seems to be having issues, the much more manageable DecaMove gave us a new way to walk in VR.

  • HTC Vive Flow
  • VR Power 2
  • Varjo Aero
  • Anker Quest 2 Charging Dock
  • DecaMove

VR Game Of The Year

Upload VR Awards 2021 GOTY

The big one. What’s refreshing about 2021’s list of the best of the best is that there’s very few sequels and ports of big flat-screen games. Song in the Smoke, Unplugged and Demeo were all completely native, thrilling VR games with original concepts that were expertly executed. But spare a thought for how Schell Games built on top of its rock-solid foundation with I Expect You To Die 2 and, of course, the surprising efficiency with which Resident Evil 4 was ported to VR. This won’t be an easy one to judge.

  • Demeo
  • Resident Evil 4 VR
  • Song in the Smoke
  • Unplugged
  • I Expect You To Die 2

Check back later in the week when we reveal the winners of our Best of VR 2021 awards!

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