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UploadVR's Best of VR 2023 Awards – Game Of The Year & More

UploadVR's Best of VR 2023 Awards – Game Of The Year & More

Welcome to UploadVR's Best of VR Awards for 2023.

2023 was a packed year for VR, with a bunch of new hardware releases and a plethora of exciting new VR games across several platforms. This year, our Best of VR Awards will highlight our picks for the best hardware and software of the calendar year across multiple categories, with one winner and a few honorable mentions for each.

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. That said, we have also added a new category recognizing Early Access titles specifically.

Here are UploadVR's picks for Best of VR 2023.

Best Updated VR Game

It's common for VR games to continue offering new content to their audiences in the months (or years) after launch, whether it be via paid DLC or through free updates. Walkabout Mini Golf continues to release exciting new courses, such as its Journey to the Center of the Earth, Laser Lair and Alfheim: Land of the Elves courses. Puzzling Places continued to receive new updates, including multiplayer and MR support on Quest – the latter of which is our new favorite way to play. Among Us VR arrived on new platforms and received a new Polus map, while Breachers added consistent new content such as its party system, new maps, and Control Point mode.

However, the Best Updated VR Game of 2023 has to be Pistol Whip. In our mid-2023 review of the game, we said it was better than ever and at the end of the year, that sentiment still rings true. Cloudhead games continue to add new features and content to Pistol Whip years after launch, including the Overdrive season, Elixir of Madness, and Pistol Mix modding tool. The updates don't look set to stop either – the game's roadmap indicates a brand new collection of scenes is on the way in 2024.

Best New VR/AR Hardware

This year included a few notable VR/AR hardware releases. XR Elite saw Vive try to reclaim some of the consumer market with its modular mixed reality headset, while Bigscreen Beyond offered exceptional PC VR comfort with significant trade-offs. Sony brought next-generation VR gaming to PS5 with PSVR 2, offering a major step in console VR with high-end features in a package that's easier to manage than PC VR.

However, it's Quest 3 that is our pick for Best New VR/AR Hardware this year. Though the mixed reality is really just passable, it's everything else about the headset that pushes it over the line. There's huge improvements to comfort with better weight distribution, while the new pancake lenses offer improved visuals in a far slimmer form factor. Internally, it's also far more powerful with more than double the GPU performance than previous standalone headsets.

Best VR Developer

Resolution Games continue to impress with Racket Club and Demeo Battles, meanwhile Cloudhead Games continues to put out free updates for Pistol Whip while working on new projects. Capcom also had a strong year with two full VR Modes for Resident Evil games. Mighty Coconut continues to expand Walkabout Mini Golf with new courses.

However, Best VR Developer has to go to solo developer Zach Tsiakalis-Brown, who almost single-handedly created PC VR masterpiece Vertigo 2. In a world dominated by studios of varying sizes, it is astounding that Zach Tsiakalis-Brown was able to create such a masterpiece of a game by himself. If you want to learn more, be sure to check out our interview with him from earlier in the year.

Interview: How Zach Tsiakalis-Brown Brought Vertigo 2 To Life
We talked to Vertigo 2 developer Zach Tsiakalis-Brown about how he brought the game to life. Read more here:

Best New Multiplayer VR Game

Demeo Battles, Breachers and Power Wash Simulator all made a case as strong contenders in this category, but in the end it had to go Dungeons of Eternity.

Earlier this year, we gave it an Essential rating (back before we switched to a 5-Star rating system), making it one of our favorite games of the year. Catering to many different playstyles, it's a enjoyable fantasy action RPG that comes highly recommend – especially to play with friends.

Dungeons Of Eternity Review: One Of Co-Op’s Best On Quest
Dungeons of Eternity offers one of the best VR co-op adventures yet on Meta Quest headsets. Here is our full review.

Most Anticipated VR Game of 2024

There's lots to look forward to in 2024 – Skydance's Behemoth, Big Shots, Border Bots, Silent Slayer, Wanderer: The Fragments of Fate, Final Fury, Brazen Blaze and Glassbreakers, to name a few.

However, our most anticipated game has to be Underdogs. In our hands-on preview, we spoke about its refreshing take on futuristic mech brawler combat, including a physics-based system that rewards wider swings with increased damage. We can't wait to dig into Underdogs more when it arrives in early 2024.

Hands-On: UNDERDOGS Shows Promising Gritty Mech Combat
UNDERDOGS promises a refreshing take on physics-based mech combat. Our full preview:

Favorite Early Access VR Game

Ghosts of Tabor and Track Craft both caught our attention as Early Access titles this year, but there was one other game that really caught our attention.

Glassbreakers stole our heart this year at Gamescom, presenting a fantastic multiplayer experience designed around engaging interactions, a MOBA-like competitive experience and engaging menu system built around physical interactions. We can't wait to play more Glassbreakers when it goes into full release next year.

Favorite Mixed Reality Experience

With the advent of Quest 3, there were loads of new mixed reality experiences available this year. We loved checking out MR support for games like Vermillion, Synth Rides, Pianovision, The Light Brigade and Drop Dead: The Cabin.

But it was Demeo/Demeo Battles that is our favorite to play in mixed reality. Yes, we know – they are technically two separate titles. However, their implementation of mixed reality is identical and so it comes down to which type of Demeo experience you want to play. Whether you're keen on co-op dungeon crawling with friends or competitive PvP action, both Demeo and Demeo Battles are best enjoyed in mixed reality.

Favorite New PSVR 2 Game

PSVR 2's launch year came with some engaging new titles. There were two fantastic Resident Evil VR Modes – for Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 4 Remake – as well as Synapse, Before Your Eyes, C-Smash VRS and Gran Turismo 7.

But our favorite had to be the headset's flagship title, Horizon: Call of the Mountain. It was a brilliant way to kick off the PSVR 2 lifecycle and presents a brand new experience that is both unique to VR and faithful to the Horizon franchise. Though not necessarily revelatory, it's nonetheless an essential game for PSVR 2 owners – and our favorite of the year.

Horizon Call of the Mountain Review: A Stunning Showcase For PSVR 2
Horizon Call of the Mountain headlines a strong start for PlayStation VR2, showcasing the headset’s new features through an engaging action-adventure. Here’s our full review. Launch games are critical for any new platform. First impressions only happen once and while PlayStation VR2 boasts impressive specs, few things get

Favorite New PC VR Game

More so than ever in 2023, this award is on its last legs. Despite the decreasing number of new PC VR releases, we remained impressed with the few we tried this year. F1 23 offered welcome improvements over its predecessor on PC VR, but still fell a little short of becoming the definitive VR racing game.

But for our favorite PC VR game of the year, what else could it go to besides Vertigo 2? This game is a stunning achievement – a homage to Valve classics and yet a complete creative force of its own as well. It's a incredibly well-polished campaign – and created entirely by one sole developer, too.

Favorite New Quest Game

There was plenty of new content for Quest owners this year, with an abundance of choice across multiple genres. Between Asgard's Wrath 2, Arizona Sunshine 2, Dungeons of Eternity, Eye of the Temple and Vampire: The Masquerade - Justice, there was something for everyone.

However, our favorite new Quest game of the year goes to Assassin's Creed Nexus VR. There were doubts as to whether Ubisoft could pull of bringing such an iconic franchise over to VR, but Nexus manages to stand proud with main series and present players with a 20-hour campaign that leaves you wanting more. It demonstrates what a fully-fledged VR entry can do for a big franchise, adapting gameplay from the main series into something unique and engaging on Quest headsets.

Review: Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR Stands Proud With The Main Series
Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR proudly stands alongside the main series. Our full review:

VR Game of the Year 2023

When it comes to the biggest award of the year, it was a tough call. With games like Horizon: Call of the Mountain, Dungeons of Eternity, Assassin's Creed Nexus, Synapse, Breachers, Arizona Sunshine 2, Resident Evil 4 Remake VR Mode and Asgard's Wrath 2, it was a tighter race than ever.

However, our VR Game of the Year for 2023 is Vertigo 2. There were a lot of brilliant VR campaigns this year, but Vertigo 2's tops them all. Not only is this one of the most polished shooter campaigns available, it was created almost entirely by Zach Tsiakalis-Brown, a solo developer. In a year with perhaps more VR releases from big studios and AAA developers than ever, it is amazing that Vertigo 2 – an indie release and the creation of one person – stood up tall against the competition.

Interview: How Zach Tsiakalis-Brown Brought Vertigo 2 To Life
We talked to Vertigo 2 developer Zach Tsiakalis-Brown about how he brought the game to life. Read more here:

It's only available on PC VR for now, though a planned PSVR 2 release for this year has now been twice delayed. Once Vertigo 2 hits that platform, more people than ever will be able to play this stunning campaign – we can't wait for them to try it.

But even without the PSVR 2 release, there is no doubt in our mind: Vertigo 2 is our VR Game of the Year for 2023.

Vertigo 2 Review: Creative & Engaging SteamVR Experience
Vertigo 2 offers a PC VR experience that is constantly creative and undeniably engaging.

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