This is a refreshed version of our review guidelines. Previously we only gave scores to games and verbal verdicts for other content and hardware, before changing to a single five-point scale. Now we’re evolving to a no-point labeling system. For reference, here is the old scale.
The VR industry is growing bigger by the day, and consumers have more choice than ever when it comes to games, films or other types of experiences to purchase for a variety of headsets. At UploadVR, we take pride in providing balanced, informative reviews of VR software to help you make the right purchasing choices in an increasingly crowded field.
In October 2019 we retired our 10-point review scale in favor of a five-star system. On March 14th 2022, we further refined the system to focus on three labels and a broader unlabeled category rather than a numeric score. This system features four categories: Essential, Recommended, Avoid and reviews that are unlabeled. With the industry still finding its feel, we feel this system will enable us to deliver confident, fair criticism of experiences to let you know if they’re worth your money. You can read more about the reasoning behind our most recent change here.
You won’t see these ratings on impressions for Early Access titles. From time to time we may also publish a review-in-progress. This means that we haven’t seen enough of the experience to render a final verdict, such as in the case of games with multiplayer that isn’t active pre-launch. In those cases, the review-in-progress will be published without a score and will be finalized, then republished with a final verdict. It will not be a new URL, but just an update to the in-progress review to make it final. This means some content of the review may change.
Here’s our review breakdown guideline on what each category means for a review at UploadVR:
UploadVR Review Labels
An Essential is something that we feel anyone with a VR headset needs to experience. These apps represent the best-in-class for their genre or style and, although they may have one or two issues, they otherwise brilliantly capture the tone and feeling they were aiming for. Completely thrilling, entirely unique and/or utterly immersive, you can expect to see only a few Essential releases throughout the year.
For Example: Ultrawings 2 is a game that accomplishes everything it sets out to do with a massive amount of compelling, polished content. Demeo perfectly distills the game night experience into a social VR title you can’t easily replicate on a flatscreen. Half-Life: Alyx is an uncompromising blockbuster shooter that raises the bar for AAA VR titles to come. Battlescar is a ferocious VR movie that shows you just how different and dynamic this form of storytelling can be.
We really like Recommended apps. These are experiences we’re confident pretty much anyone will have a great time with, especially if they have any interest in the given genre. Even if they don’t, these will be fantastic reference points for clean, concise VR that either effectively communicate the power of the platform or are just really, really fun. They might not get us excited enough to give them an Essential, or have one or two unfortunate issues that prevent them from getting there, but overall we think you’ll be very glad to have tried a Recommended experience.
For Example: Boneworks represents an incredible step forward for physical VR interaction and combat, but its campaign doesn’t quite harness its breakthroughs to the best effect. Resident Evil 4 VR is a brilliant adaptation of a flatscreen gem held back by some of its 2D roots. Song in the Smoke is a fantastic, earthy survival game, but even at its best the gameplay never quite feels like an Essential experience. Unplugged is an innovative, exceptional VR air guitar game that’s subject to the current restraints of hand-tracking.
If you see a review without an Essential, Recommended or Avoid badge that simply means we’ve decided not to give it a label. This doesn’t mean that the app in question is bad or completely devoid of merit. In fact, you’re likely to get some enjoyment out of the experience, or at least see why others would. It could be a completely competent shooter that’s fun to play but doesn’t really do anything new or leave a lasting impression. Or a driving game that feels great to play but only launches with a limited number of maps and modes.Or it could be something much more ambitious but the execution will be flawed, with some serious design issues and road bumps that get in the way. Lots of people might ultimately enjoy an unlabeled app and those with a serious interest in the brand or genre might get a real kick out of them, but they’re not likely to go down as one of VR’s most memorable experiences.
For Example: Lone Echo 2 is a tour de force for VR fidelity but its glacial approach to storytelling will leave you keen to move on before the story is ready to let you. After The Fall is an expert replication of the Left 4 Dead formula in VR, but its launch offerings focus too much on the grind without the content required to keep you. Garden of the Sea effectively captures the Stardew Valley experience for VR, only with a fraction of the overall content. There’s nothing especially ‘wrong’ with The Walking Dead: Onslaught, but it comes and goes without making the slightest impression on you.
Our Avoid label will be used sparingly, and it’ll apply to games and apps that you should absolutely not, under any circumstances, consider purchasing. Experiences in this category maybe be buggy to the point of unplayable, or seriously troubled in their mechanics, polish and/or overall execution. You simply won’t mine any fun or meaning from an Avoid experience, so don’t try.
For Example: Tarzan VR is an ugly, confusing experience with skin-deep gameplay and absolutely no design nuance that’s over almost as soon as you start.
Updated March 14th, 2022
Updated August 5th, 2020
Updated June 25th, 2020
Established October 9th, 2019: This is the date that UploadVR retired its original scoring system.