The Vita might not have been ones of PlayStation's biggest successes, but it's certainly one of its more cherished pieces of hardware; its intention to offer big console experiences on the go fell a little flat (even if Nintendo did prove the concept could work some short years later with the Switch), but its pivot to independent and mid-tier studios opened up the handheld to a new breed of fascinating games. In turn, Sony offered up a captive audience to smaller developers, resulting in a love-in that's made the Vita adored by its faithful.
Maybe Sony was mindful of all that when it was creating the ecosystem for its most recent piece of kit, as PlayStation VR feels like it's playing very much the same game. This isn't the place to come if you want to see what Sony's top tier studios and franchises are up to (with the notable and noble exception of Gran Turismo, of course) - instead it's a lively playground of upstarts and neat new ideas, where fledgling dev teams can find an appreciative audience that'll happily play even the most left field of diversions. If a recent showcase of forthcoming PlayStation VR games is anything to go by, it's working a treat; support for PlayStation VR is strong, and over the next year there's an awful lot to look forward to.
London Studio's Blood and Truth, which spins off The London Heist section of PlayStation VR Worlds into something approaching a full game, is doubtless the headline title, and it deserves to be. A fast-paced, gloriously campy on-rails shooter, it made me think of nothing less than Confidential Mission if it were directed by Guy Ritchie. Using two Move controllers, you're empowered by the John Wick fantasy of darting around corridors and exchanging pistol shots with an anonymous bad guy while the scenery eats itself before swapping out ammo clips and doing it all again with another enemy. It's gun fu delivered with no small amount of thought and style.
Taking ballistics but dialling down the balletics a notch or two is Firewall, which sets out to prove that more traditional shooters can work in VR. It's fairly persuasive, too, offering a surprisingly effective spin on Rainbow Six Siege's fraught tactical multiplayer, all enabled by the PlayStation VR Aim Controller with movement controlled via the two analogue sticks, while body recognition allows you to peer and duck in and out of cover. The slow pace of a more tactical shooter certainly helps its cause, but developer First Contact Entertainment (which now features Adam Orth, behind one of VR's early standout games, Adrift) should be commended for bringing it all together so well.
Eden Tomorrow is familiar in other ways; a sci-fi adventure in which you're an amnesiac stranded on a distant planet that's stalked by dinosaurs, it conjures comparisons to Crytek's Robinson: The Journey, but developer Soulpix can't quite muster the same production values. This is sci-fi at its corniest, but what Eden Tomorrow lacks in sparkle and wit it more than makes up for with its puppy dog enthusiasm. A b-movie diversion, by the looks of it, which is to say it could be more than ample for an afternoon's entertainment.
Taking a more novel approach, Smash Hit Plunder might just be the pick of the bunch that Sony showcased; it's another lo-fi adventure, but one that's brought alive by its imagination and execution. Here, you in habit and explore small dungeons, searching the scenery for loot and gold. What makes it special is its art-style, with pixellated textures knowingly bringing to mind PC adventures of a certain vintage. There's something truly magical in finding yourself transported within a world that looks like it's come straight off a 486 Compaq, poking through shelves and juggling the various pieces of the brilliantly physical world. This isn't the most high profile game on the horizon for PlayStation VR, but it stands a very good chance of being one of the very best.
It's in those lo-fi wonders that PlayStation VR excels, really, with games such as Animal Force providing disarmingly sweet diversions. The idea here's simple enough; it's a tower defence game told in 3D space, with cute critters being placed around you to fend off attacks. Basic, yes, but there's something about seeing that template being transposed to 180 degrees of tangible space around you, the mad panic in more furious levels delivered with a neat physical edge thanks to the Move controllers. As a bonus, there's even a handful of cute mini-games designed to be played in multiplayer via the second screen - including a riff on SpyParty, which probably won't be the first title to beat Chris Hecker's long in development game to release.
And then there's Dark Eclipse, an ingenious, deep game that uses the Move controller and the physical presence granted in VR to deliver a fresh take on the MOBA. This is hardcore stuff, but that's where the charm lies - in Dark Eclipse, a group of MOBA diehards have set about reinventing the genre they love in this exciting new space, and they're not willing to make any concessions to newcomers. You can move around the map at breakneck speed by positioning it with the Move hand in one controller, pinging units this way and that by dragging them with the other. A PlayStation VR exclusive with hefty ambition behind it, with a decent tailwind this could do seriously well. And the team behind it? One Sunsoft, the celebrated Japanese developer continuing its recent return to the frontlines in dizzying style.
Are these the kinds of games that are going to make PlayStation VR an essential purchase? Individually perhaps not, but combined they're part of a fascinating space where devs are encouraged to experiment with often excellent ideas. For now, and for the two million people already onboard with PlayStation VR, there's a raft of treats on the way - and Sony has in turn created one of the most viable spaces for new VR games that there is today.