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The destructive force of GREAT VR games getting mediocre or no reviews

RuneSR2
Level 16

When telling my friends and colleagues that VR is mankind's most impressive invention since the wheel, I keep hearing that many will consider buying a VR headset when great games arrive. I can then tell them about the many awesome VR games, but the problem arises when I have to show some reviews of such great VR games. Often there're no reviews or the authors of VR game reviews seem keen to do their very best bashing most VR games for not being good enough - quite contrary to my experiences.

I know Oculus took great pride getting a top-ranked VR game on Metacritic, and they succeeded with Lone Echo last year. But where do we stand this summer? - Here's today's list of the best PC games, including VR games, from Metacritic (and my friends read such lists):

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According to that list there are no games you can't play without a VR headset. The only game on the list you can play in VR is The Forest, but it works in 2D too. If the list is expanded to show all current games, Gunheart also receives 83 points like The Forest, and again you don't need a VR headset to play Gunheart. My friends easily conclude that since there're no VR-only high-ranking games on the Metacritic list, it's because current VR games are of poor quality and VR is something no one truly needs. 

I can't blame them for drawing such conclusions, and even showing 2D trailers don't help much, because you can't communicate the greatness of VR games using a 2D video.

I think it's a great problem that new and awesome VR games don't get good reviews or do not get reviewed at all. Let's take Moss - it's a VR-only game arriving a few months ago:

Moss Metacritic Score for PC: No score due to insufficient number of reviews.
Moss User Score in the Oculus Store: About 96% average. 

There're just 3 Moss reviews for PC VR on Metacritic, scoring the game at 79, 80 or 90 % - which in no way reflects user experiences. And often I see a similar trend. 

The reason behind the few Moss PC reviews are probably that many reviewers reviewed the PS4 version and then didn't want to do another review for PC VR. Thus compared to the 3 reviews for the Rift/Vive version, there're 62 reviews of the PS4 version! Interestingly many reviewers have no problem reviewing different game versions for PS4, XBox One and PC - like Battlefield 1, Fifa 18 and Rise of the Tomb Rader just to name a few titles. Why didn't Moss PC VR get a similar treatment?

This is a great problem - Moss for the Rift and Vive is not the same as the PS4 version; PS4 has no controllers matching the Rift or Vive, and the PS4 has much lower resolution (also when using high levels of super-sampling on the Rift and Vive). But the greatness of Moss PC VR was never communicated to the masses, because there're almost no published reviews of one of the greatest VR games so far - and certainly the best one thus far in 2018!

Another problem of mixing VR and 2D games on Metacritic is to compare apples and oranges, or probably more to compare grapes and watermelons 😉

To illustrate: Is Subnautica 2D the same as Subnautica VR? Is Elite Dangerous 2D the same as Elite Dangerous VR? I'd personally consider Subnautica VR about 10 times better than Subnautica 2D, even if the VR version does have some problems. So should we rate Subnautica 2D at 10 % and the VR version at 100 % ? Of course this would not be fair, but I'd have no problem rating Subnautica 2D at 65 % and the VR version at 95 %, if we really want to compare apples and oranges - and want to rate both on the same scale. 
I believe that many reviewers rate VR games just as if the games were in 2D. Comparing 2D and VR games, I'd have a hard time rating a 2D game more than 70 % - and that would be for the very best AAA 2D games, while I'd have a hard time rating any high-quality VR game below 90 %. This is due to the fact that VR games are so incredibly more visually impressive and immersive than any 2D game can be - and Touch controllers add a lot to provide a truly unique VR experience. For example I'd have no problem rating a 2D version of Marvel Powers United at maybe 60 %, and to rate the VR version at 90 %, because the immersion - the feeling of being present in the game world - is so much better in VR. 

If reviewers fail to clearly communicate how much better VR games are compared to 2D games, how are persons - who know very little about VR - going to know how much better VR games are compared to 2D games? The current bashing of Marvel Powers United is a great example of this - and it's a great destructive force limiting VR adoption when VR game reviewers constantly criticize gameplay as if a VR game wasn't different from a 2D game. A new VR game which is the best within it's genre - compared to other VR games in the same genre - is per definition the new reference and should carry a rating reflecting that position. - And such a VR game should not carry a rating that reflects a reviewers preference for 2D games in the genre. 

I think it would be great if Oculus representatives could ask Metacritic not to mix 2D and VR games; there are plenty of VR games to support having their own category.
We need to stop comparing apples and oranges. 

Finally we could take a look on the current top three PC games on Metacritic, namely these:

Into the Breach - rated 89 %



Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - rated 88 %


Final Fantasy XV - Windows - rated at 85 %


I do think that some of these games look impressive, but are these games way better than the latest and greatest Rift games? Personally I'd consider the following games so much better; compared to 2D games I'd happily rate Moss at 97 %, Seeking Dawn at 93 % and Marvel Powers United VR at 90 %



Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

130 REPLIES 130

RuneSR2
Level 16

Btw, another issue may also be that many VR games are demanding, and before the current high-end gpus from Nvidia and AMD many games needed reduced settings and image quality. Of course that's not the entire reason for giving mediocre ratings to awesome PCVR games, but performance and image quality are important for immersion. 

 

After getting the RTX 3090 the impact of solid 90+ fps and being able to use highest possible in-game settings have been a real eye-opener. Most games feel much more alive and responsive - thus immersion has greatly increased.  

 

A game like Robo Recall receiving only a 75% from UploadVR is close to criminal activity to me, lol:

 

https://uploadvr.com/robo-recall-review/

 

No way Robo Recall is 75% - alone the average rating in the Rift Store is 94% based on more than 10,000 ratings. Now Robo Recall does have a very high Metascore of 85:

 

https://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/robo-recall/critic-reviews

 

- I really don't understand how UploadVR can give that game its lowest official review score. No one rated the game below 75%. Maybe UploadVR used a GTX 970 and super-blurry CV1 ss 1.0, lol. 

 

Robo Recall is one game that I enjoy much more with the brute force of the RTX 3090 - I would rate it a lot higher now than before. You really need high fps for the movements and action - and using Ultra high settings and res, image clarity greatly increases immersion. 

 

My point being with this post: if you got new and better hardware, try some of the games you had problems running before - maybe you're in for a treat and many positive surprises 🙂

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"


@RuneSR2 wrote:

 

After getting the RTX 3090 the impact of solid 90+ fps and being able to use highest possible in-game settings have been a real eye-opener. Most games feel much more alive and responsive - thus immersion has greatly increased.  

 

A game like Robo Recall receiving only a 75% from UploadVR is close to criminal activity to me, lol:

 

- I really don't understand how UploadVR can give that game its lowest official review score. No one rated the game below 75%. Maybe UploadVR used a GTX 970 and super-blurry CV1 ss 1.0, lol. 

 

 


Doesn't this just perpetuate the very problem that this thread was intended to solve?

 

The title of this thread is, "the destructive force of great VR games getting mediocre reviews." The reason this tends to happen is because... some users will rate a game LOW if the Game doesn't meet specific Graphic specifications. Such as being able to support SS with a high FPS.

 

There have been times where you have gladly and openly rated a game 1-star simply because of the lack of SS support. So it is confusing to, on one hand, rate a game low simply for lacking SS support, yet on the other hand begin a discussion aimed to address games unjustly getting low ratings. As clearly, it is unjust to ignore everything great about a game and rate it low simply because it doesn't support SS.

 

This comment only amplifies the problem:

"I really don't understand how UploadVR can give that game its lowest official review score. No one rated the game below 75%. Maybe UploadVR used a GTX 970 and super-blurry CV1 ss 1.0, lol. "

 

That rhetoric still tries to limit a video game to its graphic quality; which only perpetuates the very problem that this thread was trying to resolve. You are suggesting that UploadVR should rate a game high based solely on its visual quality while ignoring everything else about the game.

 

Throughout your entire post, you really only speak to your 3090 GPU; you don't actually talk about RoboRecall as a gaming experience.

 

As any gaming enthusiast can attest to, a video game is rated the same whether played on a low-end GPU or a high-end GPU. The GPU is a near insignificant portion of what makes a game great. RoboRecall doesn't become a better game simply because the user went from a 970 to a 3090.

 

And to suggest that games should be rated solely on the experience with a GPU is exactly why so many "great VR games end up with mediocre reviews."

 

By ignoring everything about a game that makes it great, the problem of mediocre reviews is only amplified instead of solved.

 

I beat RoboRecall when it was first released. It is a "good" game, but it is not a "great" game. Upgrading the GPU doesn't change that fact. 

Zenbane
Level 16

Regarding the reason UploadVR gave RoboRecall a 7.5 out of 10 Score, they spell it out quite clearly:

 

But this replayability also points to the game’s biggest flaw: repetition. The nine levels aren’t really that different, except for a handful of new enemies that come up and the boss fights on every third level. That is a nearly identical bossfight in missions 1-3, 2-3, and 3-3. And within the levels you are either shooting freely, shooting within a time limit, capturing within a time limit, or fighting the boss. More variety would be appreciated. There is mod support available for users to tinker with, but who knows how much variety that will really bring over time — it’s up to the community.

 

I agree with this completely. I loved RoboRecall, but it was very repetitive, and I didn't replay it much at all due to the repetition. Upgrading the GPU doesn't magically erase the fact that just about every level is the same and a huge bulk of the game is repetitive.

nalex66
Volunteer Moderator
Volunteer Moderator

I must say, that sort of review is much more useful to me than a long-winded examination of the minutia of graphics settings. I don't particularly care whether it was played on an OLED or LCD screen (and I don't believe that most developers even think about that). I'm not bothered about what GPU was used by the reviewer, except to get a rough expectation of performance. If a review is going to touch on settings, I'm more interested to hear about the control options, because as a lefty, that potentially affects my ability to enjoy the game. But mainly, I want to know about the gameplay; tell me whether the core experience is fun and engaging to play. That's what's going to keep me coming back.

 

I think I like eye-candy as much as the next guy. If I buy a cross-buy game, I'll usually play the PC version first, to allow it the chance to make its best first impression (if it's a graphics-focused game). I'll crank the settings all the way up, see how it runs, and turn things down a bit if necessary. Beyond that first session though, all that really matters to me is whether I enjoyed playing it. The visual differences between graphics settings or headsets are minor variations of the same experience. If the main gameplay loop hooks me, then I'm just as happy to play the Quest version. I can get more immersed in Ancient Dungeon or Superhot than the prettiest chore-to-play grindfest.

 

Part of the appeal of VR over traditional AAA games is that it's a new medium that can offer unique experiences. I want to see developers innovate with interesting mechanics (like Superhot's time manipulation), new ways to move through a virtual world (like Echo VR), or more immersive interactions (manually reloading weapons rather than simple button-presses). I want reviews to focus more on those aspects of games, which have often come from indie devs who don't necessarily have the resources to compete with the visuals of typical AAA games. Flat games have stagnated somewhat in recent years, with little to differentiate them except the latest graphical bells and whistles. Trying to shoehorn VR into that same mindset risks missing out on some real gems.

 

I agree with the original premise of this thread, that poor reviews are harmful to great VR games. Clearly we all have our own ideas about what constitutes a great game. I appreciate reviews that try to take a balanced approach and evaluate the experience as a whole--if some aspect like visual fidelity is underwhelming, its fine to point that out, but it's also helpful to highlight what a game does well. Devs are people too, and hearing their hard work described as "garbage" can really discourage them from continuing to develop for a platform that already offers meager returns for the effort involved.

i7 5820K @ 4.25GHz | EVGA GTX 1080 SC | Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4 | Corsair DDR4 3000 32GB | Corsair HX 750W
SSDs: Intel 660p M.2 2TB, 3x Samsung Evo 1TB | Startech PCIe 4x USB 3.0 | Startech PCIe 2x USB C 3.1 gen2

Well personally I think the OP was referring more to like professional type of reviews rather than your everyday user reviews.  An individual user that wants to share his/her experience with a game is going to share what attracts them - and for the OP obviously graphics play a large roll. For another it may be the single player aspect, or a multiplayer aspect. Or the depth of the gameplay, or the length of the gameplay. Different folks are attracting to different aspects of the game.

 

Not sure it is fair to expect more from an everyday user taking his time to post a review of his impressions of a game. I enjoy and appreciate the OP taking the time to post his views on a game along with images as well. I find it helpful to some degree, knowing what he mostly looks for in a game and keeping that in mind. I would think if anyone did not care for one's style in posting their experience with a game, then easy enough to not bother reading it. It would certainly be nice if more everyday users shared their experiences with their games as well.

 

 

Rift CV1| Rift S| Quest| Reverb G2| Index| Vive Pro 2


@dburne wrote:

Well personally I think the OP was referring more to like professional type of reviews rather than your everyday user reviews. 

 


 

Professional reviewers are also every day users like us. But that aside, your argument seems to suggest that it makes sense to hold people who write reviews to a higher standard than you would hold yourself when you write reviews. That seems highly counter-intuitive and self-defeating.

 

No only that, but it also suggests that an every day user should be free to intentionally ignore 99% of what they are reviewing in order to focus on one single thing, while also expecting what you call "professional reviewers" to incorporate the rest of the 99% more fairly. Well, I say that it makes far more sense to simply... lead by example and practice what you preach.

 

Rune will criticize a VR App based solely on high-end graphic support, yet he will also criticize professional reviewers for unfairly rating VR Apps low.

 

This is a rather huge contradiction that cannot be explained away, nor excused, by simply trying to use labels such as "professional reviewer vs every day reviewer."

 

Rather than defend this rather obvious contradiction, it seems like it would be more beneficial to acknowledge it and strive to do better. On more than one occasion, Rune has expressed concern over his review threads not receiving much community feedback. Perhaps if he considered taking a different approach and incorporate the same expectations he has for "professional reviews" in to his own "every day reviews," then he would see an increase in positive activities around the reviews he creates? Just a thought.

 

 

"Not sure it is fair to expect more from an everyday user taking his time to post a review of his impressions of a game."

 

I don't think anyone is saying that they expect "more" from Rune's reviews; quite the contrary, the suggestions are that Rune incorporate the same amount of consideration that he expects from other reviewers.

 

Do you really see value in the following approach:

"I believe professional reviewers should be more fair in writing VR App reviewers, although I should be fully allowed to rate VR Apps low if they don't have graphics that meet my personal expectations"

 

??

nalex66
Volunteer Moderator
Volunteer Moderator

I didn't specifically call out user reviews, and I started off commenting on a professional review with which the OP disagreed. Anyway, given how few professional reviewers tackle VR content, user or amateur reviews are what many people end up relying on (whether that's forum posts, Steam/Oculus store reviews, or YouTube videos). The OP has often mentioned that he distrusts reviews that don't delve into what graphics settings and headset were used, and has offered up his own reviews as examples of what he wants to see, so I felt it reasonable to comment on my own preferences for what I consider useful reviews (professional or otherwise).

 

I'm certainly not suggesting that the OP shouldn't post his game impressions--I too appreciate those sorts of contributions to VR discourse, whether here on the forum or elsewhere. Given this thread's topic of harm caused by poor reviews though, I thought it relevant to suggest that we refrain from trashing games that perhaps just aren't our personal cup of tea. This thread is peppered with disparaging digs from the OP aimed at non-VR games, and he has made many similarly negative comments about Quest and cross-platform games that don't match up to his particular preferences (despite those games being very popular and well-reviewed among their target audience). It seems contradictory to do that while also lamenting low review scores for his preferred games.

i7 5820K @ 4.25GHz | EVGA GTX 1080 SC | Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4 | Corsair DDR4 3000 32GB | Corsair HX 750W
SSDs: Intel 660p M.2 2TB, 3x Samsung Evo 1TB | Startech PCIe 4x USB 3.0 | Startech PCIe 2x USB C 3.1 gen2

dburne
Level 16

No not really gang...

But you go on with what you do. It is all very transparent.

Rift CV1| Rift S| Quest| Reverb G2| Index| Vive Pro 2


@dburne wrote:

 

you go on with what you do. It is all very transparent.


A bit pot/kettle, no?

Exactly, this thread is of course only about professional reviews, not user reviews. Thus the focus on Metacritic and the Metascore etc. 

 

Many awesome VR games still get little to no attention by the big review sites with tons of readers, sadly. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"