One of the first virtual reality games I remember reviewing was Defense Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition. Created by Hidden Path Entertainment it was a launch day title for the Oculus Rift back in 2016. Bringing tower defence gaming into VR, for me, was an early showcase of how this technology could transform normal games into something more.
The original Defense Grid 2 had already done exceedingly well for the studio, released a couple of years earlier. Tower defence gameplay at its most elegant, the flatscreen version had all the options you could wish for, making for a truly engrossing and addictive experience.
Defense Grid 2 VR
Lo and behold, that same gameplay translated perfectly into VR. Bear in mind that this was early 2016 when the Rift was packaged with Xbox controllers – almost a year before the Oculus Touch controllers would come out. So initially it was all gamepad based before Hidden Path added Touch support further down the line.
I’d always been a fan of tower defence games, strategically placing machine gun towers or flamers just in the right spot to vanquish wave after wave of enemies. But you never get quite into the action, you have this lofty, god-like view of the battlefield and that is generally it.
Defense Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition (for me) was the first to do two things. Firstly, put me in a tower to get a ground view of the action. Secondly, thanks to VR, encourages closer inspection of the environment to admire the rich detail and vibrancy of the landscape. And it was that second point that helped sell me on VR.
Get inside the game
Hidden around each level are golden cores to collect, but you could never see them from the initial viewpoint. You had to lean in, look over, under and around the scenery to find them. This action made me appreciate these wonderful dioramas before me, and that’s before a tower was even placed.
Once the action gets going Defense Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition is a blast to play. There is a multitude of defences to place, upgrade and reposition as the levels progress and the enemies got harder.
Unfortunately, unlike another VR game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Defense Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition isn’t easily accessible. It’s only available on the Oculus Rift section of Meta’s digital store and there’s no Steam version. Hidden Path Entertainment has never ported it to Meta Quest 2 which is a real shame, languishing in a dusty corner forever more.