What are the best VR games? Hell, let's go one better – what are the best Oculus Rift and HTC Vive games? There are plenty of VR experiences out there already, and with the headsets shipping to customers faster than ever there are going to be plenty more to come.
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We have tested a number of the best VR games across the major headsets, ranging from the good to the bad to the downright nausea-inducing – and we will endeavour to seek out the new, strange, and challenging content for the platform as it grows. In the name of science. Or something. But here, we are going to be more choosy, handpicking the best VR games and experiences that you can point your visor-clad eyes towards.
Here are the best VR games:
Grand Theft Auto V | Rez Infinite | Thumper | Kittypocalypse | Hover Junkers | Superhot VR | Chronos | Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes | Star Trek: Bridge Crew | Alien: Isolation | I Expect You to Die | Eve Valkyrie | Elite: Dangerous | Euro Truck Simulator 2 | Assetto Corsa | No Limits 2 | Everest VR
VR support for Rockstar’s sun-kissed crime sandbox used to only be available on a third-party program called VorpX, which carried a sizeable $30 price tag. Now it is available for free with OpenVR on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift - without any official Rockstar alternative in sight - you have no excuse not to inhabit Los Santos in first-person VR. It, and many other GTA V mods, absolutely transforms one of the best games in recent years.
Perhaps you have already played the adventures of Franklin, Michael, and Trevor, the career criminals whose opposing philosophies produce witty banter, casualties, and spectacular heists in roughly equal measure. At this point it is pretty likely. But there is something about stepping back into that familiar world with a new level of immersion that makes this simply one of the best VR games.
Want more? Here's our Grand Theft Auto V review.
Rez Infinite is a musical twin-stick shooter in which you tackle waves of Tron-esque enemies while journeying through the subsystems of a corrupted, far-future AI. The game is played in third-person, and your character can ‘evolve’ through several stages, each with its own firing quirks. It is a trance-inducing wonder of a game that was originally released for Dreamcast in 2001, but has since undergone iterative changes through various re-releases on PS2, Xbox 360, PS4, and now, finally, PC.
You can lock-on to up to eight enemies at a time with your weapon, releasing your trigger finger to let off a volley of homing shots, or spam the fire button for rapid single shots, every action contributing to the game’s insistent, bass-heavy soundtrack. Some enemies drop items that allow you to evolve, while others bestow a screen-clearing smart bomb. At the end of each stage, unsurprisingly, a spectacular boss awaits.
While the whole game can be played in desktop mode, the technology of today transforms Rez Infinite into one of the best VR games available. The original game featured five areas, all of which are even better using a headset. But a sixth area, dubbed Area X, was added for the PSVR release of the game and is creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s reimagining of the concept for VR. The result is a remarkable journey through a thematic mashup of undersea imagery and futuristic mechs, the whole thing liberally peppered with iridescent particle effects that shimmer around you as you pass through the debris clouds left by a recently shot-down enemies. It is essential.
If you are wondering whether your investment in that £500 headset was premature, Rez Infinite is the game that will demonstrate that you were always on the right side of history.
For developer Drool, creating a music game just wasn’t enough: Thumper would be a rhythm violence game. We were intrigued when it was announced, and we are captivated now it is playable in VR.
You pilot a metallic beetle-thing with a ravenous taste for blistering speed, zooming past the trippy, psychedelic surroundings. Your neon pathway resembles that of Amplitude and Guitar Hero, the notes replaced with walls to skid on and obstacles to jump over. It is easy to learn but brutally tough to master, and your efforts culminate in a showdown with a giant animated skull called CRAKHEAD.
It is astonishing in VR, with its physicality and speed combining to create an intoxicating mix with an original, pumping soundtrack. As far as music games go, this far and away one of the best VR games on PC. Drool say: “To reach synesthetic bliss, you must face rhythm hell." In VR, taking things up a notch would be a severe understatement.
Want more? Take a gander at the best simulation games on PC.
Kittypocalypse is a VR tower defence game in which you attempt to wrest control of Earth back from a race of kitten-like aliens. Each level sees players setting up against 20 waves of adorable enemies, placing a variety of turrets around the map in order to stop the onslaught of felines reaching your base.
While that might sound like standard tower defence gameplay, it is enhanced significantly by VR, as well as the freedom to move around the map in 3D space. Neither of these features fundamentally alters how the genre plays, but the combination of the two make Kittypocalypse almost impossible to put down, something we never thought we would write about a game with that name. Travelling seamlessly through 3D space in order to rearrange your armaments or get a better a view of the ongoing massacre is endlessly addictive, especially as the combined effects of your various turrets have the xeno-kittens exploding around you, soaring through the air or stumbling over one another.
It might rival the best VR games on offer, but, as just a tower defence game, Kittypocalypse is rather limiting - but it still offers plenty of tactical depth. For starters, you can’t place turrets wherever you want, as each level has about eight or nine spots that you can construct turrets on. While this eradicates a lot of the strategy that usually comes with placement, it does force the player to think more carefully about what turret they should place in what slot. Upgrades complicate the decision-making process further as you realise your turrets are fully upgraded but in completely the wrong place.
Hover Junkers is a multiplayer-only first-person shooter. Nothing usual in the realm of conventional gaming, sure, but in VR it is a big deal. Making full use of the Vive’s tracked motion controllers and room-scale functionality, the game has you move around the limited space of their hover junker – think Mad Max with flying boats – shooting at enemies aboard other junkers and ducking behind cover in what’s contextually wrapped up as an endless battle for resources in a water-sapped, post-apocalyptic world.
The junkers themselves are pretty miserable to control, but they serve as a perfect delivery system for first-person combat in VR: they are stable platforms that move at a steady pace. The action is more akin to that of a rail shooter like Time Crisis rather than the disorienting likes of Call of Duty or Titanfall, which is a blessing given how prevalent motion sickness still is even in the best VR games.
While there is not a massive amount of content to plough through, Hover Junkers gets by on its simplistic gameplay and tactility – plus a light and cartoony art style reminiscent of Timesplitters and Team Fortress 2, beloved multiplayer shooters that it has no doubt been inspired by.
Want more? Grab some friends and check out the best multiplayer games on PC.
Superhot shot to indie fame on the back of a simple, but ingenious premise: time only moves when you do. Feeling overwhelmed by the odds? Stay stock still, and the ravages of time are frozen for as long as you see fit. A barrage of bullets might be ready to tear into your nimble flesh, but you can see them coming, ready to dodge.
Essentially it is gaming’s best recreation of being in the Matrix. Wannabe Neos rejoice, then: Superhot VR takes that effortless cool you felt in the original game and takes it to a new level. Dodging bullets and attacks physically rather than with a keyboard or analog stick really increases the immersion, reinventing a simple mechanic into one of the best VR games around.
Want more? Sate that itchy trigger finger with the best FPS games on PC.
VR isn’t all about first-person perspectives and retina-frying realism, it is also an impressive tool that assists immersion – of which Oculus Rift’s third-person action-RPG Chronos is an ideal example. Chronos is also one of the 30 original Oculus launch titles, so there is no waiting necessary if you have already got your Rift. It is practically retro by this point in the platform's life cycle.
The bulk of the gameplay revolves around combat encounters and character levelling. While it is not sadistically challenging, Chronos is not exactly forgiving where its fights are concerned: there are few healing items, combat is heavy, and enemies hit hard. But Chronos is no Dark Souls Lite. Rather than each failure counting against you, deaths are instead a vital part of progression for your character, with each fatality aging the protagonist by a single year. As your character grows older, their bodily strength matters less as their magical prowess takes over.
The fact that Chronos does not rely on a gimmick to entertain is part of what makes it one of the best VR games on PC. It is a quality, polished, and considered action-RPG, exactly the kind of experience that’s largely absent from the roster of virtual reality games.
Want more? Prepare for an epic adventure with the best RPGs on PC.
Very few games dream up such an enticing concept and then deliver on it as well as this. Unlike a chunk of the best VR games out there, Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes is a staunchly multiplayer experience: it places one player in the role of a bomb defuser, able to view and interact with an explosive device via a VR headset, while the other players are defusal ‘experts’ with a physical manual (printed out or available as a webpage) to hand, which they must use to advise the defuser on how to proceed.
It is a concept that would not work as well on any platform other than VR, and that is what makes it so engaging. Well, that and the unbridled satisfaction of actually defusing a bomb within the time limit, navigating the many modules filled with coloured wires, logic puzzles, and Simon Says games – seriously. If you can stifle the urge to high-five your defusal buddy after a successful round, you are incapable of joy.
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We are forever told that the Kobayashi Maru is unwinnable. But, of course, just like Captain James T. Kirk, we know we have the skills to win and become the best spacepilot the Federation has ever seen. Star Trek: Bridge Crew lets us live out these dreams in glorious virtual reality.
First you need to grab up to three friends, who, alongside you, will assume the role as officers of the Federation, determining the fate of your ship and crew with every decision. You and your intrepid space-bound band will boldly go to the largely unknown sector called The Trench to assess its potential as a new home world for the Vulcans.
Yet, we could have simply been flying around running modest intergalactic errands, for all we care. Star Trek: Bridge Crew is a game built from the ground up for VR, and it feels all kinds of brilliant. Your cockpit environment is unsettlingly accurate, and it feels great to just exist in this world, interacting with the ship’s controls and making decisions like real space pilots. This is a game everyone, not just Trekkies, should check out.
Want more? Take on a real challenge with friends with the best co-op games on PC.
The interesting thing about Creative Assembly's VR translation of the tense and artistic Alien: Isolation is how well its existing strengths make the journey over to a new platform. Playing on PC, you always felt as though the xenomorph was right there with you, because the audio design had all manner of tricks to play on your brain and the environments felt so tangible.
Force it to jump into the world of VR (and force is the word, this isn't a smooth Oculus Store experience as it requires a bit of config file tweaking) and it's amazing how present you feel aboard the Sevastopol. In a sense, it's actually a shame you're being hunted so relentlessly by a phallic horror, because it's a wonderful piece of virtual tourism if you're a fan of the original 1979 movie's visionary aesthetic.
Getting the game to work is still a bit tricky as official VR support is still a distant dream. Creative Assembly have all but confirmed that it's on the way, though. In its current form, some time spent scanning Reddit threads is required, along with some patience. However, when it does work, the experience is relatively polished. Keep your fingers, toes, and grotesque acid-filled claws crossed for an announcement in the near future.
Want more? Here's our Alien: Isolation review.
Come, come Mr Bond, you enjoy puzzling your way out of a booby-trapped car just as much as I do… A joyful marriage of '60s Bond pastiche and physical puzzling, I Expect You to Die places you in a car bristling with booby-traps and tasks you with escaping it without setting off the poison gas, shooting yourself in the head, driving into a plane’s cargo doors, and a multitude of other calamitous ends.
Where other short-form VR games leave you feeling like you sampled a glimpse of what the developer has in store for VR, IEYTD instead leaves you satisfied with a small but perfectly formed and polished game. It’s currently available via the Oculus Share store, where it’s enjoyed one of the highest user ratings of all available apps since its release.
To many gamers, this is where it all began for VR. An offshoot of Eve Online, Valkyrie offers intense dogfighting and even esports potential in a bespoke VR experience. It’s been knocking about in the conference halls and trade shows for years now in steadily evolving forms, but with the announcement that it would ship with Oculus Rift consumer headsets, Eve Valkyrie cemented itself as essential software for the platform, and an ambassador for its potential.
Like the various roller coaster titles that sprang up with the advent of an Oculus Rift DK user base, a space dogfighting game sounds like a recipe for emptied stomachs and green complexions, but somehow CCP have managed to stave off any motion sickness no matter how many barrel rolls you may be inclined to undertake.
There’s a promising long game to Valkyrie too, with a plethora of customisation options and upgrades available and numerous modes to master. It isn’t just a tech demo – it’s actually one of the deepest and most involving experiences the platform has to offer.
If you only ever play one game in VR then Elite: Dangerous wouldn’t be a bad choice. Its scale is difficult to comprehend, offering a 1:1 replica Milky Way galaxy without any load times, populated by human players with their own allegiances, agendas, and minute-to-minute missions.
However varied or complex the action gets, your position is always at a fixed point, and that helps to stamp out any potential for motion sickness. You can roll, pitch, and flail about haplessly (quite a bit, in the case of the latter) during extended play sessions at the mercy of Frontier’s Newtonian flight model without the queasiness setting in, and that’s absolutely crucial to maintaining Elite: Dangerous’s appeal as a long-form game. The Cambridge studio has been among the most forward-thinking when it comes to VR support, and it tells with every second you spent in the cockpit with the HMD strapped on.
Want more? Here's our Elite: Dangerous review.
Developers SCS Software were quick to add support for prototype VR support for Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2 headsets, and when you don the headset for yourself it’s clear why. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is Elite: Dangerous with more Belgian motorways, and all the same principles that make Frontier’s space trading sim work well with VR are just as applicable inside the cockpit of a Scania R Highline.
Currently, it requires a bit of legwork to access VR mode, but it’s not too laborious: you only need to open up the properties tab in Steam, then select VR mode from the drop-down menu of the betas tab. With that, you’re suddenly able to look around your cockpit and enjoy a level of immersion you previously only dreamed about in your bizarrely specific truck-themed fever dreams.
Want more? Here's our Euro Truck Simulator 2 review.
It’s the best racing sim to grace the PC in years, and in addition to the rock-solid underpinning physics model and comely visuals, it’s brimming with fan-requested features.
Which means, naturally, that it’s possible to play in VR. Assetto Corsa supports the Oculus Rift natively, which means there’s no need to stalk the darker corners of the internet in search of a mod or middleware program.
Conceptually, racing a sports car is one of the few time-honoured videogame staples that’s just crying out for VR adaptation. Third-person shooters need a serious rethink in order to function as VR games, but the likes of Assetto Corsa thrive with a fixed camera point and the ability to look into mirrors, at apexes, or towards opponents just as you would in real life.
If you want to take the idea of being in another place to the extreme, No Limits 2 is for you. Creator Ole Lange’s content-rich roller coaster sim is a fantastic testament to the psychosomatic powers of VR; your legs feel weak as you hurtle down impossibly steep drops as if they’re subject to physical forces. The same goes for your poor stomach as you make your way through corkscrews – as far as your body’s concerned, you’re on that coaster.
And yet No Limits 2 isn’t the jamboree of stomach-emptying motion sickness that it might be. The fixed point camera certainly seems to help, and it’s also clear that developing the game specifically for VR minimised the potential for vomiting. A remarkable feat given the subject matter.
With a reasonably advanced designing tool and more types of coaster than you knew existed, No Limits 2 is the only game you need visit if you want the simulated theme park experience.
A proof of concept that demonstrates the potential of virtual reality for virtual tourism, Sólfar Studios' Everest VR makes use of considerable art assets gathered for the making of Baltasar Kormákur's 2015 movie, Everest, and remixes them into a 360-degree, chillblane-inducing interactive experience.
'Game' isn't really the word. The gameified elements of its thus far fairly brief duration aren't deep enough to bear much replaying – climb this ladder, secure that rope – but they do work very well with the Vive's motion controllers and offer just enough interactivity to reinforce the idea that you really are 29,000 feet above sea level.
This isn't about falling to your death if you put a foot wrong or miss a button prompt, but rather about enjoying the natural beauty of a location that a select few get to witness in person, having trained most of their lives and spent fortunes for the privilege.
That concludes our list so far, but the world of VR moves fast and we'll be keeping by by updating this feature regularly. Which games do you want to see inducted? Let us know...