Modern virtual reality headsets have huge libraries of quality games, and developers keep coming up with great new experiences to take advantage of the technology. Whatever VR headset you have, we’ve got a list of awesome games you need to try.
You’ll notice that each game has one or more platform names listed, but you may not be familiar with all of them. On the PC side of things, there are several different digital storefronts that sell games. Usually, with non-VR games, this doesn’t make much of a difference. However, the PC Oculus store and Steam’s SteamVR use different APIs and so won’t perform the same on every headset.
For example, if you have an Oculus Quest or Oculus Rift connected to your computer for VR, you can play VR games from the Oculus store flawlessly. However, to play SteamVR games, there has to be a little under-the-hood communication between the two APIs and that can sometimes lead to a less than perfect experience.
If you don’t have an Oculus headset, then anything in the Oculus store is off-limits, but you’re better off going with the SteamVR version of a game anyway if you don’t have an Oculus device. Of course, some titles are exclusive to the Oculus store, so you won’t find them on Steam or anywhere else.
When a game is listed as having an Oculus Quest version, that means it can be played natively on that standalone headset without a computer. Quest versions of games are inevitably cut down somewhat compared to the same title running on a PC. Keep an eye out for certain titles that include both the desktop and Quest versions in the price. If you buy one of those, you can play Quest version while away and switch over to the PC version at your desk.
And, of course, a PSVR game will require a Sony PSVR headset and a PlayStation 5 or PlayStation 4 console.
Oculus Quest 2
The Oculus Quest 2 is our favorite VR headset for most people. It's inexpensive, doesn't need a PC, and has a wide library of available titles. You can connect it to a PC to play PC VR games that don't run on the Quest itself, too.
Half-Life: Alyx (SteamVR)
Half-Life is one of the most famous video game franchises and fans have been waiting for a third mainline installment for nearly 15 years now. It’s been such a long time that Half-Life 3 has become an internet meme, with no one seriously expecting the game to ever see the light of day.
That is until Valve Software announced that they’re making a new Half-Life game and the entire internet was abuzz once more. The disappointment was palpable when it turned out that Half-Life Alyx would be a VR-only game, but what a VR game!
Alyx pushes the limits of current VR game design in various ways. The writing and world-building are as good as any other Half-Life installment, which is to say that your mileage may vary. However, when it comes to gameplay and visual design, no other VR game can touch Alyx. Set as a prequel to Half-Life 2, you play Alyx Vance, exploring the mysteries of an Earth conquered by alien beings after a disastrous physics experiment we first saw in Half-Life 1.
This is a first-person shooter, but Valve has solved so many of the problems that the FPS genre encounters in VR. From movement to gunplay physics, it’s all so polished that it’s hard to go back to less refined shooter games in VR. Alyx is best experienced using an appropriate PC and the Valve Index headset, but it’s no less compelling using other SteamVR-compatible headsets like the Oculus Rift S or the Quest.
The Climb (Oculus Rift and Quest)
If you have a fear of heights, you can skip right past this entry, but if you like to get your heart rate up a little then The Climb is easy to recommend. The premise of the game is simple. You’re a rock-climber who has to reach the top of each peak at every given level. The challenge comes from figuring out the best route and managing your limited grip stamina to ensure you don’t fall!
Whether you play the PC or Quest version, the Climb is also beautiful and meditative. It’s especially satisfying when you finally stand on the peak and are treated to the final expansive view. Your character even lets out a whoop of joy after reaching the top. Thanks to the vertigo-inducing heights and standing position, the Climb isn’t for everyone, but if those aspects are within your comfort level it’s a must-play title.
The Climb has nailed down its unique niche, so the only other game like it is its sequel, The Climb 2.
Superhot VR (Oculus Quest and SteamVR)
The plain non-VR version of Superhot was a rare breath of fresh air in a world of cookie-cutter shooters. This stylish puzzle shooter uses a unique time mechanic where the action only moves forward as you do. Think of it like being in the Matrix, where time comes to a stop and you can precisely decide what to do.
Each encounter in the game has multiple enemies rush you as you progress through the level and it will likely take multiple attempts to make it through ever more crazy situations. The really neat thing is that you can watch a real-time replay of your run at the end, where you can see yourself in all that superhuman action superstar glory.
The VR version of Superhot is perhaps the definitive experience. The game had always felt like it was meant for VR and it turns out this is the best way to play. We’d strongly recommend the Oculus Quest version, with its lack of wires to tangle, but Superhot VR is great wherever you manage to try it.
Superhot VR is another unique game with no real equivalents yet, but if you like the idea of VR first-person shooters, give Gun Club VR or Onward a try. Pistol Whip also offers a stylish shooter experience.
Elite Dangerous (SteamVR and Oculus Rift)
Some of the best VR experiences are those set in a cockpit. Whether it’s racing cars around a track, piloting a mech, or flying a spacecraft. Elite Dangerous is all about that last one and, to be honest, we can’t imagine playing this game in anything besides VR. Just like the original David Braben classic Elite, Elite Dangerous is a space trading and combat game.
You start out as a pilot with a scrappy little ship and an even scrappier bank account, but over time you’ll be completing contracts and building up those cash reserves to become a real threat. Dangerous plays just fine on a monitor or TV screen, but the VR experience is truly transformative. You really feel that you’re in that cockpit. It’s actually nerve-wracking when those cracks start to show in your canopy during the heat of battle. Most importantly. the sheer scale of things is only apparent in VR. When you dock with a massive space station and look up at the towering structures on its surface, you really feel like a tiny player in a very big and dangerous universe.
Tetris Effect (Oculus Quest and PSVR)
Tetris Effect started life as a PSVR exclusive and it’s still fantastic on its original platform. That being said, the game has now expanded to other systems and we’d recommend the Oculus Quest version of the game over others simply because you have the option to play this meditative masterpiece anywhere.
At its core, this is just Tetris. The same worldwide phenomenon was first created by Alexey Pajitnov. That doesn’t do Tetris Effect any justice at all, however, since this is a game centered on surreal, beautiful audio-visual experiences. The name “Tetris Effect” refers to that thing that happens when you play so much of a game that you can still see it when you close your eyes. Something people first really noticed with the ever-addictive Tetris.
In this game, you’re presented with unique, themed Tetris boards, and as you approach the goal to pass the level the accompanying sights and sounds react to your progress. It’s hard to exactly explain what makes the experience so special, but we do strongly recommend that you play with headphones in a dark room.
Beat Saber (Oculus Quest, Rift, SteamVR, & PSVR)
Beat Saber is one of those creative ideas that seem so obvious once it’s done but would never occur to most people. Beat Saber is similar to the 2016 rhythm game Audioshield, where players had to block orbs with the corresponding shield in each hand in time with the music.
However, Beat Saber changes out those shields for definitely-not-Star-Wars sabers and lets you slice cubes with them. There’s infinite variety in how those slices can happen and ultimately getting it right effectively turns you into a dancer.
Beat Saber has serious addictive qualities and the sense of flow you get from pulling off a tough song can verge on the transcendental. For the most part, the bespoke music in the game is at worst inoffensive and at best a thumping good time, but if your music taste doesn’t mesh with the default music you have the option of buying additional music packs.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission (PSVR)
Astro Bot Rescue Mission exists mainly as a tech demo for the PSVR, but it’s also a great game in its own right and really shows what can be done with VR if you have a creative development team. This is a 3D platform puzzler, where the idea is to rescue Astro Bot’s missing crew members.
Unlike most VR games, you don’t control Astro from a first-person perspective. Instead, you’re embodied as a giant robot who can also interact with the environment at times. You control Astro using the DualShock controller and 3D audio cues are an essential part of gameplay.
It should be no surprise to find Astro Bot Rescue Mission on this list since it’s still one of the best-rated VR games in history. The only negative thing anyone can say about it is that you can only play it on PSVR.
Resident Evil 7 (PSVR)
Speaking about PSVR exclusives, the VR mode for Resident Evil 7 can only be found on Sony’s massively popular console. RE 7 is terrifying enough on a flat screen, but if you never want to sleep again the VR mode really cranks up the tension.
This first-person take on the Resident Evil franchise has proven popular and the latest title in the series Village keeps that perspective. Sadly, the latest games don’t offer a VR mode at the time of writing, so until the release of the more action-focused Resident Evil 4 VR, RE 7 is the best place to get your scare quota filled.
Trover Saves the Universe (Oculus Quest, SteamVR, & PSVR)
Do you like Rick and Morty? Well, despite there being an official Rick and Morty VR game in the form of Virtual Rick-ality, for our money Trover Saves the Universe ends up being the better title while channeling the same sort of humor. Trover comes from the warped mind of Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and features his voice pretty much everywhere. So yes, there are plenty of characters who sound sort of like Rick and/or Morty.
The premise is suitably deranged as well. You’re a member of an alien race who only sits down in mobile chairs, which is quite a handy coincidence for VR. You take direct control of Trover the (other) alien’s body in a quest to thwart the plans of Glorkon, who has stolen your pet dogs and stuffed them into his eye-holes.
While definitely not for children, the humor in Trover Saves the universe is almost always on-point, the graphics are attractive and the actual puzzle-platformer gameplay isn’t too shabby either, although don’t expect another Astro Bot game here.
Eleven Table Tennis (Oculus Quest & SteamVR)
Eleven Table Tennis knows exactly what it is and benefits immensely from that narrow focus. This is a game that wants to simulate Table Tennis in VR. It looks great, has a brilliant multiplayer mode, and offers several environments in which to play.
Playing tablet tennis feels perfectly natural and intuitive. The physics feel right and the AI opponents aren’t half bad. The real fun is to be had against human players online, but playing against someone in the same room is quite possibly the best experience of all. While the SteamVR version is still great, it feels better to play with no wires at all in any space you want, so we recommend the Quest version for most people.
- › The Best VR Headsets of 2021
- › Why Doesn’t the Xbox Series X Have VR?
- › The Oculus Quest 2 Is Great, and It’s the Future of VR
- › Facebook Is Down and Facebook.com Is For Sale [Update: It’s Back]
- › Cyber Monday 2021: Best Tech Deals
- › What Is a System on a Chip (SoC)?
- › Cyber Monday 2021: Best Apple Deals
- › 12 Basic Excel Functions Everybody Should Know