When most people think of VR, they think of gaming. Although there are many other applications for this fantastic hardware, the majority of software available on virtual reality headsets is for gaming purposes.
It has long been the dream of gamers to have a fully immersive experience that throws the player directly into the action. Although we might not be quite at that level yet with current technology, we’re closer than ever before. And, as we’ve seen previously, there are many exciting VR games on the horizon.
While VR gaming is still in its infancy, there are plenty of fantastic titles that you can play today. They range from the simple and inexpensive to the blockbuster titles, with many making full use of the hardware capabilities.
Those who are new to the world of VR may find it difficult to pinpoint exactly what types of games they will enjoy the most. After all, there’s a lot to choose from. Some are simply novelty titles that have you waggling your hands and moving your head, while others are a whole lot more immersive. In this guide, we take a look at some of the best VR games available today.
The Best VR Games: Our Top 5
When choosing the best games, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Perhaps the main element will be which headset(s) you own. Most of the AAA games will only run on the most powerful headsets such as the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some excellent titles available for mobile VR devices like the Samsung Gear VR. The games we’ve picked below are the ones that have stood out to us the most, bringing innovation and excitement to the space. The list could be a whole lot longer, but for now, we’ll keep it to our top five:
Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality via SteamVR. Coming to PSVR ‘soon’.
Who it’s for: Those who love rhythm games, those who love lightsabres, and those who like to flail around.
What it’s all about: The concept of Beat Saber isn’t especially new. Games like DDR and Guitar Hero have been around for a while. Beat Saber works in essentially the same way. Players use their VR motion controllers to slash at blocks in time with the beat. The more accurate you are, the more points you get. It’s a simple concept, but incredibly fun.
Why it’s so great: This game is pure, unbridled fun. Slashing away to the music makes you feel like an accomplished Jedi; it’s frenetic and fast-paced. The game really gets you moving, wildly flailing as you get to the harder parts/levels. It plays well, is intuitive, and has a whole lot of replayability. We can’t see anyone not enjoying Beat Saber, and encourage everyone with a compatible VR headset to try it.
The Talos Principle VR
Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality via SteamVR.
Who it’s for: Players who enjoy problem-solving, glorious environments, and interactive gameplay.
What it’s all about: The Talos Principle wasn’t originally a VR game. Developers Croteam painstakingly ported the 2014 game over to the Vive and Rift in 2017. The game is a first-person puzzle game that blends elements of sci-fi and philosophy to stunning effect. Players take the role of an awakened android tasked with solving puzzles.
Why it’s so great: The base game was fantastic, but it just feels so right in VR. The game is non-linear, offering plenty of gorgeous content to get to grips with. Puzzles are interesting and enjoyable to solve, while the underlying story is fascinating. It has been so well ported to virtual reality that you really feel immersed in the world. Other developers could learn a lot from Croteam, who have delivered two fantastic Serious Sam VR games as well.
Available on: Originally an Oculus Rift exclusive, it is possible to play it on the HTC Vive.
Who it’s for: Gamers who like shooting endless swarms of defective, killer robots.
What it’s all about: Oculus is currently offering Robo Recall for free with the purchase of the Rift system. The reason for this is clear; it perfectly demonstrates what the headset is capable of. Stunning visuals, exciting gameplay, and active movements are all present.
Stunning visuals, exciting gameplay, and active movements are all present
Why it’s so great: This first-person shooter is one of the best currently available in the medium. It tests players’ reactions and wits in ways that other games don’t. It really encourages the user to try different tactics in combat and delivers a rewarding points system too. The Oculus Touch controllers are at their very best here, they respond excellently to any input you throw their way. Shooting feels intuitive and rewarding. Overall, there isn’t much the game does wrong.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Available on: Pretty much everything; Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, PSVR Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Go, and Google Daydream View.
Who it’s for: People who like to play with friends, keep talking, and not blow up.
What it’s all about: On its surface, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a simple puzzle game. Users must solve a certain amount of puzzles before the timer runs out, with the help of a manual. However, the puzzles are attached to a ticking time bomb, and the bomb diffuser can’t look at the manual. Similarly, the manual user(s) can’t see the bomb.
Why it’s so great: This is a game about communicating under pressure. It really creates a sense of teamwork and togetherness; each player has their own way of describing certain elements, and so codes and in-jokes soon develop. As the game progresses, the bombs and their puzzles get more complex, creating a real sense of urgency and achievement. You can play it without a VR headset, but it’s that much better using one.
Resident Evil 7
Available on: PlayStation VR; playable on other headsets but not with full support.
Who it’s for: People who like getting scared a lot, often. Creepy house enthusiasts.
What it’s all about: The Resident Evil series has come a long way over the years. However, ever since RE4, the games have been low on scares and real tension. All that changed with the release of RE7, which is one of the scariest games we’ve played in a long time. You take control of Ethan, a regular dude who’s searching for his missing wife. His search brings him to the Baker household. Scares ensue. The game successfully revitalises the franchise, and it is all the more terrifying when experienced in VR.
Why it’s so great: The game, particularly in its early parts, is incredibly atmospheric. There are lots of jump-scares that set our collective hearts racing, and the character and enemies are all suitably terrifying. Exploring the dilapidated Baker house is so intense and we absolutely loved it.
The Best PC VR Games
There can be no denying that VR has excelled the most on PCs. Although most of the headsets currently available require a fairly hefty set of specs, they justify these demands by producing excellent results. The HTC Vive topped our list of the best VR headsets currently available, although it was a close run thing with the Oculus Rift. As it stands, these are the best options for immersive gameplay and breathtaking visuals. The games below are some of the most notable PC VR games, aside from the ones we’ve already mentioned. They may be available on other mediums, but they run best on PC.
LA Noire: The VR Case Files
Available on: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
Who it’s for: Private eyes, detectives, 1940s cops, history buffs, and those who like solving crimes.
What it’s all about: LA Noire was released on PC back in 2011. It quickly garnered a lot of critical acclaim thanks to its visuals, storytelling, and unique take on puzzles and problem-solving. The VR Case Files brings seven cases that have been adapted specifically for virtual reality. Players assume the role of Detective Cole Phelps in 1940s LA, and the game does a great job of bringing players into that world. You can pick up and inspect objects, make gestures, fire weapons, and drive vehicles.
The environments are often painstakingly created and laid out…
Why it’s so great: It’s fair to say that the game is a little janky in places, but this adds to its charm. The environments are often painstakingly created and laid out, giving players the opportunity to really explore different crime scenes. You can interrogate witnesses (or just touch their faces), collect evidence, and write in your notebook, all through the intuitive controls.
Fallout 4 VR
Available on: Officially, HTC Vive only. However, users have reported it also runs on the Rift and Windows Mixed Reality.
Who it’s for: Outdoors enthusiasts, survival experts, fans of shooting mutants, base builders.
What it’s all about: Fallout 4 VR is another game that has been adapted from a non-VR game to a stunning virtual reality one. This version takes the full-length game and adds in new systems for crafting, combat, and building, specifically for VR. The landscapes are absolutely sublime, and often seem alive with detail. The resolution does drop noticeably from the core game, but aside from that, the game runs flawlessly.
The landscapes are absolutely sublime, and often seem alive with detail.
Why it’s so great: This game appeals to both fans of the series and total newcomers. With the VR headset on, you really feel like you’re exploring a post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are certainly some bugs and glitches (it’s a Bethesda game after all), but it really pushes the boundaries of virtual reality gaming.
From Other Suns
Available on: Oculus Rift
Who it’s for: People who like to manage spaceships and people who like shooting things.
What it’s all about: Those who have played games like FTL: Faster Than Light will be somewhat familiar with the premise of this game. You must maintain and manage a spaceship and its crew as you fight your way back to earth. Resources are scarce, battles are intense, and victory is far from assured. This game is challenging and highly addictive.
Why it’s so great: From Other Suns blends elements of tactical management and first-person shooting. It works remarkably well in VR, leaving the player feeling involved and invested in each encounter. If you can play with friends or trusted randomers, the game becomes even more fun, creating a real sense of cohesion in your struggle for survival.
Available on: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, and PlayStation VR.
Who it’s for: People who like shooting zombies, people who would like to visit Arizona.
The game is all about shooting guns and blasting zombies to bits; what more could you possibly want?
What it’s all about: If ever there was a perfect combination, it’s virtual reality and zombies. As we saw with Resident Evil 7, it’s a genre that has endured over the years but requires fresh meat (so to speak) every so often. Arizona Sunshine is exactly that; it brings zombie shooting to virtual reality in the best way possible. The game is all about shooting guns and blasting zombies to bits; what more could you possibly want?
Why it’s so great: This is a game that was developed specifically for VR headsets, and it really tells. Exploring the sun-baked Arizona landscape feels totally engaging and immersive. You feel genuine relief when you find ammo, and real fear when faced by a vast horde of the undead. The gunplay feels entirely natural with the Vive and Rift controllers, and the visuals are absolutely fantastic.
Available on: HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Windows Mixed Reality officially, Oculus Rift unofficially.
Who it’s for: Fans of fast-paced, classic shoot ‘em ups. Demon connoisseurs.
What it’s all about: Doom is the grandfather of the modern FPS. When it was launched back in 1993, it changed the landscape of PC gaming forever. With its ultra-violent, ultra-fast gameplay, it singlehandedly reinvented first-person shooters. Doom VFR is based on the 2016 franchise reboot, and it brings everything you’d expect from the series to virtual reality.
VR gaming on the PC is all about immersion and strong visuals, and Doom VFR does precisely that.
Why it’s so great: It’s Doom, but in VR. You get to charge around Mars-based environments shooting the living hell out of demons. VR gaming on the PC is all about immersion and strong visuals, and Doom VFR does precisely that. There are a few bugs and niggles along the way, but there can be no denying that this game is awesome.
The Best Mobile VR Games
Although mobile VR doesn’t have the same processing power as desktop-based headsets, there are still plenty of fun and engaging games that are available to play. Headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View have been joined on the market by standalone headsets such as the Oculus Go and Lenovo Mirage Solo. All of these headsets offer a similar level of quality in terms of games, although the content libraries differ on each. Mobile VR games often must rely on fun and exciting gameplay mechanics rather than stunning graphics. We’ve picked out a few notable games that demonstrate the best of the technology as it stands.
Available on: Originally on the Samsung Gear VR, now on Oculus Go, SteamVR and PSVR.
Who it’s for: Fans of dogfights, spaceships, and those interested in space tourism.
What it’s all about: One of our favourite things about virtual reality is that it’s entirely feasible to pilot a spacecraft through the solar system while wearing a VR headset. It’s one of the things the medium was invented for. End Space has had a whole lot of success doing just that. It started out as a proof-of-concept for the Google Cardboard, before receiving wide critical acclaim when it launched in full on the Samsung Gear VR. More recently, it received a port to both PSVR and the SteamVR platform. Players must fight to protect the United Trade Consortium in a variety of missions.
The graphics are fantastic, all things considered, and the gameplay is a whole lot of fun.
Why it’s so great: As a mobile game, it really pushes the boundaries of what the hardware is capable of. The graphics are fantastic, all things considered, and the gameplay is a whole lot of fun. There’s plenty of content to get to grips with too, and we found the game always had us coming back for more.
Available on: Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR.
Who it’s for: Fans of escape rooms, those who like days that are dark.
What it’s all about: The Dark Days dev team describe the game as being something, ‘between Twin Peaks and The X-Files.’ That’s a fairly accurate description, as the game brings elements of suspense, intrigue, adventure, and problem-solving. At its core, Dark Days is a psychological thriller crossed with escape room elements.
It’s spooky, exciting, and entertaining…
Why it’s so great: There are jump-scares aplenty in Dark Days, but there’s also an interesting story and a fully realised world to explore. As you navigate the environment, you must solve puzzles and find items, all while avoiding the attentions of the sinister creature that haunts your travels. It’s spooky, exciting, and entertaining, and shows just how good an experience mobile VR is capable of producing.
Blade Runner 2049: Replicant Pursuit
Available on: Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR, as well as Oculus Rift.
Who it’s for: Those who enjoy cyberpunk settings and pursuing replicants. Fans of Blade Runner.
What it’s all about: If you’ve never seen the Blade Runner movies, we highly recommend you do so. The dystopian, cyberpunk setting is as gorgeous as it is evocative. In the near future, bioengineered androids known as replicants are almost indistinguishable from humans. As a Blade Runner, players must track down a rogue replicant that has murdered two people.
The dystopian, cyberpunk setting is as gorgeous as it is evocative.
Why it’s so great: It’s amazing being able to delve into the world of Blade Runner in VR. There are plenty of iconic elements that you get to interact with, from the spinner craft that you get to pilot, to the sprawl of future LA. Although there is little in the way of actual interactive gameplay, it’s still a whole lot of fun to immerse yourself in the world of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece.
Available on: Google Daydream and Oculus Go.
Who it’s for: Fans of adventure games and friendship. Those who enjoy whimsy and charming worlds.
What it’s all about: You’re an ‘imaginary’ friend to a kid who has lost their dog. Such a charming premise is backed up by a bright and vibrant world, fun gameplay, and genuine emotion. Players must guide their chosen kid through the landscape while using their imaginary friend powers to help solve puzzles and advance the story. There are treasures to collect, and environments to be discovered.
…a charming premise is backed up by a bright and vibrant world, fun gameplay, and genuine emotion.
Why it’s so great: Although the art style is very different from many of the ‘gritty’ titles we’ve looked at so far, Along Together is still visually impressive. The colourful world is a joy to play through, and the whole concept of being the omnipotent guiding force behind the story works really well. The game controls well, is tons of fun, and has a delightful storyline.
Minecraft: Gear VR
Available on: Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality.
Who it’s for: Almost everyone.
What it’s all about: Minecraft is a game that’s been around for a while now. We first played it back in its early beta days and have loved it ever since. The fact it’s now in VR is terrific. For the uninitiated, Minecraft is a game about building and survival. Don’t let the blocky graphics fool you; this game is incredibly immersive, even when not in virtual reality. You can build just about anything in Minecraft, and there are many layers of complexity.
Survival mode can be terrifying.
Why it’s so great: There are two modes to Minecraft, creative and survival. Each is a joy to play through. Creative mode lets you freely explore, build, and mine without real consequence. You don’t particularly have to grind for stuff, and enemies seem more of an annoyance than anything. Survival mode can be terrifying. You can often feel helpless and alone, as you try to forage, build, and carve out a living.
The Best Console VR Games
The classification of console VR games is a slightly problematic one for the moment. The only console that actually has VR capabilities is the PlayStation 4/PS4 Pro. We really liked the PlayStation VR headset, and it’s definitely a more affordable way of getting into VR than the Rift or the Vive. Sony are experts at gaming, so the catalogue of available games is excellent. As the first generation of headsets has matured, we’ve seen many games receive ports to other systems, but there are still some exclusives and some titles that play better on the PSVR. Here are the notable ones:
Available on: PlayStation VR only.
Who it’s for: Those who like gunplay and shooting aliens en masse.
What it’s all about: If aliens ever do invade earth, the slew of alien shoot ‘em up games should mean we’re well practised to deal with it. Farpoint follows in the tradition of many such first-person shooters packing in plenty of hostile environments, angry extra-terrestrials, and lots of guns. However, it’s the PlayStation Aim controller that really makes this game stand out from the crowd. Players genuinely feel like they’re blasting their way through the alien horde when using it. The game may not breach new ground in terms of graphics and story, but the gunplay is excellent.
Why it’s so great: In our review of the PSVR, we maligned the fact that the Move controllers are, frankly, a bit rubbish. They were retrofitted to work with the VR system and suffer greatly for it. The Aim controller feels like a vast improvement, and its effectiveness is perfectly demonstrated through Farpoint.
Available on: Originally a PSVR exclusive, now available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
Who it’s for: Fans of tiny mice with big ideas. Fans of action, adventure, and puzzles.
What it’s all about: Many of the games we’ve looked at so far are a little light in the storytelling department. They’re too eager to show off their visual splendour to much care about such trivialities. Moss is a game that focuses on both. Storytelling is at the heart of this puzzle platformer. Action and adventure are a large part, but the rich and detailed environments tell a wonderful story throughout the game.
Storytelling is at the heart of this puzzle platformer.
Why it’s so great: The game is altogether charming. Developers Polyarc put in a huge amount of effort to make sure every tiny detail is perfect. It’s visually stunning, has a wide variety of interesting mechanics that make the most of VR, and provides one of the best examples of VR storytelling we’ve seen.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
Available on: All of the big hitters, including PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality.
Who it’s for: The Dragonborn. Fans of exploration, armed combat, magic, and item collection.
What it’s all about: The Elder Scrolls games have a cult-like following. Skyrim was released way back in 2011 and has since been ported to just about every device with a screen and processor. It’s beloved by many, and for good reason. The snowy world of Skyrim is filled with rich environments and things to do. When it first released, we wished we could actually explore the world ourselves. The VR version is about as close to that as it comes.
Why it’s so great: Skyrim VR doesn’t just feel like a cash-grab. It’s been properly optimised and ported over to the VR space. Yes, there are bugs and the usual level and jankiness from Bethesda games, but it’s genuinely amazing to be able to explore the game with a VR headset on. Combat feels involved and tense, the environments feel sufficiently enormous, and all of the awe from the original release is still there.
Available on: PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
Who it’s for: Gamers who like to bend time to their will and plan out awesome combat moves.
What it’s all about: It’s remarkable that Superhot VR is only just appearing on our list. In truth, it could have been in every list in this article. Although the game doesn’t look particularly flashy, the core gameplay mechanics are a ridiculous amount of fun. Essentially, you’re outnumbered and outgunned. The only thing you have on your side is time; it only moves when you do. This means you can carefully plan out your next move for optimal success.
Why it’s so great: It’s the mix of strategy and chaos that we love about Superhot VR. There is no health bar; if you get shot, you’re dead. That means that each move you make really has to count. But all around you, enemies are trying to kill you, bullets are flying, and things are exploding. It’s up to you to pick a careful pathway through the chaos to steal guns, take down enemies, and reach your goal.
I Expect You to Die
Available on: PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift.
Who it’s for: Aspiring secret agents, puzzle-lovers, and problem-solvers.
What it’s all about: As the excellent name suggests, I Expect You to Die is a game about secret agents. The player must face off against the evil Zoraxis Corporation by surviving deadly situations using only your wits, and your telekinetic abilities.
You will die, probably a lot, but that’s part of the learning curve.
Why it’s so great: It’s one of the better puzzle games available in VR. The tongue-in-cheek narrative style and increasingly obscure and entertaining puzzles mean it’s endlessly fun to play. You will die, probably a lot, but that’s part of the learning curve.
Final Thoughts on Best VR Games
As we mentioned in the introduction, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of fantastic VR games available. However, these represent a broad range of what’s currently on offer. Many of them make use of the current VR capabilities in terms of interaction and immersion, and we can only hope we’ll see more over the coming years.