Virtual reality is here, and there are many game developers exploring a whole new way of making and presenting games. From Samsung’s smartphone-powered Gear VR, to the HTC Vive, VR headsets are helping gamers immerse themselves and experience a whole new level of sensory input. With that tech comes a wealth of new games, each of which take a ginger step into a brand new medium and try to figure out how best to utilize it.
Here’s a quick list of our favorite VR experiences available on the Oculus Rift headset, including games that use the Oculus Touch motion controllers, as well as games that require the Xbox One controller.
For people used to playing traditional video games and looking to ease into the world of VR, Chronos is a great option. An easy comparison to make is to liken it to Dark Souls. It’s a game full of pitched sword duels in which you have to carefully land blows and defend against the attacks of your foes to stay alive. Chronos also eschews the usual VR approach of the first-person viewpoint — in which you see the game through the eyes of the character you’re playing as — in favor of the third-person view, where you watch and control the action from a separate perspective, much like a camera recording an event.
Edge of Nowhere
Insomniac Games took a stab at doing horror in virtual reality in a way that’s different from nearly every other game in the genre on the platform. Rather than go the usual route, using a first-person perspective that has you playing as if you’re in the shoes (and seeing through the eyes) of the protagonist, it puts the camera behind the main character, just like in Chronos. The result is a more psychological, stealthy take on horror. Edge of Nowhere is another of those VR games that feels like it could easily exist as a more traditional game, but it does some experimentation with the platform to find new ways to scare players.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a party game where people share a room, but only one person is in VR. The person wearing the headset can see and interact with a bomb that’s covered in special panels, each presenting a puzzle that requires a solution to defuse the explosive. But the VR player has no idea what any of what they’re seeing means, so it’s on the other people in the room to help explain it, using a super-complex bomb-defusing manual. The game requires quick thinking, communication and teamwork, and it leads to some hilarious moments as players scramble to find the right information in the manual. Best of all, it’s an excuse to play a VR game while entertaining.
Most movement-heavy VR games are likely to make many players sick, as your brain interprets motion that your body isn’t corroborating, resulting in an awful nausea feeling. Windlands should be a game like that, but at least for us, it isn’t. Instead, it’s the kind of immersive VR experience fans are hoping to see on the platform. This platforming game is all about leaping incredible heights and using a grappling hook to swing across insane gaps, while exploring a strange and ancient land. An October update, targeted at the PSVR version, improved the game’s visuals across all platforms.
One of the better-known Oculus titles to date is EVE: Valkyrie, a game that places you in the the role of a spaceship fighter pilot. The good news is that if you’re looking for that kind of experience, Valkyrie brings it. You’ll shoot through gorgeous space locales like shipyards and asteroid fields, hunting down and dogfighting enemy ships while trying to avoid missile locks and returned fire. It’s an intense game in terms of movement, which will make some people sick, but if you can handle it, Valkyrie is the kind of VR proof-of-concept that’s been exciting players for years.
Imagine the kind of cyberpunk, virtual dystopia that came out of sci-fi novels and films from the ’80s and ’90s, and you have Technolust. It’s the kind of game where you “jack in” as a hacker to cross virtual landscapes in order to steal data from a host of evil corporations. It’s grimy, dark, and completely retro-futuristic, all of which render it worth more than a cursory glance. Technolust’s games-within-the-game are a cool and fun addition, too, and add multiple layers to the VR experience.