Virtual reality is still a relatively new genre, but it has the potential to take your gameplay to a whole new level. Even now, there’s a large variety of different games that have already hit the market.
The PlayStation VR has been one of the most popular virtual reality devices in history, but it didn’t have a true killer app before Blood & Truth. Based on the “London Heist” component of PlayStation VR Worlds, the full follow-up is essentially a playable Guy Ritchie movie. Car chases, tons of gunfights, stealth components, and thrilling set-pieces make it one of the most impressive games in VR, which should come as no surprise when you see it comes from the same studio behind The Getaway. Blood & Truth is the reason to get PlayStation VR, and it goes beyond merely proving the usefulness of the technology.
Gran Turismo Sport is one of the most realistic racing games on the market, delivering an impressive amount of authenticity both in the included vehicles as well as the locations, and it has an impressive number of modes and features to keep any gearhead busy. The action really heats up, however, when you virtually step into a car in the game’s VR mode, which offers all the thrill of first-person racing with none of the danger — and if you ding the bumper, you don’t have to pay for repairs!
Far removed from the frenetic and over-the-top games typically seen on virtual reality devices, Firewall: Zero Hour is a tactical multiplayer shooter that plays on the basic mechanics of Rainbow Six Siege to create one of the first truly competitive games on PlayStation VR. Using the PlayStation VR Aim controller, you choose one of 12 characters and carefully move forward with your squad as you pick off enemies and hide behind cover. There are also cooperative and solo modes to help you get used to the gunplay, or just to practice working as a team.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard swapped the series’ traditional third-person action for a first-person perspective, making it even more terrifying to go down an unfamiliar hallway or turn a dark corner. Naturally, playing this in virtual reality makes it feel like you’re actually being hunted down by a mutated Louisianan family. The entire game is playable in VR mode, and during the Halloween season, there’s no better way to get yourself scared than to turn off all the lights, put in your earbuds, and head into the house.
In need of a little more “pew pew” in your VR horror games? Look no further than Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. An on-rails shooter rather than the timing-and-choice-based adventure of the main Until Dawn, it’s no less frightening. Taking place on a rollercoaster with multiple possible paths, you have to defend yourself against spooky monsters with a variety of weapons, which you can dual-wield for even more deadliness. As the game was free on PlayStation Plus and features global leaderboards, you should have plenty of friends’ high scores to try to beat as well.
When a studio can’t decide between making a first-person shooter and a sports game, they come up with Rigs: Mechanized Combat League. The late Guerilla Cambridge’s hybrid game was one of the headset’s best launch titles, delivering an exhilarating mix of teamwork, fast-paced action, and verticality. Rigs feels like the craziest game of paintball you’ve ever played, but with mechanized suits instead of dudes in plastic masks, and it has several different multiplayer modes as well as a single-player career mode to switch things up.
The Oculus Rift is perfectly capable of playing games originally meant for traditional consoles or PC, but Schell Games wasn’t interested in that market. Instead, the studio developed I Expect You to Die, a game that can only exist in virtual reality. As a telekinetic secret agent, it’s your job to escape from and infiltrate a variety of dangerous scenarios, using items you find in the environment to your advantage. The pin of a fire extinguisher can be used to disarm a grenade, while a leaky pipe can cool down an engine nicely. Schell Games might expect you to die, but you don’t have to accept your fate.
You can get a taste of VR driving in Gran Turismo Sport on the PlayStation VR, but if you want to experience a full racing game from a headset, you’ll want to pick up Dirt Rally. Available both as a component of the Steam release as well as a standalone game via the Oculus store, Dirt Rally VR takes all of the game’s modes and makes them compatible with the rift. The game features both single-player and multiplayer, and a variety of outdoor locations to view as you race and attempt not to crash your vehicle.
Classic 3D platforming games are a rarity these days, and it’s even rarer to see them in virtual reality. Lucky’s Tale checks both boxes, with plenty of collectibles and challenging jumps, as well as the additional camera control provided by the Oculus Rift. Lucky is an adorable mascot, bringing back memories of heroes like Banjo-Kazooie. Lucky’s Tale is free if you own the headset, and if you decide you love the game, a non-VR version called Super Lucky’s Tale is also available on Xbox One and PC.
For something a little bit darker in a third-person perspective, Insomniac Games has you covered with Edge of Nowhere. A horror game that blends natural terrors — like certain death after falling off an ice cliff — with fears a little more rooted in fantasy, it’s another example of Insomniac’s masterful storytelling. Edge of Nowhere is certainly less cartoonish than the other games we’ve seen from the company, but it combines gameplay and narrative in a way that is just as compelling.
Playing guitar but wishing there were a few more fans — or a fan – to cheer you on? With Rock Band VR, you can live out the fantasy of being a rock star with an adoring audience jamming along to your tunes. Using an Oculus Touch or a Rock Band 4 controller, you can play along like a classic Rock Band game or improvise and experiment, all while standing on a virtual stage. Unlike real life, the club you’re playing doesn’t smell like stale sweat, either.
Developed by Crytek – the company behind technically stunning games like Crysis – The Climb allows you to experience all the thrills of mountain climbing without the risk of dying if you manage to slip. It is filled with shortcuts for more adventurous players, supports multiplayer, and it even has a “tourist mode” so your friends can try it out without having to master all of its mechanics.
The perfect game for living out a John Wick or Matrix fantasy in virtual reality, Pistol Whip is equal parts rhythm game and first-person shooter. Each level is filled with enemies firing bullets that take just a few seconds to make contact, and it takes quick reflex and dodging skills in order to eliminate them and send a barrage of fire back their way. This is all done with a bumping beat in the background, and obstacles occasionally halt progress. There are even moments that allow for the titular “pistol whip” attack on closer targets, though pulling this off requires a ton of practice.
Outside of the Telltale series, The Walking Dead has had much more success in VR than in traditional gaming. This remains true with The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, an action-survival game with a heavy emphasis on choice and consequence. Melee weapons and traditional firearms are available to take down the undead you encounter, and there are also human survivors who can cause even more of an issue. The game is set in New Orleans, offering a nice change from the television series, and its emotional, dark story should be perfect for fans who have followed it since the first comics.
A physics-based game that is best for players who are familiar with VR already, Boneworks features an advanced engine and allows for many different approaches to combat. Everything from energy weapons and guns to old-school clubs and swords is at players’ disposals, and they can interact with nearly every object, as well. Despite the heavy focus on gameplay, there is still a story here, with an advanced A.I. causing trouble at a mysterious corporation. Boneworks is perfect for anyone who sees current VR games as amusement park rides rather than real games in their own right.
It didn’t launch with VR support, but No Man’s Sky received it later as part of a giant free update. The entire game can be played in virtual reality, and seeing as the game’s initial promise was of an expansive and immersive universe, it’s a perfect fit. Updates over the years have added base-building mechanics, more story content near the beginning, better user-interface options, and even full multiplayer. No Man’s Sky was certainly disappointing at launch in 2016, but the game has turned into what Hello Games had imagined all along.
From Schell Games — the studio behind I Expect You to Die — comes the much more active Until You Fall. Designed to be a fantasy combat game that still features realistic sword combat, the game actually includes multiple weapon types and a mix of monsters to fight. There are several locations included, as well as randomized elements to ensure that every run feels different. Few developers can deliver games as polished as Schell Games, and there are several customization options to help with avoiding motion sickness and feeling comfortable in the game’s world. There are even power-ups to deliver a little extra damage.
Who could have predicted that a dancing game that uses two virtual lightsabers would be among VR’s biggest hits? Beat Saber tasks you with slashing incoming blocks using color-coded saber swings, and the intensity varies depending on the song you select. There are plenty of options for customization even including your own songs on PC, and you’ll be able to get a great workout by merely doing what you’ve already pretended you could do for decades: Swing a lightsaber. With content added regularly, Beat Saber is a game you’ll be playing for months or years on end.
It’s Fallout 4 and it’s in VR. This isn’t a sampler or a teaser of what a full Fallout game could be like in virtual reality, but the entire Fallout 4 experience made playable on the HTC Vive. From killing mutant creatures to building your dream community, you can do it all from behind the headset, which should make some of the game’s more emotional choices even more impactful. Of course, you could also just go out and cause as much mayhem as possible. It’s up to you.
Want to enter the world of 2016’s Doom and look demons in the eyes as you rip their jaws in half and stomp on their mutilated corpses? With Doom VFR, you totally can. Rather than turn the existing game into a VR shooting gallery, Id Software created an entirely new story for Doom VFR, which sees you working on demon cleanup duty to stop an outbreak from destroying a Mars-based research center. Most importantly, however, it just gives you an excuse to kick some demon ass.
One of the most unique first-person shooters and adventure games ever made, the original Superhot’s hook — a world that only moves when you move — creates a sense of tactical awareness not typically seen in the genre. The VR version builds on that great foundation, and updates have added additional challenges, levels, and even an option to beat the game without ever firing a gun. Speed and careful planning will be necessary to make it out alive.
The film Creed II sees Adonis Creed facing off against Ivan Drago’s son in a battle that mirrors the plot of the objectively great Rocky IV, and in preparation for his most important fight to date, Creed must train to be the best boxer on the planet. Creed: Rise to Glory lets you do just that, with vicious punching controls, player-versus-player fights, and training alongside the legendary Rocky Balboa. You can even visit some of the films’ famous locations to really get in the mindset of a Philadelphian fighter. Now cut me, Mick!
Don’t let the benign title fool you: Arizona Sunshine is all about zombies. The desert western setting is merely a backdrop for the vicious undead looking to eat you, bones and all, and you can take a friend along for the ride as you attempt to survive. Unlike some similar VR shooters, you are free to move around the environment naturally in Arizona Sunshine, and you have access to more than two dozen weapons to slaughter the zombies you encounter.
The Oculus Quest’s wires-free, self-contained design makes it the perfect VR headset to use for fitness, and BoxVR is one of the most effective exercising games on the platform. Rather than battle against another boxer, BoxVR has you practice your various punches against incoming symbols. You also must dodge out of the way of approaching walls, and block attacks to keep your score as high as possible. As you do this, the game keeps full track of your calories burnt, and the total accumulates for a week, which lets you easily keep track of fitness progress.
The virtual reality edition of Dance Central is up for grabs on Oculus Quest, so you can enjoy the game without needing a camera or Wii Remote. You can play this version any time, anywhere. You’ll be imitating the dance moves that appear on the screen in this game, just like in the original.
Online multiplayer mode gives you access to a selection of 32 different songs. Oculus Quest lets you create an amazing dance party no matter where you are, from your bedroom to the rooftops.
While Oculus Quest excels in short games, it’s also a perfect platform for longer games focused on the story. Apex Construct is a complex adventure plot that delivers a far more intense sensory experience than BoxVR or Dance Central. Set in the future, the game features bow-and-shield combat and a terrific plot. You can find upgrades hidden in occult messages you get to decode. Overall, Oculus Quest is an excellent portable, all-encompassing gaming platform.
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