Samsung has been a major player in the VR game for years now — specifically with its mobile VR headset, the Gear VR. It’s found itself a sweet spot between the entry-level experience of the Google Daydream platform and the premium, PC-driven VR setups like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It’s not as powerful as the dedicated headsets — it’s powered by a smartphone, after all — but its unique features and ability to immerse the user are beyond what Daydream can do. Plus, it’s a relative bargain, provided you own a Galaxy phone.
If you’re about to put on Samsung’s VR headset, you’ll want to know the best apps available to demonstrate its abilities. Here are our picks of the ones you should download first, including both games and VR experiences. Both Samsung and Oculus provide app stores for the Gear VR, and you’ll need to set up an account online with the latter before buying any apps. Once you’re ready, here are the best Gear VR apps and games we think you should immediately try out.
Flying in a wing suit will probably be the closest you’ll ever get to spreading your arms and flying, but you might not be ready to just jump off a cliff. The Binary Mill’s addictive VR game Rush has you doing just that, flying around up to 60 mountainous paths in a virtual wing suit. You can choose to control which direction you fly in by either just looking or tilting your head around as you try to zip through as many rings placed around each course. You can race against the computer, your best time, friends you have invited, or random people online.
By the time you’ve flown through your first two rings, the intuitiveness of the controls will make you easily forget you have a headset on and you really feel the adrenaline pump in your veins as you zip through the clouds. Just watch out for those crashes, they can be unforgiving. The experience will cost you $8, but it’s more than worth it.
Face Your Fears: Stranger Things
Picture this: you’re in a space devoid of any color, people, or things, besides a shed. You slowly glide into the barn and see a body engorged by some sort of tentacles, with its head down. As soon as you get right next to the seemingly lifeless body, its head shoots up, eyes bulging, a mouth full of tentacles, and then the Stranger Things opening sequence begins. That is the first minute of Face Your Fears: Stranger Things, a virtual reality horror exploration game that surrounds you in the eerie vibe that permeates Hawkins, Indiana in the Netflix series. In the experience, you must navigate through classic Stranger Things scenes inside the Byers household, ultimately ending up at the lab where the portal to the Upside Down is proliferating demogorgons.
You come face to face with the demogorgons and watch the creatures rip through the walls, just like in Stranger Things. Even if you have been living under a rock the past year and haven’t binge-watched the Stranger Things series, this VR experience from Turtle Rock Studios will still have you screaming in sublime joy.
Intel True VR
It’s no secret that sports experiences in virtual reality aren’t the best, but Intel True VR is more than just a library of shortstop slides and quarterback runs. You can watch a runway show during New York Fashion Week, the Critics’ Choice Awards, and try to keep your eyes on a 183 mph tennis serve from Serena Williams. Above all else, Intel True VR is a blast to get immersed in, because of the access it gives viewers.
With the tap of your finger, you can be backstage with Cuba Gooding Jr, behind the bar with Nia Long, or in the crowd with Hollywood’s elite at the Critics’ Choice Awards. With a library full of dozens of full MLB games and NFL highlights, Intel True VR is almost overflowing with great content to get lost in.
In Orange Bridge Studios’ VR shooter End Space, you’re a fighter pilot tasked with navigating through intense space battles with Tartarus Liberation Front to regain stability Tartarus Sector. In other words, you are surrounded by nothing but oncoming attack while having to dodge ships in virtual reality. The pristine detail in the game’s graphics alone should compel you to slip out of reality and into a Gear VR headset to experience it all.
Even in a frenzied group fight with numerous aircraft, asteroids, and lasers flying around, you can still see every single aircraft in delicious VR eye candy. For the easiest way to play, I suggest using the Gear VR controller to shoot and control the thrusters, while using your head movements to steer the ship. The immersive controls and action together will lead to hours of twisting, turning, and having a blast in VR — regardless of its expensive $8 price tag.
Ever watch The Walking Dead and wonder how you would do in a zombie apocalypse? AMC VR makes that thought a visceral, virtual reality. The app has a number of experiences based on two of its scariest TV series, Into The Badlands and The Walking Dead. For The Walking Dead, you can experience what it’s like to watch zombies feast at your dead carcass, be trapped in a car as the undead try to force their way in, and do battle with those creatures from the perspective of popular Walking Dead character Negan.
The Badlands experiences center around putting you in the middle of fight camp as Badlands actors Aramis Knight and Ally Ioannides train for intense fights on the show with martial arts expert Daniel Wu. AMC VR is one of the first apps to make you really feel like you’ve been transported into your favorite TV shows, and hopefully other networks follow suit. Now, if only we could make some Blue Sky with Heisenberg in Breaking Bad.
This game is a must-have for sci-fi and shoot-em-up fans. Right from the beginning, you’re treated to an amazing opening sequence that immediately engrosses you in the game — soon enough you’ll be blasting down emery starships. The game is set in the Eve Online universe, but it’s primarily concerned with just manning a gun turret and destroying incoming pirate ships.
Controlled using head movements and either the touchpad on the side of the Gear VR or a Bluetooth controller, the real challenge is knowing when to reload and use any special weapons you’ve picked up. It’s great fun, but a little pricey at $10.
You have one mission in this turn-based tactical game: conquer the solar system. From the onset, the game thrusts you into customizing and optimizing your fleet, and before you know it, you’re embarking on VR’s answer to Battleship.
You’ll have to move methodically in this battle simulator, however, and tap each member of your fleet individually in order to guide their movements. You can swipe around while in battle to get different vantage points, too, allowing you to see where your enemies are the most vulnerable.
Manchester looks like a 16-bit arcade game, yet it’s as addictive as some of the best knuckle-breaking games in existence. The title requires you race to the finish line on courses lined with various twists and turns while making use of a simple set of controls.
You tap to switch from one multicolored lane to the the next, each of which features a different speed. You’ll also be able to utilize the Gear’s 360 capabilities, which allow you to follow your racer with subtle head movements. The art is in the timing — you must constantly switch lanes to avoid incoming ships and obstacles. You’ll likely crash a few times, but, thankfully, you probably won’t notice because of all the fun that awaits you at the next spawn point.
Suicide Squad: Special Ops VR
Suicide Squad may not have been what DC fans wanted — or anyone, for that matter — but the film’s accompanying VR game is a more than a worthy companion. In the game, you play as El Diablo, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot, each of whom must face wave after wave of enemies.
You can switch between the three characters after every level, and the game’s controls are pretty intuitive, allowing you to shoot, reload, and switch between weapons with a simple swipe or tap on the D-pad. You can’t move, but you are responsible for looking around to see where the baddies are coming from. This makes for a tense and fun experience — especially since you can occasionally burn enemies to a crisp with El Diablo’s hands.
Totems in Dreamland
This free puzzle game features a young boy who’s trying to collect totems inside his dreams, which, in turn, will have you twisting and turning in your seat. By simply using the position of your head and a few taps, you can control the boy, who must traverse through the most narrow of paths. He moves in whatever direction you’re looking, and a simple double-tap will prompt your character to double jump. You probably will only need one hand to jump on platforms and twist, too, making it that much easier for you to get lost in the game.