Virtual reality (VR) has been on the cusp of "going mainstream" for a few years now.
But whether it's been down to marketing, a lack of great games on offer or really expensive headsets, it just didn't take off. Well, until now.
Upcoming VR Games
When Owlchemy Labs released Job Simulator in 2016, we were immediately enamored by its charm. In a world chock-full of shoddy ‘Simulator’ titles coming in from every direction, Job Simulator was a breath of fresh air. So, when Vacation Simulator was officially confirmed for this year, we momentarily contained our laughter in favor of anticipation.
Defector (Oculus Rift Exclusive)
Twisted Pixel, the developers of Wilson’s Heart, are at it again. This time, they’re bringing an intense spy action game into VR, and from the first glimpses we’ve seen, it looks more like a Mission Impossible game than the actual Mission Impossible games did.
Blood and Truth (Playstation VR exclusive)
After rocking the PlayStation VR launch with VR Worlds and its standout cockney-shooting gallery mode The Heist, Sony London Studio is following it up with a full-length dive into London's underworld. In Blood and Truth you'll play as a former special forces operative exploring the murky world of London's criminal elite on a mission to save his family. Taking its cues from big-budget action movies, it wants to make you feel like the hero of your own film.
Between the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and now the cheaper Oculus Go, the buzz around VR continues to grow. This time it doesn't look like it's set to die out, especially with Oculus launching the standalone, high-performing Oculus Quest.
With more hype and more affordable headsets, VR games developers have a great opportunity to bring their games to the masses. We keep finding that, over the past few months, more and more VR games are worth checking out, and some new ones, like Defector, are showing a lot of promise.
So if you’re trying to jump into incredible worlds and take your adventure to the next level of immersion, you’re in the right spot.
As VR continues to pick up speed, we can expect new titles to replace old ones as the best VR games on offer, and check back in to see which rank among our favorites.
For now, here are our top VR games, each of which is definitely worth a peek if you have a VR headset, and some of which are worth going out and buying one of the best VR headsets so you can experience them.
There’s something here for everyone, so grab your PSVR, HTC Vive or your Oculus Go headset and get ready for a ride with the best VR games around.
Be sure to keep checking back, because as new VR games are released we'll be including them here. We'll also have plenty of new VR experiences to share with you when the Oculus Quest launches later this month.
Fallout 4 VR (HTC Vive Exclusive)
Bethesda's legendary post-apocalyptic open world game was given the VR treatment in 2017. Now with full VR tracking and motion control shooting, Fallout 4 in virtual reality is even more ambitious than the original, making it a must play for anyone with a HTC Vive.
When we reviewed the original game, we loved the massive, detail-oriented open-world with intriguing side quests and that exalted soundtrack.
Edge of Nowhere (Oculus Rift Exclusive)
This third person adventure sees protagonist Victor on a quest to find his fiancée Ava, who was lost on an Antarctic expedition.
To find Ava, you must guide Victor through the tundra, coming up against fearsome monsters and imposing walls of ice as he descends further and further into madness.
Beat Saber (Multiplatform)
Dance Dance Revolution meets Star Wars; Guitar Hero meets Tron; all of that happens in VR in Beat Saber. The new rhythm game has players slashing around glowing sabers to the beat of a musical track. It challenges players to keep up with the tune while cutting specific colored blocks from specific directions and dodging obstacles.
Beat Saber is currently in early access for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality devices. Despite the early access state, it already has “Overwhelmingly Positive” reviews on Steam. If you want to jam out to some music, chop up some blocks, and break a little sweat, check out Beat Saber.
Astro Bot: Rescue Bot (PlayStation VR exclusive)
If you own a PlayStation VR headset stop what you're doing, head over to your PS4, and buy Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. If the PlayStation VR was awaiting a killer title, it now unarguably has one. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission isn't just a great VR platformer, it's a great platforming game full stop.
Full of the kind of inventiveness we've come to only expect from Nintendo's Mario series, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission plays with the VR format with such wild imagination, it makes other efforts look lazy. Weaving levels all around the player, and using scale to both disarm and delight your expectations, it's quite unlike anything you'll have ever played before.
Tetris Effect (PlayStation VR exclusive)
It's hard to put the Tetris Effect experience into words. Essentially you play regular games of Tetris, except that the environments you're playing in change. Each level has its own distinct flavor - with music and visuals tailored to its theme. For example, you can play an underwater level and you will hear soothing underwater noises, while sparkling, whales float around your head.
It's a psychedelic and hypnotic experience, and one that everyone should have the privilege to play.
The Talos Principle VR (Multiplatform)
If you want a brilliantly realized puzzle game, The Talos Principle is well worth checking out. And, if you want to take that experience into VR, that’s where The Talos Principle VR comes in. It recreates the original game’s experience with full VR support, giving players all the locomotion options they could need, along with room-scale, standing, or seated play modes.
The game puts players into a strange world, where they must solve puzzles of ever-increasing complexity. Both the non-VR and VR versions have received high-praise from players, and our friends over at PCGamer gave the original title a big thumbs up.
Robo Recall (Oculus Rift exclusive)
Robo Recall is one of the most polished experiences for VR. It sets you in a futuristic world where robots are everywhere, and everything is hunky dory until an AI infects all of the robots after the AI itself goes mad upon discovering the internet and its troves of kitten videos. Did we mention this game was made by the same studio as Borderlands?
Robo Recall is half comical farce, as you’re tasked with “recalling” (read: obliterating) all of the malfunctioning robots. The other half is an insane shooter, where swarms of robots attack, and you use an arsenal of upgradeable weapons, your handy ability to teleport and slow time, and a whole lot of creativity to take them out.
There’s nothing quite like grabbing ahold of a robot and using it as a shield in your left hand, while you throw the gun in your right hand at an enemy only to catch the gun as it bounces off their face and then fire away. Despite the high intensity, this remains a fairly comfortable game for those who experience motion sickness in VR.
Though Robo Recall is an Oculus exclusive, it’s so good that it’s definitely worth the effort for HTC Vive owners to figure out how to play Oculus games.
Echo Arena (Oculus Rift exclusive)
Echo Arena is an entirely new sport invented just for VR, and entirely free for Oculus Rift owners. In the game, teams of robots jet around a zero-gravity environment, trying to grab a disc and score points by throwing the disk through the opposing team’s goal.
What may sound like a simple game is made all the more brilliant by the ways players can interact. Using Oculus Touch controls, players can get into a bout of fisticuffs with opposing players, stunning them with a blow to the head. Another core skill in the game is riding another player, and throwing yourself forward off them to achieve insane speeds. It’s a wild sport unlike anything we’ve played before. And, at the low, low cost of $0, it’s an easy top pick.
Skyrim VR (Multiplatform)
At this point, Skyrim should need no introduction. It’s been released, and released, and released again. This time, it’s come to the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, and, in doing so, it offers the biggest adventure game we’ve ever seen in VR.
Not only do you get to re-live the entire base game of Skyrim in VR, but the game includes the Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn DLC as well. Even if Skyrim VR isn’t exactly perfect, having some dated graphics (that can be improved with mods) and not being designed for VR from the ground up, it’s still an adventure easily worth diving into.
Sprint Vector (Multiplatform)
Sprint Vector is unique among racing video games in that you’re actually going to get a workout playing it. The game thrusts you into the role of a racer (your character is literally abducted and forced to race) on a variety of alien worlds. For you to succeed, you have to actually swing your arms around in the real world to accelerate your character and reach top speeds.
Sprint Vector is cartoony, and features Mario Kart-like power-ups for gaining a competitive edge. If you’re looking to have a bit of fun and break a nice sweat, Sprint Vector is a great pick. We felt the burn after just a couple races, and our fitness trackers would surely have applauded us if we’d raced through all 21 of the game’s courses.
Moss (PlayStation VR exclusive)
After a wait that seemed to last this side of forever, Moss finally landed on PlayStation VR in February 2018. Quill, the heroine of this tale may be pint-sized (and literally have a tail), but Moss uses size to its advantage by giving players the perspective of its rodent protagonist.
A family-friendly VR adventure, you'll guide Quill through forests and ruins, direct her past enemies and take direct control of environmental elements to solve puzzles. The purpose is to save Quill's uncle, and by giving you dual control over a hero avatar and as an omnipotent influence on her surroundings, it's the perfect way to take advantage of the power of VR.
Marvel Powers Unite VR (Oculus exclusive)
We found Marvel Powers Unite to be a colorful, breezy experience, and one that does a great job of making you feel like you’ve become the famous comic book characters. The sense of scale shows the game (and VR) at its best – as the Hulk you’ll tower over both enemies and teammates, while as Rocket Racoon you’ll be a pint-sized player, darting around the feet of alien baddies before jetpacking up into the sky for a bird’s-eye view.
Read our Marvel Powers Unite review
From Other Suns (Multiplatform)
This game for Oculus Rift is a totally action packed space adventure, and can be played solo or with up to three other players.
In a race to get back to Earth, you must battle "ruthless pirates and lethal robots" before ancient aliens wipe out everything in their way.
Arktika.1 (Oculus Rift exclusive)
Created by Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light's own 4A Games, Arktika.1 exchanges the nuclear apocalypse for a futuristic, but dire, world locked in a new ice age.
Using the Oculus Touch to control weapons and tools in each hand, players will have to brave the frozen wastes and its threats - both creature and human - in this full-featured shooter built from the ground up for VR.
Elite: Dangerous (Multiplatform)
It may be over thirty years old, but the Elite franchise is still alive and kicking, thanks to creator David Braben's fight to reacquire the license.
Drawing elements from the first game – e.g. trading, exploring and engaging in combat within a massive, procedurally-generated universe – Elite: Dangerous is an Elite game for the 21st century crowd. It's even represented as such in its depictions of our galaxy in the future.
Oh, and did we mention the gameplay is massively-multiplayer? Navigating the next frontier has never felt so real and connected. Elite: Dangerous is a game best experienced online and in VR.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Multiplatform)
Assuming you know somebody generous enough to print the 23-page manual, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the new Mario Party, at least in the sense that it will make your friends hate you.
Developed by Steal Crate Games, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes requires careful attention from a recommended 2 to 6 players. While one player works to defuse a bomb, the others have to provide clear instructions on how to do so.
Demanding some intense cooperation from your peers, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a fun game with the right group of people, and it's even more enjoyable in VR using either a Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift headset. Keep in mind that while a gamepad is optional with the Gear VR version, the Oculus Rift version must be paired with a controller.
Job Simulator (Multiplatform)
In the year 2050, 21st century careers – like "chef" and "mechanic" – naturally, no longer exist, having been replaced years prior by the likes of programmers and the AI they create. Job Simulator takes it upon itself to transform the jobs of the modern day into museum exhibitions to be experienced as simulations by the player.
Of course, this means the museum, which doubles as a theme park, is operated by robots who can't quite recall things accurately.
As a chef, for example, pizza is made by microwaving a slice of bread toppled with a block of cheese. In total, there are four jobs to select from: Office Worker, Gourmet Chef, Store Clerk and Auto Mechanic, each seasoned with a uniquely sardonic twist.
Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality (Multiplatform)
Mechanically, Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality is very similar to Owlchemy Labs' previous VR game, Job Simulator.
But beyond the simple puzzle-come-adventure-game mechanics of combining objects in your environment to solve puzzles is the same razer-sharp wit that makes Job Simulator such an essential VR experience, and now it's even better thanks to the voice-acting chops of Rick and Morty star Justin Roiland.
Whether Virtual Rick-ality is an essential experience will depend entirely on whether you're a fan of the show or not. If you've ever enjoyed the cartoon then you owe it to yourself to try the VR game, but if you've yet to give it a watch, or if you've done so and aren't a fan of its irreverent brand of humor, then the Rick and Morty Simulator might be one to miss.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PlayStation VR exclusive)
With most of even the best VR games being bite-sized, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a breath of fresh air, even if it’s a simultaneously horrific one. Despite the ability to play it otherwise on PC, Xbox One and PS4 proper, this is the first installment in the Resident Evil series that you could say was designed with virtual reality in mind. That’s because, unlike the entries before it, Resident Evil 7 is played using a first-person perspective.
Don’t assume you can just run and gun your way through the game, however, as Capcom has taken Resident Evil back to its survival horror roots with Resident Evil 7. As such, you’ll have to think tactically about how you manage to survive encounters with the game’s freaky enemies. As Ethan Winters, a resident of Dulvey, Louisiana whose wife went missing three years prior, you’ll be tasked with exploring a creaky old deserted house in an effort to find her.
The silver lining is that there’s only one location throughout the game, so don’t expect anything too chaotic beyond a generous helping of jump scares.
Batman: Arkham VR (Multiplatform)
Though the franchise may have already concluded on conventional platforms, Batman: Arkham VR is the follow-up to Arkham Knight virtually none of us were expecting. Not long after Rocksteady Studios revealed its third entry in the Batman Arkham universe would be its last, the developer announced this exclusive to PlayStation VR that would later make its way to all three headsets.
Batman: Arkham VR is more of a self-contained detective story than a canonical sequel or prequel to the established Arkham mythos. You won’t be knocking goons unconscious with a VR-reimagined version of Rocksteady’s signature combat mechanics. However, what you can expect is not much more than a 90-minute, DLC-sized story mission at a fraction of the cost of a full-priced game.
Arizona Sunshine (Multiplatform)
Lengthy VR experiences are pretty thin on the ground as it stands, and that's part of what makes Arizona Sunshine such an enjoyable experience.
The game, which sees you exploring a zombie-infested Wild West, is a refreshingly lengthy experience that you can really sink your teeth into, which contrasts with the more arcade-like experiences offered by other games.
Movement is handled by teleporting yourself around the environment which handily allows you to cover great distances without motion sickness, and you reload and change weapons by moving your weapon to your ammo belt.
Out of any of the experiences we've played so far, Arizona Sunshine feels like what VR games might eventually become once developers have the time and money to craft full-length virtual reality experiences.
But in the short term searching old mine shafts with a six-shooter in one hand and a blinking flashlight in the other is just plain cool, even if you'll have to keep your play sessions to half an hour at a time just to hold your nerve.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 (Multiplatform)
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is centered around aliens. Instead of fleeing from them, though, you're chipping away at their insides. Similar to objectives in Job Simulator, Surgeon Simulator 2013 banks on your incompetence at performing advanced surgical procedures, such as heart and brain transplants, exacerbated only by the unique interface of a VR headset.
The game supports VR natively with Oculus Rift. A separate version, entitled Surgeon Simulator VR: Meet the Medic, is available as a free Steam download for HTC Vive. A newer and fully multi-platform version of the game is also available on Steam and the PlayStation store.
Minecraft VR (Multiplatform)
It's official: the world's most popular block-'em-up has finally arrived on VR. Minecraft Windows 10 Edition is now out on the Oculus Rift, but you won't need to splash out $599 / £499 / AU$649 (the cost of the Rift) for the experience.
That's because it's also available on the Samsung Gear VR, with all of the Oculus version's features in tow. Windows Mixed Reality platforms are also supported. What's more, there's even a theater view in case it makes you sick just thinking about 360 degrees of lego brick terrain.
We're not sure what excites us most about exploring Minecraft in VR — legging it from creepers in the dead of night or burrowing into the landscape like goggle-wearing, pickaxe-wielding mole. A bit of both, probably.
Eve: Valkyrie (Multiplatform)
Yes, Eve: Valkyrie will make you feel at least a little bit sick. But isn't any epic gaming experience worth a bit of pain? What started out as a spectacular tech demo for the Icelandic developers of Eve: Online has evolved into a fast, squad-based dogfighting simulator set in deep space.
That focus on combat allows the game to be much less realistic and more visceral than its competitors - and it's more arcadey as a result. It may not be able to deliver long-term thrills, but if you're looking to be dazzled by what the Oculus Rift has to offer, look no further than Eve: Valkyrie.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew (Multiplatform)
Virtual reality gaming doesn't get much more social than this, a game in which you and three other players team up to pilot a Federation starship from the long running Star Trek franchise.
Although the game includes a single-player mode it's definitely an experience best enjoyed with friends, where you'll soon fall into a rhythm of anticipating each other's every need and tailoring your actions accordingly.
If you don't have friends with the same headset as you then you don't need to worry, as Ubisoft has also included cross-platform play, so PlayStation VR, Oculus, and Vive players should have no problem teaming up to tackle the Klingons together.
Dear Esther (Oculus Rift exclusive)
VR is wonderful at providing a sense of presence in a world, even if interacting with the world can sometimes be difficult. Which is perfect for 'walking simulators' like this.
Dear Esther is an exploration game, where you walk all over a remote Scottish island, plumbing its depths and heights, as your character whinges about his life. It may sound like an art-house adaption of a J.G. Ballard novel, but the game is utterly beautiful to wander.
Farpoint (PlayStation VR exclusive)
It may have taken a pricey PS VR Aim Controller to achieve, but with Farpoint, Sony has proven that a full-on first-person shooter campaign can feel right at home in VR. Clocking in at about 5 hours long, Farpoint doesn’t overstay its welcome, but don’t confuse longevity with quality. In every aspect, Farpoint feels like a fully furnished shooter, complete with a variety of enemies and analog stick options that add an additional layer of control to the experience.
Unlike a lot of other games built for VR, Farpoint won’t be confused for a tech demo. The story, told through fixed-camera cutscenes, isn’t exactly enthralling, but it is at least decently well-written. Plus, if solo shooting isn’t compelling enough, there’s two-player online co-op and challenge levels designed for players to compete for high scores. And if the Aim Controller gets too tiring, you can always switch back to a DualShock 4.
Subnautica looks like it should be a simple diving game - but then you realise you don't recognize any of the 'fish'... or the sky or the sun.
It's actually a survival game on a distant ocean world, where you have to craft equipment, pilot submarines, and terraform the aquatic undersea for humankind - whilst surviving hostile wildlife, volcanoes, and aircraft-sized jellyfish. Subnautica isn't made specifically for VR, so the support is limited, but it's still an enticing dive into VR.
Lucky's Tale (Oculus Rift exclusive)
Lucky's Tale is one of two games (the other being multiplayer dogfighting shooter EVE: Valkyrie) being bundled with the Oculus Rift, and it's an intriguing little platformer. Think Mario 64 spliced with Crash Bandicoot, viewed with a third-person camera angle that you can manipulate by moving your head, and you'd be halfway there.
The VR element lets you peek at more of the level as you go along, which sounds gimmicky but actually introduces an exploration element as you tilt your head to reveal secrets in the level. It may not blow you away like other VR games will, but Lucky's Tale proves that VR can breathe new life into old, ostensibly dead genres.