Virtual reality has been tipped to be the 'next big thing' in gaming and entertainment for years now. But only in the past 12 months or so have we seen it really take off.
That could be because headsets are getting better, lighter and offer more freedom, just take a look at the new-ish Oculus Quest. But we also think it's because the quality of games is getting better and better – and more people are taking the leap from console to virtual gaming.
UPDATE: With new headsets, updates and tech being launched every few weeks, it's an exciting time to keep an eye on new VR games. We've recently added some brand new VR titles to our list, including Defector and No Man's Sky, as well as firm VR favorites, including the breath-taking Vader Immortal from ILMxLAB, the fantastic Space Pirate Trainer and SuperHot VR – there really is something for everyone.
Upcoming VR Games
Stormland (Oculus Rift Exclusive)
We can’t decide what that best thing about Stormland VR is – the fact that you get roam an expansive and stunning world or the part where you get to do so with your friends. In Stormland VR, you don’t just get to battle sentries and guardians; you and your friends also get to harness electricity, climb cliffs, explore stunning landscapes and fly across chasms, to start. This VR release is, without a doubt, shaping up to be one of the best VR games to be released this year.
In late September, Facebook is holding an Oculus Connect event where we're expecting there'll be some fantastic new games announced. One that's almost definitely on the cards is a first-person shooter from Respawn Entertainment.
Gone are the days of just a few, high-end headsets to choose from. Now you can pick up an HTC Vive, add a PlayStation VR to your PS4, grab an Oculus Rift or Oculus Rift S, the cheaper Oculus Go, the standalone, high-performing Oculus Quest.
Granted VR still isn't cheap, but it's getting more affordable and more accessible with every new piece of hardware – fingers crossed this will continue well into 2020.
With better headsets and more hype, VR games developers now have an amazing opportunity to bring their games to the masses. More and more VR games are worth checking out, and some new ones, like Defector, are showing a lot of promise.
If you’re reading to jump into astonishing worlds and take your adventure to the next level of immersion, you’ve come to the right place.
- If you've just got your hands on a Quest, check out our pick of the best Oculus Quest games of 2019
As VR continues to pick up speed, we can expect new games to replace old ones as the best VR games on offer. Check back in to see which rank among our favorites.
For now, these are our top VR games below, each one definitely worth a peek if you have a VR headset. Some of them are even worth going out and investing in one of the best VR headsets so you can experience them for yourself.
There’s something on this best VR games list for everyone. So grab your PSVR, HTC Vive or Oculus Quest headset, and get ready for the ride of your life.
And, be sure to keep checking back, because as new excellent VR games are released, we'll be adding them on here.
No Man's Sky (PSVR)
The action-adventure survival game by Hello Games has been one of the VR world’s most anticipated releases of 2019. That's not just because the original No Man’s Sky game seems perfectly poised for the VR experience. Exploring its generated worlds is already one epic adventure many gamers would want to immerse in, but Hello Games has also managed to make No Man’s Sky’s VR experience better than most other developers have on their games, already making it a great contender for being one of the best VR games in 2019.
Defector (Oculus Rift and Rift S)
Twisted Pixel, the developers of Wilson’s Heart, are at it again. This time, they've brought 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 ever did.
Superhot VR (Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality, PSVR)
Super addictive first-person shooter Superhot has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a browser-based demo in 2013. It's found a natural home on VR headsets, where it makes the most of 360-degree tracking by having enemies flank you from all sides.
Because time moves in slow-motion when you do, Superhot VR benefits from the flexibility of a bigger playspace. As the difficulty ramps up, you'll need every inch of cover to dodge incoming fire, bullet-time style, while shattering faceless enemies using guns, shurikens, and - most satisfyingly - your clenched fists.
Have you tried out The Void yet? It's an incredible location-based VR experience from ILMxLAB and now the team has created a home-based VR experience for the Oculus Quest and it's extremely fun and exciting for Star Wars fans.
It's a narrative-driven game that puts you face-to-face with Vader, offers up light saber training and allows you to explore some of the mystical depths of Mustafa. The best news is, this is just the first part of a three-part series, fingers crossed the next two instalments will be just as good.
Space Pirate Trainer (Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality, HTC Vive)
Having debuted on the Vive back in 2016, Space Pirate Trainer is a space-based shoot-em-up that's like the laser guns Star-Lord uses in Guardians of the Galaxy mixed with the slow-mo 'bullet time' of The Matrix – and if that hasn't immediately made you want to try it out, I don't know what will.
This golden oldie is the most fun on the Oculus Quest and almost a whole new experience without a cord tethering you to the spot. Choosing from an assortment of weapons and gadgets, including a nifty shield, the added movement afforded by the Quest’s inside-out tracking system is almost an additional weapon in itself.
It all makes for a physically demanding experience – stay rooted to the spot and you’ll be blasted into oblivion. While its gameplay can become repetitive over time, like Beat Saber, it has a magnetic ‘one more go’ feeling about it that seems to pull us back in.
Fallout 4 VR (HTC Vive Exclusive)
When we reviewed the original game, we loved the massive, detail-oriented open-world with intriguing side quests and that exalted soundtrack. Then Bethesda's legendary post-apocalyptic open world game was given the VR treatment in 2017, complete 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 and one of the best VR games on hand.
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. Well deserving of its place among the best VR games, Edge of Nowhere is even worth buying your very own Oculus Rift.
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 available for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality devices. If you want to jam out to some music, chop up some blocks, and break a little sweat, Beat Saber is definitely one of the best VR games for you.
Astro Bot: Rescue Bot (PlayStation VR exclusive)
If you own a PlayStation VR headset, stop whatever it is you're doing, head over to your PS4, and buy Astro Bot: Rescue Mission – this is the killer title the PlayStation VR has been waiting for.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission isn't just a great VR platformer, it's also a great platforming game full stop. Filled with the kind of inventiveness we've only come to expect from Nintendo's Mario series, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission utilizes the VR format with such wild imagination, making other efforts look lazy. Weaving levels all around the player, and using scale to both disarm and delight your expectations, it's quite unlike any of the best VR games you'll have played before.
Tetris Effect (PlayStation VR exclusive)
It's hard to put the Tetris Effect experience into words. Fundamentally, you’re playing a regular game 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 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, then The Talos Principle VR is the game of your dreams. It recreates the original game’s experience with full VR support, giving players all the locomotion options they could need, alongside 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 been given high marks 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. 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, as 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 it is an Oculus exclusive, Robo Recall is so good – one of the best VR games, in fact – 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 one of the best VR games for you. 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. For fans of the superhero franchise, this is the best VR game to finally be a part of that world.
Read our full review: 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 one of the best VR games to date, 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 topped 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. It’s the best VR game for anyone who want to escape the daily stresses of their actual, real-life jobs.
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 razor-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. However, 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.
The Climb (Oculus Rift Exclusive)
Those who can, do; those who can’t, do VR. At least, when it comes to technically difficult climbing adventures that only the most hardcore and well-trained climbers should attempt. The Climb brings out your thirst for adventure, or at least, satisfies it without the obvious risks.
This first-person VR game by Crytek has a simple objective – to climb walls and reach the top. You can do it solo or race with friends, and when you complete a stage, you are rewarded with – as in real life – the best panoramas. And, recently, Crytek has given it Oculus Touch support and added North, a new Arctic Circle environment.
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.
Lucky's Tale (Oculus Rift exclusive)
Lucky's Tale is 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 won’t blow you away like other VR games will, but Lucky's Tale proves that VR can breathe new life into old, ostensibly dead genres.
Michelle Rae Uy also contributed to this article