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Best VR games 2021: the top virtual reality experiences to play right now

Best VR games 2021
(Image credit: Valve)

The best VR games available to play right now allow you to discover a whole new level of immersion – especially when you compare them to playing a game on a traditional games console. Now all you have to do is put on one of the best VR headsets and it feels like you’re stepping into a whole new dimension. 

This guide is packed full of our top virtual reality experiences that you can try today, from high-energy shooting games to spooky escape room puzzlers. There are a range of stationary games that you can play glued to the spot or even sitting down, as well as others that allow you to roam around as far as the size of your living room allows. 

It doesn’t matter which headset you have either. Whether you’re going to be playing games with an Oculus Quest 2, Valve Index or with a PSVR, you're sure to find at least one game on this list that you'll fall in love with on your platform of choice.

All the games featured in this guide are well worth your time, but you might want to know that Star Wars Squadron was voted Best VR Game TechRadar Choice Awards 2021. It managed to beat out the other 24 games on this list and was voted the best by our audience and judges. So if you're looking for just one VR game to play then that's the one to put at the top of your pile.

But if space battles in a galaxy far, far away aren’t your thing and you're looking for something else, read on to find out what VR games are the absolute cream of the crop.

UPDATE: Black Friday 2021 deals are already starting to roll in ahead of the main event on November 26. Right now, it’s hard to say whether the best VR headsets will be dramatically reduced – although we are expecting to see some Oculus Quest 2 deals and maybe some PSVR discounts too. But it’s not just about the headsets. Many of the best VR games in this list could be reduced on the big day too, so be sure to check out Black Friday VR deals and discounts over the next month.

Which VR games are right for you?

To find the best VR games, your choice will mostly be down to preference. Only you know whether you find shooting games or space exploration games or mystery puzzle games fun. But there are some other factors to consider, too.

The most obvious is finding out whether the game you have your eye on works with your virtual reality system. To help you out we've listed what platforms these games are on under their entry with links to their storepage.

Another consideration is whether the game allows you to both sit and stand. If you have a lot of room and want to play a high-energy game, it might be a no-brainer that you'll want to stand up and move about. Those with smaller spaces who aren't playing action games might want the option to stay seated and stationary though.

If you're prone to motion sickness, you might also want to check whether there are accessibility controls to change movement settings. Most people get used to VR after a few plays, but some people can still experience a lot of dizziness if they move quickly in VR or have to fly, hover or spin.

Arizona Sunshine

Arizona Sunshine

Platforms: Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift,  Valve Index, PSVR.

Arizona Sunshine sees you exploring a zombie-infested Wild West in a refreshingly lengthy experience, that you can really sink your teeth into. This 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.

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

Platforms: PSVR

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 PlayStation VR title that everyone with the hardware must play. 

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.

Batman: Arkham VR

Batman: Arkham VR

Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, PSVR

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 PC VR headsets. 

Batman: Arkham VR is more of a self-contained detective story than a canonical sequel or prequel to the established Arkham mythos and you won’t be knocking goons unconscious with a VR-reimagined version of Rocksteady’s signature combat mechanics. However, you can expect a 90-minute, DLC-sized story mission at a fraction of the cost of a full-priced game that turns you into the caped crusader himself.

Beat Saber

Beat Saber

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR

Dance Dance Revolution meets Star Wars; Guitar Hero meets Tron; all of that happens in VR in Beat Saber. The 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.

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. Hooking up external headphones (especially ones with deep bass) is a must so you can enjoy tracks from Billie Eilish, Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park and LMFAO with the best audio possible.

Elite Dangerous VR

Elite Dangerous

Platforms: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

The franchise might be over thirty years old, but age doesn't stop the Elite franchise from being home to 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.

Fallout 4 VR

Fallout 4 VR

Platforms: Valve Index, HTC Vive

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 an HTC Vive or Valve Index.

Half-Life: Alyx

Half-Life: Alyx

(Image credit: Valve)

Platforms: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

Some were afraid that Half-Life: Alyx, one of Valve's first VR games and the first new entry in the series in over a decade, might not live up to the expectations. But, without a shadow of a doubt, this is a Half-Life game that fills the roomy shoes that Valve left behind in 2007. To say Half-Life: Alyx is simply a good VR game would be an understatement - it's comfortably one of the best.

It is, like its forebears, a mind-bending joyride with a physics system to die for. The inventive, head-scratching scientific puzzles you’re used to from the PC games? They’re here. Tense jaunts through zombie-infested death pits that instil terror better than most ‘horror’ games? Alyx has got that in droves.

If you're looking for the one VR game to play in 2021, it's Half-Life: Alyx. It's available for free with the purchase of a Valve Index and HTC Vive Cosmos Elite.

I Expect You to Die 2

Controls for a lighting rig are seen behind an instructions list telling the player how to the stage prepared for a show

(Image credit: Shell Games)

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

This game is the perfect James Bond simulator, putting you into the shoes of a bonafide international superspy on a mission to take down a criminal organization no matter what convoluted traps stand in your way.

During this escape room-like experience, you’ll have to deflect hidden lasers, avoid heat-seeking missiles and serve drinks so you can thwart the criminal mastermind before their plan comes together. The traps can leave you feeling more like Austin powers than 007, but even when you fail the game is full of humor to keep you entertained.

With its delightful characters - including the brilliant voice acting of Wil Wheaton - and spy-cliché filled story, I Expect You To Die 2 delivers a VR experience that will have you feeling like a super spy.

Read our full I Expect You To Die 2 review 

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR

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 - but neither team can see what the other is looking at.

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.

Lone Echo 2

Lone Echo 2 - A closeup of Captain Liv while she works in her workshop

(Image credit: Ready at Dawn)

Platforms: Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest (Air Link)

Lone Echo and its sequel Lone Echo 2 are Oculus Rift games that are specifically designed to be played through your PC via the Oculus Rift headset. But by using the Link cable or Air Link, you can play these phenomenal space explorers on your Quest or Quest 2, too.

These are by no means the first VR game to put you in space – a number of spaceship fighter sims have already attempted it – but the experience of floating through the environments by pushing yourself, grabbing and climbing, and pulling through zero-G spaces is completely unforgettable and the level of graphical detail is impressive.

Sure they can be a little motion sickness-inducing - so we recommend trying out the free-to-play Echo VR game to get a feel for the movement first - but if you’re a VR veteran these games are some of the best that the medium has to offer.

Read our Lone Echo 2 review

Lucky's Tale

Lucky's Tale

Platforms: Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest (Air Link)

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 Astro Bot: Rescue Mission will - which is a game on a whole other level -  but Lucky's Tale proves that VR can breathe new life into old, ostensibly dead genres.

Minecraft VR

Minecraft VR

(Image credit: Microsoft/Mojang)

Platforms: Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest (Air Link)

It's official: the world's most popular block-'em-up is now on VR. Minecraft Windows 10 Edition is available on the Oculus Rift (and Oculus Quest headsets via Air Link).

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-people. A bit of both, probably.

Moss

Moss

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index,PSVR

 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 across a wide range of VR platforms.

No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky

(Image credit: No Man's Sky/Hello Games)

Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve IndexPSVR

The action-adventure survival game that is No Man’s Sky by Hello Games was one of the VR world’s most anticipated releases of 2019 - and that anticipation was well placed even to this day.

Traversing and discovering its generated worlds is already one epic adventure many gamers would gladly immerse in. However, Hello Games has taken it to the next level by making No Man’s Sky’s VR experience better than most other developers have on their games, making it an excellent contender for being one of the top VR games in 2021.

Pistol Whip

A group of enemies are unaware that the player's character is ready to shoot them in Pistol Whip

(Image credit: Cloudhead Games)

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, PSVR

Pistol Whip is like Beat Saber but with guns instead of lightsabers. As you run through a range of different environments you’ll finally have the chance to become your own action movie star as you dodge bullets and take out enemies, earning bonus points if you can shoot them in time to the backing track.

The base game is fantastic, but free campaign updates to all of its versions have introduced stories and levels set in a cyberpunk future and now also the Wild West. The new content means you’ll have plenty to play and you won't need to pay more than the one-off entry fee.

Pistol Whip is also great if you want to get a little bit more active. Dodging bullets is tiring work and even though it doesn’t seem like the kind of game to make you work up a sweat it definitely will.

Resident Evil 4 VR

Resident Evil 4 VR keyart showing Leon looking out a a horde of villagers

(Image credit: Capcom / Oculus)

Platform: Oculus Quest 2 

Resident Evil 4 VR is an incredible remake of the classic survival horror game for the Oculus Quest 2 platform. Armed with nothing but a knife, handgun, and the tools you can scavenge on the way, you’ll have to fend off parasite-infected brutes and monsters on your mission to rescue the U.S. President’s daughter.

Thanks to the great array of comfort options available, this is a game that will leave you frightened instead of queasy. The immersive controls are awesome, too: you’ll really feel like Leon S. Kennedy as you stare down a horde of angry villagers trying to tear you limb from limb – it’s enough to get your heart racing.

If you own a PSVR headset instead, why not try out Resident Evil 7: Biohazard? This game features a lot of what’s great about Resident Evil 4 in VR, facing you off against equally terrifying odds as you try to escape the ranch of the wicked Baker family.

Skyrim VR

Skyrim VR

Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index,PSVR

At this point, Skyrim should need no introduction as a game that's been rereleased more times than we can count. This time, it’s come to the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, and, in doing so, it offers one of the biggest adventure games 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 - especially if you're an Elder Scrolls fan.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Platforms: Oculus Quest (Air Link), Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, PSVR

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. 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.

Star Wars: Squadrons

Star Wars: Squadrons

(Image credit: EA)

Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, PSVR

Star Wars: Squadrons from Motive Studios is a VR game that will fulfill the childhood dreams of many. Letting you play as both Rebel and Imperial pilots, this ship-to-ship combat-focused flight sim is ideal for VR.

The game has a single-player campaign as well as multiplayer modes and although it's not a VR-exclusive title, playing in a VR headset really only adds to the excitement that you experience when whizzing around space in an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter. 

Sure, it doesn’t have a huge degree of breadth, but really it’s the depth of immersion that you’re looking for with Star Wars: Squadrons and it definitely provides that. 

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge

Title screen image for Star Wars Tales from the Galaxy's Edge: Last Call featuring aliens, droids and Stormtroopers

(Image credit: ILMxLab)

Platforms: Oculus Quest

If you're a fan of Star Wars, then you'll love this story that sees some of our all-time favorite characters, like R2-D2, C-3PO and even Yoda, join us on a space adventure to the planet Batuu. 

You take on the role of a droid repair technician aboard a starship. But when pirates attack you hit the escape pods and crash land on Batuu where you'll have to battle enemies and find clues to recover your lost cargo. You can also take part in a couple of Tales - short adventures - from the perspective of other characters in the Star Wars Universe like a Jedi padawan and Bounty Hunter droid.

Thanks to the Last Call DLC this game finally feels like a finished product. While we’ve always liked it we’d now say we absolutely adore it as the DLC expands on all of the game’s stories making it feel like a much more complete package and doesn’t add much to the game’s overall price.

Read our take on Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge 

Superhot VR

Superhot VR

(Image credit: Oculus/SuperHot VR)

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, 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 its 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 crushing faceless enemies using guns, shurikens, and - most satisfyingly - your clenched fists.

Tetris Effect: Connected

Tetris Effect

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, PSVR

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 - it's trippy as heck. 

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 especially if you're looking for a more meditative VR experience to enjoy.

The Room VR: A Dark Matter

Room VR: A Dark Matter

(Image credit: fireproof games)

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, PSVR

Released in early 2020 from Fireproof Games, Room VR: A Dark Matter is available on a range of different VR systems. 

This is an escape room, mystery and creepy horror story all rolled into one. There are a lot of puzzles involved, which should be just challenging enough for experienced gamers with clues for those who need a helping hand. 

The visuals and imagery of this game are truly spectacular. We don't want to give too much away, as the game is best left shrouded in mystery, but fans of the occult, Ancient Egypt, Lovecraftian horror and early 20th-century detective stories are in for a real treat. 

The transitions of Room VR are really great for those with a sensitivity to motion sickness. There's a gradual fade in and fade out that's more seamless than you'll find on most games. You can choose from sitting and standing options too and intuitive controls are shown in a way that helps you to pick them up quickly without intruding on the story. 

Trover Saves the Universe

Trover Saves the Universe

Image Credit: Playstation  (Image credit: Playstation)

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, PSVR

This comedy game is from the team at Squanch Games, which was founded by Justin Roiland (the co-creator of Rick & Morty). Because of that fact this game very much feels like a Rick & Morty space adventure but with different characters, which we think makes it one of the best VR games around. 

Ridiculous missions, hilarious voices, fun, colorful and bizarre stories, worlds, and alien races - this game has everything you need for a rip-roaring good time.

It's been around since 2019 on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One, but it came to VR in June 2020. It gets around some of the tricky (and not to mention vomit-inducing) movement issues that are common in other games by placing you in a chair that serves as the game's user interface and you can control the main character, Trover, from a distance as well as teleport your chair to different spots in the world.

Vader Immortal

Vader Immortal

(Image credit: ILMXLAB)

Platforms: Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift,  PSVR

Star Wars experiences have featured a few times on this list, but Vader Immortal still stands out among them by putting you face-to-face with one of film's most notorious villains - Darth Vader.

The story of this narrative-driven adventure is told across three chapters, and if you've grown up wanting to be a Jedi and swing a lightsaber around then Vader Immortal will be a dream come true. Vader Immortal will teach you how to wield the Jedi's weapon of choice as you explore the mystical depths of Mustafa.

Michelle Rae Uy also contributed to this article.

Vic Hood

Vic is TechRadar's Gaming Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.