The best VR games for PC, consoles and mobile(March, 2017)
Update: Ready for a scare? It may have brought the franchise back to its survival horror roots, but that hasn’t stopped it from making a seamless translation to PlayStation VR. Discover why Resident Evil 7 is one of the best VR games at number 4!
Picking the best VR games at the moment is a challenge. Sure, there’s a modest selection of great ones to choose from on both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. But, games like Battlezone and The Climb – those specifically authored for the 360-degree format – are substantially more enticing than some of our favorite existing titles making the move to VR.
While there’s plenty to look forward to in terms of some of the best VR games touching down this year and beyond, virtual reality continues to skyrocket in cost with the advent of new peripherals such as the prototyped Oculus glove controllers. Luckily, we have companies like Koei Tecmo Wave with its VR Sense arcade cabinet aiming to make VR more affordable and more immersive all the same.
Nevertheless, what we’re focused on here are games; more specifically, the best VR games for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and mobile that you can enjoy right now.
One VR game on our radar: Knockout League
Amidst a bit of a virtual reality drought as of late, Knockout League is a breath of fresh air from HTC’s own Vive Studios, in conjunction with Grab Games. It’s like Wii Sports Boxing, but to a whole new degree thanks to the advent of room-scale VR. In Knockout League, the objective is to simply traverse around the ring while simultaneously taking and swinging hits at everything from human characters to fictitious creatures.
Grab Games consists of former Konami developers who have managed to introduce their skillsets to an entirely new corner of the medium. Though it’s available right now in Early Access on Steam, exclusively for HTC Vive, the final product is expected in the second quarter of 2017. Anyone familiar with the Nintendo Switch lineup may be quick to draw parallels to Nintendo’s ARMS, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Knockout League is, after all, a colorful boxing game with an assortment of whimsical characters – only this time it’s in VR.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PlayStation VR)
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.
5. Eagle Flight (Multiplatform)
Remember that early launch game on the Nintendo 64 where you soared through the clouds and jumped through both literal and figurative hoops to complete objectives? Eagle Flight is like Pilotwings but you play as a minimalistically rendered eagle instead of an uncanny caricature of a what a person should look like.
Available for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, Ubisoft’s VR debut Eagle Flight gives players the chance to take to the skies and explore Paris like never before: 50 years after humanity has died out. Even better, pair up with a few buddies and you can engage in dog, err, bird fights in one of two multiplayer modes.
6. Batman: Arkham VR (PlayStation VR exclusive)
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.
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.
7. Surgeon Simulator 2013 (Multiplatform)
Like Alien Isolation, Surgeon Simulator 2013 is also 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, though it requires a pair of Razer Hydras to attempt heart transplants. A separate version, entitled Surgeon Simulator VR: Meet the Medic, is available as a free Steam download for HTC Vive.
8. Euro Truck Simulator 2 (Multiplatform)
Ever wanted to deliver frozen chickens from Innsbruck to Bad Kissingen in an eighteen wheeler? The developers at SCS Software, who should probably be using their genius for the betterment of mankind, has perfectly replicated the art of being a truck driver, letting players fulfill their long-haul longings.
The VR experience has been updated to work well with the Oculus DK2 and lets you look all around your cab, as well as lean out of the window to peer behind you. You’ll still crash your semi into the hard shoulder on a regular basis, but that’s always your fault, never the game’s.
9. 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. 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.
10. Hover Junkers (Multiplatform)
Hover Junkers started revving our VR engines when its first gameplay videos surfaced a couple of years ago. Its story makes little sense: Earth has nearly run out of water, so naturally everybody is pelting it around on crudely made hover barges firing rounds into each others’ heads. We’ll forgive that, though, as Junkers’ gameplay is manic multiplayer action – and great fun to boot.
Waving around the two Vive wands and your headset to look and move around, you have to shoot the enemy while taking cover on your barge to avoid incoming fire. The sheer freedom of movement makes the game very different to non-VR shooters – you can troll people by flipping the bird and even shoot yourself in the head, should you wish to. That’s the videogame moment we’ve all been waiting for, right?