Virtual reality weaseled its way into the gaming world and staged a coup de grace with all the precision of a special forces strike team. What once existed only on the Enterprise’ Holodeck is now in our homes (in some cases, attached to the walls. Looking at you, Vive.)
The rapid advancement of virtual reality technology is allowing gamers to live out fantasies in brand new ways. From the HTC Vive’s full-room motion capturing to the Rift’s more stationary but no less awesome immersion, gamers now stand on the threshold of a new era of technology. And boy, is it exciting.
Dozens of fantastic games have already been released for the various virtual reality platforms and far more are in development. The following is a list of the top ten games already available that you can pick up and play now.
10. Eve: Valkyrie
Price: $59.99, but included free with Oculus pre-orders.
Platforms: Oculus Rift (in development for HTC Vive)
Fans of Eve: Online will be surprised to learn that Valkyrie is a fast-paced combat game, rather than the slow, intensive gameplay so often associated with Eve. That said, players take on the role of a rookie pilot as another pilot by the name of Ran guides them through a series of training missions. Once those training missions are complete, players can then engage in dogfights with other players.
It seems fitting that so many of the best titles for such futuristic technology is based in space. Eve: Valkyrie boasts gorgeous graphics and stunning details, even in the cockpit.
9. Elite: Dangerous
Platforms: Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
Elite: Dangerous is the space simulator everyone wants. Whether you want to police the fringes of the galaxy and take on smugglers (and maybe take a bit of their cargo from the burning hull of their ships), ally with a faction and fight its wars, or become the reincarnation of Han Solo, there’s a bit of something for everyone. Elite: Dangerous takes place in a procedurally generated universe with more than 100 billion star systems.
With phenomenal detail in the cockpit and a community of fans that go above and beyond what is called for in the game, Elite: Dangerous is a must-buy for anyone interested in VR.
8. Hover Junkers
Platforms: HTC Vive
One way the Vive differentiates itself from the Rift is in the ‘lighthouses’ that mount to the walls of the room and allow a player to physically move in-game. No game demonstrates this better than Hover Junkers. While many VR titles play into the novelty of the technology, Hover Junkers goes the route of a traditional shooter…except that players must use their arms to aim and dodge out of the way with their bodies.
Hover Junkers is also a prime example of why VR gaming could be a great workout replacement in the near future. Half an hour of intense gun fighting is quite the workout. The title is very reminiscent of borderlands in style and appearance and requires players to outfit their hovercraft with whatever scrap they can find to improve its defensibility.
7. Job Simulator
Platforms: HTC Vive
In a world where humans no longer need to work, job simulators were created as history lesson to demonstrate what the ‘good old days’ were like. Conveniently enough, this title demonstrates the full capability of what VR can do. Step into the office cubicle and throw a paper airplane, fling staplers across the room, or photocopy your face. Chances are, if you can think of it, you can do it.
Job Simulator allows players to play as an office worker, a gourmet chef, a clerk at a convenience store (goodbye, customer-is-always-right policy…), and an automotive repairman. It’s an absurd, fun title that is easy to sink a lot of time into. Just make sure you distinguish between the job simulator and your real job; your boss may not like having the monthly to-do list flung at his head.
Platform: Oculus Rift
If you liked the movie Gravity, then you’ll love this game. ADR1FT is the story of a only survivor of a catastrophic space station accident. As the player, you must navigate throughout the space station and search down clues about what happened, who is responsible, and find out how you can make it back down to Earth in one piece.
To make matters worse, your spacesuit is damaged and slowly leaking oxygen. The game does a fantastic job of conveying the loneliness of space, and the constant tension of running out of air creates a sense of dread that’s hard to tolerate for too long.
5. The Gallery Episode 1: Call of the Starseed
Platform: HTC Vive
In The Gallery, the player arrives on an island in the middle of the night with almost no idea of what’s going on. The game is the same genre as Myst, but the VR inclusion takes gameplay to a brand-new level. Because the Vive allows the player to walk around the room and interact with the environment, puzzles have an element they’ve never had before.
With a game like this, the little touches matter. The Gallery has them in spades. If it’s too dark to read a piece of paper, hold up a candle in one hand and bring the paper to your face. Find fireworks and launch them to light up a distant area. The game’s atmosphere is enough to suck you right in from the start, and the 80’s fantasy-movie inspiration is clear throughout the entire title.
4. War Thunder
Platform: HTC Vive
War Thunder has been released for quite some time, but the recent addition of VR support adds a new level to the game. Flight simulators were, in some ways, the original virtual reality games. They’re perfectly suited for VR play; look around your cockpit, check behind you, tilt slightly to the side and scan the ground for AA guns…the possibilities are limitless.
And since War Thunder is free to play with a massively enthusiastic community, you’ll never have trouble finding a game.
3. Tilt Brush
Platform: HTC Vive
Tilt Brush is a game that approaches VR integration in a unique way: by allowing you to paint in three dimensions. The two Vive controllers allow players to create beautiful works of art all around them. While it’s not a game, per se, it’s definitely worth checking out. With numerous brushes and built-in tools available to help create whatever work of art you can imagine, Tilt Brush is good for hours of fun.
2. Project CARS
Platform: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
While most racing games are a bit too unrealistic for first-person to work well, Project CARS prides itself on realism. In fact, the game holds itself so true to life that it could act as a racing simulator. However, it’s also gorgeous. Nothing compares to the feeling of glancing in your rear view mirror to check how close your competition is before focusing back on the highway and accelerating.
Project CARS is also compatible with racing wheel peripherals, which adds an entirely new level of immersion into the game. The interior of the vehicles themselves are amazingly detailed, and when you speed past an opponent with streetlights reflecting off the wet roadways in front of you, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
1. Space Pirate Trainer
Platform: HTC Vive
Remember those old shoot-em-up games that tested your very will as a player? Wave after unrelenting wave of enemies, every one determined to fire the bullet that kills you. Space Pirate Trainer captures that same hectic style of gameplay in stunning, gorgeous virtual reality. But unlike those old shmups, Space Pirate Trainer allows you to be attacked from every angle.
The game is in early access, so your only options are the blasters and shield you start out with. However, they’re more than enough to keep you entertained. Space Pirate Trainer is physically intense and a great way to introduce your friends into VR gaming. As the game continues to develop and more updates are added, it’s only going to get more fun.Written by Patrick Hearn