Unlike the virtual reality of the ‘90s, virtual reality (VR) this time around is hitting its stride.
The Oculus Rift is one of the top platforms for an immersive, high-quality VR experience. Though VR requires a pricey headset and an even pricier computer, one of the most important factors is having the best VR games, and the Oculus Rift has its fair share.
The best Oculus Rift games run the gamut from simple arcade style games (which still manage incredibly immersion) and seated puzzlers to fully fledged adventure games and mind-blowing action titles. New sports even exist in VR.
Luckily for VR lovers, the best Oculus Rift games include a bit of something for everyone, as developers have put out some insanely compelling titles in the time since the Oculus Rift (and subsequently the Oculus Touch controllers) launched.
In making our selection for best Oculus Rift games, we’ve considered how fun and immersive each game is as well how well they take advantage of the unique gameplay only VR can offer. To that end, all the games are considered with their use of Oculus Touch controllers, though some may support alternative control options.
Now, without further ado, here are the best Oculus Rift games.
Developer: Epic Games
Price: $29.99, £22.99 (Free with Oculus Touch)
Robo Recall puts you in the shoes of a teleporting, time-slowing agent tasked with recalling hordes of robots that have been malfunctioning. An evil AI has taken control, and you’re there to clean up. Heavy as that all sounds, it’s all playfully presented with the absurd acting that Epic Games has become known for from the Borderlands games.
Robo Recall is, without a doubt, one of the most compelling, well-polished implementations of VR out there. You’re armed with a growing arsenal that can be upgraded and modded. You’re able to grab, throw, and rip apart enemy robots. Incoming enemy projectiles can be dodged, reflected, and more. Player creativity thrives in this game, and though there are only a few levels, there’s a decent amount of replayability.
This is such a must-have experience for Oculus Rift, that it was made free with Oculus Touch controllers.
Developer: Ready at Dawn
Price: $39.99, £29.99 / Free
Lone Echo is a beautiful game that takes place in outer space. While you could accuse it of being a space floating simulator, it includes a compelling story as you, a robot named Jack, help your captain on a space station in the rings of Saturn.
Even if it didn’t have the clever puzzles and interactive dialogue, being a space floating simulator isn’t such a bad thing when it’s done this well.
Ready at Dawn fully doubled down on its space floating mechanics in Echo Arena, creating its own sport that uses the thruster-assisted zero-gravity floating in delightful ways. It’s sort of ultimate Frisbee, it’s sort of soccer, and it’s all sort of amazing.
While Lone Echo costs $39.99, Echo Arena is free and can be downloaded separately, and offers multiplayer, so teams of robots can fly around, passing the disk, riding on the backs of teammates, punching opponents in the face, and having just a generally good time with a bunch of good sports (at least, that was our experience with literally 99% of the other players we met). The game also features a social hub where shenanigans abound.
Developer: Mixed Realms, Swag Soft
Price: $29.99, £22.99
Sairento VR is akin to Robo Recall in that it lets you feel like an utter badass. In it, you take on the roll of a ninja, replete with weapons suited to the task of meting out swift justice to enemy samurai, ninjas, sumo wrestlers, and more.
Sairento isn’t a VR game for the faint of heart. It pushes movement to the limits in VR, as your character jumps through the air, wallruns, and can even perform backflips off the wall. All that movement can cause VR sickness, but for those with a hardy constitution, Sairento offers a lot of options for getting around and slicing up baddies.
Price: $9.99, £6.99
Pavlov VR is almost exactly what a lot of gamers would like to see in VR: Counter-Strike. Need we say more? The game features similar weapons, a similar weapon-buying scheme, similar team-based combat, and even similar maps (though it also offers some zany ones).
Though Pavlov VR is still in Early Access and not fully optimized for Oculus Rift, at it’s low price, we feel comfortable recommending it. It’s got fun gun mechanics, and there’s nothing quite like sneaking up behind an enemy player, pulling the pin out of a grenade, rolling it at their feet, and then brandishing a knife while you wait to see what they notice first.
There’s still a lot more polish that can go into this game, and the smooth locomotion option can be a bit nauseating, but it’s a blast all the same.
Price: $29.99, £22.99
Sprint Vector is what you get when you marry Mario Kart to Jet Set Radio and then wrap them up into VR. The game is all about moving in the real world to go faster in the virtual world. You play as a skater forced to race on alien worlds, and you face off against other players, taking advantage of powerups sprinkled about the maps.
On top of being a fun racing game, Sprint Vector is also a cardio workout. You have to swing your arms up and down like you’re actually running to accelerate in the game, and you throw both hands down to jump. It’s high-intensity, but it makes for an engaging way to move around in VR without the same kind of motion sickness you might get if movement was controlled just with a thumbstick.
Price: $19.99, £14.99 for base game (VR DLC is free)
Developer OVERKILL did something excellent when it decided to add a VR mode for its popular heist game, Payday 2. Anyone that owns the base game can play it in VR for free, and multiplayer is compatible with non-VR players, so your friends don’t need an Oculus Rift to play with you.
On its own, Payday 2 is a fun game about sneaking into banks, businesses, or whatever place might house valuable objects or information, and doing what any good robber would do: steal everything. Stealth is an option, but if you’re caught, swarms of police will move on your position, and a massive firefight will be hard to avoid. There’s a lot to do in Payday 2, and for a VR game this cheap, that is a solid point in its favor.
Developer: Schell Games
Price: $24.99, £18.99
Simply put, I Expect You to Die is a delightful romp through retro spy situations that will force you to solve puzzles and get creative. In essence, the game is a series of escape rooms, where you find items and information to solve a series of challenges to complete the mission. The game is comical, and danger is around every corner.
For those most prone to motion sickness, I Expect You to Die is also a super safe pick, as you’ll spend the whole game seated. Though the game is on the short side, easily completed by crafty players in an hour or two, there’s a decent amount of replayability. Easter eggs are hidden throughout the levels, and some problems can be solved multiple ways. The developer has also released new levels for free in the past. Given its length, we do recommend keeping your eye out for a sale, as I Expect You to Die is that much better a pick when it’s 50% off.
Price: $14.99, £10.99
Space Pirate Trainer is a fantastic, arcade-like game for dipping your feet into VR. It’s a fairly simple wave shooter with immaculate execution by the developers. You’re simply placed on a platform in space, given an interesting arsenal of ranged, melee, and defensive weapons, and tasked with fighting off a variety of attacking drones.
The dark of space matched with the neon glow of weapons and laser beams is fantastic, and will have you feeling halfway into the world of Tron. The combat is a blast as well, as you reflect laser attacks with a beam sword in one hand while laying waste to drones with a blaster in the other hand. This is definitely another one of the VR games that will have you feeling like a badass, at least, if you have what it takes.
As a bonus, Space Pirate Trainer also makes for a great VR party game, as it’s well setup for players to take turns competing for the best score.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Price: $59.99, £39.99
While the absurd number of re-releases of Skyrim is not lost on us, we can’t avoid recommending Skyrim VR. It’s simply the widest ranging adventure available in VR. The world of Skyrim is dazzling (even if it might take a few Mods to get it looking like a modern title), and all the things to do and see offer hundreds of hours of playtime.
Bethesda’s retooling of Skyrim for VR may not match a game that’s built from the ground up for VR, but the gameplay is still fun. Swinging swords around and aiming spells is so much better when you do it with your own arms instead of a control stick or mouse click. And, if trolls, dragons, and giants didn’t seem imposing enough in vanilla Skyrim, just wait until you’re craning your neck to see them towering over you in VR.
Developer: Indimo Labs
Price: $19.99, £14.99
Vanishing Realms may only be an Early Access title, but it’s a highly promising adventure game in the vein of Zelda. It’s world is slightly cartoonish, as are the enemies, but that only adds to its charm. Vanishing Realms succeeds at atmosphere thanks to its simple yet effective art style.
Combat is a delight in Vanishing Realms, as you need to master your weapons and read your enemies to come out on top. Your characters movements in game will match your own, so you can swing your sword to parry an enemy’s swing. There are only two chapters of the game available right now, but the developer intends to launch more in the future. Vanishing Realms is definitely one to keep an eye on if you’re shy of Early Access titles. As long as the developer keeps adding content, Vanishing Realms could become a truly excellent adventure game in its own right, only made better by VR.