The 23 best VR games for PC

1 of 24

best-vr-games

Here they are then – the best games to play in virtual reality…and those games are “watching football,” “drinking”, “a nice cup of tea”, “fleeting emotional connection to another human being” and all those other everyday activities you believe to be real, as opposed than a simulation you have been experiencing since you first plugged your frail, mollusc-like form into a headset 19 years ago. SPOOKS!

But, should you persist in maintaining this fantasy, let’s go one level deeper and talk about the entertaining, satisfying or otherwise nifty games available for what is the current VR state-of-the-art in your imagined world: the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The rival headsets are getting on for a couple of years old now, and in that time there’s been what can feel like a ceaseless storm of new games for them. How to choose, how to choose? Well, start here. These are not the only good’uns, please understand – but they are our favourite virtual realities right now.

The Climb

The Climb [official site] is one of the most effective meeting points between high concept experience and substantial game that I’ve tried to date. It’s a rock-climbing simulator, set in a small series of suitably fantastic-looking backdrops (thank you kindly, Cryengine), and that immediately saves it from the sick-making movement issues that can plague so many other games which shoot for a first-person experience. All the movement comes from the arms and shoulders here, and in short sharp bursts rather than sustained running.

The brilliance of The Climb is that it feels so physical, even without Touch controllers (though more so with them). When your character lunges up and out for a far-off grip, you shunt your torso with them. This is a standing still game, but the Rift’s motion sensor keeps tabs on where your head is – and if it’s not close enough to that grip, you’re going to miss, and might well fall.

Oddly and mercifully, the vertigo is not as acute as the shots and concept might suggest, so this isn’t a game to be afraid of – but it will give you a surprising work-out.

Supports: Oculus Rift.

61 Comments

  1. geldonyetich says:

    On my phone’s Chrome, something about the ads and scrolling has et the little page flipping doodad, so all I can see is entry #1.

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      Yacoob says:

      It happens in Safari on iPhone too, the next page arrows are hidden by an ad, I had to close the ad by clicking the x on the ad to reach those arrows.

  2. Diziet Sma says:

    FWIW which may be minimal, I had no problems with nausea in Adr1ft. Though, outside of my experiments hacking VR into the two Mirror’s Edge games, it is the only game on PC to give me a sense of vertigo. Thankfully it passed.

    The two VR supporting driving games I own are worthy of a quick mention too I feel, especially if you own an FFB. Both Dirty Rally and Project Cars are good VR titles.

  3. Kefren says:

    Thanks for this – I’ve only had a Rift for a few weeks and am still playing the freebies, and now moving from the Oculus stuff to my Steam stuff (and later to my GOG stuff with VorpX – I can’t wait to try Amnesia and Doom3). It’s a shame Lone Echo and The Climb aren’t on Steam but I’ll break my normal “avoid yet another online game store” rule and probably buy them during a price drop.

    You’re right about locomotion, though it is turning that is worst. The 30 degree “comfort turning” in some games like Windlands helps a lot. Last night I tried Albino Lullaby (which I’d completed some time ago on my normal PC). The immersion of the scenes and the sizes of things were absolutely brilliant – but the spinning rotation method made me feel sick quite quickly. The first time I’d felt that was in the free ISS simulator, but I noted that after a few evenings on the ISS I was dragging myself around and spinning with hardly any queasiness at all, so to a degree there is a level of acclimatization.

    I quite enjoyed Robo Recall for introducing me to two things VR games can do that I’d never done in a first-person game before, but which would now feel restrictive if I couldn’t do it:
    1. Shoot in a different direction to where I am looking.
    2. Shoot both hands in different directions, or do different things with them.
    In Robo Recall this allowed me to do silly stuff from films like spread my arms to left and right, shooting as I rotated on the spot, looking ahead and grinning when I actually hit something. And I can picture other experiences, such as rifling through a Penumbra-like drawer with one hand while covering a doorway with a pistol in the other shaking hand, splitting my gazes between each of them, trying to find the thing I need without missing it when the evil thing appears in the doorway. I play games for immersion and escapism, and VR has provided that again when I had grown increasingly jaded over the last five years with normal games that felt like minor iterations on things I had done thousands of times.
    Oh, I also love the way in VR you can hide by shaping your body to the cover; I can imagine lying on the floor behind a chaise longue to evade pursuit.

    • bigblack says:

      Doom3 is *excellent* in VR. I was really surprised by how strong the lighting and atmosphere translated to VR. It can be downright scary.

      Surprised that Vanishing Realms isn’t on the list.

      • Vandelay says:

        It is great.

        Also worth mentioning to the OP that there is no need to play it with VorpX. There is a mod that allows you to play it correctly in VR, much like the Quake one mentioned in this article. It requires the BFG version though.

        I haven’t used VorpX, but I’ve heard it is fairly terrible, so I wouldn’t recommend using it when there is an alternative.

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      Damocles says:

      If the game supports it you could try increasing the rotation speed. This might sound counter-intuitive, but I have found out that fast (smooth) rotation is much more comfortable than slow rotation. I prefer it over snap turning.

      My theory is that at some high rotation speed the brain doesn’t register it any more as real rotation, more like a film in front of your eyes.

  4. dontnormally says:

    Please don’t use these slideshow-style layouts

  5. Kemipso says:

    Thanks for the overview! The slideshow is a bit annoying as dontnormally noted, in particular it forces you to scroll up and down a lot and aim at little things on the screen – which is not fun because they don’t subsequently explode.

    Incidentally, you repeated “In theory” by accident in these two paragraphs:
    In theory, it’s like having a massive wraparound monitor, removing the need to have any screen at all on your desk (…). In theory, the headsets’ resolution makes text very hard to read unless you lean in or zoom close (…).

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    Drib says:

    I bought a Rift during the start of the recent sale. I haven’t used it in a few weeks now.

    That said, SUPERHOT VR is damn good. One of the best game experiences I’ve ever had.

    Robo Recall… tries, and isn’t too bad. It’s at least fun to throw bots around and be generally silly.

    A mod for the original Doom, that let me play in VR with a controller, I played maybe 30 seconds before tearing the goggles off to stop the nausea. I can’t imagine Quake being any better.

    But hey! A couple of new ones that sound interesting here. At the least I think that Audioshield sounds fun, and a couple others.

    Thanks for the list. This is something good to go on and use a peripheral I was vaguely regretting buying!

    • King_Rocket says:

      Take it easy at first but with some effort most people gain their VR legs before to long. The ability to play Doom or Quake will come with time.

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        Drib says:

        I dunno man. I’ve tried Doom, Project Cars, some weird freebie that was about scooting left and right on a hoverboard, even flying around in Google Earth… eurgh. Can’t take it.

        Which is weird, because I don’t get motion sick in cars, or from any usual games, though I know other folks do.

    • King_Rocket says:

      Bigscreen is a basically a free version of Virtual Desktop, plus Bigscreen supports multi user rooms so you can hang out with your VR chums.

      I suggest trying Bigscreen before paying for Virtual Desktop.

      • Sakkura says:

        Virtual Desktop is better for running 360 or 180 video content, and arguably also for various productivity stuff. BigScreen has a huge advantage for social stuff – hang out and watch a movie together, or whatever.

        They are complementary. And I do think BigScreen deserves at least as much of a mention as Virtual Desktop.

    • Rack says:

      My experience was pretty counter to that. I expected to buy it, play a few of the oddities and sell it on. Instead I’m absolutely hooked. Being nigh immune to motion sickness no doubt helped so I don’t know if you’ll grow happier as you get to play some of those titles (most people get accustomed to it) or if it just didn’t have the same impact for you. Or if your concept of value is different to mine.

  7. Darth Gangrel says:

    “The 23 best VR games for PC” But there are 24 games mentioned here…

  8. Vandelay says:

    Star Trek Bridge Crew is also a worth edition to this list and I haven’t even played it in multiplayer, which it clearly has been designed for. The sense that you are actually onboard a Federation starship is phenomenal. And that moment in the main menu a as your shuttle turns I to see the ship in dock is truly mesmorising. It is also one of the few games that gives you vaguely realistic looking hands, rather than robotic or cartoony. It is rather disconcerting.

    I do find it odd that so many VR games go for multiplayer or social experiences though. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t imagine anyone I know buying into VR unless it becomes much more mainstream. The expense and risk that it will become worthless is too great at the moment for many.

    • shofixti244 says:

      On paper it does seem like quite a bad idea to make Multiplayer games at this juncture doesn’t it? Yet I can tell you, all it took was one good experience with the Oculus Toybox demo during OC2 in LA and I was absolutely sold that there was something there, something really powerful to explore. The sense of connection that you get with another human being in VR is really strong. It’s something you don’t normally get in a video game.

      So I like to imagine the whole multiplayer thing is just devs like me who got so stary-eyed at the possibility that they forgot a little bit about silly things like “feasibility”

    • GUIDONET says:

      You really should try the multiplayer. It’s really fun. And has cross-play with the ps4 version as well. This is one of the rare multiplayer experiences that i would do again. Everyone was friendly and just happy to be playing star trek.

  9. dagnamit says:

    Please don’t discourage people from using Vivecraft. It’s better in every single way than the “official” support and it’s not hard to install in the slightest, even for Rift users.

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      Drib says:

      I found the menu kinda hard to use, and the controls impractical in general. It’s just less free than zooming around holding W.

      That said, the sense of scale is much different. Everything looks huge!

    • King_Rocket says:

      Vivecraft isn’t as good as the official port in terms of performance. Offical port runs at a higher fps with better draw distance. Plus it has multiplatform crossplay.

    • emertonom says:

      I was going to say something along these lines. The dev behind Vivecraft has done a ton of work on making the controls immersive, and the results are impressive–you can “swim” with the motion controllers and that sort of thing. Plus, it’s got movement options that accommodate all kinds of comfort levels, including teleportation, artificial movement only in the direction you’re facing or pointing, or full trackpad-based WASD analogue. It’s a stellar piece of work. Also one of the experiences with weirdly solid-feeling walls, alongside the Budget Cuts demo.

  10. renner says:

    Having played Trackmania and Redout in VR, I have to say racing games–or I guess those kind of ultra fast racing games–are where VR’s resolution shortcomings become most obvious for me. It can be difficult to read the next turn when it all just looks sort of muddy and pixely.

  11. DoomBroom says:

    Lots of great games not mentioned here that deserves attention.

    But I’ll just pick one, Rec Room! It’s great! The quests are particularly good in 4 player co-op. And paintball is a blast!

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    Mungrul says:

    One that’s missing that I highly recommend if you have friends with headsets is Rec Room. It’s great and has a wide array of activities that they’re always adding to. Favourites in our co-op group are Disc Golf, the two dungeon crawls (one fantasy, one sci-fi) and surprisingly, charades.

    Of course that last one is because most guesses for the first five minutes of the game are “Penis!”

  13. Korvre says:

    i have to disagree with a lot of this list. Id add in Ironwolf and Vtol VR. pulling some stuff like minecraft and superhot.

  14. DoomBroom says:

    Gorn! It’s such ridiculus silly bloody fun! Go get it!

  15. jezcentral says:

    Other games that deserve honourable mentions are Robo Recall and Fantasynth (free on Steam).

  16. Scripten says:

    Aw, no mention of Hotdogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades? That’s a shame. H3 is one of the most extensive VR experiences around and it offers new features several times a month with lots of dev logs and the like. It’s a very realistic gun sim game, but also doesn’t shy away from getting very silly at times.

  17. Rack says:

    I get it isn’t exhaustive but the lack of Robo Recall, Mages Tale and Blazerush is frankly baffling. Not sure I’d pick Quake over Alien Isolation either.

  18. d1360 says:

    To clarify Vivecraft works for Oculus and Vive using Minecraft Java, official support is for Oculus only for Minecraft Windows 10 which doesn’t support mods and doesn’t support Vivecraft (which is a mod for Java).

  19. T_L_T says:

    For my money there’s a lot missing here and a lot of mediocre games have made the list, if they’re your favs I’d suggest getting branching out and trying these too!
    Arizona Sunshine
    Raw Data
    Racket NX
    Sairento
    To the Top
    Rick and Morty
    Cosmic Trip
    GORN
    Knockout Leaugue
    Robo Recall
    Mage’s Tale
    Rockband VR
    Soundboxing

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      particlese says:

      Yay! Good to see To The Top getting a mention. If it weren’t for Superhot, it would be my own pick for best VR game, and the call is really close.

      Thanks for the full list, too. There are a few there I wasn’t aware of. My only addition would be Lucid Trips as a sort of chilled-out walking sim version of To The Top with some async multiplayer stuff I haven’t checked out yet.

    • JeepBarnett says:

      Nice list! I totally agree that they’ve missed a bunch of better games. A few more favorites to add to your list:

      FORM
      Star Trek Bridge Crew
      Batman Arkham VR
      Bigscreen Beta
      Rec Room
      Punch Bomb
      Old Friend
      Accounting
      Dexed
      Pierhead Arcade
      Firebird La Peri
      Duck Season

  20. TurboSid says:

    I registered just to ask… how is Robo Recall not on this list?

  21. Blowfeld81 says:

    So far I enjoy my newly bought Rift, as my best friend, who lives 400KM away now, owns one, as well.

    There are a lot of nice little time fillers, yet I feel I have not found many games that just blow you away.

    SuperHot VR is a great experience, but if you see the big picture, it is one glorified tech demo.

    I really hope for more great and innovative games, aside from wave shooters, car sims, and dogfighting sims.

    Give me “Fight Night VR”; “Battlefront VR” , innovative games aside from what is established at the moment. VR adventure titles;

    Basically, I am looking for more AAA titles that leave you entertained far after the “wow” effect of the first 2 hours.

    Games that are longlasting, deep, and / or fun.

    And pls, for the love of god, stop Bethesda from milking us with Skyrim over and over. Their engine was crap when it came out, still is.

    I would rather see Bethesda bring out some unique content, rather than VR Skyrim, FO4 and Doom.

    I played these games on my monitor, with 200+ mods to make them entertaining. I do not want to play them again in a downgraded version.

    VR is amazing with the RIFT and the touch controllers, the games are not there, yet. At the moment, most games are either long demos, too short, too pricey or just highlight cool elements of VR. Overall I would rate the VR game market as “acceptable”, but not great.

    Hopefully that will change in the near future.

  22. Daemoroth says:

    You have a bunch of non-games but neither Robo Recall nor Mage’s Tale!?!

    FOR SHAME!!!

    Then there’s a few others:
    – Star Trek Bridge Crew
    – I Expect You to Die (Enjoyed that more than Job Sim)
    – Arizona Sunshine

    Thanks for the list though, got some I want to try (And some from the comments).

    * Little anecdote from IEU2D: My wife cracked up at me using my lips when I put the cigar in my mouth. Swapped seats and not only did she do exactly the same thing, she started sucking on air when trying to light it.

  23. Daemoroth says:

    I’d like to ask a potentially embarrassing question: How do you restart the entire campaign (Or get to the main menu even) in Superhot VR on the Rift?

    For so long I’ve wanted my wife to try it out (She loves Robo Recall but it’s a bit fast for her at times) but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to restart the entire campaign.

    • Nakoichi says:

      You can go into the game folder and move your save file to a backup location or finish the game to get the mission select/endless modes AFIK (haven’t played since the endless update).

  24. rb207 says:

    Iracing dcs and aerofly fs2. You need wheel/joystick but they are my best vr experiences.

  25. schurem says:

    25 games and no mention of Il2, DCS or aerofly2!?! what frippery is this!

  26. TheSplund says:

    Well, my xmas pressie to myself was going to be an Oculus but looking at this dismal collection I think I’ll be buying a bigger monitor instead

    • Sakkura says:

      It is missing quite a few games. Robo Recall, Ultrawings, Star Trek Bridge Crew, The Mage’s Tale, The Wizards, Arizona Sunshine…

  27. Shiloh says:

    I’d love to be able to play Elite Dangerous in VR but the one time I tried it, I felt so nauseous after about 30 secs that I gave up on it.

    I don’t suffer from motion sickness IRL at all (I’ll happily read in a car etc) but I just can’t get on with VR.

  28. foop says:

    I don’t know about VR – I’m still trying to work out whether to get a Rift or Vive – but that slideshow made me nauseous.

    Firefox on Mac, some pages refused to load and others just skipped entirely.

  29. Avioto says:

    I would put Soundboxing on the list, still my favorite VR thing that I fire up at least twice a week.

  30. FieldyGB says:

    No love for IL2 BoS?? It’s by far my favourite VR title and it looks and runs like a dream!

  31. Adilvr says:

    Have you tried Vanishing Realms.
    For me it is the best VR game

  32. f0rmality says:

    I gotta disagree with a good chunk of what’s on this list. Most of these are just the decent or in some cases mediocre intro VR titles. FruitNinja for example and Apollo 11 are both extremely mediocre.

    Missing:
    I Expect You To Die
    Hot Dogs Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
    Arizona Sunshine
    Raw Data
    Rick and Morty
    Accounting
    Sairento
    Chair In A Room
    GORN
    Vanishing Realms
    Call of the Starseed: The Gallery
    Don’t Knock Twice
    Tiny Town
    Rec-room

    I Expect You To Die and The Gallery in particular are incredibly well done.

  33. thranx says:

    This list, with a couple of exceptions reads like a “best VR games” list from this time last year.

    Terrible list. I love RPS but you guys continue to get nearly every aspect if your VR coverage wrong.

  34. Bluxy says:

    Quake… sooo good

    I would also like to add:

    Dirt rally
    War thunder
    Jump
    X rebirth VR

  35. VeggyZ says:

    Well, at least there’s one game that qualifies as an actual video game on the list. Elite Dangerous is something I can imagine being extremely fascinating in VR … the immersion is already top notch, but in VR, you really get a feel for the scale of the ships you’re flying – so they say.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    Only just got around to this list. Ones I’ve enjoyed so far:

    Valve’s The Lab
    The Blu
    Google Earth
    Eagle Flight
    Medium (sculpting in VR)

    There’s some nice short films too, but obviously those are more neat one-offs since there’s no interaction. Some of the mobile Google Spotlight Stories (like Glen Keane’s Duet) are pretty great and Henry and Allumette on Oculus are visually charming.

    Superhot VR does seem excellent but I didn’t have enough space to try it properly.

  37. cablebasher says:

    I work with VR professionally. Quake works really well on Ocky but vom vom vomitty vom, same as when I tried it on the DK1 several years ago. The movement is too quick.

    I adore Tethered- just the best use of VR I’ve ever seen so far. It leverages the emotional vulnerability of the VR experience very well and the touch interface is genius.
    Scanner Sombre is much better in VR and also uses the Ocky Touch really well.

    Discovery is a real problem with the VR stores- so hard to find the interesting stuff beyond what the OEMs are pushing today.

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