Back in the ‘old days’ of the 20th century, virtual reality was little more than a daydream. Movies like Tron sold us on the concept of stepping into a video game, but the technology was still in its infancy. Even the mighty Nintendo stumbled with the ill-fated Virtual Boy system in the 90s, which could cause dizziness and headaches. Clearly, VR needed time to grow up.
Now in our glorious 21st century, VR is nearing maturity – and we can all agree it was worth the wait. Today’s VR headsets transport us to worlds we never thought possible.
The best part? Incredible games! Gone are the days where we only had a few titles to choose from, and every VR platform has an impressive selection of games to experience.
With this in mind, these are a few of the best Vive games that you can play right now! I know that there’s a game that is perfect for you.
Raw Data has an immersive science-fiction atmosphere, adrenaline-pumping action, and fun yet challenging combat. Coming from someone who has played over a dozen hours of online co-op, it delivers all that and then some!
Unlike other wave-based shooters, there’s a layer of depth in Raw Data that I hope to see in more VR experiences down the line. One of the coolest features? Raw Data’s 360-degree gameplay, which ensures that you aren’t standing in one spot waiting to get attacked by sentient robots from predictable locations the entire time. It’s even crazier with a friend by your side, where co-op makes for intense tag-team action as robot parts go flying in a storm of electric sparks.
From pesky drones and sneaky ninjas, to megabots and giant mechs, Raw Data demands that you use nuanced combat techniques to take down enemies. Most importantly, controls feel natural and incredibly responsive, so you never fumble with a controller trying to pull out your pistol. One swift motion and you can take down bots like a pro!
Overall, Raw Data is a stunning and immersive experience that you are sure to have a hard time putting down.
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: Sairento VR (on Steam)
Developer: Vertigo Games
Fans of zombie shooters who enjoy the survival elements of old school Resident Evil games will find what they’re looking for with Arizona Sunshine. This isn’t an arcade shooter where you stand in one spot and pick off zombies for points. In this game, you’ll need to put your survival skills to the test in a newly post-apocalyptic world.
Just as the name suggests, you strap on your VR headset and explore the barren deserts and canyons of the Southwest. The challenge begins when you start to scavenge for weapons, ammo, and consumables while fighting off hordes of bloodthirsty zombies that range from lethargic to crazed and ravenous.
Although crawling with the undead, the world of Arizona Sunshine is vast and visually stunning, complete with a feeling of impending danger that never seems to go away. Oh, and there’s something right behind you! No, seriously!
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: The Brookhaven Experiment (on Steam)
Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel
Developer: Indimo Labs
The RPG genre is known for expansive worlds, intricate stories, and colorful characters. It’s also responsible for some of the most iconic moments in gaming. My first experience with an action-adventure RPG in VR was Vanishing Realms, which demonstrates the potential of what VR can bring to these types of games.
Aptly described as ‘D&D meets Zelda’, Vanishing Realms brings monsters, the power of magic, and mystical worlds to life with ease. At first, stepping into the hero’s boots felt daunting, especially my first encounter with a life-sized armored skeleton that showed no mercy as it swung its sword directly at me. It was a startling thing to experience in VR, but my choice to fight back quickly turned into hours of tactical combat, treasure hunting, and sitting down to marvel at the fantasy atmosphere.
Sword and sorcery enthusiasts will find lots to love about Vanishing Realms. There’s more to it than just sword swinging and arrows. There’s also a fantastical story to dive into, complete with dungeon crawling, puzzle solving, and a virtual world that beckons you to explore. While still in Early Access on Steam, there’s a polish to Vanishing Realms that’s impressive and a great promise for what’s to come for RPG games in virtual reality.
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: Trickster VR (on Steam)
Developer: Owlchemy Labs
One would think that playing a job simulation game would be a drag, but Job Simulator takes mundane, everyday tasks and places a satirical spin on it. In this game, all of your fellow employees were replaced with robots, and whether you’re aiming to be Employee of the Month or throwing random objects at your co-workers, you’ll never get the pink slip.
Office work isn’t the only kind of virtual labor available. You can choose from scenarios such as convenience store clerk, auto shop attendant, and fast food worker. Becoming the store clerk puts you in a virtual quick mart where you can literally supersize any item and then hand it to a customer. As a car tech in the shop, nothing will prevent you from using a customer’s tire as a basketball and downing an entire canister of gasoline. In fact, you’ll be rewarded for doing all sorts of crazy things.
Goofing off is one of the best reasons to play Job Simulator, but the real kicker is how beautifully it plays. It’s so streamlined that eating a virtual donut might be the only thing that breaks the immersion, and that’s only because I was disappointed to find that it’s wasn’t real!
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: The Lab (on Steam)
Developer: Dylan Fitterer
Music and rhythm games seem formulaic nowadays, but with VR on the menu, it’s exciting to see what kind of psychedelic new experiences developers are putting together. Audioshield is just the beginning, and already, there’s a level of interactivity that transforms your typical button-pushing jam session into a futuristic fight club. The best part is that you can use YouTube or your own music library to customize the experience.
Gameplay is simple but highly addictive. With Audioshield, the emphasis is placed on you and the music. Each song generates flying neon orbs that you’ll rhythmically punch and block in a comforting darkness. There’s something about the combination of high fidelity sound, mesmerizing visuals, and sensory evoking atmosphere that turns Audioshield into more than a VR rhythm game, but a full body experience.
I know what you’re thinking – what a great way to get a workout, right? Strapping on some weights and putting on a high energy tune will definitely get the blood pumping, and is a wonderful benefit to playing Audioshield.
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: Soundboxing (on Steam)
A Chair in a Room: Greenwater
Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive Ltd
A Chair in a Room takes you on a haunting investigation through a psychiatric hospital called The Greenwater Institute, located deep in the American South. As a patient with no recollection of your past or identity, you must rely on the dark corners of your mind and prescription medication to survive the horrors that threaten to consume you.
It unfolds through a series of chapters, where you’ll solve environmental puzzles and put fragments of your memory together to unravel a chilling and at times somber story.
Each time I opened a door, I was consumed with anxiety with what might lie ahead, and there were situations where my lingering paranoia turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. From lights that flicker and whispering voices in my ear, to apparitions that show up and mysteriously disappear, A Chair in a Room: Greenwater will take you on a psychological roller coaster.
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul
Developer: Downpour Interactive
Onward is the VR game that many of us were waiting for – a military shooter with online multiplayer. But don’t get too excited. If you’re looking for Call of Duty or Battlefield, you might be disappointed. That’s because it’s a game that has earned a loyal and cult following due to its startling realism.
Onward requires teamwork, communication, and skill. You won’t survive doing the bare minimum. If your gun runs out of ammo, you’ll have to find the time to eject the empty clip and replace it with a fresh one, similar to the real deal. Don’t have enough time to reload your gun? Grab your knife and start swinging! If you and your team use stealth to take the objective, you better crouch on the floor and mute your mic if there are enemies nearby, or they might catch you.
It may sound intimidating, but the Onward community is willing to help new players adapt to the slight learning curve.
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: Pavlov VR (on Steam)
The Gallery: Episode 1 – Call of the Starseed
Developer: Cloudhead Games
If you have a taste for adventure and a curiosity for the unknown, The Gallery is an episodic VR game that you can’t ignore.
While searching for your lost sister, Elsie, you’ll dive into a journey filled with questionable characters, gritty exploration, and a world you never knew existed. While games like this may sound commonplace, The Gallery was built for VR from the ground up. This made all the difference because I wasn’t standing around waiting for things to happen. Instead, I was falling deep into another world, ducking, crawling, and reaching for objects in a completely immersive experience.
While slow moving at first, the beauty of this game is that it’s not rushed. The characters, plot, music, and gameplay come together in such a way that keeps you emotionally and physically invested in everything around you. A definite must-have for VR fans.
Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy: Subject 264 (coming soon on Steam)
With so many great games out for Vive, we wanted to add in a few extra. Let us know in our forums which games are on your ‘must-play’ list!
Put on your sweats and hand wraps before immersing yourself in this arcade style boxing sim. Get ready to train hard and fight your way to becoming the next champ!
Space Pirate Trainer
Assume the role of a gnarly space pirate as you duck, dodge, block and face off against enemy droids and their lightning fast lasers in this arcade FPS.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
End and strengthen the bond of your friendships with this panic-inducing puzzle game. Watch chaos unfold as one person tries to defuse a bomb while another reads the directions, all before it explodes!
The perfect game for expressing your desire to create life-sized contraptions and then use them to solve puzzles. Endless possibilities.
Felicia Miranda is a contributing editor for Viveport.
What are your favorite Vive games? Let us know in the forums!