As of 2017, virtual reality is humming along in a relatively positive direction thanks to the consistent VR experiences and video games being released across the board for everyone who has access to a headset. Many of these titles aren’t necessarily a “complete” video game experience compared to the AAA titles you’ll find on consoles and PC, however, so there’s still room for improvement going forward. Regardless of the platform or title you end up experiencing virtual reality on, there’s no questioning how close the technology gets you to the action of a video game, often placing you directly in the cockpit of an X-wing or right in the middle of an intense firefight with your friends. As you might expect, the overall experience can vary depending on the image quality of the VR game in question or the headset you’re currently wearing to experience it.
Whether you’re using an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, Sony’s more affordable (but hard to find) PlayStation VR which works with the PlayStation 4, or another option, there are plenty of video games out there worth your attention. Here’s a selection of our favorites, which we will continue to update as more titles are released.
One of the first commercial video game releases to completely incorporate native VR support throughout the entire experience, Elite: Dangerous is a shining example of what virtual reality is capable of when used by gamers. When you’re strapped into the seat of your new spaceship looking around your cockpit while trading goods, surveying uncharted systems, or participating in massive space battle, Elite: Dangerous puts you into the thick of things by allowing you to navigate using a VR headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. While it may look just as good on a standard setup, nothing beats the intimate experience offered by playing the game in VR with a throttle and joystick.
Resident Evil 7
Released earlier this year on the PlayStation 4 as the first game playable on the system from start to finish in VR, Resident Evil 7 is a terrifying experience which brings the best of atmospheric horror to your home without requiring a hefty PC setup to run. The entire goal with Resident Evil 7’s development was to bring players closer to the horror than ever before, and despite a few weird graphical glitches that pop up throughout the experience, PlayStation VR successfully helped pull off that goal. Navigating the Baker property while looking for supplies and uncovering the secrets hidden scattered about the environment is a daunting task by itself, but when you add VR to the mix, things escalate to a whole new level.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience how John Wick probably feels during a firefight with some of his worst enemies, Superhot VR is a game you don’t want to miss if you plan to dive into VR this year. Available on the Oculus Rift, this game allows you to toss an objective from the environment at a man to knock his pistol into the air, grab it, and then bash him over the head with it before gunning down all his friends. In Superhot, time only moves when you move, and you’ll have to stay in place while attempting Matrix-level moves to stop the waves of enemies coming your direction. It’s a simple but exhilarating experience which stands the test of time.
The concept of movement has always been a frustrating and challenging mechanic for virtual reality, which often ends up throwing in a button that allows you to teleport around the map to new positions for the sake of changing up your perspective. Instead of implementing this sort of mechanic into their multiplayer shooter experience, the development team behind Hover Junkers decided to pop players on a floating junker barge which moves whenever you point. While roaming around, however, the rest of you must pop up from the protection of your barge to engage other players seeking to take you out. It’s a blast to play filled with plenty of tense moments as you try to reload in the middle of incoming fire, but since it lacks a single player move you may want to find a few friends to join you before picking it up.
If you enjoy kitting yourself out with a bunch of tactical gear and equipment before diving into a military combat simulation with some of your friends, Onward is a full-body VR experience designed for you. Available via Steam Early Access, Onward is a tactical military shooter with full headset and controller support where you work with other players to complete objectives. It supports dynamic time of day, weather effects, and multiple combat environments without any sort of HUD to track your progress, creating a unique experience with each match you play. What’s great about Onward is how it supports regular movement as well, meaning you won’t be teleporting across the map like most other VR games require, keeping the sense of tactical positioning alive with a cover system like those found in ARMA 3 and Rainbow Six.Photos via Getty Images / Jeff J Mitchell