While it has had its growing pains as a new platform, with far too many short experiences that are more akin to glorified tech demos, there are now plenty of substantial VR games that truly transport you to another world – and who doesn't need the escape after a year of being stuck indoors?
I've done my best to compile a list of the best, some of which are platform-specific, while we can enjoy others on a regular TV or in VR. However, if you're looking for the most immersive and enjoyable VR games, you've come to the right place.
Fans have waited years for Half-Life 3, but the series has always been about pushing the boundaries of technology, so it was almost inevitable that Valve's return to the critically acclaimed series would be different. Many players may find Half-Life: Alyx inaccessible because of the requirement for a powerful PC, but even at the lowest settings and without room-scale, the technology is simply light years ahead of the competition. Even before you put on the gravity gloves, the wondrous little details and ways you can interact with simple, mundane objects like drawing on a window are magical. More importantly, Alyx isn't just the best VR game; it's also a fantastic Half-Life game in its own right, with superbly written characters and a climax with far-reaching implications for the series.
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Rez, a cyberspace shooter that combined sound and sense to a whole other transcendental plane, was always ahead of its time at around 20 years old. It begged to be revived in virtual reality. While using head-tracking to shoot at targets makes Rez Infinite a little easier than its predecessor, the experience of sensory overload as you immerse yourself in the wonder of its trippy visuals and thumping techno trance soundtrack is what you're after. The all-new Area X level, which is just 20 minutes of rapturous bliss as Tetsuya Mizuguchi takes us off the rails to a new future in the next evolution of synaesthesia, is what truly elevates Rez Infinite to a modern masterpiece.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, which began as a mini-game in the free PSVR app The Playroom VR before being expanded into a full game, isn't just the best game on Sony's headset; it's also one of the best platformers in recent years. There have been other 3D games where you are essentially the camera looking down on a virtual diorama, but Rescue Mission takes it a step further by incorporating your head into the game, making you not just a cypher but a full-fledged character alongside the adorable Astro. The platforming is fantastic as well, with thrilling set pieces that transport you to another world. Astro Bot is truly a cosmic delight, and it's no exaggeration to call it the Mario Galaxy of VR games.
There are plenty of VR games that get you moving, but nothing beats dual-wielding light sabers while slashing to the beat in the best VR rhythm game. When you're in the zone, slicing up oncoming blocks or dodging obstacles in every direction while listening to high-tempo EDM, it doesn't matter if you look silly or if you're sweating buckets in minutes. There's no better VR game to get you moving than Beat Saber, whether you're using it to stay in shape, challenge yourself with a variety of modifiers, or even add your own tracks (via PC) to the already large library (which includes Green Day, Linkin Park, and Panic! At The Disco).
Blood And Truth was the first feature-length PSVR exclusive that combined a smorgasbord of playful mechanics within touching distance with a fun rollicking London-set caper inspired by both Guy Ritchie and Bond flicks. It was the closest thing to a VR Uncharted. While it gets around a lot of locomotion issues by having you look to different points to move to, thanks to the way weapons and ammo are mapped around your body, you're more than just disembodied hands. But what fun things you get to do with your hands, whether it's scaling the scaffolding of a gang hideout, picking locks, dual-wielding weapons, or, best of all, mixing behind the decks in the middle of a shoot-out. You'd be a jerk if you didn't take part.
Sure, Star Wars: Squadrons are perfectly playable in 2D. But when the entire game–both the single-player campaign and multiplayer–supports VR, it'll be your childhood Star Wars dogfighting dreams come true. Flight games in which you are confined to a cockpit have always been ideal for VR, but being in the cockpit of an X-Wing or TIE Fighter takes it to a whole new level. You'll also want to invest in a good HOTAS controller if you want to be even more immersed. While Vader Immortal is a thrilling, if brief, Jedi fantasy, Squadrons is the definitive virtual reality experience for any Star Wars fan.
Originally a standard first-person shooter/puzzle game in which moves only when you move, Super hot VR completely transforms the concept, allowing you to experience The Matrix as Neo. It's a VR game you'll want to play while standing, as having more space will make it easier to reach certain weapons and dodge the slow-motion bullets coming your way. There is no single way to complete the game's levels. You can either wait for your orange assailants to get close enough to punch them out, or you can take their gun from them. You can also sacrifice a weapon to deflect an oncoming bullet, or you can show off your skills by chucking a shuriken at a distant target. Superhot VR is super hot to play because of all the creative solutions at your disposal.
There's nothing better than a few rounds of Walkabout Mini Golf VR with friends if you're looking for a relaxing casual VR game to play. The ability to play with up to five people makes it ideal for catching up with friends while fostering a little friendly competition, thanks to realistic physics and well-designed courses. As enjoyable as the golfing is, it's perhaps the freedom to teleport around the course in between putts, taking in the relaxing atmosphere of some lovely low-poly environments, or even searching for the many lost balls scattered throughout each course that truly distinguishes this.
Will you let robots take your all-important paper-stamping and document-filing job? In this game, cost-cutting robots try to end your employment by any means necessary. You must fight your way through an office environment to save your job (and your life) using stealth tactics or by resorting to aggressive violence. AI and automation technologies are certainly poised to take over some real-world jobs previously filled by humans, so this game's hook is all too real. Be sure to check out the sequel, Budget Cuts 2: Mission Insolvency.
As you may have discovered firsthand in the one-of-a-kind Goat Simulator, a goat's life has never been easy. Danger Goat is less bizarre, but with traps, missiles, and robots in your way, your escape is far from guaranteed. Don't be fooled by the pleasant surroundings; danger lurks around every corner.
Farpoint is the first game to use the PS VR Aim, a gun-shaped controller designed specifically for first-person shooters, and is a showcase title for the PS4's VR capabilities. Sony claims that the VR Aim can track player movements on a 1:1 scale, giving the game's shooting mechanics a realistic feel. In Farpoint, you must navigate a dangerous alien environment while surviving deadly enemy encounters in order to figure out what happened to the rest of your research team. Farpoint is a short game, but it's still worth playing if you have a PlayStation.
You must assist a young cat named Louis and the other villagers of the fictional town of Sancourt in Ghost Giant. Players take on the role of a ghost-like figure who can solve puzzles and complete tasks by interacting with the game's diorama-like settings. Players of all ages will enjoy the game's cartoon-like aesthetic and endearing character design.
You play as a spy who must escape from a series of life-threatening situations before time runs out in I Expect You To Die. Your wits, problem-solving skills, and telekinesis are all at your disposal. So grab whatever you can find in your immediate vicinity; it might just save your life. Finally, you can live out your childhood dream of becoming a spy without risking your life.
Why limit yourself to one job when virtual reality allows you to work multiples? PCMag has seen its fair share of bizarre simulation games, but VR elements bring the experience to a whole new level. In Job Simulator, you can try out jobs like mechanic, gourmet chef, and office worker, which is the most coveted of them all. Make the most of the new Infinite Overtime mode, which lasts indefinitely.
Lone Echo is a single-player immersive adventure in which you, as an AI named Jack, must assist your captain in solving a dangerous mystery. Photorealistic graphics, freeform movement, and tight VR-tuned controls abound in this game set on a space ship orbiting far out near Saturn. There are also options for interactive dialogue to enhance the experience. A follow-up is in the works.
For the uninitiated, Minecraft is a combination of exploration, creation, and survival with a distinct low-poly aesthetic. The game adds 3D audio, a virtual living room mode (for a break from the first-person perspective), VR Turning (which snaps head swiveling motions to increments to prevent disorientation), and VR Controls to the VR platform (makes in-games tasks easier to manage). Multiplayer game modes are also available in Minecraft VR, allowing you to share the experience with your friends.
In this enchanting adventure game, you play as Moss, a mouse who must embark on a journey to save her uncle after accidentally awakening an ancient magic in the forest. You'll solve puzzles, fight enemies, and explore whimsical environments along the way. Players of all ages will enjoy the inviting animated art direction and impressive lighting effects.
No Man's Sky is worth reconsidering because of its consistent, major updates, the most recent of which is a new VR Mode. The game's main goal is to get to the center of the universe, but that doesn't do the experience justice. Along the way, you can visit as many of the game's procedurally generated planets as you want, construct a home base, and engage in space combat with enemy ships.
If you combined Beat Saber and Superhot, you'd get something close to Pistol Whip. This musical combat experience doesn't require you to match a certain rhythm with your gunplay, but rather gives you the freedom to take out enemies however you see fit. Get ready for frenetic action set to a high-energy soundtrack and flashy, colorful graphics.
Virtual Reality, Augmented and Artificial Intelligence 2021 specialist Amit Caesar wrote the article.
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