For our money, we’d tell you that the Oculus Rift is the kind of the virtual reality ring right now. That’s down to the power of its ecosystem, but – technologically speaking – the HTC Vive is the champ.
The Valve-powered system had the benefit of launching with both room-scale tracking and controllers. Oculus has had to catch up in those arenas. And then there’s the higher-end Vive Pro on the way.
Regardless, there are still a few games that can only be played on one or the other. There’s a pretty extensive library on the Vive, and while not all of the games are entirely complete or worth your time, there are still some great titles to dive into.
Read this: The best VR headsets
Below, we’ve rounded up what we reckon are the best Vive games you can play right now, along with some titles that are still on the way. Whether you’re after dogfights, zombies, or, err, drug tennis, there’s something here for everyone.
Prepare to put ’em up and sock it to ’em. Knockout League is arcade-style boxing game developed by Grab Games and published by Vive Studios, but just because it’s meant to be fun, don’t expect it to go easy. Under the tutelage of Doug Johnson you’ll learn to survive in the ring before taking on a host of fierce opponents from pirates to, erm, an octopus. It’s incredibly fun, but it’s also a damn good workout. Grab worked with the Virtual Reality Institute of Health for the in-game calorie counter, which lets you know just how much you’re sweating. It’s available on Vive, Oculus Rift and even PS VR. Ain’t gonna be no rematch… ain’t gonna be no rematch
The latest Doom found a way to modernize the fast-paced and brutal combat the series has been known for. Now, id Software has found a way to bring that combat to VR. You’d think it wouldn’t work, a game in VR where you have to move quick and shoot quicker? But for the most part it does, and it’s a whole lot of fun to boot.
VR needs more social games, and a lot could be learned from
Rec Room, a title that’s all about hanging out with other people. Think Wii Sports with a bit more attitude and a lot more immersion. As you hang out with other players in a social club, there’s a bunch of activities for you to participate in, from paintball to dodgeball to disc golf, while character customisations and quirky interactions with other people help bring the game to life.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Ubisoft and Red Storm Entertainment’s Star Trek game really showcases the cooperative possibilities of VR. You and a group of friends get together and command the bridge of a starship that’s definitely not the USS Enterprise. You’ll battle with Klingons and work together to boldly explore the final frontier.
Titanfall fans – assemble. This one’s for all you mech lovers, putting you in the cockpit of a giant bot and pitting you against the evil mechanized forces of HUMNX. Each controller powers an arm of the mech, loaded with an arsenal of weapons for blasting away all manner of enemy vehicles. Sadly, it’s on-rails, which works for PS VR (where it’s also available) but on the Vive it’s a shame it doesn’t take more advantage of the freedom room-scale affords. Still, it’s a fun arcade shooter worth your time.
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
Take Job Simulator and swap in the characters and humor of the very popular Rick and Morty and you have, well, this game. If you’re a fan of the animated show, then there’s no way you’re going to want to pass this up. If you’re not, then you may be better off getting vanilla Job Simulator.
Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul
The first Paranormal Activity movie was terrifying enough in a dark theater, so you can probably imagine how terrifying this VR game is. And, well, it’s super terrifying. You’re placed in a terrifying realistic house and let to explore and avoid whatever goes bump in the night. Maybe play this during the day though.
Batman: Arkham VR
Originally for the PlayStation VR, it has since come to HTC Vive. Batman: Arkham VR puts you in The Dark Knight’s cowl and has you solving a mystery in the heart of Gotham City. While this experience is almost absurdly short, it’ll still be one of the best single player experiences you have in VR.
To the Top
Movement might be one of the tough sticking points for most VR games, which may make you think twice about playing To the Top, a game totally about movement in VR. But once you sink your teeth in, you’ll find yourself on an exhilarating ride
Initially released as an exclusive for the Oculus Rift, the unique first-person shooter Superhot VR is finally making its way to the HTC Vive. If you haven’t played it, Superhot’s twist is that everything plays out in slow motion, but any time you move, time speeds up. It makes for some incredibly neat bullet-time action, and the Vive game comes with the recent Forever update, which adds more challenges to try.
A first-person shooter from Vertigo Games,
Arizona Sunshine throws you in the middle of blistering Arizona during a zombie apocalypse. Yeah, it’s wave-based, but there’s a bit of exploration on offer, while co-op multiplayer gives it another dimension. It’s tense, violent, and more fun than you can wave a sawed-off shotgun at. Get some.
Nvidia’s first title for Vive and though it’s simple, this is still an absolute blast. If you like the mix and match style of the
The Lab (below), then you’ll know what to expect from Funhouse. Really, the game is a showcase for Nvidia’s physics tech, but that doesn’t stop it being a lot of fun. Plus, it’s totally free.
The Gallery – Episode 1 and 2
The Gallery is a fantasy adventure game that takes you on a mission to find your missing sister. It’s designed to take full advantage of room-scale gameplay with the devs even creating their own Blink locomotion tech and putting MoCap actors inside the headsets. It’s beautiful, mysterious and kind of creepy sometimes, showing that Cloudhead really found a perfect balance of ambiance and intrigue. You can buy the first two episodes together in a handy bundle, or just try out the first for $19.99.
Fantastic Contraption started life as a popular Flash physics puzzle game in 2008, was repurposed for mobile and has now completed its journey in VR – which is where it really belongs. The game tasks you with building weird and fantastic contraptions to solve little puzzles. It’s simple to build yet difficult to get your creations moving right, which is more fun than it sounds. Also, your building materials are conjured from a creepy cat. Standard.
Now this is how we wish we could have played
Command & Conquer back in the day. AirMech Command is a fantastic demonstration of the RTS (real-time strategy) genre working with VR. You’ve got single player, multiplayer and co-op modes to choose from, across a bunch of different maps, and some intuitive controls that let you grab and deploy troops using the wand controllers.
Frontier’s multiplayer space sim
Elite: Dangerous is more of a traditional, seated game, but that’s ok, because it’s also superb. Venture through space, trading and battling, in this modern sequel on the original BBC Micro classic. If you’re looking for a massive multiplayer VR game, this is it.
The Brookhaven Experiment
If you want a game to terrify your friends with, you can’t go wrong with
The Brookhaven Experiment. The zombie shooter offers a campaign and survival mode, the latter of which sees you blasting away the increasingly-tough undead – perfect for when you’re hankering for a quick horror fix. Remember, when you wet your pants in virtual reality, you wet them in reality too.
A game of tennis with yourself… on drugs. Or at least that’s the best way we can describe this game from studio VRUnicorns, which is weird, but a lot of fun. As you hit the ball towards the other side of the court the game will immediately switch perspectives, allowing you to return it, so you’re essentially playing a game of tennis against yourself. Or, if you get bored of that, you can try and hit the giant tennis-headed people hanging around the court.
Combine exercise and gaming as you hit blue and red glowing orbs racing towards you, all played to your favourite tunes. There are different difficulty settings, various kinds of shields and you can even upload your own music, all of which makes this game incredibly addictive.
If you’ve ever wanted to sword fight with skeletons then look no further, friends. The undead don’t really lunge at you, rather wait around for you to make the first move. But once that happens, it’s on. We got genuinely sweaty with all the slashing and shooting, and we expect you will too. While a bit too short – it’s a Steam Early Access game – it continues to be added to.
Straight out of Valve HQ itself, The Lab is a combination of eight mini games and experiences. Though short, each one is whimsical and entertaining in its own right. Plus, Aperture Science robots are everywhere – look out for the little robot dog that loves belly rubs. We can’t wait for Valve to make more VR games, and it sounds like they’re on their way.
A stalwart of the HTC Vive demos, the Google-owned
Tilt Brush is a 3D illustration tool that lets you walk around your creations. More of an app than a game, it’s still massively fun making art in VR; it’s Microsoft Paint on steroids. There are so many options, colours, types of brush etc to choose from that it’s almost overwhelming.
Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope
While it’s not a proper sequel to
Serious Sam 3, this gives you something to play while developer Croteam gets to work on the full follow-up. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun, putting a VR twist on the shooter, and even though it’s still in Early Access we thoroughly recommend it. And if you can’t get enough, there’s also The First Encounter and The Second Encounter to keep you going.
Job Simulator: the 2050 Archives
One of the funniest games on the Vive,
Job Simulator plonks you in a world where robots have taken over all human jobs. But don’t worry, this isn’t a case of doing a 9-5 in VR, it’s much more entertaining than that. Jobs range from office worker to chef, but you’ll have to work out most of it as you go along. This is also a fantastic game for when you’re introducing people to virtual reality for the first time.
Fallout 4 VR
Fallout 4 VR has become one of the most anticipated VR games of 2017, and now it’s finally here. It’s the same huge, full version of Fallout 4 that you enjoyed on your PC or console, but it’s available to fully enjoy in virtual reality. Explore the nuclear apocalypse at your leisure.
The Talos Principle VR
The Talos Principle VR is the virtual reality version of a beloved first-person puzzler where you wake up in a weird world that combines ancient ruins and advanced technology. You’ll have to complete over 120 complex puzzles, while also trying to figure out what your purpose on this strange world.
LA Noire: The VR Case Files
LA Noire: The VR Case Files takes seven of the case files from the original LA Noire and rebuilds them specifically for virtual reality. In a game that already had you grabbing clues and looking around, this seems to be a perfect fit. Plus, you’ll get even closer to the strange, obvious facial expressions those witnesses make. What more could you ask for?
A spy thriller for VR,
Budget Cuts is based around motion controls, using a teleportation gun to move you around the game (and get around those moment limitations). It’s all about stealth as you play a robotic spy infiltrating a corporate complex at night.
Announced at E3 2017, this one is one of the more weird and trippy virtual reality games coming down the pike. It’s not totally clear what it’s actually about, but it’s got Elijah Wood and lots of talk about making you feel like you were in a movie or TV show. Truthfully, it looks like it really wants to put you in an episode of Black Mirror. Regardless, we can’t wait to see what this one is like.
Shop for VR headsets on Amazon
Wareable may get a commission