- VR games offer a more immersive experience compared to consoles.
- Using both hands may take getting used to but will promptly become second nature.
- Games in these categories may include hit titles such as Minecraft or those specifically designed for the medium.
Virtual reality gaming–or, VR gaming, as it’s more commonly known–has come a long way in the last few years. With the growth in popularity of the Oculus Quest 2, PlayStation VR, and Valve Index, VR gaming is more fun than ever.
VR games come in a couple of different genres. Existing game titles are often taken and translated to the virtual reality medium. This is a great entry point for gamers looking to dip their toes into the VR pool. The second genre consists of game titles designed specifically with VR in mind, utilizing the types of controllers and game mechanics that can only be done with VR equipment.
Thankfully, in the name of science, we’ve tested quite a few VR titles and have narrowed down the best games you can play that are available today.
- Best Overall: Half-Life: Alyx
- Best Co-op: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
- Best for Snipers: Sniper Elite VR
- Best Rhythm and Music: Beat Saber
- Best Space Flight Simulator: Elite Dangerous VR
- Best Star Wars Game: Squadrons
- Best Family-Friendly: Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
- Best for Fantasy: Blade and Sorcery
- Best for Minecraft: Minecraft VR
- Best Matrix-Like: Superhot VR
Best Overall: Half-Life: Alyx
If there is one game title that shows off what gamers can expect from virtual reality in the future, it’s Half-Life: Alyx. Supported on a multitude of virtual reality headsets, this is your chance to return to the Half-Life series.
Playing as fan-favorite, Alyx Vance, you are humanity’s last hope for survival. Throughout the roughly 11 to 12-hour campaign, you will battle various Combine forces and hope to find all of their weak points to make it through the game in one piece.
Valve built this game specifically for VR, so its game mechanics are second to none. The fact that they were able to do that while staying true to the Half-Life series is all the more reason this game deserves its top spot on any list of best virtual reality games.
The environments are superb and the gameplay is good as it gets, so don’t hesitate to make this your first virtual reality gaming purchase.
Best Co-op: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is one of the most fascinating virtual games on the market today. It’s best described as a co-op, of sorts. The game itself has you defusing a bomb all while communicating with friends or family to get your timing exactly right, otherwise, no more game.
Players are split into two groups, with one acting as the Diffuser and wearing the VR headset and, the other as the Experts. Diffusers are able to see and examine the bomb through their headset but cannot access the manual, something only the Experts can do.
These two parties must carefully guide one another through every step if they want everyone to survive the day.
Make too many mistakes or don’t get your timing exactly right and, boom! The bomb goes off. It’s puzzle-solving at its finest and is a tense, exciting game throughout.
Best for Snipers: Sniper Elite VR
The Sniper Elite series is arguably the best sniper series available on modern-day gaming consoles. Sniper Elite VR takes the same winning formula and brings it to virtual reality.
Across 18 replayable missions, you’re dropped into Southern Italy circa 1943 where you will help the resistance defeat the occupation. The roughly 10-hour campaign adds an array of semi-realistic rifles and weapons along with a brutal number of Sniper Elite’s signature X-ray kills.
The transition feels really seamless, although anyone who can quickly suffer from motion sickness is likely best served to stay away from this title.
As a VR title, Sniper Elite VR captures all of the magic of the series while seamlessly changing from the home console’s third person to VR’s first person.
Best Rhythm and Music: Beat Saber
Part Guitar Hero and part ode to Star Wars, Beat Saber is a wonderful game that had been at the top of must-play virtual reality titles since its release in 2018.
This rhythmic VR title has players wielding a “lightsaber” of sorts, hacking and slashing their way through colored obstacles all in sync with different music tracks. There’s a huge library of both paid and free music to choose from, so make sure and have some headphones ready when it’s your turn to play.
All in all, Beat Saber is a lot of fun albeit a little chaotic, but it works incredibly well. Between the strong use of dual motion controllers and colors and lights that feel like you’ve been placed in the world of Tron, everything comes together to create a super fun and immersive game.
Best Space Flight Simulator: Elite Dangerous VR
Don’t let the age of the Elite Dangerous franchise fool you, Elite Dangerous VR is a whole new experience for a new generation.
This massive multiplayer is part space epic, part flight simulator as you pilot your spaceship and hunt for resources by mining asteroids and collecting bounties on wanted characters.
There’s no question that there is a bit of a learning curve with this virtual reality title, but once you get past a few hours of learning how to pilot and navigate, your reward is one of the most beautiful games VR has to offer.
This title sits firmly in the camp of games that took an existing title and made it into a VR experience but, oh wow, does it work! There is just so much depth to the gameplay before you come to any type of a game “conclusion,” making it a must-own.
Best Star Wars Game: emSquadrons/em
- All Wings Report In – Plan skirmishes with your squadron in the briefing room before taking off to the evolving battlefields across the galaxy. Compete in intense 5 vs. 5 multiplayer dogfights or...
- Master Legendary Starfighters – Take control of different classes of starfighters from both the New Republic and Imperial fleets – including the agile A-wing and the devastating TIE bomber. Modify...
- Live Your Star Wars Pilot Fantasy – The cockpit is your home. Use its dashboards to your advantage and – with just a thin hull of metal and glass between you and the perils of space – feel the...
- The Mission is Clear – Star Wars: Squadrons is a fully self-contained experience from day one, where you earn rewards through play. Climb the ranks and unlock new components like weapons, hulls,...
Star Wars is a movie that just begs for virtual reality and emStar Wars: Squadrons/em delivers.
It’s all about starfighter combat in this game which is the most authentic way you can pilot a Tie Fighter or X-Wing since Star Wars first came out in 1977. Choose if you want to fight on the side of good with the New Republic or join the Imperial Fleet across various space missions.
No matter which side you fight on, you’ll be flying some of the most famous Star Wars spacecraft around, so customize your weapons loadout and shields and enter the battle.
The single-story mission takes you through both sides of the intergalactic war and, while somewhat short at only 8 to 9 hours of gameplay, it’s the multiplayer experience that really shines.
Players will fight in 5v5 multiplayer space battles where working with your squadron mates is the key to success.
Find it on Amazon here.
Best Family-Friendly: emAstro Bot: Rescue Mission/em
A PlayStation VR exclusive, ememAstro Bot: Rescue Mission/em/em is a charming and fantastic title that is fun to play with the whole family.
All gameplay is focused on Astro, a small robot who must rescue all of his robot friends that you will find scattered about level after level. It’s a platforming game to be sure, but one that is done so well in the form of third-person virtual reality, it’s a hopeful look at platforming’s future.
You must remember to look and peek behind every rock and crevice to see where your robot friends might be hiding. Whenever you run into obstacles, you must choose which of the various gadgets at Astro’s disposal is right to continue on your mission.
There are 20 story levels in all, and boss fights are unsurprisingly present, but it’s the 360-degree world that makes Astro Bot: Rescue Mission a virtual reality hit.
You can buy it on Amazon here.
Best for Fantasy: Blade and Sorcery
Not for the faint of heart or those who despise violence, Blade and Sorcery is every bit the action game with plenty of chaos to go around.
Rest assured, this is a medieval fantasy game that has no equal across any virtual reality platform. The physics engine is fantastic as you must give your swings the right amount of heft, so the game remains realistic.
Of course, this is a fantasy title, so there’s a little something extra as you have a telekinetic ability to summon weapons to your hand or shoot lighting from your hands as well. And, if you can think of it, the massive array of mods being developed for this title ensures you can do pretty much everything, including fighting Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel to the death.
This is a brutal action and fantasy title but it’s done so well in the VR space that it’s easily on any list of the best virtual reality games available today.
Best for Minecraft: Minecraft VR
As one of the world’s most successful game titles, it’s no surprise that Minecraft has made its way into the VR world with Minecraft VR.
Available on the Oculus Rift and through the Windows Store, this is every bit the Minecraft title players know and love, but in virtual reality. You can build and explore all while using some VR-specific control enhancements, which includes a virtual living room if you need a break from the first-person perspective.
This is about as immersive into the world of Minecraft as players will ever get all without breaking from the gameplay they love. You can even raise the immersion level with 3D audio so you can block out the world and truly feel like you’re in the game.
And, if you ever want to experience the game with friends, the Oculus Rift supports multiplayer mode.
Best Matrix-Like: emSuperhot VR/em
- Test your aim where only headshots take out enemies
- Race against your best scores in bullet-time and real-time
- Try to complete the game without shooting
- Get hardcore with faster enemies and less reaction time
Have you ever wanted to experience what it would feel like to be trapped in the Matrix? emSuperhot VR/em is the game that will bring your wish as close as any game title.
This is a time-bending shooter where, whenever you stop moving, so too does everything around you. Even if enemy bullets are flying at you ready to end your game, you can stop moving and plan your escape.
Just know that the game isn’t very forgiving, so one wrong move and it’s back to the title screen with you.
It will take all of your wit and your fists, weapons, guns, and even a coffee mug or two to make it through emSuperhot VR/em alive. It’s so incredibly satisfying to play that we hardly remember it was a web-based demo 10 years ago compared to what it is today.
You can purchase it on Amazon here.
What To Know Before Buying the Best VR Games on the Market Today
When it comes down to it, there are really only two big “what to know” aspects you have to consider in this category, and that is game availability and motion sickness.
While many of the top games chosen here are available on the Steam store, that isn’t the case for every title. Some games will only be available on the PlayStation VR as is the case with Astro Bot: Rescue Mission or Minecraft VR with the Oculus Rift. That means the rest of the games are available on numerous virtual reality consoles like the HTC Vive, Valve Index, or the Oculus Rift. The best course of action is to pick which virtual reality system is right for you and then find the right games.
The second major consideration before trying any virtual reality game is motion sickness. While game immersion varies between titles, all VR games require some aspect of motion, so anyone who quickly gets motion sickness might want to think twice. That’s not to say that every game will make you feel nauseous, but it’s best to start with less action-heavy titles before leaping into games like Half-Life: Alyx or Blade and Sorcery.
Using The Best Virtual Reality Games: What It’s Like
Using virtual reality games is a whole lot of fun. They are absolutely the same level of fun as video games in general, just different. Gone is the feeling of one controller in your hands and hello to the day of two controllers acting as your hands. It can take some time to get used to working with both hands in many games, but, once you get used to it, it quickly becomes second nature.
The gameplay itself is absolutely more immersive but in a good way. The current generation of consoles with the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 has the best graphics we’ve ever seen, but they still can’t compare to the feeling of being “inside” the game.
We tried a slew of the most popular games across the different virtual reality consoles and scored them on fun, motion sickness, action, and the use of controllers. What we found is that the best games weren’t necessarily the biggest titles or the ones that had the most fanfare. The best games were the ones that introduced virtual reality in exactly the right way so they felt like a natural extension of gameplay.
We also found that there is an equally good number of games that have been ported to VR as those that have been designed exclusively with VR in mind.
Interested in more VR-related articles? Click on the links below:
- Oculus Quest 2 vs HTC Vive Pro 2: Which is Better? One is a standalone device and the other, a tethered appliance. They both require different hardware too. Find out which option is the best for you.
- Meta Quest 2 vs Oculus Quest 2: Is There a Difference? Is there more to either device than a mere name change? We reveal all you need to know in this article.
- Oculus Quest 2: Price, Specs, and if it’s Worth Buying: It promises an unparalleled VR experience. But just how capable is it of living up to the hype? Discover all you need to know, here.