There are new episodes of Full House, a Clinton is running for president, and virtual reality is the hottest new trend in tech. What year is it? It’s true, virtual reality (VR) is back, but unlike the technology’s more faddish incarnation in the 1990s, the VR headsets of today seem like they finally have the ability to make our escapist dreams come true. But don’t take our word for it. Consumer editions of VR headsets are now starting to ship. Depending on when you pre-ordered, it may take some time for the hardware to reach you, but it is possible for anyone with enough cash and a powerful PC to dive into VR this very moment.
We’ve reviewed several VR headsets, and one of our favorites is the Oculus Rift, arguably the most prominent name in the space. An Oculus Rift isn’t too different from a fancy video game console, and what good is a console without games to play on it? That’s why we’ve also compiled this list of the coolest games you can play on your Oculus Rift right now.Some games are brand new; some are flatscreen experiences that have been ported to VR. Buying everything would cost as much as the Rift itself, and frankly, not everything is worth your time. Here are some of our favorite Oculus experiences so far:
Cockpit simulations are well-suited to seated VR experiences for the obvious reason that you’re sitting in both of them. Ah, sitting, what a classic! War Thunder, which we quite liked when we reviewed it earlier this year, fits that bill and is a pretty good air combat sim (well, there are tanks, too, but the planes are where it’s at). There’s an arcade mode for simpler action, and a more realistic mode which takes some better piloting skills.
Like space itself, Adrift is both deadly and beautiful. The first-person narrative game, set in a disaster-struck space station, forces players to deal with the inertia that made Gravity so scary: when you’re in a zero-gravity vacuum, the smallest movement can either get you to your goal, smash your body against a wall, or send you floating into nowhere while your oxygen runs out. It’s coming out on PC in both VR and non-VR versions, so it’s worth a look whether or not you own an Oculus Rift.
EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack
Chances are you’ll play EVE: Valkyrie as it’s bundled for free with pre-ordered headsets, not to mention the fact that CCP Games’ multiplayer space dogfighting game is Oculus’ darling. Valkyrie has been a long time coming so we’re sure the finished game will be a big launch title for the Rift.
It’s set in the EVE: Online universe so there’s a readymade fanbase and from our brief play – including playing multiplayer with a room full of journos also strapped in – there’s plenty to be excited about. One for Battlestar Galactica/Star Wars fans.
Another VR game that has been around for a while – and keeps on improving – is Elite: Dangerous. It’s one of the more expensive titles available so far on Oculus Home but the Frontier game is a must for multiplayer space sim fans. Also coming to the HTC Vive.
The Climb is a strange attempt at a first-person game that uses gamepad controls instead of hands controllers, like the Vive controllers or Oculus’ own Touch. It’s still a thrilling experience, as you grip ledge after ledge in stunning and increasingly difficult rock-climbing challenges. But it would have been much more immersive using your own hands with the Oculus Touch controllers (they launch later this year), to the point where its gamepad control dampens the experience a bit. And since you can’t reach with your hands (they’ll both be gripping the gamepad), reaching for almost out of reach grip spots means standing up and leaning your head. Again, just strange and not the most intuitive way to handle this kind of game. We hope Crytek adds Oculus Touch controls later on, at which point this could be a must-have game.
Chronos’s temporal take on the action role-playing game would be intriguing regardless of what platform it was on. Players start a quest to save the land from darkness. Each time you die, you are reborn a little bit older. Aging has its benefits. Gaining the wisdom necessary to cast powerful spells takes time. However, an old person can’t run or punch quite as well as a young person. Experiencing this progression in virtual reality makes you feel like you are actually living a life slowly creeping towards its end.
Lucky’s Tale actually comes bundled with every Oculus Rift, and in the grand tradition of pack-in games of old, it’s a mascot platformer. Players control a cartoon fox named Lucky running and jumping across various levels trying to rescue his pet pig. Watching and guiding a separate character in third-person may not sound like the most immersive use of the Rift’s capabilities, but experiencing a classic type of game in a new VR perspective is pretty unique.
If you’ve ever watched Alien and wished you were there on the Nostromo being chased by H.R. Giger’s most famous creation, then you’re in luck. Alien: Isolation doesn’t officially support Oculus Rift. Isolation is a survival horror game based on Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 sci-fi horror, and it perfectly replicates the film’s slow, almost unbearable tension. You’re dropped into a room, or a series of rooms, with Giger’s alien. It stomps around, hunting for you, behaving unpredictably, and you have to sneak around it to find keys, unlock doors, access computers, and other simple tasks. When you play with the Rift, the darkness of the stricken Sevastopol station feels somehow even darker. The feeling of claustrophobia, and the fear that the creature will catch you, is so intense that it’s almost unplayable at 07 times—but, equally, totally exhilarating.