It was a hard decision, but you’ve decided to go with the HTC Vive as your first ‘serious’ VR headset, a room-scale device that released early 2016 as a result of a decisive collaboration with Valve. Here we take a look at our top 5 games for Vive, and a little more information you might need to get you started.
The Vive is a powerful ally in the fight against marketplace fragmentation, as it draws content from Steam, Viveport—and with the help of Revive, a software hack that lets you play Oculus exclusives. Right out of the box, you’ll have a room-scale setup, something that the Rift requires at least one additional sensor to claim, all the while delivering comparable standing and seated experiences as well.
Before we go any further though, you’ll find that you have access to a number of games on our Top 5 Games for Oculus Rift list thanks to the Revive hack, so make sure to check out some of the guaranteed fresh Oculus exclusives, and all the games that support Rift and Vive equally well. In any case, all of the games below are natively supported for Vive and purchasable through Steam.
5 – Space Pirate Trainer
With the marketplace jam-packed with nearly identical wave shooters, many offering thin premises for you to go and shoot something, I-Illusions’ Space Pirate Trainer (2016) remains an oldie but a goodie as it drops all pretense to offer one of the slickest sci-fi shooting experiences this side of the Debogah System. Sure, the main challenge is summed up with a glorified leaderboard, but you’ll have a hard time putting the motion controllers down as you bend and twist around incoming slow-mo lasers whilst firing back like Han Solo.
It currently sits at a [10/10] rating on Steam with an ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ community rating.
4 – The Gallery – Episode 2: Heart of the Emberstone
The Gallery: Heart of the Emberstone (2017) is a longer, stronger and more immersive experience than the first in the series, The Gallery: Call of the Starseed (2016), and shows that Cloudhead Games has put in the hours producing a visually and emotionally adept story that feels like it hasn’t outworn its welcome. Puzzles are innovative, and while they aren’t particularly difficult, they always reward you with something worth pursuing.
See why we gave it a [9/10] in our review.
3 – Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
Also on our ‘Top 5 Oculus Rift Games’ list is Owlchemy Lab’s Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality (2017), from the same studio that brought you the simulator parody Job Simulator (2016). Following the adventures of a Morty clone, the lowest life form on drunken genius Rick Sanchez’s hierarchy of ‘giving a shit’, you play in the shows universe from within the Rick’s garage where you do your genius grandfather’s bidding while hunting the seemingly endless Easter eggs hidden throughout the game. Justin Roiland worked cloesly with Owlchemy to get the lore and feel of the game just right, so don’t be surprised if a feeling of existential dread sweeps over you. After all, nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s going to die.
If you’re not a fan of the cartoon, or want to buy something more ‘family friendly’, the game is essentially Job Simulator with more swearing, poop humor and an overarching story, so you can alternatively pick up its silly, but entirely kid-friendly predecessor Job Simulator in substitution. Personally, we like poop humor.
Find out why we gave Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality a [9/10] in our review.
2 – Superhot VR
Originally excluded for being designed for the Rift’s front-facing sensors, we’ve since redefined the scope of the Top 5 list to include any Vive game regardless of playstyle. Based on the PC/console version of Superhot (2016), the strategy-based first-person shooter was re-imagined from the ground-up for VR headsets in Superhot VR (2016). As an entirely new game in the same vein as its flatscreen counterpart, the iconic red baddies (and their bullets) move only when you do, so you can line up your shot, punch a guy in the face, dodge a bullet, and toss a bottle across the room, shattering their red-glass heads in what feels intensely immersive and satisfying—because you’re doing it all with your own two hands. That and you’ll feel like a badass no matter whose basement you live in.
1 – Raw Data
Survios’ Raw Data (2017) has left a lengthy stint in Early Access last month. Now including multiple heroes, a better developed narrative, more refined controls, and 1v1 ‘duel mode’ to go along with its adrenaline-pumping multiplayer arena, this shooter justifiably lands on our charts with little else to say but “wow.” It’s more than just a robot slicer and shooter though, as it features a pretty cool mash-up of tower defense elements that will leave you teleporting frantically to fend off the waves of baddies as they amble ever closer to you. Because you don’t have to ‘recenter’ your view like in other headsets, Vive’s version is that much more immersive, letting you unload on enemies from any direction.
Check out our unscored review of Raw Data here.
- Vanishing Realms – Letting you battle an army of skeleton demons through an archetypal fantasy world, Indimo Labs’ sword-swinging adventure game is likened to ‘Zelda in VR’ by pushing the boundaries of what VR is capable of and delivering that much sought after sword and shield combat experience.
- Arizona Sunshine – Vertigo Games’s Arizona Sunshine (2016) puts you in the midst of the archetypal zombie apocalypse, and even though we gave it a [7.5/10], it proves to be a solid entry into the FPS genre. Suffering some finicky controls and an even more finicky multiplayer, this zombie shooter almost made our list.
- Subnautica – Currently in Steam Early Access, Subnautica lets you pilot your own submarine, craft your underwater base, explore lush coral reefs, volcanoes, cave systems, and survive the harsh realities of the deep by out-smarting the game’s sometimes dangerous fauna.
- Gorn – Games that require you to use hand-held weapons don’t seem to work as well as shooters in VR. Maybe it’s the lack of haptic-feedback, but that certainly doesn’t stop them from being immensely fun just the same. Set in some barbaric future where floating heads look down as you smash topsy-turvy, weapon-wielding gladiators, Gorn proves to be charmingly ridiculous.
- Onward – A fan favorite with a hardcore playerbase, the OD green of mil-sim shooters Onward gives you that VR battle you’ve always wanted, including tactical team-based gameplay and plenty of guns. The game itself is still fairly early in development, as it doesn’t have ranked matches yet, making it a bit intimidating from a beginner’s perspective. It’s creation is a true feat of will as it’s amazingly maintained by a singular developer.
- Pavlov VR – Incorporating classic maps from games such as N64’s Goldeneye and Counter-Strike, Pavlov serves up a slice of familiar gameplay in a new VR setting. Featuring bots, and several modes including search-and-destroy and casual fast-paced solo play, Pavlov is the CQB death match standard FPS fans have been waiting for.
- Project Cars & Project Cars 2 – You probably don’t have access to a garage full of super cars, but even if you do you’ll probably appreciate the ability to practice speeding around the track without ever having to leave home. The second in line, Project Cars 2 has a completely overhauled physics and tire models, making it a more true to life racing experience. You certainly can’t go wrong with either though!
- Windlands – Originally developed in the early days of the Oculus development kits, Windlands has since added motion controller support to its fantastical ‘castle in the sky’ setting that lets you naturally grappling hook your way across what ultimately plays out as a giant parkour puzzle. It’s an intense experience, but well worth the feeling you’ll get from conquering the highest reaches of this beautiful and unique game.
If you didn’t see your favorite game here, let us know in the comments! This is a continually evolving list, so check back for the latest in Road to VR’s top Vive games.
Update 11/06/17: Vanishing Realms was knocked from spot 5 to make way for ‘The Gallery: Heart of the Emberstone’. The honorable mentions list has also been updated to exclude anything that isn’t specifically a game (eg. no tools, experiences, or social vr spaces).