The best VR games of 2018

VR Month

For the next three weeks, PC Gamer is focusing on what's new, what's coming, and what's most exciting in virtual reality. Read all of our VR Month coverage. You can find even more VR content on our sister site, TechRadar.  

This year has been a relatively quiet one for VR, but headset owners have still been treated to their fair share of great games. The likes of Beat Saber, In Death and Moss have become must-plays for anyone with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, while we've also seen plenty of excellent VR ports of existing games, such as Skyrim VR.

If you missed out on any of them, or if you haven't been keeping track of all the new releases, then don't worry—we've brought them all together in this article. Here are the best 2018 VR games. For more great games, check out our longer list of the overall best VR games, which stretches back to 2016.

Note that some of the games here are in Early Access. We've only included them if we think they're polished enough to be considered one of the best things that you could've played this year.

Beat Saber

Developer: Beat Games | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Official site

Guitar Hero with lightsabers, basically—and the best thing you can play in VR right now. With a laser sword in each motion-controlled hand, you slash at boxes that are coming at you to a beat, ducking under low walls and dodging bombs as you go. It’s relentless, and awards points for style rather than pure timing—the flashier your follow throughs, the better, so unleash that inner Jedi.

It’s constantly getting new tracks for you to dice to pieces, but you can also import custom songs: Tutorials and a list of the best tracks are over at the unofficial BeastSaber site. It’s simply a brilliant idea, executed to perfection. 

In Death

Developer: Sólfar Studios | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Official site

2018 has been kind to VR archery lovers: both Sacralith and QuiVr are worth checking out, but In Death is the best of the bunch. It’s a roguelite about battling through a procedural fantasy castle, and it has the most imaginative use of a bow-and-arrow we’ve seen in VR. It’s primarily a weapon, and you come across cool arrow types by exploring, but it’s also your means of getting around: you fire a teleporting arrow to move. 

Nocking an arrow and letting it fly feels smooth, and after every run you’ll make progress on at least a handful of different achievements, which means you’ll always have a reason to dive back in for one more go. It’s tough for newcomers, but well worth sticking with.

Echo Combat

Developer: Ready at Dawn | Platforms: Oculus Rift | Link: Oculus

Echo Combat, a $10 add-on to futuresport Echo Arena, has the best movement of any FPS we’ve ever played: with pistol, laser rifle or shotgun in hand, you rocket boost your way around zero-gravity levels, grabbing onto the walls and pushing yourself off for extra speed. 

It’s slick and polished, and traversing each map feels as big an achievement as popping a long-range headshot. It only has a few arenas but they’re cleverly designed, with lots of objects to take cover behind and plenty of routes to flank your enemies. If you have a Rift, it’s a must-own.

Moss

Developer: Polyarc | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Steam 

A charming third-person platformer in which you’re both controlling Moss the mouse and poking at bits of the level with your hands, pushing and pulling objects into place to create new routes. The jumping, puzzling and sword-swinging are nothing special, but VR makes its gorgeous levels come alive. They’re full of detail and an endearing innocence, and each tells its own story. 

James loved it, saying it “recalls the sensation of being a kid and playing around in the dirt, spinning stories and characters out of sticks and grass.” You can read his full thoughts here.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR

Developer: Ninja Theory | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive | Link: Official site

Don’t let the lack of motion control support put you off: Hellblade is a thing of terrible beauty in VR. Just like the regular version, you’ll play it in third-person with a gamepad or mouse and keyboard, but being able to swivel your head around while Senua moves makes you appreciate just how stunning a world Ninja Theory has crafted. 

It was already a moody game, but being surrounded by it makes it feel even more atmospheric—the voices that Senua hears in her head will torment you, and when they whisper in our ear, our hair stands on edge. It’s simply the best way to experience Hellblade if you’ve never played before, and even if you have, the VR version is free for owners of the original. Don’t miss out.

Blade and Sorcery

Developer: WarpFrog| Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Steam

This brutal fantasy combat game only just launched in Early Access, but it already has some of the best melee battles you’ll see in VR. It gives you endless ways to fight: you can zap lightning spells, punch enemies in slow motion, pick them up and bash their heads together, hurl concrete blocks at them with telekinesis, or simply just stab them in the belly. The enjoyment comes in stringing these moves together in imaginative, stylish ways. 

Battling human enemies sets it apart from the cartoony GORN (itself well worth a look), and the way the enemies crumple and scream when we skewer them makes us feel guilty for enjoying it so much.

Catch and Release

Developer: Metricminds GmbH & Co KG | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Official site

A chill fishing sim in which you row a boat to a likely spot on a lake, sling your hook, and enjoy the mountain scenery. It’s one of the most relaxing games you can play in VR and, as Chris wrote in the summer, it’s wonderfully interactive: to tune the radio to a song you want, you have to grab the tuning knob and twiddle, and to eat sandwiches you have to slam the bread into your face. You can even upload your own songs into a custom playlist to enjoy while you wait for a fish to bite. 

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim VR

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Steam

Strapping on a headset will make you see Skyrim’s world in a new light: dragons finally feel as imposing as they were meant to, and you’ll stop and stare at a sunset or waterfall that you previously wouldn’t have looked twice at. 

The motion controls are robust, and controlling your weapons with your hands makes combat more involved than ever. We especially like how both bows and spells work, and being able to cast spells in two different directions, one with each hand, is a gamechanger for mages.

The menus are a pain, and interactions usually require a button press: you can’t, say, grab the lid of a chest and pull it open. But if you can look past that, it’s the perfect excuse to play Skyrim all over again (and it even supports some of your favourite mods, too). 

GNOG

Developer: KO_OP| Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Steam

The prettiest VR game we’ve played in 2018. It’s a puzzler in which you open the box-shaped heads of colourful monsters, twisting and turning different objects inside to make something fun happen before turning the box over and twiddling some more. It’s like a VR Botanicula, and every dial you twiddle, or butterfly you poke, is accompanied by a brilliant sound effect. We have no idea what we’re doing sometimes, and the solutions to puzzles can feel obscure, but when prodding at the environment feels this delightful, we don’t care.

Brass Tactics 

Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment | Platforms: Oculus Rift | Link: Oculus

Brass Tactics is an RTS developed by the creative mind behind Age of Empires 2—and that pedigree shows. It’s our favourite VR strategy game right now, and makes us feel like a real-life general, towering over a miniature battlefield and directing intricately animated troops with our hands.

Everything is done through touch controls: to place structures you flip your hand to bring up lots of tiny models, grab one with your other hand, and throw it on the board. It’s not the most complex strategy game, but trying to keep an eye on the entire battlefield at once is enough of a challenge to keep us hooked. 

If you’re looking for something with a smaller scope, or you don’t have a Rift, we’d recommend Castle Must Be Mine, a cutesy tower defence game. 

Transpose

Developer: Secret Location| Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive | Link: Steam

This mind-bending puzzler tails off towards the end, but it’s still worth playing because its central gimmick—you’re working with multiple past versions of yourself to complete challenges—feels unique. At the start of each level you don’t have any help but after you do something useful, like sliding a lever to move some platforms, you can create a new version of yourself. 

When you do that, the old version will replay their actions, and this time, when they move the platform, you can jump onto it. You might pick up a cube on the other side and chuck it to a third platform—then create a new version of yourself to pre-emptively get to that third platform and catch your own throw. It’s never too taxing, but we just love watching four versions of ourselves work together.

Budget Cuts

Developer: Neat Corporation | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive | Link: Official site

This humorous VR stealth game is worth playing for its movement system alone: you fire a portal with one hand, which creates a handheld window into the new location. You can peer at it from different angles to check the coast is clear before fully committing. When on the other side, you’re murdering angry robots with scissors and knives, hiding under desks and solving simple puzzles, usually involving finding keycards. At three to four hours it feels a little light for the $30 asking price, but if you see it in a sale, grab it.

Rolling Line

Developer: Gaugepunk Games | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Official site

If you can’t afford to build a huge model railway in your garage, then Rolling Line is the next best thing. You can play around with its two default sets—inspired by Santa Fe and New Zealand—or create your own from scratch with its simple, powerful building tools, which even let you choose where to place individual trees, and pick how big they’ll be. Slowly crafting your set and idly flicking with the signals is a great way to blow off steam.

Guns'n'Stories: Bulletproof VR

Developer: Mirowin | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Official site

At its heart it’s a simple wave-based shooter—but we love its Wild West charm. Guns'n'Stories is told from the perspective of an old-timer recalling the glory days to his grandson, and he the narrates the levels as you go on, exaggerating for effect. It’s fun to act out the stories in real time, and although you can never move from one spot, we weren't ever bored: Its short stages are packed with more than enough enemies to keep us occupied. 

The cartoony shooting is satisfying, particularly when you’re dual wielding, and you can smack bullets out of the air with the butt of your gun. Nothing complex, here: Just some rootin' tootin' cowboy shooting. 

Distance 

Developer: Refract | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive | Link: Official site

After more than six years in development, the best arcade VR racing game has finally left Early Access. You drive around trippy, sci-fi tracks at impossible speeds, trying to react to the way its randomly generated tracks rotate and morph shape. You’ll sometimes take flight, too, jumping between sections of track and rotating your car to drive on the ceiling and up walls. 

It has a campaign, an arcade mode, online multiplayer and a track creation tool, and it’s all set to a wonderfully thumping soundtrack that will help keep you focused on the twisting road ahead. 

Sairento

Developer: Mixed Realms Pte Ltd, Swag Soft | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive | Link: Steam

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a cyber ninja, then you need Sairento in your life. It’s a ridiculous, cinematic combat playground in which you can, in no particular order, triple jump off of a wall, backflip, slow down time, blast dual Uzis, block bullets with your dual blades and slice up an enemy with a katana, sending blood spraying all over the level—and your screen. 

It has a campaign, an endless mode and PvP multiplayer, so there’s lots to get stuck into. It takes a while to learn how to pull of its fanciest moves, but when you finally nail the killer combo you’ve been practising for so long, you’ll never want to take your headset off. 

Accounting+

Developer: Crows Crows Crows, Squanch Games| Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive | Link: Official site

The original Accounting made it onto our list of the best ever VR games—now, two years after its initial release, it’s back as an expanded version with twice as many jokes, most of which are genuinely funny. It plays a little bit like an interactive, surreal comedy TV show, with lots of quirky characters to meet and plenty of mischief to get up to. It’s all based around the “noble profession” of accounting: one minute, you’re cleaning up your desk after work, the next minute you’re playing a xylophone made of bones and summoning thousands of demons. Oops. 

Vox Machinae

Developer: Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Official site

It’s only been in Early Access for three months, but Vox Machinae is already our favourite VR mech game. It’s remarkably polished, even at this early stage, and when you’re at the control sticks you really feel like you’re in the cockpit of a giant hunk of metal. When you turn your head, you’re faced with all manner of dials displaying your health, your location, and your heat status, many of which you can interact with, and you can hear your mech creak and groan as you leap in the air. 

Your weapons boom when you unleash them, and both bullet trails and explosions look like something out of an action film. You can choose between five mech chassis, and then deck them out with your favourite weapons before heading into its multiplayer battles. It’s only going to get better with time, too.

Red Matter

Developer: Vertical Robot | Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality | Link: Official site

This puzzler, set on a Russian base on one of Saturn’s moons, won’t leave you scratching your head too often, but it’s full of otherworldly atmosphere. Every room is packed with objects to interact with, even if they’re not part of the main puzzle: you’ll yank open lockers to discover letters from faraway families, play with moving platforms, and throw gas canisters around. 

The story is decent, and there’s plenty of incidental details that enrich it. Your handheld scanner fills in the blanks by revealing information about whatever you’re looking at—it will translate notes you find from Russian, for example. It’s worth taking the time to explore every hidey hole.