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The best VR games on PC

Best VR games on PC
(Image credit: Sanzaru)

VR has finally hit its stride: While it hasn't completely transformed the gaming landscape as some expected, there are now lots of great games to play. And they're not just tech demos. There are lengthy, deep experiences waiting in VR that just wouldn't work on a monitor.

We've played a ton of VR games to recommend the best right now, which we'll continue to update as we discover new ones. For this list, we've focused on games built for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index (though they'll mostly work on high-end Windows Mixed Reality headsets, too). These are all PC-based VR games, which is why we haven't recommended any games built specifically for the standalone Oculus Quest, even though we think it's the best VR headset for most people. The Quest can now play games built for the Oculus Rift with a simple USB cable, making it a versatile choice for lighter mobile VR games or more high-end PC-powered ones.

Here are the best VR games on PC right now.

Superhot VR

Developer: Superhot Team
Link:
Oculus Store
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

In Superhot VR, it’s possible to toss a brick at a man, knock his semi-auto pistol into the air, catch it, and bash him over the head with it before shooting three other men out of a helicopter behind you. This can all happen within a few seconds or the span of three minutes—or however long you need to plan out the most efficient and action-movie-cool way of taking them all out. Time only moves forward if you move, and while the original Superhot had you weaving in and out of bullets using traditional FPS movement and controls, in VR, you can’t run about. Everything comes to you, turning levels into bite-sized Matrix scenarios, where agent after agent is headed your way. 

It’s up to you to suss out how to take care of them using the few weapons and objects around you, all the while dodging, throwing, catching, and punching to stay alive. Wrapped up in the same meta narrative framework as the original game, Superhot VR has too much style, fluidity, and inherent satisfaction to skip.
 

Asgard’s Wrath

Developer: Sanzaru Games
Link: Oculus Store
Compatibility: Oculus Rift

If you're looking for a legit, full-length VR game rather than a short experience, you don't need to wait for Half-Life: Alyx. Asgard's Wrath is an action-RPG from Sanzaru Games and Oculus Studios that could take you 20-30 hours to complete. You play as both a Norse god and several different heroes: as the towering deity looming over the landscape you move creatures around like chess pieces, and on the ground you engage in combat and puzzle-solving. If Skyrim's retro-fitted VR wasn't as immersive as you'd hoped, Asgard's Wrath was built specifically for headsets, and is much more satisfying.

Boneworks

Developer: Stress Level Zero
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, Valve Index, HTC Vive

As Crysis pushed the limits of PC hardware, Boneworks pushes the limits of VR—and honestly, it feels like VR has some catching up to do. Stress Level Zero's puzzle-shooter is incredibly ambitious with its full-body rendering, complex physics system, and intense physical interactions, which lead to a certain amount of jankiness because current VR hardware isn't quite ready to handle it all. But it's still an enjoyable playground with a good sense of humor for shooting, melee combat, and throwing objects around as you fight your way out of an oppressive research facility filled with virtual drone soldiers.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Developer: Steel Crate Games
Link:
Humble Store
Compatibility: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index

Keep Talking is the most family-friendly bomb disarming sim you can play today. Family friendly because some participants aren’t expected to play the videogame portion of the game at all, required instead to flip through a thick physical bomb disarmament instruction manual (that you need to print off yourself), screaming out directions while a lone player frantically flips and studies a virtual explosive device. The VR component isn’t the most immersive experience out there, but isolating yourself in a room with a complex bomb puzzle goes a long way in developing tension. It’s also a nice way to prevent cheaters from sneaking a peek at the manual themselves. And if you don’t have a VR headset, you can still play with a good old-fashioned monitor. Everybody wins (if they don’t explode). 

Tetris Effect

Developer: Monstars Inc. and Resonair
Link: Epic Games Store
Compatibility: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

It sure took a while, but finally we have a worthy successor to the iconic Tetris. And Tetris Effect is even better in VR, where you'll be mesmerized by the music and visuals as they wash over you. Even if you were never particularly good at Tetris you'll enjoy Tetris Effect, and in VR it's impossible not to feel swept away and engulfed by the sounds and sights. It's a psychedelic and enchanting trip everyone with a VR headset should take. 

Robo Recall

Developer: Epic Games
Link: Oculus store
Compatibility: Oculus Rift

You're tasked with tracking down rogue robots in this VR shooter from Epic Games. Blast away with a shotgun or twin pistols, but don't forget just about everything else you can see can be picked up and used as a weapon or shield. You can pluck bullets and projectiles out of the air and chuck them back at your enemies, and can even rip the limbs or heads off robots and use them as weapons, too. As an action game it's completely over the top, and tons of fun.

No Man’s Sky

Developer: Hello Games
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

In addition to the massive amount of new features No Man's Sky has introduced over the years, you can now also play it in VR. It's not a different version of the game—you can use your old saves and jump in right where you left off, and even play right alongside players who don't use VR. Pretty neat, really. It could still use (and I suspect, will still get) some work, but it's already impressive that you can ride a procedural creature that's walking along a procedural planet and not instantly barf up your lunch. Zooming around in your spaceship in VR and gazing at the beautiful sci-fi panoramas is a cosmic pleasure.

Accounting+

Developer: Crows Crows Crows, Squanch Games
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

The VR headset you put on to play Accounting+ is just the first of many. As you enter the cartoony, comedic, tremendously obnoxious game you'll find new VR headsets—virtual VR headsets—to strap on over your real ones. Each new headset plunges you into a new reality, each more bizarre and surreal than the last. You'll find yourself cleaning your office desk one moment and summoning demons the next, all while being screamed out by profane, oddball characters. It's quite a ride to take in just a half-hour or so, not surprising considering Accounting+ comes from Crows Crows Crows (The Stanley Parable) and Squanch Games (Trover Saves the Universe).

Beat Saber

Developer: Beat Games
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

Guitar Hero with lightsabers, basically—and arguably 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
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

2018 was 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
Link: Oculus
Compatibility: Oculus Rift 

Echo Combat, part of Echo VR, 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
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

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
Link: Official site
Compatibility:
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

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
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

This brutal fantasy combat game is still 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, and the way the enemies crumple and scream when we skewer them makes us feel guilty for enjoying it so much

GNOG

Developer: KO_OP
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

The prettiest VR game we played in 2018. It’s a puzzler in which you open the box-shaped heads of colorful 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. 

Vox Machinae

Developer: Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index
Link: Steam

Vox Machinae is our favorite VR mech game. It’s remarkably polished, even at this Early Access 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.

Catch and Release

Developer: Metricminds GmbH & Co KG
Link: Official site
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

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. 

Brass Tactics

Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment
Link: Oculus
Compatibility: Oculus Rift

Brass Tactics is an RTS developed by the creative mind behind Age of Empires 2—and that pedigree shows. It 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. 

Sairento

Developer: Mixed Realms Pte Ltd, Swag Soft
Link: Steam
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

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 practicing for so long, you’ll never want to take your headset off. 

Rolling Line

Developer: Gaugepunk Games
Link: Official site
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

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.

Red Matter

Developer: Vertical Robot
Link: Official site
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

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.

Distance

Developer: Refract
Link: Official site
Compatibility: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index

The best arcade VR racing game spent six years in Early Access—and it was worth the wait. 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.

Thumper

Developer: Drool
Link: Official site
Compatibility: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift 

Already a great rhythm hell game in flatspace, Thumper is even more trance-inducing in VR. It's not very mechanically complicated—tap to the beat and slide around corners, at least at first—but it's brutal. As James put it, Thumper is "a psychedelic journey through impossible geometry and a crunchy, slippery, overwhelmingly oppressive force." In VR, it becomes a waking sound nightmare I should want to escape, but don't.

Fallout 4 VR

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Link: Steam
Compatibility: HTC Vive, Valve Index

There's a few knocks against Fallout 4 VR, namely that it's a full price, $60 game, and has been retrofitted for VR rather than built from the ground-up for it. Also, it's a game where you spend a heck of a lot of time looking through your Pip-boy, which isn't exactly fun (or easy) to do in VR. But if you're a big Fallout fan and love VR, it's still well worth playing. There's just something exciting about seeing a game and world you love from a new, much more immersive perspective. The VR version of VATS is great fun, too, operating more like a traditional bullet-time feature that I wound up enjoying more than the original.