It might surprise you to learn that Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been around, in one form or another, since the 1960s. However, recent strides forward in the quality of home VR headsets have really brought VR gaming into its own.
VR and its sister technology Augmented Reality (AR), are already changing the world on a variety of levels, from virtual online retail to microscopes that use AR to search for cancer.
Entertainment, however, is where VR is really making its mark, with the games for next-generation VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, showcasing how far VR gaming has come in term of the quality of its games.
So, if you are considering investing in a VR headset to take your gaming to the next level, or if you’ve just got one and you want to know which of the games on the market you should get first, here is our guide to the five best VR games on the PC.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Most Star Trek fans have fantasized about being part of the bridge crew of a Federation Starship and Star Trek: Bridge Crew is the closest you can get to the real thing, without being best friends with JJ Abrams.
Built to be played with three other friends, the game drops you onto the bridge of your own starship to assess the potential of a largely unknown sector of space called “The Trench” as a possible replacement Vulcan homeworld.
The controls are tight, the visuals are excellent and you can take on activities such as space combat without immediately suffering from the motion sickness that has affected other space fighter titles. It’s a game where your every decision matters and is open and accessible to those who have never watched a single episode of Star Trek. Like all the best multiplayer games, Star Trek: Bridge Crew is at its best when you all pull together as a team.
One of the most ambitious PC titles of all time, Elite Dangerous offers some truly exceptional experiences, from the thrill of navigating a 1:1 replica Milky Way galaxy, without any load times, to being part of a living eco-system populated by other players.
The cockpit visuals are extraordinary in VR and, because you represent a fixed point no matter how you move around, even the most acrobatic of dogfights won’t leave you feeling queasy. The recently released Horizons expansion now allows players to land on and explore the detailed planetary and moon surfaces, adding yet another dimension to an already excellent game.
Have you ever wondered what a cross between Guitar Hero and Star Wars would look like? Well, thanks to Beat Saber, you don’t have to wonder any longer. The game centers around you using dual-wielded lightsabers to cut through oncoming glowing blocks in time to the beat of a truly excellent soundtrack.
It’s engrossing, psychedelic, hugely enjoyable and surprisingly good cardio. Just remember, you’ll be flailing around a fair amount, so give yourself plenty of space to work in and don’t for a minute fool yourself into thinking you won’t look utterly ridiculous while you are playing.
Pavlov VR is a solid attempt to transition competitive multiplayer shooters, like CS:GO, into the VR space and has absolutely nothing to do with feeding dogs at all. At its heart, the game is a solid run and gun shooter that gives you a simple choice: hold your weapon in two hands for added accuracy, or pick up a second one in an attempt to overwhelm your opponents with firepower.
Games like Pavlov VR live and die on the strength of their player base and thankfully, Pavlov VR has an active community who not only vastly increase your chances of getting consistent games but are actively involved in enhancing the game using its extensive modding tools.
One of the main selling points of VR tech is how its immersive power can aid in the telling of a story. Moss is a game that takes full advantage of that, putting the players in the role of “the Reader” – an omnipresent observer that assists a little mouse called Quill. You don’t control Quill directly, you just pitch in to help her reach her goals.
If you are looking for a beautifully animated story that quietly builds an emotional bond between you and a bipedal mouse over the course of just four hours, then Moss is the game for you.
As VR tech becomes more and more mainstream, the game creation potential continues to grow. The games listed above are some of the best currently on the market and, if the quality of their gameplay is anything to go by, VR gaming has a healthy future ahead of it.