Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift (which was shown at this year's E3) and the HTC Vive will soon be releasing, and they could revolutionize the way we play games ane experience entertainment. However, one of the big hurdles the technology must overcome before it can take off is that of content. Much of what is available for virtual reality now are more-or-less tech demos. Although Oculus VR announced a number of exclusive games are currently in development for the Oculus Rift, like Edge of Nowhere, we don't yet know when they'll release.
Since the HTC Vive is expected to release this fall, and the Oculus Rift will come out early 2016, we've come up with a list of games to get you started with deep virtual reality experiences. All games are available now and currently support the Oculus Rift Development Kit.
EVE Valkyrie is the game that usually comes to mind when people think of virtual reality space shooters, but it is officially out yet. Elite: Dangerous is, and it's one fantastic space exploration game. This massively multiplayer online game takes you into deep space, where the entirety of the Milky Way is recreated, comprising up to 400 billion star systems. Starting with a small ship and a few resources, it's up to you to head out into the galaxy and make a name for yourself. Do whatever it takes to survive while growing your power and wealth. The galaxy is a ruthless place, and Elite Dangerous lets you seize it by the throat.
Lauded as one of the most realistic racing experiences around, Project Cars offers exceptional graphics and fantastic driving physics. Get behind the wheel of an exotic sports car and put your driving skills to the test across a number of detailed tracks, complete with day/night cycles and dynamic weather. Other car racing games that also feature Oculus Rift support include Assetto Corsa. GRID Autosport added "experimental" VR support in October of last year.
The recently funded Descent Underground is still at the start of its development, you can get six degrees of freedom motion. You play as a very aggressive antivirus program, loaded onto a computer to seek out and destroy an invasive virus. Customize your antiviral ship with various plugins to gain an advantage over the ever evolving virus. But the best advantage is bringing a friend along to play cooperatively and wipe the virus out from the digital world for good.
Among the Sleep
Among the Sleep is a first person horror survival game, where you embark on the scariest adventure of them all: a child's imagination. You're a two-year-old child who is awakened in the middle of the night by mysterious sounds. Alone and defenseless, you search through the darkness to find comfort. Using a VR headset lets you see through the child's eyes and look around the strange and oftentimes menacing world by moving your head around.
Divided into four episodes (with three released so far), Doorways is a horror survival game with an edge of strangeness to it. You play as Thomas Foster, a man with a unique talent for tracking down psychopaths. You delve into a dark, twisted, and surreal world in search of a serial killer. Tracking down the killer mostly involves hiding from foes and solving puzzles, since looking for bad guys isn't the same as fighting them. The game features native support for the Oculus Rift, so you can dive in deep into the dark world.
In a similar vein, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an occult-themed mystery and exploration game that is expected to be upgraded with VR support sometime this year.
Half-Life 2 was upgraded with Oculus Rift DK2 support as a sort of test bed for SteamVR. Its graphics might be a bit dated compared to more current shooters, but the dark dystopian world of Half-Life 2 is still a great one to explore. The game even has a VR training room so that you can become accustomed to the controls and moving the camera around with your head. While the game is still fun, players should be aware that it is a ten year old game adapted to support VR, and therefore might not provide the best possible experience. Meaning, some parts could make you sick. However, with the HTC Vive releasing in the fall in partnership with Valve, we could see a significant upgrade to the experience sometime in the future.
Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 is another test of SteamVR technology. It might take some practice to get used to playing this competitive shooter using a VR headset, since moves like the rocket jump will require you to tilt your head down and shooting instead of simply aiming your mouse downward. There are a number of different control modes available (some more experimental than others), including a few where the mouse and targeting reticule work independently of head movement. Despite its wonky controls and somewhat dated graphics, it's still a fun game to toy around with, and it provides a glimpse of how the game might play should a final VR version of it release.
Estranged (Half-Life 2 Mod)
Estranged casts you in the role of a lone fisherman, who is stranded on a mysterious island after a violent storm. Now you must explore the island in an effort to return to the mainland, and in doing so, encounter some strange and unfriendly inhabitants. Eerie and atmospheric, this free mod for Half-Life 2 features an all original story and soundtrack. Additionally, you don't need to have Half-Life 2 to play it.
Being a mod, the game uses some character designs and graphics taken from Half-Life 2, and there might be some glitches with the VR technology. Nevertheless, it's a free and fun experience for VR headset owners.
Strike Suit Zero
The space action game Strike Suit Zero added some limited Oculus Rift support in 2013. It's mostly the same fast paced game it was on release, where you fly a space fighter craft that transforms into a powerful robot, except that a cockpit has been added. You can look around and see all the controls of your Strike Suit, along with a pair of disembodied arms. The cut scenes might take some getting used to, since you can still look around the space as they happen, but the action is still as exciting as ever.
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Not every VR gaming experience needs to be fast action or scary. Some can simply be weird and funny. In comes Surgeon Simulator 2013 to fill the odd simulator void VR fans have been clamoring to fill. It's a comedic game where you play as the most spastic surgeon in the world. Pick up tools and try to perform procedures using terrible controls. With a VR headset, you can get a good look at your operating theater, and you won't even have to pay attention to what your hands are doing.
Adr1ft is expected to release in September, and although you won't necessarily need a VR headset to play it, it is being designed from the ground up to support virtual reality. You are the lone survivor of a catastrophic event on a space station, but you have no memory of what happened. What's worse, your space suit has been damaged and is continually leaking oxygen. You must make your way across a broken and abandoned space station, where there is no artificial gravity, repair your suit, figure out what happened, and escape back to Earth.