Anyone who has already jumped on the VR bandwagon knows that the technology will grip the masses in the very near future. As titans like HTC and Oculus get ready to make huge holiday pushes to get their headsets into your home, these are the games you should be looking to buy or try before making your decision.
1. KEEP TALKING AND NOBODY EXPLODES
An absolutely essential party game whether you have the Oculus Rift, the GearVR or The HTC Vive, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a terrific place to start your VR gaming collection. One person dons the VR headset and is presented with a unique bomb with several gadgets on it. The rest of the team is armed with bomb dismantling guides (they're free, downloadable PDFs) and needs to talk the person in VR through the steps to disarm the bomb. It's a manic pressure cooker and it makes for a great drinking game too; just make sure everyone feels comfortable in VR before letting them in their drunk.
2. OMEGA AGENT
Omega Agent throws you into a Pixar-styled open world, sending you out to explore it with your trusty and exceptionally nimble jetpack. The landscape is equal parts high-towered city, majestic mountain and coastal hideaway and getting around it is an exhilarating ride in VR. Be sure to keep an eye out for hidden items that will help you power up your jetpack and weapons systems (yep, there are guns mounted on the jetpack) and, when you're ready, take on some of the missions that'll set you through obstacle courses to compete for high scores.
3. DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING
The epitome of an escape the room game, you find yourself left alone in a control room with a big red button and a colleague whose only instruction is "don't touch anything." It took us precisely five seconds before we pressed the button and it was all a downhill series of puzzles and mindfucks from there. If you're into head games and don't need even the slightest bit of instructions, Don't Touch Anything is a must play VR game.
4. JOB SIMULATOR
When your job is a mundane task that you do over and over, it's a grind. When a game asks you to do mundane tasks in VR, it's somehow infinitely better. The Vive-exclusive Job Simulator is a weird and interesting take on a VR game, one that we didn't expect to like as much as we did. Whether we were tuning up cars as an auto mechanic or just eating donuts by the water cooler as an office worker, there was enough quirk to go with the excellent controls to make Job Simulator one of the best VR experiences so far.
Quick caveat: Windlands is not for the faint of stomach and will test even those who are most comfortable in VR. Those brave enough to take the plunge will find one of the most unique VR games out there yet since Windlands' gameplay is all about traversing a sky-high forest using only two grappling hooks and your own momentum. The game is played via the Xbox controller on the Rift - left and right triggers fire the hooks - with an end result that we imagine is similar to how Spider-Man feels when he's web slinging around a city.
6. THE VANISHING OF ETHAN CARTER
Available on both the Rift and the Vive, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a VR remake of a game from 2014. The premise is that you're a detective looking for a lost boy by rubbing elbows with the occult and discovering the mysteries of the world you're in. The experience ends up being moody but not terrifying and ultimately satisfying as you uncover clues and solve the mystery. Ethan Carter was a good game when it debuted two years ago but genuinely makes the jump to greatness in its translation to virtual reality.
Taking cues from movies like Gravity and Interstellar, ADR1FT is as much a space exploration game as it is a space survival game. The wonderful, meditative environments and a deep, layered complexity of trying to save yourself and your crew from the cold vastness of space combine for one of the most intense and well-rounded experiences we've seen so far in VR. This is a great place to start the first time you fire up your Vive or Rift headset.
Bigscreen isn't a game, it's an avenue to traditional gaming experiences on you VR headset. Essentially a screen mirroring software, Bigscreen will take anything on your computer's monitor and recreate it on a resizable, curvable, floating screen in a virtual space that can also be inhabited by others. The phrase Chat Room has never been more literal.
The key here is that both Xbox and PlayStation will now let you mirror your console games on your computer's screen, meaning you can fire up No Man's Sky and play it in a virtual space on a 120" screen that physically wraps around your entire field of vision. We expect even bigger things to come to Bigscreen - they just added customizable avatars - but it is must have software for anyone with a VR headset, gamers and non-gamers alike.
9. LUCKY'S TALE
The Rift-exclusive platformer isn't just a great, well-rounded, full-blown game that could give Mario 64 a run for its money, it's the showcase of Oculus' mascot, whether they realize it or not. Lucky is a foxish creature who is on a quest to find his lost pal and that quest takes him through several levels, boss battles and mini-games in the first 3D platforming game ever made for VR. Lucky's Tale is bundled with the Rift, so you'll likely have access to it from the word go but it's also a game that's worth playing to the end, not just some flash in the pan demo.
10. FANTASTIC CONTRAPTION
This Vive-exclusive remake of the 2008 puzzler is another example of a game that was simply meant to be in VR all along. Build doohickeys to solve simple problems and jigger and rejigger to finally get them to work. There's a significant amount of quirk here that'll either endear the game to you or turn you off - we're looking at you weird cat who always shows up - but that's all forgivable because the gameplay is top notch. Fantastic Contraption is an addicting experience, made more so because of it's excellent translation to VR.