Virtual reality has steadily grown from strength to strength over the last decade. It’s had enormous advances in headset technology, accessibility, and the games you can play on them.
There is now an enormous and ever-expanding genre of VR games that you can enjoy, from immersive musical experiences that get you moving and breaking a sweat, to exciting first-person-shooters, interactive social games with other VR players, third-person RPGs, and everything in between.
With higher resolution and higher refresh rate headsets meaning you need a powerful gaming PC to play VR games to their fullest, it’s worth investing in only the best VR experiences so you make the most of your time and money.
Here are the best VR games you can play in 2021.
Waltz of the Wizard
Developed by Aldin Dynamics, one of the early pioneers of virtual reality experiences in the days of the Oculus Rift developer kits, Waltz of the Wizard is arguably the most complete “magic” experience in virtual reality today. It offers an intuitive mix of movement and interaction mechanics, giving the player reams of possibilities for manipulating the world around them through fun, often funny, and visually exciting magical abilities.
It began life as a static experience at a wizard’s bench, but has slowly evolved into an immersive experience that sees you infiltrating a fortress held by hostile elemental entities.
You can use guile, sleuth, and fireballs to blast your way through the castle’s 40 levels, as well as explore a number of more relaxing sandbox environments. Use voice, gesture, and physical motion to control your magic, all while interacting with a number of light-hearted characters that help make Waltz of the Wizard one of the best VR games today.
Thrill of the Fight
Virtual reality has the ability to get you moving more than any other genre of games and one of the best VR games to do that, is Thrill of the Fight. This game not only demands that you get up and move, but it’ll hit you in the face if you don’t.
It’s a first-person boxing game that encourages footwork, head movement, and the all-important throwing of leather. This isn’t a mindless boxercise game, either. The opponents start out like punching bags with arms and legs, but soon evolve into fast, crafty, and mobile punchers which will leave you blacked out and on the receiving end of a loss if you don’t learn to play the game and ultimately learn a little boxing as you go.
It’s no substitute for real training, nor real sparring, but if you want to practice head movement without the fear of actually getting rocked, then Thrill of the Fight is a great way to do it. You will 100% get a sweat on too, as it is an exhausting experience, especially trying to bob and weave with a half kilo of headset on your face.
Arguably the most AAA VR experience available to date, Half-Life: Alyx is Valve’s first return to its Half-Life universe in almost 15 years and it is a great one.
Putting you in the gloved fingers of the titular Alyx Vance, you’ll fight the Combine forces from a whole new perspective. Designed to take full advantage of the finger tracking of newer generation headsets like the Valve Index, you can manipulate the world in intuitive and exciting ways. From throwing objects to distract enemies, to leaning around corners to peer around cover, to ripping headcrabs from your face to save yourself from their warm embrace.
Although the experience is only a few hours long, there are already heaps of modded levels, unofficial expansions, and extra levels, all of which give you heaps of content to explore in one of the best VR games yet.
It’s very demanding on your PC though, so make sure you have a powerful gaming PC to play it.
A Fisherman’s Tale
Virtual reality can take a little getting used to, and that goes doubly so for games like A Fisherman’s Tale, which is a truly mind-bending experience.
You’ll need lateral thinking to figure out its bizarre puzzles that play with perspective, dimensions, and reality itself, as you’ll expand, shrink, and explore your way through some gorgeously realised environments.
It’s a little hard to grasp just how weird it can feel to look down on yourself while watching yourself looking down on yourself, until you try it. A Fisherman’s Tale is a unique VR experience that will stay with you long after you take off the headset.
Thumper isn’t your typical VR game, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less immersive. In fact, this is an often exhausting VR experience that is deeply engaging and even at times, quite unsettling.
You’re given a third-person perspective of a metallic space beetle hurtling down a colourful track to the rhythm of a thumping beat. It has simple controls which you’ll use to turn, jump, and dive at just the right moment to keep your beetle alive and slay the giant eldritch creatures that block your path.
It’s not a rhythm game in a traditional sense, but it is incredibly rhythmic. Thumper is super fast, super intense and a VR game that has to be played to be truly understood. It’s like no other game you’ve ever played.
The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners
There are a number of zombie VR games, but most of them are mindless wave shooters. The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners is something very different.
It combines visceral hand-to-hand combat with well-crafted firearm mechanics, survival gameplay elements, and a believable city to explore. There are heaps of undead to face off against, but you’ll also have to contend with dangerous living people too. And have the option of saving a few who are in dire straits.
There’s looting and crafting, letting you progress through the game with your own favourite types of weapons and accessories, and even a few moral decisions to make which impact how the story progresses. The graphics are great, the voice acting is high quality, and the overall experience feels far more polished than any licensed property has the right to be.
The heyday of Rhythm games was in the mid-00s with the Guitar Hero franchise, but they have had a renaissance in the past few years thanks to their renewed perspective and potential in virtual reality.
Instead of strumming a guitar, they have you blocking, bashing, and dodging virtual notes and beats in a way that is both immersive and exhilarating. Beat Saber is the epitome of this genre, giving you a pair of glowing light swords to slice through musical blocks in various directions. It’s a real workout, looks great, and is a fun way to engage with music that can’t really be replicated in any other medium.
The only reason you might not enjoy Beat Saber is if you’re not into its selection of music, which definitely leans towards the dance and dubstep end of the musical spectrum. Still, it’s a lot of fun, even if that’s not your favourite genre, and there are DLC packs from Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park, Panic at the Disco, Green Day, BTS, and many more – though buying them all will set you back a lot.
Prefer retrowave or electro swing music? Give Synth Riders a try instead.
Demeo is the most fully-featured tabletop RPG experience in VR.
You’ll move your character, roll dice, battle monsters, complete quests, all in glorious virtual reality. You can play alone, or with up to three friends, each of you taking on the role of a unique character with their own spells, abilities, and weapons, to take on the challenge of this medieval world. There are varied enemies to fight, gorgeously realised virtual dungeons to explore, and two fully realised campaigns to fight through.
The developers have a long roadmap of additional campaigns, scenarios, and challenges for players to take on, so you’ll have an ever-evolving range of content to enjoy even after you’ve beaten what’s there.
That said if you run out of things to do, but don’t mind a lot less polish, Tabletop Simulator has full VR support too.
The Room VR
The Room is a classic series of puzzle games on mobile devices, but it’s a near-perfect fit for virtual reality too. Its intricate, mind-bending puzzles, creepy eldritch-inspired atmosphere, and stunningly realistic visuals make it one of the most polished puzzle games on any platform, and easily the best-looking puzzle game in VR.
You’ll explore the British Institute of Archaeology in the early 1900s, where you have to investigate some strange gadgets and objects, explore otherwordly locations, and try to come to terms with a reality that is not quite as grounded as it may seem.
The Room has always played with perspective and your perception of the virtual world around you, and that’s only enhanced in The Room VR, making it one of the best VR games you can buy today.
A third-person action-puzzler might not seem like the best fit for VR, but there are a number of games that make it work. One of the best is Moss, where you follow on the tail of a tiny white mouse named Quill, as they explore a beautifully realised world, full of magic, wonder, and compelling characters.
Moss is designed like a classic explorative RPG, with quests to complete and expansive locations to explore. But it blends that with the unique interactive potential of virtual reality, letting you gesture to characters to interact, use your own movement to fight, and even manipulate the environment using your fingers to aid Quill in their quest through the beautiful virtual world.
This game is one of the more demanding ones, especially if you’re playing on a high-end headset like an HTC Vive Pro 2, HP Reverb G2, or Valve Index. If you are, make sure you have a powerful gaming PC to run it.
If you’ve ever played a social deduction game, or even the Werewolves game that Werewolves Within is based on, then you’ll have a lot of fun with this one.
It’s a game that has you and the other players sitting around a virtual fireside trying to decide which one of you (or more) is a werewolf. You’ll have a unique role with a unique ability to help you decide, but you’ll also need to try to figure out your fellow players’ roles, their intentions, and which of them might just be lying about their lycan tendencies.
This is a game that’s best with friends, but there are public lobbies available if you want to brave the unknown; you’ll be able to find a few intrepid villages willing to pin the murderous werewolf’s crimes on you. If you need help finding a lobby, this tracker can let you know when they’re most often available.
Kill or be killed, that’s the mantra for Gorn, a completely ridiculous hand to hand combat game of massively muscled men and hilarious physics-based action.
You’ll swing maces, hack swords, stab spears, and sling anything you can get your hands on to pummel, cut, and dismember the absurd enemies of Gorn, all in glorious first-person virtual reality.
It really is ridiculously violent and it’s hilarious for it, giving you a real chance to get some anger or frustration out in a completely safe and fun way. Visually, it leans into its silliness, with over the top visuals, blood, and janky physics. Pummel someone’s face with a mace and you’ll watch their eye sockets pop. Keep going and their head will explode in a fountain of red.
There are heaps of weapons to play with too, so you’ll never get bored as you find the most efficient, fun, and creative ways to murder your enemies in gouts of their own fluids. Gorn is one of the best VR games for having a pure silly time.