With a consumer version of the Oculus Rift promised by the end of 2015, Sony’s Project Morpheus on the horizon, and Google Cardboard turning smartphones everywhere into VR gadgets, the virtual reality revolution is indeed upon us. Unfortunately, the content we so desperately need to enjoy these devices to their fullest has been rolling out like a slow trickle rather than a flood. It takes some digging, but there’s definitely some gems already out there, waiting for early adopters to get their hands on the hardware and take the plunge.
Here are the best virtual reality titles so far this year for both the soon-to-be-released Rift and the VR devices you might already own.
Elite: Dangerous is the virtual reality space simulation you always dreamed about, and it’s already available for your Windows or Mac PC, complete with Oculus Rift support. The game puts you in seat of your very own spaceship, which can be either a hunk of junk, the equivalent of an outer space semi truck, or a highly-weaponized war rig, depending on what you can afford and what role you want to play in the massive game world.
In first-person mode with the Oculus equipped, scanning the horizon over the dashboard of your ship is truly something special, and you can easily get a sense of vertigo when performing particularly dramatic maneuvers. It’s all extremely engrossing, and with more ships and other content on the way, there will be even more to do in the near future.
If you don’t have an Oculus Rift: InMind VR
A curious premise for a game, InMind VR tasks you with venturing through a human brain in search of neurons that are causing distress. Part arcade game, part visual masterpiece, InMind’s gameplay is very straightforward and exploratory in nature, but it’s also the kind of game you can play several times over before burning out on its enjoyment.
InMind is available for both PC via Steam, with full Oculus support, as well as Google Cardboard and other similar smartphone VR accessories. It’s available on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play, so there’s countless ways you can get your hands on this one. The best part? It’s currently free to play, regardless of your device.
ARK: Survival Evolved
It might still be in early access, but ARK: Survival Evolved is already one of the most popular open world survival games on PC. You enter the world of ARK as a defenseless human and must scavenge, craft, and build to survive. Strapping an Oculus onto your dome makes the entire experience several degrees more engrossing, and the game looks downright gorgeous when you can take it all in with zero distractions. ARK is slated to arrive on PlayStation 4 at some point down the road as well, which mean the further possibility of Project Morpheus support.
If you don’t have an Oculus Rift: Jurrasic VR
If you don’t happen to have a computer capable of running ARK, or an Oculus Rift with which to enjoy it, your smartphone can give you some dino action as well. Jurrasic VR—yes, that misspelling is apparently intentional—lets you wander around a lush landscape and search for various dinosaur breeds, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor. There’s not much in the way of gameplay objectives, but it’s a great teaser for the future of prehistoric VR.
Undoubtedly one of the most visually impressive racing games ever, Project CARS through the lenses of an Oculus Rift is equally magical. Sitting in the behind-the-wheel view—which is the only way to enjoy a game like this in VR—gives you a good sense of speed and can make you seriously grind your teeth as you’re pulling through a sharp turn.
If you don’t have an Oculus Rift: Mad Race VR
A slightly less realistic racing experience comes in the form of Mad Race VR, available on both the App Store and Google Play. It’s fast, sharp looking, and oftentimes hilarious. It’s really more of a proof of concept as opposed to a fully fleshed out racing experience, but it’s free and it’ll get your blood pumping.
Bite-sized VR hits
A bloody, hilarious good time, Surgeon Simulator is fantastically gory in an over-the-top way, and seeing your untrained hands hack away at the patient is way more satisfying than it should be, especially in virtual reality.
Among The Sleep
Playing as a baby in a super creepy house is even more unsettling than it might sound, and diving head-first into the experience with a VR headset multiplies that unsettling vibe many times over.
Even without being behind the wheel of the colorful carts speeding around the screen, the Oculus makes all the frantic racing and often hilarious crashes of BlazeRush a lot more enjoyable.
Photo via Pestoverde/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)