When it comes to VR games, SteamVR has the most expansive library with over 4,000 VR games and mods that turn non-VR games into virtual reality ones. As a result, choosing what to play in SteamVR can be impossible.
This comprehensive article has your back, as we will highlight the best VR games to experience in each known genre.
The online multiplayer genre in VR gaming is crowded, which makes choosing the best experiences hard. Yet, we will be remiss if we don’t cover the quartet of multiplayer VR shooters: Pavlov, Hyper Dash, Contractors, and POPULATION: One. Pavlov is if Counterstrike was in virtual reality, meaning it is an engaging team-based shooter. Hyper Dash is if Unreal Tournament was in VR, so a fast-paced arena shooter with classic play modes like Payload and Control Point. If you want weapon-customizability and realism – akin to Call Of Duty – Contractors is the VR title for you. And lastly, POPULATION: One is perfect if you seek an engrossing battle royale shooter in VR.
If online fantasy RPGs are what you are after, check out Legendary Tales, a 4-player co-op RPG with swords, magic, and a wide variety of play styles. However, it doesn’t compare to Deep Rock Galactic, one of the best co-op exploration-action RPGs outside of VR. You play as dwarves of different classes in fully destructible and procedurally-generated levels with hordes of enemy types and bosses rushing your team. In short, when the developer released a VR mod for the game, it became one of the best VR co-op experiences! Despite the MMO genre seeming to have fallen, Zenith: The Last City attempts to revive the open-world genre with VR. Zenith has received numerous content updates and graphical upgrades since its launch and has become the best VR game for MMO fans. Lastly, Demeo is an incredible tabletop party VR game and dungeon crawler. It is Dungeons & Dragons in virtual reality.
Speaking of party games, if your social gathering is turning stale, Traffic Jams and Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! are great party boosters. Both VR titles have one player with the VR headset and the others with their smartphones. In Traffic Jams, you redirect high-intensive traffic barreling towards your intersection spawned by your friends. In Acron, the VR gamer is defending their tree base while your friends (the squirrels) attempt to get to your tree.
Virtual reality can fully immerse you in a story, prompting the adventure genre in VR gaming to become littered with great experiences. With this popularity, different experiences and narrative tones can be found. First, we have the quirky and silly humor VR titles Cosmonious High and Trover Saves the Universe. Cosmonious is from the developer of Job and Vacation Simulator, adopting its unique tone and humor but with a coming-of-age, high-school story. Trover is a surprisingly clever and laugh-out-loud VR game from the creator of Rick and Morty.
Next, if you haven’t played the seminal Half-Life: Alyx from Valve, stop what you are doing and get to it (but if you have and want something similar, check out Vertigo Remastered). If you need more than a 98% positive score on Steam, then Alyx is a 15-hour campaign with an exceptional atmosphere and a sarcastically engaging story. Set between the two classics Half-Life 1 and 2 (also available in VR through modding), Alyx’s story layers a new perspective on the Half-Life story with solid shooting and puzzle mechanics. The second must-play in this list is Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, a VR-defining game where you slay zombies in a semi-open-world setting and survival elements. This last part is where this VR game shines: the survival story of Saint & Sinners, with multiple factions doing their best to survive is a standout.
Lastly, the perks of PC VR gaming and SteamVR is the VR mods available on incredible non-VR games. So as a minimum, check out Firewatch for an intimate story driven by engrossing voice acting. The Outer Wilds for a 10/10 open-world space-exploration story with mouth-dropping moments turned more insane in VR. Alien Isolation if you haven’t stepped into the Alien universe and been hunted by a xenomorph in VR before, then what are you waiting for?
The first VR RPG is if Diablo was in first-person and VR. EVERSLAUGHT is an Early Access action RPG seeing you complete dungeons with loot galore and inventive VR controls to shift weapon layouts. Next, we have the expansive, Norse-inspired world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR. While the core game has become dated, Skyrim VR’s sense of place and gameplay is staggering, and that is without all the wild mods you can install for free. As a Steam reviewer wrote: “You don’t play Skyrim. You live Skyrim.”
Lastly, we have No Man’s Sky with a controversial release but since brought twenty noteworthy and free content updates to the game! In short, No Man’s Sky in VR is the best space-sim base builder RPG you can find.
Not only does Until You Fall raise your cardio, but its action rogue-lite gameplay is also exciting. Namely, its hack-and-slash multi-weapon combat system challenges you to decide between slicing your foes or taking a tactical step back. In general, Until You Fall is an incredibly polished rogue-lite action VR game.
Next is the inventive YUKI, a bullet-hell rogue-lite with an anime art style. Another way of describing YUKI is if Space Invaders was VR, anime, and filled with upgrades to provide hours of exciting action content.
Lastly, we have GORN, the only arena-action VR game on this list. GORN is a brutal gladiator hack-and-slash title developed by the folks behind Broforce and, therefore, has a similar crude humor.
One of virtual reality’s strengths is its immersion when solving puzzles in a fully realized setting. A SteamVR game that fits this bill is Wanderer, a beautiful VR game that frequently made me stop to ‘smell the flowers’. It is a time travel story with clever environmental puzzles and pockets of action. This genre was why I got into VR gaming, and Wanderer didn’t disappoint!
The next two VR titles we have covered before for other platforms, and that is, I Expect You To Die 1 and 2. As their titles suggest, you will die a lot in your VR gaming sessions. However, rather than being an annoyance, you use your failure to succeed in the escape-room puzzles thrown your way, while the quirky and fun NPCs also bring distinct and delightful humor to the games.
Walkabout Mini Golf has gained wide popularity due to its unique concept of playing mini golf where the setting is the courses. For most VR newcomers, we fire up Walkabout Mini Golf, as it is a relaxing experience with accurate golf physics in whimsical environments.
This next game falls into the category of sports simulation. Eleven Table Tennis is a table tennis (or ping pong) simulator, that if you are into table tennis and own PC VR, I don’t see a world you don’t know about this game, but if you haven’t, this is a must-play.
The next two SteamVR games are workout experiences that make you forget you are treating your cardio by having fun in VR. Synth Riders transforms you into a dancer even if you have stiff legs with zero rhythm. The Thrill of the Fight is VR boxing that is hard to decline with its affordable price of under $10 and tense physics-based boxing battles. Just be careful not to pull any muscles during your VR boxing workout.
The VR game genre that makes the most sense is racing with its stationary position in driving at eye-blistering speeds through tight corners. DiRT Rally 2.0 in VR’s biggest strength is the immersion it delivers when you speed through a dirt road, barely keeping your car straight while a rain storm strains your visibility, and the car door to your left is on its last hinges. While it is not a racing sim, its fun is off the charts!
If you want a realistic racing sim optimized for VR, look no further than Automobilista 2, which, after its latest update, took the VR driving experience from good to “holy cow, I am in a GT4!” Alternatively, if you want the F4 experience, iRacing is hard to beat.
Like the racing genre, rhythm games in VR almost seem like two peas in a pod, and with it comes numerous pulsating SteamVR rhythm games. However, the undisputed champion of VR rhythm gaming is Beat Saber. If you haven’t heard of this VR game, then you beat the bejesus out of neon blogs to the beat of a song of your choosing. Like Walk About Mini Golf, Beat Saber is usually one of the first VR gaming experiences newcomers try, and for good reason: Beat Saber is exciting, cardio-raising, and fun. An honorable mention would be Pistol Whip which is essentially Beat Saber but with guns.
However, if you want a more unique rhythm VR game experience, Ragnarock is your SteamVR title. Mirroring heavy metal and Viking longship sailing sounds crazy on paper, but in virtual reality, it is heart-pumping and exciting. The multiplayer racing mode with speeds mirroring your performance is also loads of fun.
Now There Be Goblins combines first-person hack-and-slash with strategic tower defense to great effect. But it is after Goblins added different gear and weapons that the VR game really did it for us.
If you seek a more traditional real-time strategy VR game, Final Assault is for you. This RTS VR game is set during World War 2 and sees you operate a map like you are standing on a gameboard, directing your forces to eliminate your enemies. Simply, if you love the RTS genre, this is the VR title for you.
A subgenre of RTS is the God-game and city-builder genre. Here you cannot beat Townsmen VR. In Townsmen, you are building, interacting, and helping your citizens in your kingdom to thrive as an omnipresent figure in the sky.
VR shooters are a dime and dozen on SteamVR, making the competition stiff to be highlighted here. Nevertheless, SUPERHOT VR must be included, despite the developer’s recent removal of content, such as its unique storyline. In any case, SUPERHOT VR is a shooter-puzzler that became one of the first novel VR games to take advantage of virtual reality’s features, giving it a spot on this list.
Boneworks is of the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it’. Boneworks is a physics-based shooter-puzzler akin to Half-Life 2. While its world-building could be more consistent, its physics mechanics make this game combined with a solid shooter experience. As a side note, we enjoyed the sequel, Bonelab, but overall felt like a DLC to Boneworks rather than its own VR game.
Speaking of comparisons to Valve games, After The Fall is a team-based arcade(y) Left4Dead style shooter. While After The Fall doesn’t reach the depth and heights of L4D, it is a competent team wave shooter that will provide a good time with eliminating tons of monsters rushing towards you is exhilarating in VR. Speaking of wave shooters, if you want to turn hordes of enemies into Swiz cheese and build your own guns, MOTHERGUNSHIP: FORGE is for you. Or, if you want to experience novel movement mechanics and turn in a shooting Spider-Man, check out SwarmVR.
VR Flight sims can range from enthusiasts focusing on realistic flying to arcade(y) and fun. The first two SteamVR flight sims that connect with realism are Elite Dangerous and Microsoft Flight Simulator, two very different VR games. The first, Elite Dangerous, is a multiplayer space sim where you can dogfight other spaceships and mine asteroids for resources to upgrade your ship. It is engrossing, and you can lose plenty of hours here. That is if you can pass the steep learning curve to this game, as you need to learn how to start, launch, navigate, and fly a spaceship. MS Flight simulator is the same, but with realistic, current planes and airliners. Its management mechanics and experience gain is great fun, while the graphics of flying our earth brings unique exploration vibes.
Alternatively, if you are seeking action-packed flying and dog fighting, look no further than Warplanes: Battles over Pacific. This VR game is set during the numerous pacific aerial battles in WW2 that can get quite intense. Plus Warplanes’ historical bend is enough to get you deep into aviation history.
Only two SteamVR survival games stand out from the pack: Green Hell VR and Subnautica Below 0. The first, Green Hell VR, is in Early Access and also found on PC, although the virtual reality version is much more limited in map sizes and general content due to technical constraints. Yet, when dynamic foveated rendering becomes more widespread, you have a headset with eye tracking, and Green Hell VR taking advantage of it – content is likely to explode. As for now, Green Hell VR is an excellent exploration-survival game for hardcore survivalists.
Oppositely, Subnautica Below 0 is more of a traditional game that incidentally works wonders in VR and requires a mod to function. Subnautica’s art style is cell shaded with game mechanics of resource extraction, base building, and learning its progressive story as you dive ever deeper. But, all this pales to the severer thalassophobia or a fear of the ocean, it brings. In VR, as you dive with visibility only a few meters within an underwater cave system, you hear alien marine life stalking you, prompting you to notice that your breath is almost out and about to drown. Subnautica Below 0 is terrifying and awesome and a personal favorite in VR.
If you look inside your wallet and find nothing more than breadcrumbs, three VR titles can keep you going until you get the VR games that catch your interest.
Here the first one is a classic from Valve, The Lab, and despite its dated release date of six years ago, its variety of mini-games expertly showcases the qualities of VR for newcomers. In fact, we usually advise first-time VR buyers to fire up The Lab to get acquainted with their VR headset.
Secondly, we have two games that technically are in the same genre but are vastly apart. PokerStars VR is what the title says, VR poker. But what is surprising about this free VR game and what sets it apart is the social aspect as you sit around a poker table with avatar friends or strangers trying to bluff each other. So even if you are not that into poker, gathering your friends and having a virtual reality poker night in PokerStars VR is highly recommended.
The next free VR title is a fantasy card game akin to Hearthstone, Gwent, or Magic: The Gathering. But what sets Cards & Tankards apart is its setting of a medieval fantasy tavern to the sound of Celtic tunes. While it is nowhere as deep as those referenced card games mentioned, it is sufficiently complex and fun for a free VR game.
Jakob Pii is Writer at VR Expert and currently lives in the UK. He started his career in VR gaming in 2015 and has stayed in XR since, from exposure therapy in VR to 360-degree video documentaries. He is fascinated by how emerging technologies change how we live, play and work.