From the stunning precision of SteamVR tracking to the frankly ludicrous amount of games to play, the HTC Vive and its bigger brother, the Vive Pro, are arguably the best place to experience high-end VR gaming today. Sifting through the seemingly unending amount of titles on Viveport and Steam to choose just 25 apps was an impossible task but, as Vive crosses two and a half years on the market, we thought it was time to celebrate the games that have defined it.
Throughout the week we’re going to be updating this list with five games a day in ranked order, leading up to the game we’ve crowned as, yes, the very best game on the platform. Once we’re done, this will be our new and definitive list, replacing our previous, smaller version. Updates will appear on this very page so make sure to check back through the week.
So, without further ado, here are UploadVR’s 25 best HTC Vive games.
25. Redout – Read Our Review
PC VR gamers might not have a Wipeout game to call their own, but Redout is a more than worthy substitute. This futuristic racer has you bombing along eye-popping circuits at blistering speeds. It’s a brutal, no-compromise speedster that throws you straight in at the deep end and demands your stomach keep up with the 80-level campaign that keeps its foot on the pedal from start to finish.
Redout’s secret sauce is the fact that its VR support is optional, which meant developer 34BigThings was able to ladle on the stunning visuals and heaps of content without having to rely solely on sales from the fledgling VR market. This is a big game with tons of content that’s absolutely worth your consideration.
24. Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives – Read Our Review
You know how people look back on the early days of PlayStation with fond memories of Crash and Spyro? Or get all nostalgic for Super Mario World on SNES? We’d bet that Job Simulator will be remembered in a similar way one day. Owlchemy Labs gave us arguably the first game that showed us what high-end VR (spearheaded by Vive itself) could do by creating virtual simulations of the mundanity of modern jobs and then letting you make your own fun.
Job Simulator orders you to throw responsibility out of the window. It lets you trash your office desk, make the biggest, most ridiculous sandwich known to man or light fireworks inside a convenience store with no real repercussions. Not only are these fun activities in themselves, but the game’s masterful design keeps the friction between you and the virtual world to a minimum. Most tellingly, it remains a key cornerstone of how to make an immersive VR game well over two years since its original release. Job done.
23. Creed: Rise to Glory – Read Our Review
Few sports go hand-in-hand with current VR systems as well as boxing, and Creed: Rise to Glory is undeniably the best entry into the genre yet. Developer Survios was able to build upon its three other VR releases (each of which was in consideration for this list) with a game that didn’t just let you live out the boxing champion fantasy but is also smartly made to keep you grounded in VR.
Creed uses what Survios calls the ‘Phantom Melee’ system, which is designed to do away with those awkward spamming issues that many VR boxing games struggle with. It simulates fatigue and places restrictions on your character, forcing you to fight with fairness and strategy. That makes for thrilling multiplayer that isn’t just a chaotic free-for-all. The best thing we can say about Creed is that you could strip the movie tie-in right out of it and you’d still have something every bit as thrilling. The proof is in the punch.
22. Transpose – Read Our Review
After the bullet-dodging thrills of Blasters of the Universe, Secret Location had its work cut out for it maintaining its standards with Transpose. Fortunately, the game passes the difficult second album test with ease; Transpose is a mind-bending puzzle game in which you record your own actions, store them as echoes, and then work together with your past self in order to solve a series of challenges.
Hyperbole be damned; we were often reminded of Portal as we trekked through the game’s ethereal world, defying gravity and gradually being introduced to new concepts that shift the core mechanics in clever, enlightening ways. This is an example of a VR game that feels demonstrably made for the platform it’s appearing on, providing gameplay experiences you simply won’t have seen on a TV or monitor before. That’s something every VR developer should be considering at the heart of their projects.
21. Apex Construct – Read Our Review
If you’re looking for a full adventure that plays to VR’s strengths and puts you right inside of your own action movie, you could do a lot worse than Apex Construct. Fast Travel Games’ debut project feels like an amalgamation of two years of VR game development learnings packed into the kind of journey that early adopters have been craving ever since they picked up their HTC Vives.
Here you explore a post-apocalyptic world overrun with vicious robots. As you uncover more about an ongoing battle between two sentient AI constructs you risk life and limb in razor-sharp archery combat that will have you ducking and dodging incoming attacks. Apex Construct is far from perfect but it’s one of the few VR games to adopt the kind of structure and design that modern gamers expect out of mid-range titles, and that’s an achievement good enough to earn its place here.
20. The Mage’s Tale – Read Our Review
Dungeon crawlers were some of the earliest immersive videogames out there, so it’s only right that one of the genre’s best developers delivers one of the best VR games to date. The Mage’s Tale is a robust adventure that lets you do battle with a whole manner of nasty creatures from living skeletons to massive bosses. Better yet, it allows you to mix and craft your own spells to create deadly combinations that make you feel truly powerful.
What we like so much about The Mage’s Tale is just how fully it commits to its fantasy setting. In one moment it’s like stepping into the world of the Dark Crystal and then, later on, it’s more comparable to The Lord of the Rings. Add in over ten hours of gameplay and there’s a meaty quest to be undertaken here. Spell-casting VR games are a dime a dozen but, for our money, this is one of the best places to do it so far.
19. Subnautica – Read Our Review
Whenever anyone thinks of the possibilities of VR, diving isn’t far from thought. Subnautica is, without question, the best underwater game you can find for headsets right now, with a vast, diverse ocean to explore that will never fail to drop your jaw. After your home erupts in flames, you’re left stranded in the middle of the sea and it’s up to you to save yourself.
What makes Subnautica stand out is that it isn’t just a game about looking at aquatic wildlife. There are a ton of those in VR already and they’re all great, but this is a full gaming experience with survival mechanics, combat and base building. It is, both literally and figuratively, one of the deepest VR games going. Oh yeah, there’s just a hint of horror in there too for all those of us that don’t like being eaten by sharks (that’s everyone). Fingers crossed the sequel doesn’t abandon VR.
18. Downward Spiral: Horus Station – Read Our Review
Rift may have Lone Echo, but Downward Spiral’s methodic space odyssey means Vive players have an excellent zero-gravity adventure to call their own too. This is an atmospheric adventure in which you explore the remains of a seemingly abandoned space station orbiting a mysterious planet and must learn what transpired. At times it’s ambiguous and explorative, whereas at other points it’s got some of the best action going on the platform.
You can’t help but marvel at how Downward Spiral’s zero-gravity locomotion makes it an utterly immersive experience. And it’s put to use in innovative ways, like letting players take cover behind walls and then use one hand to pop out and return fire. Better yet the game offers full co-op support if you want to see it through with a friend and there’s a pretty entertaining multiplayer mode too. Downward Spiral is pretty much the entire package.
17. Rec Room
Most social VR platforms aren’t really ‘games’, but Rec Room more than earns its place on this list by emphasizing fun activities to share with your friends rather than simply meeting up and chatting via virtual avatars. Against Gravity’s massive service offers an exhaustive number of multiplayer games and a robust creation suite that will mean you rarely run out of things to do.
This is a game that gets free-to-play right. You can decorate yourself with premium cosmetic items if you wish but all of the well-designed minigames, which include some brilliant cooperative quest levels and even a light take on the battle royale genre, are completely free to play. Add to that full cross-platform support and Rec Room is only set to thrive as the VR industry grows ever bigger. Don’t be surprised if, in the year’s to come, Rec Room becomes VR’s biggest and most recognized app.
16. In Death – Read Our Review
Everyone loves firing a bow and arrow in VR, but In Death demands you’ve put those skills you’ll have mastered in the past few years to good use. This is a hardcore action game with thoughtful roguelike elements in which you explore massive castles taking on legions of guards, zombies and worse with nothing to defend yourself with other than your trusty ranged weapon. Levels can last a long time, making them true tests of endurance.
In Death is a game for VR owners looking for a genuine challenge in their bloodshed. There’s very little hand-holding here, which makes every successful shot and conquered castle feel earned. In that sense, it’s one of the purest expressions of VR action going right now and an absolutely essential experience for anyone that can stomach a zombie jumping out at them from the dark. That’s me out, then.
15. Arizona Sunshine – Read Our Review
For some strange reason humanity seems absolutely obsessed with the zombie apocalypse, which makes a zombie VR game a huge no-brainer. It may be a few years old now but Arizona Sunshine is still easily the best zombie shooter out on the market right now, offering a full campaign in which you trek across the unforgiving desert doing battle with hordes of shuffling undead.
To many, Arizona represents to complete FPS package in VR. The campaign is lengthy, varied and offers cooperative support, and the unavoidable horde mode is one of the best in the business too. It’s the full embodiment of the zombie slaughter dream, which is why it’s had such a long life inside of VR arcades, too.
14. Vanishing Realms
Yes, we know that Vanishing Realms is still in Early Access and hasn’t been massively updated in a long time. That doesn’t change the fact that this is still arguably the very best sword combat you can have in VR today. It’s one of the first true realizations of melee combat in VR with thoughtfully-designed systems in place to keep the awkward problems of haptic-free controllers to a minimum.
Crucially, Vanishing Realms’ melee battles feel real. Every last-minute shield block and desperate swing of the sword carries real weight behind it, a weight that countless imitators have crucially been lacking so far. Games like Blade and Sorcery may threaten the game’s placing on this list, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that a significant update will one day cement its standing as one of Vive’s very best.
13. Pavlov VR
Few VR games have been as dependably updated as Pavolv which, even nearly two years into Early Access, remains one of the most consistently entertaining shooters on the market. Modern weapons and maps await you in this contemporary shooter that uses VR’s position tracking to give you a sense of tangible presence within firefights. Only smart tactics and quick reactions will help you prevail.
Most importantly, though, Pavlov is one of the few multiplayer VR games that has managed to build and sustain a community since launch. Pavlov delivers on the promise of Counter-Strike in VR in spades and we’ll be interested to see if it manages to hold its ground in the weeks and months to come.
12. Fallout 4 VR – Read Our Review
Yes, Bethesda really managed to squeeze all of its 2015 RPG hit into VR and, while not perfect, the results are largely very satisfying. The developer went to great pains to rework the game to fit VR’s motion controllers resulting in a game that feels very different to the original but mostly in the right ways.
There’s little doubt, then, that Fallout 4 VR is one of the biggest VR games going at this point. And, while it might not be as memorable as a certain other Bethesda VR port (more on that in a bit), it’s living proof that big, AAA experiences with hours upon hours of content really can work inside headsets. Perhaps it’s better to say that we look forward to the day that there are enough games of this caliber that Fallout 4 VR may not even make the list anymore.
11. The Exorcist: Legion VR – Read Our Review
You could basically do a coin toss between putting this or developer Wolf and Wood’s other VR horror game, A Chair in a Room, on this list, but The Exorcist VR more than justifies its place. Unfolding across five chapters that each present the player with different cases, this is perhaps the scariest VR game going right now. Crucially, though, that’s not because it’s simply a collection of in-your-face jump scares.
Instead, The Exorcist VR understands how to use the platform in clever, creepy ways to twist your very sanity and keep you guessing throughout. This is one of those entries in the list that’s going to be only for the very bravest of us but, if you count yourself one of those people, you can’t miss this.
10. The Lab – Read Our Review
Valve’s minigame compilation for Vive’s launch was only ever meant to tease what’s possible with its new technology, but nearly three years on and The Lab remains one of the most fun, engaging and polished products you can find in VR. Each of the games discovered within The Lab serves as an excellent showcase of one particular strand that makes up the full VR experience, be it marveling at the sights of repairing Portal’s robotic characters or firing a giant slingshot armed with sentient ordinance off into the distance.
The Lab is Valve’s template for where it wants VR to go, a snapshot of the elative, eye-opening experiences that are going to be possible with the platform. We’re still in the process of capitalizing on some of that groundwork but this is proof that we’ll get there one day. Hopefully, Valve itself is going to have some answers for us soon enough.
There’s definitely an argument to be made for keeping VR games from getting too violent but Gorn basically rips any such debate’s jaw off and then beats it to death with its own arms. Before we step into the murky ground of ‘realism’, Free Lives has jumped all the way over to the other side of the canyon and spilled a frankly hilarious amount of gore in the process. Gorn is all about being the last man standing in a gladiator arena, and the game has little in the way of rules to stop you from doing that.
Want to pull a guy’s head off? Bash him in with a rock? Swing a mace into a face and knock from some eyeballs out? Gorn lets you do all that and it feels wonderful, not because we have psychotic tendencies but because it’s all so stupidly over the top that you can help but laugh. Beyond the stupidity, though, there is actually a great structure in place here that will keep you coming back to unlock new content and make battles surprisingly tense affairs, too. It’s as stupid as it gets but Gorn’s a game you should take seriously too.
8. Moss – Read Our Review
Moss is one of a handful of 2018 games that proved that third-person VR experiences don’t just work but can make for some of the absolute best content out on the platform right now. You guide an adorable little mouse named Quill through diorama-sized levels, solving puzzles and taking on fearsome critters in sword-based combat.
While its mechanically refined, Moss’ real claim to fame is the bond you build with Quill over the course of the adventure. Playing as a larger companion to the tiny protagonist, you really start to connect with her as you work together to overcome obstacles. It feels very much like a team effort, which is quite a remarkable feeling in itself. Bring on Book 2.
With seemingly overnight success and some of the most solid, realistic shooting mechanics in VR, you wouldn’t have considered Onward to have been developed by just one person who hadn’t even made a game before. But that really is how this excellent multiplayer military simulation game came into existence, paving the way for a new breed of VR games, the kind that people have wanted for ages.
What’s so impressive about Onward is its distinct identity. Whereas Pavlov impressively apes Counter-Strike with its tightly-designed maps, Onward is much more grounded in realism, with its pacing reflecting that. This is a game that demands tight teamwork and measured movements if you’re to survive on the battlefield. It’s still in Early Access but Onward has easily proven itself to be one of the Vive’s best games.
6. L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files – Read Our Review
Rockstar’s first stab at VR might not have been exactly what we were expecting it to be but there’s no denying that L.A. Noire is anything less than a very thoughtful and ultimately successful attempt at bringing a top-tier gaming experience to the uncharted waters of the HTC Vive. The VR Case Files takes select missions from the original game that would be best-suited to VR and lets you loose inside Rockstar’s stunning rendition of 1940’s L.A..
It may not be the full open-world sandbox we’re craving but L.A. Noire does have some features that make it perfectly-suited to VR. Questioning suspects, for example, is brought to life by the face-scanning application applied to the original game, and the crime-scene investigations make much more sense inside a headset. This is ultimately a step towards something important for VR, but it’s a big one all the same.
5. Beat Saber
Who would have guessed that, with everything developers could do, the closest VR has yet gotten to a ‘killer app’ is a rhythm action game with knock-off lightsabers? It seems ridiculous but just one go on Beat Saber and you’ll understand why it’s such a hit; it’s an utterly entrancing experience that makes you feel like the king of the world. That’s all you need VR to be.
You slash notes that arrive on time with a beat. It sounds simple but, in practice, there are few things more satisfying to do in VR. It won’t be long until your throwing your motion controllers around like a ninja, working up a sweat and instinctively dancing to the given track. Once Beat Saber gets long-promised PC VR features like a custom song editor and multiplayer support then frankly we can only see it climbing ever higher in this list.
4. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition – Read Our Review
Hellblade developer Ninja Theory may have recently been bought by Microsoft but that didn’t stop it from releasing one of 2018’s most surprising, polished and all-around best VR games. You probably already know Hellblade as an intricately woven and unbearably tense exploration of mental health complete with eye-popping visuals and fantastic combat.
Hellblade’s VR edition is all of that… in VR. Ninja Theory pulls off a first-rate VR conversion here, managing to mine fresh gold from the game’s most intimate and effective moments. If you want proof that you can port big games to VR and, with just a little thought, enhance the experience, look no further than Hellblade VR.
3. The Gallery Episodes 1 & 2 – Read Our Review
The initial entry in Cloudhead Games’ groundbreaking The Gallery series was one of the purest, most exciting explorations of what VR adventure gaming could be for its time. It boasted the childlike fantasy of films like The Dark Crystal and combined that with an entirely new way to solve puzzles and interact with characters. It was a tease of what was to come for VR.
Then Episode 2 came along and successfully turned all of that into a ‘full’ experience. On the hunt for your missing sister, you journey to other worlds an meet an impossible cast of characters across some truly amazing landscapes. The Gallery is all about really making you believe you’ve teleported to another world, and it’s one of VR’s most successful titles in that respect. Paired together, The Gallery series is one of the most complete, thoughtful experiences you can yet find in VR. We can’t wait to find out more about Episode 3.
2. Skyrim VR – Read Our Review
It turns out that the Skyrim of VR is, well, Skyrim in VR. There are definitely some awkward quirks to Betheda’s port of its ever-popular fantasy RPG, but we were more than willing to put them to the back of our minds as we explored Tamriel like never before. With hundreds of hours worth of content, full autonomy to make the kind of character you want and an enormous world to explore, Skyrim VR is the closest we’ve come to fulfilling every adventurer’s dreams (outside of taking an arrow to the knee).
Plus, on top of the original game, mod support makes this an unending fountain of brilliant fan-made content that can turn you into entirely new characters or even let you experience whole other games that are every bit as good as the original. Skyrim VR is going to be hard to top for some time.
1. Superhot VR – Read Our Review
Superhot is, without a doubt, the most instantly rewarding game to play in VR. The flatscreen original was great but, by bringing your whole body into this groundbreaking shooter, the developer completely flips the game on its head. In Superhot (stop me if you’ve heard this before), time moves only when you do. That means that when you’re still, the world around you is too. Every time you raise your arm or duck your head, the world crawls into life. You’re essentially a human video playback device.
Superhot gives you a stark realization of the physicality of VR and what that means for gaming. It’s an experience in which you are aware of every inch of your body. It also makes it effortlessly easy to feel cool in VR; every catch of a handgun or toss of a ninja star comes with an incredible strand of slick satisfaction you won’t find anywhere else. Superhot VR is currently the gold standard for VR shooters and, in our opinion, the very best game on the HTC Vive.