Got a VR headset for the holidays this year and unsure of where to start? Not to worry — whether you’ve got an Oculus Quest, Vive Cosmos, or a Nintendo Labo VR kit, here are recommendations for some of our favorite games that best show off the platform’s capabilities. There’s a good range of games that span family-friendly to escape-the-family, so hopefully there’s something here for everyone.
We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used games, apps, and entertainment. Check out our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs and Macs; our favorite mobile games from Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass; and our top choices for gaming PCs, the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and VR. We’ve also listed our favorite streaming shows on Disney+, Hulu, ESPN and Netflix, some great sci-fi books, and exciting new podcasts. (Note: pricing was accurate at the time of publishing, but may change.)
Moss is a virtual reality adventure game developed and published by American studio Polyarc. The game is presented from a blend of first-person and third-person perspectives, with a primary focus on solving puzzles. Moss was released for the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows in February 2018 and June 2018, respectively.
An adorable action-puzzle-adventure game, Moss immerses you in a fantasy land with a tiny mouse named Quill as your sidekick. Together, you and Quill roam the woodlands to fight your enemies, rescue your kingdom, and rescue Quill’s uncle. Small task for a mighty mouse. It’s a beautiful tale told cinematically, and a great game to get lost in for hours of virtual exploration.
Just in time for the new Star Wars movie season, Vader Immortal makes a great addition to a VR game library for any fan of the franchise. The game contains three episodes set some time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. You play as a smuggler captured by the Empire, attempting to escape alongside your droid sidekick ZO-E3. The cinematic journey takes you through much more, of course, as you learn about your true origins and ultimate mission. The game feels like an extension of what takes place in the Rogue One universe, with you as one of the protagonists to turn those wheels along.
The Last Guardian’s VR Demo
Although The Last Guardian’s VR game came out two years ago and only ever existed as a demo, it’s still a worthy download to experience the platform at its finest. You’re introduced to a cat-bird-dog hybrid creature named Trico, a large new friend who’ll accompany you through this new virtual world. Although the game is clearly fantasy, the experience feels distinctly natural, with unexpected interactions at every opportunity as you get to know Trico. It’s a mesmerizing game, and will only take up 30 or so minutes if you’re short on time.
Beat Saber is a virtual reality rhythm game developed and published by Beat Games. The game features the player slicing blocks representing musical beats with a pair of red and blue light sabers and takes place in a surrealistic neon noir environment. Following an early access release in November 2018, the game was fully released for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows on May 21, 2019. The game supports most virtual reality headsets, such as PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Oculus Quest.
If music and hand-eye coordination is your thing, there are several visually stunning rhythm games that’ll keep you entertained (and possibly help work up a sweat.) For a dose of Dance Dance Revolution without all the jumping around, Beat Saber lets you learn how to dance by hitting various directional blocks via light sabers. New music packs are also occasionally added in case you get tired of playing the same tracks, and new 90-degree and 360-degree modes suit those looking for a new challenge.
For those looking for more of a rhythm game combined with a bit of action, Pistol Whip is a great mix of both. You play as a spy in an alternate world where the villain’s lair is super colorful and bright, with fun music to accompany each shot you take and bullet you dodge. The learning curve for playing the game is mighty low, but things can get challenging fast.
Tetris Effect is a tile-matching puzzle video game developed by Japanese studios Monstars and Resonair and published by Enhance Games. The game was released worldwide exclusively for the PlayStation 4 on November 9, 2018, and features support for the PlayStation VR. A Microsoft Windows version, with support for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, released on July 23, 2019.
For a refresh on the classics, Tetris Effect is a beautiful take on the iconic puzzle game, combining ethereal graphics with a great soundtrack to make clearing each line of blocks more satisfying than ever. November marked the game’s one-year anniversary, with new soundtracks released to keep things fresh.
I Expect You To Die
I Expect You To Die is a virtual reality action video game developed and published by Schell Games and released in late 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows. In the game, the player assumes the role of a “James Bond-esque” spy and is tasked to complete levels. The game can be played using the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, and the Oculus Quest.
Those who enjoy escape the room-type games should give I Expect You To Die a go. You play as a secret agent tasked with various missions in order to defeat a billionaire supervillain — all while avoiding impending death, of course. Despite the name, it’s not as macabre as it sounds. The graphics are fun and quirky, with rooms that are well designed and immersive to explore. It’s also easy enough for players of every age and skill level to try, and can be played sitting down so you can plug in and get comfortable.
Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is an action puzzle video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii U. It is a spin-off of the Super Mario series which builds upon the isometric minigames starring Captain Toad from Super Mario 3D World. The game was announced at Nintendo’s Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014 Nintendo Direct presentation and released in 2014 and 2015.
If you got a Nintendo Labo kit for the holidays, you’ll find that all the associated games are mini experiences that can be played through quickly, and Nintendo has only rolled out support for a select few games. But of the four supported classics, the one best suited for the platform is probably Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker. The game literally begs you to explore, and the way the game is designed makes the best use of your ability to look around and find different nooks and crannies to figure out where the stars are hidden.
The Climb is a first person virtual reality video game, developed for the PC by Crytek in partnership with Oculus VR. It was released on the Oculus Home on April 28, 2016.
In the game, the player’s objective is to climb stone walls to the top of each of the stages that are presented.
Inspired by Free Solo but not exactly ready to, you know, risk your entire life seeking that kind of thrill? The Climb recreates that experience with beautiful sceneries but without any of the danger. You can select from easy, medium, or hard levels — but beware! Just because it says easy, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be struggling to keep yourself afloat.
Often described as blitzball from Final Fantasy 10 meets VR, Echo Arena is a sports game that lets you dive, fly, tackle, and shoot discs to score points against your opposing team. Think of it as playing ultimate Frisbee in a zero gravity setting while you double as a battle robot.
First person shooter
Robo Recall is a virtual reality first-person shooter game developed and published by Epic Games for Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest platforms. The game was released for the Oculus Rift on March 1, 2017, and an Oculus Quest version titled ‘Robo Recall: Unplugged’ was released on May 21, 2019. Players that activate their Oculus Touch virtual reality controllers with its software are able to download the game for free.
Robo Recall is a first person shooter game that’ll make you feel like a sci-fi superhero. Your job is to extinguish an onslaught of rogue robots and figure out what made them “defective” in the first place. There’s a little bit of humor mixed into the action, with no graphic violence (if you’re concerned about that).
Arizona Sunshine is a zombie survival first-person shooter video game released on December 6, 2016. The game is compatible with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, Valve Index and PlayStation VR virtual reality headsets.
If violence is not an issue for you, then check out Arizona Sunshine for a zombie shooter that’ll have you constantly narrowly escaping death. Hordes of zombies will come at you as you run through the Arizona desertscape, weaving through decrepit cabins, abandoned cars, and underground tunnels in search of your safe haven. You’ll want a lot of open space for this one, as you’ll be moving and dodging a lot.
Vacation Simulator / Job Simulator
You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy silly simulation games like Vacation Simulator and Job Simulator. Really, you don’t even have to know how to do anything at all. Quirky robots tell you exactly how to move around in the game, and you don’t have to do anything right but mess stuff up (or make things neat, if that’s your thing) by poking around and seeing what random stuff in the room does. It’s surprisingly therapeutic.