The food coma is fast approaching, but you probably still have some fellow Americans to entertain on this holiest of holy feasts. What better way to liven up the post Turkey Day frivolities than popping your brand-new VR headset on a noggin or three?

Keep in mind: some of the best results we’ve had over the years tend to be with very noob-friendly games and apps. Your Thanksgiving Day guests probably won’t have enough time (or inclination) to learn complex mechanics, and keeping things quick and simple is usually the right way to go to make sure everyone not only gets involved, but doesn’t have to wait around a bunch either.

Above all, one of the best ways of getting everyone gawking is by making sure you can see the action on a TV screen or monitor, which you can do easily with any headset out there. It’s fairly straight forward on SteamVR and PSVR 2 since you already have a monitor/TV hooked up. For Quest, you can mirror your view to your Meta App-connected phone, or cast to a smart TV.

Now, let the arm flailing and requisite safety briefing begin!

Beat Saber

  • What: This incredibly addictive and easy to pick-up game is one of the best entry points for VR firstimers, but has enough depth to appeal to anyone along their way on the pro VR gamer skill tree.
  • Who: Everyone will want to get up at least for a song to slice blocks to the beat. Thankfully there’s plenty of difficulty settings to satisfy even the most musically disinclined.
  • How long: 5 – 15 minutes per person
  • Why: Most songs last around five minutes, but you’re bound to encounter failures along the way, and also family members that just can’t help themselves for a second go at another song.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR/2, PC VR

Store links: Meta Store (Quest, Rift), PlayStation StoreSteam

Pistol Whip

  • What: Like Beat Saber in addictiveness, but instead of slicing blocks to the beat, you’re shooting dudes John Wick-style. It’s all very stylized, so there probably won’t be much, if any pearl-clutching.
  • Who: Older kids, teens and adults of all ages.
  • How long: 5 – 10 minutes per person
  • Why: Like Beat Saber, most songs (called ‘scenes’) last around five minutes. Remember to lower the difficult to easy mode so most anyone will get to the end of the level.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR/2, PC VR

Store links: Meta Store (Quest, Rift), PlayStation StoreSteam

CREED: Rise to Glory

  • WhatCREED: Rise to Glory (2018) is a highly polished arcade boxing game that puts you in the shoes of Adonis Creed, the protagonist of CREED (2016) and CREED II (2018). Punch, punch, punch, block and dodge.
  • Who: Everyone with some caveats. Make sure your family member is physically fit enough to go the distance for a full match, and kids may have problems hitting their much taller targets.
  • How long: 5 – 10 minutes
  • Why: Freeplay matches against AI can last anywhere from 2 – 5 minutes, but depending on how much fun everyone is having, this might be a good opportunity to let your family members really flaunt their dodging and punching prowess for a few sessions.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR/2, PC VR

Store Links: Meta Store (Quest, Rift), PlayStation StoreSteam

Blaston

  • What: This room-scale is a free-to-play shooter that puts you in a ring to go 1v1, giving you multiple weapons to shoot and dodge around. While online matches are great for seasoned players, pop into single player mode for some quicker and easier human vs. AI action. Also, if you have two headsets, you could set up 1v1 duels!
  • Who: Everyone will want a turn, as they see you grabbing guns and Matrix-diving out of the way of oncoming bullets.
  • How long: 5 – 10 minutes
  • Why: Individual matches can be shorter than 5 minutes, although you may want to dedicate more time to each player, as they quickly build expertise with the game’s various weapons.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PC VR

Store LinksMeta StoreSteam

Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs

  • What: This VR version of the hit mobile game Angry Birds is exactly what it says on the tin, putting the slingshot in your hand to take the fight to the evil piggies, who hide in increasingly elaborate wooden structures.
  • Who: Everyone should find this one an easy choice; it’s dead simple and super fun to smash blocks and knock down stuff. Serious name brand recognition should also perk up an ear or two with the older crowd.
  • How long: under 5 minutes
  • Why: It’s easy to get lost in this one, as you trudge ahead to harder levels, or continuously retry a level to get the best score. Pass this one around the room quickly and keep the masses snacking.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR/2, PC VR

Store links: Meta Store (Quest, Rift), PlayStation StoreSteam

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Puzzling Places

  • What: Puzzling Places brings relaxing and wholesome 3D jigsaw puzzling to VR, letting you put together hyper-realistic miniatures of beautiful places from around the globe.
  • Who: Everyone. While it doesn’t have a ton of crowd-pleasing wow factor, this is great for quieter moments where you want to show off how ‘neat’ VR can be, especially to older family members.
  • How long: under 5 minutes
  • Why: Keep difficulty low to get people through fast enough
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR/2

Store links: Meta StorePlayStation Store

Wooorld [Quest]

  • What: It’s like Google Earth for Quest. Browse an immersive, 360 Street View photospheres, or look down at a tinker toy map of 3D cities. It’s social, but you can also do private single-player sessions so people don’t have to deal with multiplayer.
  • Who: Everyone. We’ve all had places from our past that we either haven’t or physically can’t return to. This gives you and your loved ones a trip down memory lane that is sure to set off some long conversations and stories.
  • How long: 10 – 20 minutes per person
  • Why: You can easily spend hours alone revisting places, but make sure to set the expectation early on that not everyone can hog the headset. Ask someone to show you their childhood home, or favorite vacation spot and move on to the next person.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro

Store linksMeta Store

SUPERHOT VR [No PSVR 2 Support]

  • What: Insanely stylish, easy to pick up and play, Superhot VR (2017) tosses a little time-bending cartoon violence your family’s way that shouldn’t receive too many odd glances from the older generation.
  • Who: Younger, more game-savvy players are sure to love the concept, letting them live out their dreams of being an action hero. The concept is simple and slow enough to get anyone in the mood to punch some red crystal dudes in the face.
  • How long: 5 – 10 minutes
  • Why: A single stage can go by pretty quickly. It may be best to do a round-robin style match that lets everyone have a go when one player fails a level, or relegate a person to two to three of the smaller sections a piece.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR (no PSVR 2), PC VR

Store links: Meta Store (Quest, Rift), PlayStation StoreSteam

Richie’s Plank Experience [No PSVR 2]

  • What: Walk the plank! Literally! Get a wooden board from your garage and line it up with the game’s virtual plank to really scare the bejesus out of people as they teeter over perilous heights.
  • Who: Everyone, with a few caveats. Make sure the person is healthy enough to take a self-induced tumble. Tell kids they can’t jump off the ledge and skydive, because… floor.
  • How long: 5 minutes per person
  • Why: This is a classic experience that will have everyone watching and wanting to take a go themselves, putting your VR headset at the center of attention.
  • Platforms: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR/2, PC VR

Store links: Meta Store (Quest, Rift), PlayStation StoreSteam

Gran Turismo [PSVR 2]

  • What: Drive fast in cars you can’t afford.
  • Who: Older kids, teens, and adults. Although speeds can be excessive, the driving experience is comfortable enough for most anyone.
  • How long: 5 minutes per person
  • Why: You can easily put someone in the corner with this one, as they progress to more difficult tracks, although it’s an easy game to pass around as people get the immersive feel of driving faster than they ever have in real life.
  • Platforms: PSVR 2

Store Links: PlayStation Store


Don’t Miss

  • Quest Intro Apps – Oculus First Contact, First Steps, and First Encounters (Quest 3) are great ways to ease in newbies if they’re looking to learn more about the headset and common control schemes. Not a ton of crowd wow factor, but it might be just the thing for a smaller gathering with more dedicated neophytes.
  • Space Pirate Trainer – Pew pew pew. It’s fundamentally just a wave shooter, but it’s by far one of the best looking and best feeling out there. Find it on Meta Store (Quest, Rift), SteamPlayStation Store.
  • Half-Life: Alyx – It’s not going to be the easiest to show off, since you’ll need to have a specific safe state in mind to drop players into, but it’s tough to beat if you’re looking to wow anyone with the best-looking VR games out there. Find it on Steam.
  • Red Matter or Red Matter 2 – Again, story-based stuff with a ton of tutorial-worthy VR control mechanics won’t be the easiest to show off, but if you happen to have a good save state, it can’t hurt to pop a non-believer into this extremely polished adventure game. Find both on Steam, PlayStation Store, Quest, and Rift.
  • Moss or Moss 2 – Try plopping the kids down into this family-friendly puzzle platformer that will have you awwwing to nearly the same degree as Astro Bot. Find both on Steam, PlayStation Store, Quest, and Rift.
  • Google Earth VR – This PC VR-only app is a good replacement for Wooorld. Giving a loved one the opportunity to travel, especially if they aren’t physically able, is going to really be a special moment. Travel the sights and revisit distant places you never thought you’d see again in the flesh. Find it on Steam and Rift.
  • ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission – Maybe not great for the crowd-pleasing wow factor, but after you show off some of the fan favorites above you might park a few more of your curious family members in a chair and let them experience the best platformer PSVR has to offer. Find it on PlayStation Store (No PSVR 2).
  • The Lab – Valve’s PC VR-only collection of mini-games and photogrammetry scenes isn’t really the “future” of VR anymore, but kids and adults alike will love the app’s snackable mini-games Longbow, Core Calibration, and Xortex. Find it on Steam.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Quick question:
    does anyone else encounter stuttering to PC via Virtual Desktop on Quest 3 where it was stable on Quest 2?
    Setup, dedicated router etc. still the same.

    • ViRGiN

      #offtopic
      and no

      • dextrovix

        This is very much on topic- the turkey on the right is a mirror of your avatar. Gobble gobble gobble!

        • ViRGiN

          How dare you! That’s the only existing photo in entire universe of Lord Gayben having a headset on! He is a big vr enthusiast, and I’m glad he chose Meta Quest 3 as his daily driver.

        • CrusaderCaracal

          Insulting the very divine being that brought you SteamVR? Heresy.

    • dextrovix

      No, it’s been okay for me, on desktop and in a game on Quest 3. I’ve never had a Quest 2 to compare, but used other headsets with Virtual Desktop without issue.

      • Thanks. Do you have wifi 5 or 6/6e router? It seems as folks with wifi 5 and ac channel have the stuttering problems on Q3.

        • dextrovix

          The thing is, I also cheat and don’t even use an Ethernet for the PC, but my WiFi router (Tp-Link A6 AC200) supports MIMO and I believe PC adapter is theregore AC to suppory the MIMO standard. Whether the Quest also supports MIMO I can’t say, but with a 4k monitor, the view as rendered by Virtual Desktop runs well in there…

  • Contrabardus

    This is not the best list for family gatherings. We should assume that a lot of family won’t be gamers or might be on the younger side.

    I’d argue Brink Traveler is better than Plank for family gatherings.

    You can look down the edge in some scenes if you want that thrill, but it’s also as chill as you want it to be.

    I also can’t understate animation with no or limited interaction for VR noobs.

    Stuff like Wolves in the Walls, Baba Yaga, Bonfire, Gloomy Eyes, Paper Birds, etc…

    Maybe something like Apollo 11 or Titans of Space if I want to put on something “educational” that the parents there might appreciate.

    The MR demo that comes with Quest 3 is also really great.

    Job Simulator is also better for family than something like Super Hot or Pistol Whip. No fail state, no movement required outside of a playspace, and no fail state. The point is to just goof off.

    If I have a gamer family member I want to give a thrill to, I’m putting them in the Team Beef Doom 3.

  • Jeggo

    Interesting list, Scott. The most immersive memories my family and friends have from the time when I showed them VR for the first time with the HTC Vive though, wasn’t Super Hot, Budget Cuts or Beat Saber, but Ocean Rift. All those years later they mention the scene with the wale, where she gives you a short glance before she goes off in a swoop.

    Beat Saber has made lots of friends buy a Rift back then, because they became addicted playing it at my place for hours. Playing Beat Saber for 5 minutes wasn’t fun for anyone, because it takes you 15 to 60 minutes to get good enough to play something with success.

    PS: All the people I made buying an Oculus Rift are disillusioned. Friction is still way too high and I sense that they feel like I made them buy a racing game setup, which they don’t have a dedicated space for in their apartments.

    I have the feeling, the only people who use VR regularly, are either kids or tech enthusiast. I myself have accumulated nine HMDs myself, because I am an absolute enthusiast when it comes to new human-computer interfaces, but I barely use them (once every one to three weeks). What is your experience on that?