Oculus Rift pre-orders have been hitting doorsteps in limited quantities for the past few days (the first pre-order got hand-delivered from Oculus founder Palmer Luckey himself), but today marks the official launch of both the headset and the headset’s software platform, Oculus Home. If you’re looking to fill up your library on day one, these games will definitely merit your hard-earned cash.
While you’ve already got two guaranteed in the basket, EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack and Lucky’s Tale, we know you’ll want to tear through some of the other top-tier games in short order on day one. We’ve compiled a list that’s sure to be a safe bet for anyone with a single Benjamin (and maybe a few extra Washingtons) burning a hole in their pocket, or a credit card that still magically works for some reason. Rifters beware: some of the suggestions we make are also available on the Gear VR, so if you already own the game in question, you will naturally pass on them. There’s really no two ways about it though at the moment, as sub-$25 games are either Gear VR ports or are DK2 games made been readily made available on Steam for some time now. Rest assured, the list below reflects that. So without further ado, here are our Oculus Rift day one instabuys.
Chronos – $49.99
Starting out our list is Chronos, a third-person action-adventure game from Gunfire Games that aims to have you trekking through a series of labyrinthine worlds on a journey to restore peace to your home. We went full hands-on with Chronos at GDC 2016 two weeks ago, and what we saw was a staggeringly beautiful game with a familiar combat system seemingly lifted of gaming days of yore. Fans of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) can easily draw comparisons to the game, which follows the young protagonist throughout his life with a sword and shield in hand. Quite differently from LoZ is a unique game mechanic: the more you die in the game, the older the character gets, bringing with it new and different abilities and effectively plays out as a naturally-adjusting difficulty slider. Promising 10-12 hours of gameplay, the game takes a big chunk of the $100 budget at the cost of $50, but we think you’ll be surprised at just how immersive the world of Chronos can be.
Darknet – $9.99
Starting back in the DK1 days of the Oculus 2013 VR Jam, Darknet went a long road until its first full appearance on the Samsung Gear VR store, released for free by indie developer E. McNeil as a way to not only be one of the first full games on the platform, but as a limited time gift to early adopters. Now $9.99 on both Gear VR and Oculus Rift, the game remains one of the most engrossing titles that has you feeling like you’re ‘hacking the Gibson’ ala the cult classic Hackers (1995).
In proper cyber punk style, you hack enemy nodes in a futuristic setting—more inspiration drawn from the analogous film genres like Johnny Mnemonic (1995). You have a number of tools at your disposal to hack and infect your target, which can be anything from brute force attacks on individual nodes to viruses that circumvent the security of a node cluster, making it easier to get to the core of the computer and take it over. Darknet fits nicely in its $10 price point, as it offers plenty of tactical gameplay and engaging visuals, but doesn’t make the critical error of over-promising and under-delivering.
Windlands – $19.99
Using dual grappling hooks, you climb your way up sheer cliffs and swing from tree to tree. Air whooshes past you as you miss a green bush, your only anchor point on the side of a perilous mountaintop. Like a leaf, you slowly fall to the Earth below, cursing like a sailor the whole way down.
It’s easy to see why the devs at Psytec Games haven’t advertised any specific duration of playtime for the $20 exploration game, and that’s based on a few things that we noticed when playing. The levels are absolutely massive, giving you ample reason to stay a while and figure out the perfect technique for each level. Take note though: Windlands has been available to HTC Vive developer kits and Oculus Rift DK2 via Steam Early Access since early this year, so while we don’t advocate re-buying the game on the Oculus Store if you’ve already snapped it up on Steam, but newcomers should definitely invest some money in this atmospheric, high-flying exploration game in either marketplace at some point. Of course, you can bet the version on Oculus Home will be guaranteed to be updated to the latest Oculus runtime.
Dreadhalls – $9.99
Waking up in a rank dungeon, your only escape is through a host of ghastly creatures. Besides your oil-guzzling lamp, you must elude the monsters empty handed. No sword. No shield. No nothin’. Alright, so you may not be into horror games, which may seemingly preclude Dreadhalls from your instabuy list, but whether the first-person dungeon crawler genre is your jam or not, the visceral effect of the game on unsuspecting party guests simply can’t be denied.
Already released on Samsung Gear VR, the first-person game will definitely find a home on the Oculus Rift given the headset’s positional tracking, which makes for a much more comfortable jog through a first-person game like Dreadhalls, and the added graphics bump certainly won’t go amiss either. If your aim is to make an impression on guests or scare the living daylights out of yourself at home, this game will definitely be worth the $10 they’re charging.
Dead Secret – $14.99
More horror you say? Not quite. Dead Secret is a first-person mystery thriller done in a point-and-click style. Coming from Robot Invader, the game is cleverly formatted into VR and definitely promises to keep you on the edge of your swivel chair. Hunt through the scene of a crime, reveal clues, take down notes and explore the recently deceased’s 1965 Kansas farm-house to undercover the mysterious death. If you want to know more, check out our full review of the Gear VR version of the game.
Ok, so we’re slightly over our $100 budget, with Dead Secret bringing us to $104.95, but this 6-8 hour mystery thriller turns up the lighting effects and detail in their PC/Oculus version of the game, and giving you the much-needed positional tracking to check out the clues. Both the PC and Oculus version can be had through Steam, but it may be easier to purchase it on the Oculus store so you can keep all your games in one place.
Some thing to keep in mind…
Although not available on the Oculus Store for undisclosed reasons (likely the fault of the app’s non-support for Windows 7) Virtual Desktop is a magnificent way to play the games you already own, watch the movies you already own, use streaming TV services like Netflix—to be frank, anything you can do on your computer you can do in a resize-able window in the enviroment of your choice. Virtual Desktop is being sold on Steam, and supports both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. At the time of this writing there is no price listed, hence we couldn’t directly include it in our ~$100 breakdown. We will keep you updated as it is published later today.
On the other side of compatibility concerns, Luckey tweeted late yesterday that any existing content downloaded from Oculus Share, the company’s archive of demo content, “or anywhere else won’t work on Rift until the developer integrates SDK 1.3+,” so pre-order customers will need to dive head first into paid content until developers individually make the update to their demos. The same goes for anything found on the list of Oculus-supported Steam games, as there is no guarantee that each title will be updated to the correct runtime on day one, as it is subject to each individual developer.
If the suggestions we made aren’t your cup of tea, stay tuned for reviews of these titles and more soon to come. We also had a chance to preview a number of the games, which you can find conveniently linked in our article on the 30 Oculus Rift launch games with dates and prices of each game.