It was a hard decision, but you’ve decided to go with the HTC Vive as your first ‘serious’ VR headset, a room-scale device that released early 2016 as a result of a decisive collaboration with Valve. Here we take a look at our pick of the best Vive games, and a little more information you might need to get you started.
The Vive is a powerful ally in the fight against marketplace fragmentation, as it draws content from Steam, Viveport—and with the help of Revive, a software hack that lets you play Oculus exclusives. Right out of the box, you’ll have a room-scale setup, something that the Rift requires at least one additional sensor to claim, all the while delivering comparable standing and seated experiences as well.
Before we go any further though, you’ll find that you have access to a number of games on our Best 5 Games for Oculus Rift list thanks to the Revive hack, so make sure to check out some of the guaranteed fresh Oculus exclusives, and all the games that support Rift and Vive equally well. In any case, all of the games below are natively supported for Vive and purchasable through Steam.
The 5 Best Vive Games
5 – Moss
Once a PSVR exclusive, Moss (2017) has now made its way to PC VR headsets, letting you control your cute little mouse buddy, Quill, on your adventures through a large and dangerous world. Stylistically, Moss hits a home run with its impressive diorama-style visuals and interactive elements that lets you, the player (aka ‘The Reader’) move puzzle pieces around and also take over the minds of enemies as Quill slashes through the world to recover her lost uncle. Puzzles may not be the most difficult, but Moss has effectively set up a universe begging for more sequels to further flesh out the enticing world Polyarc Games has created.
While Moss is primarily a seated game, you’ll enjoy it just the same regardless of the Vive’s room-scale abilities.
See why we gave it a [7.9/10] in our review on PSVR.
4 – Budget Cuts
Budget Cuts (2018), the first-person stealth VR game from Stockholm-based indie studio Neat Corporation, first released came into the world via a free demo in 2016. The demo, which quickly became a breakout success in the early days of consumer VR, demonstrated a unique portal-teleportation mechanic, that, when married with the ability to throw knives at robot guards, spelled an instant hit—at least from a basic gameplay perspective. Two years later, the full release of Budget Cuts is here and it’s definitely been worth the wait.
At the time of this writing, it still suffers from some bugs. Although when everything goes right, Budget Cuts makes the top 5 cut for delivering Vive players a uniquely room-scale stealth assassin game that will have you cowering for your life underneath virtual filing cabinets.
Find out why we gave Budget Cuts a [9.2/10] in our review.
3 – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
Bethesda’s Skyrim VR (2017) was once a PSVR exclusive, but ever since it made its way to Steam (Vive, Rift, Windows VR), the game has really come into its own on PC VR platforms. Thanks to the average VR-ready gaming PC’s ability to render the open world at a much higher resolution, you’ll really feel like you’ve stepped into the world of Skyrim, replete with trolls, dragons, and a seemingly endless list of things to do and places to explore.
See why we gave Skyrim VR a solid [8/10] in our review.
2 – Beat Saber
Created by Prague-based indie team Beat Studio (ex-Hyperbolic Magnetism), Beat Saber (2018) is a funky and incredibly stylish rhythm game that will have you slicing blocks to the beat of high-BPM dance music. While the idea is simple, the execution is magnificent. Beat Saber gives you 10 songs, each with four difficulty levels to master, the highest being expert which will have you feeling like a 21st century techno-jedi.
Beat Saber is still in Early Access, and awaiting updates such as multiplayer and official track editors, so we haven’t given it a grade yet. Check out our Early Access review here though to get a better idea of what Beat Saber has to offer.
1 – SUPERHOT VR
Based on the PC/console version of SUPERHOT (2016), the strategy-based first-person shooter was re-imagined from the ground-up for VR headsets in SUPERHOT VR (2016). As an entirely new game in the same vein as its flatscreen counterpart, the iconic red baddies (and their bullets) move only when you do, so you can line up your shot, punch a guy in the face, dodge a bullet, and toss a bottle across the room, shattering their red-glass heads in what feels intensely immersive and satisfying—because you’re doing it all with your own two hands. That and you’ll feel like a badass no matter whose basement you live in.
- Fallout 4 VR: Fallout 4 (2015), the post-apocalyptic adventure from Bethesda Game Studios is here in its entirety in VR. Like Skyrim VR, it gives you a vast open world to explore, but suffers from some optimization issues that require the user to tweak before really enjoying it.
- The Gallery: Heart of the Emberstone: It’s a longer, stronger and more immersive experience than the first in the series, The Gallery: Call of the Starseed (2016), and shows that Cloudhead Games has put in the hours producing a visually and emotionally adept story that feels like it hasn’t outworn its welcome. Puzzles are innovative, and while they aren’t particularly difficult, they always reward you with something worth pursuing.
- The Mage’s Tale: Crafting elemental magic, exploring foreboding dungeons, battling giants and stealing their treasure. There’s all of this and more in The Mage’s Tale. Although story-wise the game comes too close to campy and played out for its own good, it’s still a solid investment for the enterprising young wizard among you.
- Vanishing Realms – Letting you battle an army of skeleton demons through an archetypal fantasy world, Indimo Labs’ sword-swinging adventure game is likened to ‘Zelda in VR’ by pushing the boundaries of what VR is capable of and delivering that much sought after sword and shield combat experience.
- Raw Data: Raw Data is a heavy-hitting, fast-paced game that’s more than just a simple wave shooter. While it presses all the right buttons with atmosphere and feel, the game is on the bleeding edge of virtual interaction, which sometimes doesn’t work as well as it should. Despite its technical flaws, it’s one of the best VR shooters for HTC Vive and Oculus Touch out currently.
- Arizona Sunshine – Vertigo Games’s Arizona Sunshine (2016) puts you in the midst of the archetypal zombie apocalypse, and even though we gave it a [7.5/10], it proves to be a solid entry into the FPS genre. Suffering some finicky controls and an even more finicky multiplayer, this zombie shooter almost made our list.
- Subnautica –Out of Steam Early Access this year, Subnautica lets you pilot your own submarine, craft your underwater base, explore lush coral reefs, volcanoes, cave systems, and survive the harsh realities of the deep by out-smarting the game’s sometimes dangerous fauna.
- GORN – Games that require you to use hand-held weapons don’t seem to work as well as shooters in VR. Maybe it’s the lack of haptic-feedback, but that certainly doesn’t stop them from being immensely fun just the same. Set in some barbaric future where floating heads look down as you smash topsy-turvy, weapon-wielding gladiators, Gorn proves to be charmingly ridiculous.
- Onward – A fan favorite with a hardcore playerbase, the OD green of mil-sim shooters Onward gives you that VR battle you’ve always wanted, including tactical team-based gameplay and plenty of guns. The game itself is still fairly early in development, as it doesn’t have ranked matches yet, making it a bit intimidating from a beginner’s perspective. It’s creation is a true feat of will as it’s amazingly maintained by a singular developer.
- Pavlov VR – Incorporating classic maps from games such as N64’s Goldeneye and Counter-Strike, Pavlov serves up a slice of familiar gameplay in a new VR setting. Featuring bots, and several modes including search-and-destroy and casual fast-paced solo play, Pavlov is the CQB death match standard FPS fans have been waiting for.
- Project Cars & Project Cars 2 – You probably don’t have access to a garage full of super cars, but even if you do you’ll probably appreciate the ability to practice speeding around the track without ever having to leave home. The second in line, Project Cars 2 has a completely overhauled physics and tire models, making it a more true to life racing experience. You certainly can’t go wrong with either though!
- Windlands – Originally developed in the early days of the Oculus development kits, Windlands has since added motion controller support to its fantastical ‘castle in the sky’ setting that lets you naturally grappling hook your way across what ultimately plays out as a giant parkour puzzle. It’s an intense experience, but well worth the feeling you’ll get from conquering the highest reaches of this beautiful and unique game.
If you didn’t see your favorite game here, let us know in the comments! This is a continually evolving list, so check back for the latest in Road to VR’s top Vive games.
Update (July 7th, 2018): We’ve done a long-due overhaul of the list, and bumped a few previous games to the honorable mentions list.