The Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch motion controls bundle, which is usually priced at $600, is currently on sale for $400. That is a great deal for a device which I have at home but that I still can't really recommend because even after more than a year after release, there's just not a whole lot to do with it.
That being said, there are a handful of really great games for the Oculus Rift, so if you can't help the savings and pick one up during this sale, here are a few Motherboard-approved games you should buy and play as soon as you get one.
There are some things that these games have in common:
- They're all fairly short, and can be played in short sessions, since spending more that 30 minutes at a time in a VR headset is taxing to a lot of people.
- They're all great showcases that don't require a lot of experience with VR or games in general, so they're great whether you're new to VR yourself or want to show your friends why you just spent $400 on a dorky headset.
- Finally, they are all very polished. There a bunch of interesting VR experiences floating around, but I found that most of them are rough around the edges, and having a VR game bug out on you is extremely unpleasant. I've had smooth experiences with all of these, so it's less likely these games will make you throw up and scare you off VR forever.
The original, non-VR version of SUPERHOT was one of the best games I had time to play in 2016. It's a first person shooter with a simple and brilliant twist: time only moves when you move, so you have time to dodge bullets and throw knives at the polygonal enemies' heads with superhuman precision.
The VR version of the game plays the same way, only you can physically dodge the bullets like you're Neo in The Matrix. Throwing a shuriken at someone's head, grabbing his gun from the air, and turning around to headshot three more bad guys in slow motion is one of the most badass things I've done in a video game.
SUPERHOT VR also isn't just serving up the same levels from the original. It has new levels that are built with VR in mind, and a new story with some mind-blowing bits that take advantage of the fact that you have to put on a headset to play the game.
Thumper, the so-called "rhythm violence" game, is kind of like Guitar Hero without a plastic guitar and a bad batch of acid. It is incredibly tense, and you should play it on your PC, PlayStation 4, or Nintendo Switch even if you don't have a VR headset.
But if you do, it's the ideal way to experience the game.
Just imagine: You're a chrome scarab on a highway to hell, hurtling towards a giant demon face who'll explode you to bits if you don't dance precisely to its beat. It's a great time, and it's also the rare VR games that works well while sitting down with a controller, so it's perfect if you're lazy.
Part of the content problem with VR at the moment is that so many VR games are just shooting galleries. It's an easy choice for a platform where the player had full body movement and two motion controls with gun-like triggers. Honestly, it's kind of depressing to look at the Oculus Store and see that so many developers are still stuck on that formula.
That being said, if you're going to get a shooting gallery, you should get the best one. What started out as a tech demo from Epic Games called Bullet Train has evolved into a full-blown score attack shooter called Robo Recall, a game in which you shoot a lot of robots.
It's really straight forward game. Some might even call it dumb, and I'm not going to argue. But it's also pretty much exactly what I imagined when I fantasized about the future of virtual reality games as a kid. Pull a shotgun off your back, blow a robot away while firing a pistol at another with your other hand, then grab a robot, tear its arms off and use them to beat more robots to death. Not exactly MOMA material but a damn good time.
Some other good picks:
- Ultrawings: Very chill flight simulator, kind of like Nintendo's Pilotwings.
- Space Pirate Trainer: Another score attack shooting gallery, but this one is stripped down to simple neon graphics and shorter matches. It played like the VR version of Geometry Wars.
- Job Simulator: Less of a game and more like a funny toy you can mess around with for an hour, but this is another great one to show off to guests because it's simple and you can't die.
- AirMech: Command: It's a real-time strategy in VR, and it kinda sorta works. I never got used to the controls but it's an interesting experiment and one of the deeper multiplayer VR games around.
- Adr1ft: One of the first VR games that felt like a real game and not just a tech demo. It's about an astronaut trying to survive a disaster on a space station, and it has one of the better stories I've seen told in a VR games as well.