First off, if you received or treated yourself to an $800 virtual reality system for Christmas, take a minute to be thankful. You’re an early adopter and you obviously have a bit of free space in your house, which are both good things!
Now that you've got an HTC Vive and have it all set up, it's time to treat yourself to some games, apps and virtual reality experiences, and Steam is the best place to find them. Steam is a lot less curated than Oculus Home which makes trying to find the good stuff a bit more tricky, but here are some picks to get you started.
A quick note: many of these games are also available on the Oculus Rift, and many of those games are available on Steam, so if you see a game on either list just take as an indication we think it’s very good and worth your time.
Tilt Brush: Google’s Tilt Brush is an inviting, creative way to get people started in VR, but the program also allows for some surprisingly complex drawings in three dimensions. It’s like drawing with light. (Buy it on Steam)
Google Earth VR: There are a few interactions in this program that may be a bit hard on the stomach if you’re new to virtual reality, but the ability to explore so much of the world using your Vive more than makes up for it. Start by finding your house after starting from space, which is easier than you’d guess, and then have fun just meandering around the rest of the planet. (Get it on Steam)
Waltz of the Wizard: This is currently one of the best-rated Vive games or experiences on Steam, and it’s free. It also shows off how magical virtual reality can be, and how enjoyable it is to explore new worlds. Waltz of the Wizard puts you in a room in front of a variety of ingredients, and you get to mix your own potions and see what hidden things you can discover. (Get it on Steam)
The Lab: This is Valve’s own taster’s menu of what’s possible with virtual reality gaming on the Vive, and each short demo feels polished and distinct. There’s a surprising amount of stuff to see and do, along with some fun surprises for fans of Valve’s existing games. If you’ve never played a Vive game, start here. (Get it on Steam)
Space Pirate Trainer: Dodge, dip, dive, duck, and dodge. This is one of those games that takes full advantage of the movement options in virtual reality, and the only way to get competitive is to learn to move out of the way of blaster fire while using your own weapons to fight back. You’ll feel like you’re in an action film. (Buy it on Steam)
Budget Cuts Demo: Enthusiasts who have had their Vives for awhile are impatient for the release of the full game, and the demo should be enough to show you why. Budget Cuts uses the room-scale capabilities of the platform to allow you to explore, teleport, hide from and kill the robots who are trying to keep you from accomplishing your goal. This is one of those games that is as fun to watch as it is to play. Almost. (Get it on Steam)
Job Simulator: Another game that benefits from the Vive’s built-in room scale capabilities, Job Simulator presents a world in which you can try just about everything ... and more often than not your weird idea about how to interact with objects rewards you with a funny interaction or Easter egg. Good for all ages, and always worth a laugh, this was one of the first great Vive games and it still remains one of the best. (Buy it on Steam)
Elite Dangerous: This is a sit-down experience that’s best played with a flight stick if you have the money and space to get that all squared away, but the reward is playing something that feels like the dream many of us had growing up: you have your own spaceship, with all the fun and headaches that come with it. Prepare to get lost. (Buy it on Steam)