So you’re a lucky person who found an Oculus Rift under the Christmas tree, and you’re overwhelmed by the number of games and experiences available on the store? You’re not alone, and we have you covered.
These are the best games and experiences to start your virtual reality adventure off right, no matter your tastes.
Oculus Dreamdeck (free)
Dreamdeck is a series of 10 passive experiences where the player only has to look around and enjoy the sense of being in virtual reality. It’s designed as a standing experience — so don’t be afraid to get up out of your chair — and there are plenty of “wow” moments that make this the perfect way to introduce friends and family to virtual reality ... not to mention to aliens, dinosaurs, and some very high buildings.
There’s a reason 94 percent of reviewers on Oculus Home gave this four or five stars, and why so many VR enthusiasts return to it again and again to show off their hardware. You also can’t beat the price.
theBlue: Season 1 ($9.99)
This is a collection of undersea experiences, and they are all pretty relaxing, but nothing beats the moment you meet an 80-foot whale for the first time. This scene has become one of the most iconic demos in virtual reality due its sense of scale and wonder, and the entire package is easily worth the asking price. Chill out underwater for a bit. It’s a good place to take a break.
This isn’t exactly a short “film,” but that’s kind of the idea. The visuals are charming, the story does a good job of evoking an emotional reaction from the player and it provides a welcoming environment for people who may want to try VR but aren’t interested in the standard video game “look” that comes across in many of the demos above.
Your granny would probably love this, for instance.
Games that don’t require the Touch controller
If you’re using the Rift with a standard gamepad, these are the first games you should try.
The Climb ($33.49)
The Climb is a great game with a standard controller, and it’s ready for you if you decide to upgrade into Touch controllers as well. It takes a few minutes to get used to climbing using a controller, and you have to be willing to really lean in the direction you want to go in some places, but the view from the top is worth it.
It’s like Rock Band, if Rock Band were trying to kill you. This “rhythm violence” game is intense without making you ill, and every piece of Thumper is working with everything else around it to get you into a state of flow. Thumper is fun on a standard screen, but VR is the way it should be played.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (14.99)
The player in the headset can see the bomb, and everyone around them has to pore over the printed out manual to try to tell them how to safely defuse it. It’s a tense game of communication that’s best played with friends who don’t mind screaming about which buttons you should be pressing.
Lucky’s Tale (free)
Do you like Super Mario 64? Are you curious about what it would be like in virtual reality? Here you go. It’s a great game for all age groups, the flying camera is expertly designed to give you a good view of the action while still allowing you to look around and explore and there are plenty of secrets for the adventurous players.
My kids love this one, and I’m a big fan as well.
Games that require the Touch controllers
It might feel like a bummer for your shiny new VR headset to offer a $200 upgrade for better controls, but the Touch controllers turn the Rift into a much more complete and satisfying platform.
You’ll rarely play sitting down if you’re using the Touch controllers, and it’s much easier to lose yourself in the games when you can see your hands and interact with the world in a way that feels much more natural.
Here’s where you should get started, after you harvest all your free games. Seriously, there’s a ton of great free stuff you get with these controllers. Take advantage of all of it.
Got them all? Cool. Let’s keep going. Oculus is offering an $89.99 bundle that includes Space Pirate Trainer, I Expect You To Die, Kingspray Graffiti, Superhot VR and The Climb. These are some of the best games available on the Touch platform, and you’ll save 25 percent by purchasing them all together. That’s pretty much my list of the best Touch games already handled, but here are few more suggestions.
Fruit Ninja VR ($14.99)
I love this game because nearly everyone knows how to play Fruit Ninja already, they want to try it in VR and they’re all going to comment on how much harder it is to chop up fruit in “real life” than they expected. This is a super great introduction to the Touch controllers if you have younger folks or more casual players around, which doesn’t mean it’s not a blast for anyone leaning more towards the hardcore end of things.
The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the Starseed ($19.99)
It’s like Myst, but you can walk around it and the puzzles make sense. This is the game that might tip you over into using one of the experimental 360-degree sensor configurations, and it’s absolutely beautiful on a higher-end PC. This is a game with a story that’s interesting and puzzles that make you want to stay inside VR for hours at a time. The developers have also added inclusivity options for the hand models so you can adjust size, gender or skin tone while playing the game. Very cool.
Remember, these are just a few suggestions to get you started, there are way too many good games on the Oculus Rift to list, no matter which controller configuration you’re using. Have a good time, and remember to stay hydrated in there!