The 25 best VR games to play in 2021 • Eurogamer.net

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Virtual Reality remains one of the most exciting things going on in games at the moment. The platform you choose will dictate which games are available – PSVR, for instance, is relatively cheap compared to the alternatives, and while it can be a nightmare to wire up for the first few times, it tends to work well with small play-spaces – while others are more expensive but can be fancier in their various ways.

The good news is the games are flowing: PSVR has of course been backed by a major publisher, and is surprisingly being backed with a new PSVR set coming to the PS5, giving us some wonderful options like the disarmingly charming Cockney gunplay of Blood and Truth or the glorious platforming gauntlets of Astro Bot Rescue Mission. Meanwhile, the likes of Half-Life: Alyx have brought that series’ legendary craft to the medium on PC.

To jump in then, here are our picks for the 25 best VR games you can play on various virtual reality sets right now. What do you reckon?

Editor’s note: Following their debut last year, we’ve given our ‘Best Games’ features another refresh. Alongside this VR one, we’ve also updated our pages on the best PS4 games, the best Xbox One games, the best Nintendo Switch games, and the best Game Pass games for 2021.

Ian picks his favourite PSVR games of 2020

How we’ve arranged our best VR games list

We’ve broken down the following list into rough order of beginner, intermediate and experienced, starting with the easier games like Astro Bot and ending with the games that might be a bit more suitable for those with some experience in VR. Suggestions for beginners are mainly static affairs, whilst intermediate and experienced games provide increasing levels of motion that may cause discomfort to those new to the medium.

Ian picks out some games from Oculus Connect 6, back in 2019

All the games on this list can be enjoyed whatever your level of VR experience though, so don’t discount them just because you don’t think you fall into the right category.

Oh, and of course, this isn’t a definitive rundown. We’ve not been able to sample every single VR game out there, so if you think We’ve missed something wonderful, please do share your suggestions!

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

VR Platforms: PSVR

Astro Bot himself may not smack of ready character in the screenshots, but his adventures turn out to be far more than an elegant suite of platforming gauntlets: they’re genuinely memorable and even rather lovable.

The trick here is that the player is an acknowledged presence in the game world: you often sit in the centre of a map as the tiny robot you control scampers up and down, around you and overhead.

A suite of power-ups, meanwhile, send grappling hooks and water jets out of your DualShock, which also opens up to collect any doodads you come across.

Energetic, tightly-packed level design combines with spectacular bosses in a game that almost – almost! – competes on Nintendo’s level.

Want to read more? See our full Astro Bot Rescue Mission review and buy now from Amazon.

Tetris Effect

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

Tetsuya Mizaguchi’s reworking of the greatest game of all time is pretty special without VR, of course, folding light and sound into the mixture alongside falling blocks and brisk rule-changes.

But with VR it becomes something entirely surprising: a strange, deeply emotional experience as you move through darkness and colour searching for the perfect score. Beads ripple on the wind, whales coalesce out of sparks and mankind travels from desert caravans to the surface of the moon: Tetris Effect’s real trick is to bring positivity, wholesomeness and a total absence of guile to the purest puzzler imaginable.

tetris_effect_gameplay

Want to read more? See our full Tetris Effect review and buy now from Amazon.

Moss

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

A cracking entry-level game and one of the best on PSVR especially at the moment, Moss is set in a stunningly realised storybook world that’s brought to life by the kind of polish that can only be achieved when creators have poured their hearts and souls into a project.

Our plucky heroine Quill is the highlight, of course, exquisitely animated and full of personality despite her tiny size, but she’s not the only star of the show.

Moss makes you a part of the game too by casting you as your very own character called The Reader. As this ghostly presence you not only have direct control over Quill, but you can also reach into the game world to push, pull and interact with objects. Or you could just stare lovingly at your own reflection in babbling brooks.

These interactions give you a believable connection with the game world and help you form a bond with Quill in a way that just isn’t possible with traditional video games.

Moss is best played from a seated position but it encourages you to lean forward and explore the environment, as if you were inspecting a magical model village. Whether you’re a complete beginner or video gaming veteran, Moss needs to be in your VR library.

Want to read more? See our full Moss review and buy now from Amazon.

Statik

VR Platforms: PSVR

Statik is a puzzle game like no other. Not only is it incredibly immersive, but it also nails the balancing of its puzzles, making them tricky but not unfair. Its crowning glory, however, is the ingenious way it uses the Dualshock 4 controller to ground you in its virtual world.

You play a test subject whose hands are trapped inside a series of increasingly complex puzzle boxes and as you grip your controller in real life, your virtual arms mimic your real world movements.

The only way to remove the puzzle boxes is to tinker with your controller until you find the right combination of button presses to help move the puzzle on. Sometimes you may get stuck for a long time, twisting and turning the controller in your hands.

statik_gameplay

Fiddle around with the buttons and thumbsticks for long enough, though, and after a while, something will click – and when it does, finding that solution is unbelievably satisfying.

Statik may be one of the least physically taxing VR games out there, but that doesn’t stop it from delivering a truly memorable – and physical! – experience.

Want to read more? See our full feature on Statik and tactile objects or buy now from PSN.

Beat Saber

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

To watch Beat Saber in action even for a second is to know how to play it. There’s a scrolling runway of coloured beats. There’s a coloured lightsaber in each of your hands.

Give into the chug and drive of the soundtrack and rhythm-match until all the energy in you is completely drained.

Beat Saber is a shirt-drenching, furniture wrecking treat, and one of the most kinetic and engaging VR games out there.

Want to read more? See Ian’s Beat Saber impressions or buy now from PSN.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

Previous Star Trek games have tried to forget that this series is really about colleagues arguing about moral philosophy. Luckily Ubisoft puts this stuff right to the fore, with a VR game in which you can bicker and disagree as much as you want. Even the simplest objective can get wildly out of hand here – it’s just a tragedy that you need so many VR-owning friends to get the best out of it all.

star_trek_bridge_crew_members_in_their_seats

Want to read more? See our full thoughts on Star Trek: Bridge Crew or buy now from Amazon.

Ultrawings

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

Moving into the more ‘intermediate’ VR games, Ultrawings isn’t the most exciting of flight sims but it’s certainly one of the best you’ll find on PSVR specifically, what with Microsoft Flight Simulator exclusive to PC and Xbox.

Hidden behind the rather basic graphics is a relaxing and immersive game that really nails the sensation of flight, complete with sudden lurches in your stomach if you decide to pull off some of the more extreme maneuvers.

Played out almost like a VR version of PilotWings, you take to the skies above a group of tiny islands in a series of small, single seater airplanes and must complete short challenges in order to earn enough cash to upgrade your way to new planes and landing strips.

While your first take-off and flight may feel a little intense, the majority of your time in the sky will be quite comfortable, and there are plenty of options available to help you feel more settled.

ultrawings_plane_soaring_over_coastline

Crucially the cartoony visuals hide some excellent in-air physics that, when combined with the audio of wind rushing past your ears, provide the illusion of flight in a way that no other PSVR game can.

For the ultimate in relaxing VR experiences, turn off the in-game music, stick on a Spotify playlist and enjoy the freedom of soaring over the ocean to your favourite tunes – it’s magical.

You can buy Ultrawings now from Amazon.

Rez Infinite

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus

Long before VR, Tetsuya Mizuguchi made a game of light and fury so overwhelming in its impact that emerging from each play session felt a little bit like pulling your head out of the drum of a washing machine.

With VR, Rez is better than ever: a simple shooter enlivened by an ingenious paint-and-release mechanic in which you rush through forests and temples and canyons of data purifying the machine. Absolutely stunning.

rez_infinite_gameplay

Want to read more? See our full Rez Infinite review or buy now from PSN.

Polybius

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus

Jeff Minter tinkering with VR is enough of a pitch by itself, even before you chuck in Polybius, the name of one of gaming’s oldest and strangest urban legends.

Regardless, this is still an absolute rush of a game that dazzles even if you know what you’re in for. Racing forward and blasting everything in your path is the wonderfully simple basis for an arcade shooter that delights in surprising you with twists and kinks every few levels.

If you’re after psychedelic score-chasing, LLamasoft has you covered, and with no motion sickness pretty much guaranteed.

polybius_gameplay

Want to read more? See our full Polybius review or buy now from PSN.

Blood and Truth

VR Platforms: PSVR

Blood and Truth drops you into Oi Guvnor London Tahn for a Richie-’em-up that departs from the formula in that it has charm and an easy wit.

You’re an ex-soldier brought back to the family firm when a bunch of numpties start mowing too close to your lawn. Know what we mean?

Anyway: lovely gunplay, glorious production values and a real knack for silly moments of interactivity make this a surprisingly engaging treat. Sold!

reloading_a_gun_in_a_pink_neon_nightclub

Want to read more? See our full Blood and Truth review and buy now from Amazon.

Budget Cuts

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

Before Half-Life: Alyx, Budget Cuts felt like a return to Valve’s series. It’s not that it linked in with the Victory Gin grime and dense mythology. Instead, it’s that this comic caper through offices patrolled by deadly robots continued the Half-Life mission, taking games and bringing them into the physical world, filling them with things you can touch and making the first-person perspective a thing of empowering, terrifying embodiment.

budget_cuts_gameplay

There are so many lovely moments here: clambering across the ceiling while enemies circle below, picking up faxes and answering the telephone, throwing knives and opening drawers. Even the inventory management is a thing of tactile delight. If there’s anything sad about it, it’s that it robbed Alyx of a little of its impact when it finally arrived. To some of us, Budget Cuts will always feel like the true Half-Life 3.

Want to read more? See our full Budget Cuts impressions, Digital Foundry’s picks for the best VR headset for Half-Life: Alyx, or buy now from Steam.

Microsoft Flight Simulator VR

VR Platforms: Steam, Oculus, Windows

Sims and VR go hand in hand – what other genre, after all, is so focussed on pure immersion – so it makes sense that players have been calling out for VR support for Microsoft Flight Simulator ever since it first launched last summer. Towards the end of 2020 those calls were answered, and then some – the implementation here is top notch, providing a VR experience that’s seamlessly integrated and available at the touch of a button. Is it perfect? Not quite yet – VR controller support isn’t in just yet, and of course there’s the small issue of having the rig to be able to run an already intensive game at the framerates necessary to not reach for the sick bag. Knock the resolution back a bit, though, and find the sweet spot, because this is one of the most breathtaking VR experiences out there.

close_up_of_a_flight_simulator_cockpit

Want to read more? See our full Microsoft Flight Simulator VR impressions or buy now from Amazon.

Red Matter

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

Out there in the wilds of the Solar System, a one-step-removed Soviet society has left some worrying mysteries for you.

This is the scene-setting for Red Matter, a sci-fi exploration puzzler that makes up for its short running time with spectacle, a real sense of heft to your interactions and some properly ingenious puzzle design.

Red Matter has solved so many of the control issues that can plague ambitious VR games that it should probably be a set text somewhere. But that makes it sound like it isn’t any fun, and it really is.

Want to read more? See our full Red Matter impressions on the site or buy now from PSN.

Half-Life: Alyx

VR Platforms: Steam, Oculus, Windows

Jeff. You know Jeff. You should know Jeff. Jeff should be a legend – the king of a thousand memes. But Jeff is not, just as Alyx is not. VR brought Half-Life back; really it is the only way Half-Life could ever return, since each installment needs to be an evolutionary step for games in general. But VR also meant that Half-Life: Alyx remains something of a secret classic. Not enough people played it.

Episode 1 of Ian’s Half-Life: Alyx let’s play

What a shame. This is a beautiful game, room-scale VR focused in on a number of basic, satisfying things done very well. It’s gunplay, but also gun maintenance. It’s traversal, but also situational awareness. It’s vast spectacle – Striders stepping across the cluttered City1 7 skyline. But it’s also small, tense, domestic horror. It’s Jeff.

Want to read more? See our full Half-Life: Alyx review or buy now from Steam.

Paper Beast

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

Eric Chahi returns to the material physics of From Dust with a VR game that is impossible to forget. Visit a strange virtual world where flimsy beasts made of pure papercraft data come together to form rich ecologies. Solve puzzles but also marvel at the imaginary wildlife, and get to the heart of a world that’s driven by vast tidal forces. Unmissable.

a_paper_beast_creature_in_front_of_a_stormy_sky

Want to read more? See our full Paper Beast review or buy now from PSN.

Edge of Nowhere

VR Platforms: Oculus, Windows

Insomniac’s return to brilliance arguably started here, with a weird stealth and action game set in a Lovecraftian frozen elsewhere, living forever on the Oculus headset. Edge of Nowhere is third-person VRing to die for, a tense scramble through frosty gauntlets as you grapple with monsters and with madness, navigating ice sheets one minute and axing horrors the next. Its cut scenes were a lot of people’s first glimpses of the weird body theatre that VR allows for, and its detailings are worryingly luxurious for a VR title that very few people have played. Those that have, though, know what a cracker it is. Marvelous.

a_character_silhouette_at_the_end_of_a_shining_blue_tunnel

Want to read more? See our full Edge of Nowhere review or buy now from Oculus.

The Climb

VR Platforms: Oculus, Windows

Whisper it: this is Crytek’s best game. It’s so simple, too: here are some mountains, go and climb them. Even so, it’s astonishing how well it works. After a wonky tutorial where you learn about chalk and grip and getting from A to B, the real mountains load in and the mixture of dense environmental spectacle and ingenious course design means you’re hunting around for ledges, pulling off daring mantles, and really feeling that sense of height, of being somewhere precarious but glorious.

The Climb teaser trailer

Meanwhile the game fetishises the really cool stuff about climbing – the clips and the ropes and the climbers’ pro. A sequel is on the way that mixes urban climbing in with craggy wilderness and it can’t arrive soon enough. The Climb is a masterpiece.

Want to read more? See our feature on The Climb or buy now from Oculus.

Sairento

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

And finally, here are some for the more advanced user, starting with Sairento.

Oh, but the heads you’ll lop! The walls you’ll run! The assassins’ frozen stances you’ll slide around before dispensing justice with bullets, swords, all kinds of sharp and glinting horrors.

Sairento is The Matrix and John Wick transported to futuristic Japan and delivered with that thrill of immediacy that VR is so good at conjuring. A violent wonder and a game with a rare sense of style.

Want to read more? See our full Sairento impressions on the site and buy now from Amazon.

Skyrim VR

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus, Windows

What does it take to make one of gaming’s most well-travelled worlds feel fresh again? It turns out that VR will do the trick, bringing a new sense of scale and immediacy to an RPG that’s already bursting with magic and violence.

Trees loom overhead, caves beckon you down into the darkness and there’s a real shock in store when you first come across that bear in the game’s opening few minutes.

Skyrim VR is the perfect excuse to venture back into one of the most storied of game landscapes, and it’s a decent way to wait out the years before a sequel finally appears.

Introducting Skyrim VR to a Skyrim addict – Ian’s VR Corner

Want to read more? See our Skyrim VR impressions and buy now from Amazon.

Chronos

VR Platforms: Oculus

One of the odd things about VR is how very good it is for third-person games. Chronos is a case in point. This is a Soulslike in which you explore various desolate vaults, hacking away at baddies and cowering behind a shield. But while you’re the adventurer, you’re also the camera framing them, noticing the little things, too, like the drape of a nearby rug or the flicker of a candle in its mount.

chronos_player_character_faces_down_a_stone_golem

Throw in a neat time-spanning levelling system and a focus on shifting scale and perspective and Chronos is a proper treat. But it’s VR that really makes this magical – a non-VR PC build turned out to be rather ordinary.

Want to read more? See our Chronos VR impressions or buy now from Oculus.

Resident Evil 7

VR Platforms: PSVR

For a horror game with a real sense of focus and purpose, it’s brilliant to see Resident Evil 7 embracing VR as an option for those who can afford the kit and handle the occasional bouts of nausea.

The end result is surprisingly effective. You might feel a little unwell if you race around Capcom’s haunted world too quickly, but the jump scares have never been more effective.

A series that trades in atmosphere has lost none of its horrible magic in the transition to the PSVR headset.

Introducing Resident Evil 7 VR to a Resident Evil addict – Ian’s VR Corner

Want to read more? See our full Resident Evil 7 review and buy now from Amazon.

Firewall Zero Hour

VR Platforms: PSVR

Perhaps the cleverest thing that Firewall Zero Hour does is to opt for the slower, more tactical gunplay of games like Rainbow Six over its twitchier brethren.

This makes this multiplayer shooter a perfect fit for VR, while excellent controls and level design come together with one of online gamings’ most pleasant communities to create a bit of a treat.

Forget the bland name, then – and absolutely do not get it confused with Bravo Team, which is a bit of a stinker – and forgive some awkward lobbies. This is the real thing.

soldiers_take_cover_from_enemies_in_a_corridor

Want to read more? See our full Firewall Zero Hour review and buy now from Amazon.

Ace Combat 7

VR Platforms: PSVR

Ace Combat 7 saw Bandai Namco’s dogfighting series take to new heights, and if you’ve got a PSVR there’s a whole new sensation available when soaring through the skies. The VR missions here might well be limited to a small handful, but what beauties they are – immersive, action-packed and genuinely thrilling, they’re a surefire way to show off the impressive qualities of Sony’s headset. A must-have, if you’re a PSVR owner.

view_from_cockpit_in_ace_combat_7

Want to read more? See our full Ace Combat 7 review or buy now from Amazon.

No Man’s Sky VR

VR Platforms: PSVR, Steam, Oculus

Hello Games’ opus was always sold on the premise of transporting you to some far away fantasy, and what better way to do that with VR? This isn’t some siphoned-off experience, and is rather the full No Man’s Sky – that’s all the impossible vastness of it – served up in virtual reality, a concept that’s as mind-boggling to play as it is to contemplate. Indeed, it’s easily the very best way to play this brilliant game right now.

Want to read more? See our full No Man’s Sky VR impressions buy now from Amazon.

Boneworks

VR Platforms: Steam, Oculus, Windows

Boneworks is in many ways the absolute opposite of Half-Life: Alyx. Whereas Valve approached VR with precision and delicacy, opting only to focus on interactions and set-pieces the technology could absolutely nail, Boneworks tries a bit of everything. This is to its credit – there is simply no use of VR that this busy, messy game will not go for, and it’s not remotely worried about whether it works well or not, and even whether it makes you sick. Boneworks probably will make you sick at least once, in fact, but its challenges are just as often brilliant feats of imagination and implementation. It’s the opposite approach to Alyx, yes, but neither is wrong, and both have their thrills.

wrestling_an_enemy_in_hand_to_hand_combat

Want to read more? See our full Boneworks impressions or Budget Cuts impressions or buy now from Steam.

What was previously on the best VR games list?

As we continuously update this best VR games list with new releases, games have to be removed to make room – but are still absolutely worth your time.

The games removed from previous versions of this list are:

  • Beginners: The Lost Bear, Rec Room, Job Simulator
  • Intermediate: Superhot, Thumper, Farpoint, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
  • Advanced: Doom VFR, Raw Data, Sprint Vector

As well as this, here’s a round-up of some hidden gems worth looking at if you’re after even more (PSVR-specific) game suggestions:

For more curated best-of lists like this, feel free to argue in the comments section of the following, too:

If you’re still deciding on your VR kit, meanwhile, Digital Foundry has run the rule over the headsets available in their guide to the best VR headsets you can buy.



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