VR may technically still be in its infancy, but the tech is building up a surprisingly comprehensive suite of must-play games. Major gaming companies and developers are putting all of their eggs in the VR basket; there are huge, tentpole instalments of core franchises that you’re going to need a VR headset to play. Whether you pick up Valve’s ludicrously expensive Index or the more affordable Meta Quest 2, you’ll find a huge library of excellent VR games. Here, in no particular order, are the top 25 VR games you should play in 2022.
1. Half-Life: Alyx
Valve always said that in order for them to make another Half-Life game, it would need to be technologically significant in some way, like the first two were. That time came with Half-Life: Alyx, which represents a huge step forward for VR. It’s a core Half-Life experience with just as much polish and attention to detail as you’d expect, but in VR, so you can immerse yourself in the game’s incredible world.
2. Hitman 3
In VR, Hitman 3 is by turns incredibly immersive and completely hilarious. One moment, you’ll be sneaking around the upper floors of a building you’re not supposed to be in, training your sniper sights on a target across a crowded market. At other times, you’ll be sprinting away from guards dressed as a chicken, hooting as you throw bananas at them. It’s an odd game, but it’s excellent nonetheless.
Nope. Nope, nope, nope. If you don’t already have thalassophobia when you start playing Subnautica, then you definitely will by the time you reach the conclusion of this fascinating underwater adventure. Subnautica could easily have been procedurally generated, but it isn’t, which makes exploring its vast, terrifying world all the more satisfying, and it’s even scarier in VR.
4. Doom VFR
Have you ever wanted to know exactly how it feels to tear a demon limb from limb? Doom VFR will let you live out that oddly specific fantasy. It’s essentially a take on the more recent Doom games transposed into VR, which means lots of over-the-top, viscerally satisfying violence, but this time in virtual reality. This game isn’t a port, though, so you won’t just be going through the same motions in VR.
5. Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Let’s face it: every single one of us who has ever watched Star Trek has dreamed of a scenario like this. Star Trek: Bridge Crew tasks you and three other friends (or online randoms) with staffing the Enterprise, and each of you must take on a different role: the captain, the tactical officer, the helm officer, and the engineer. You’ll need to work together and communicate to run the ship and deal with threats and hazards as they appear.
6. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
Before there was the excellent PS5 launch title Astro’s Playroom, there was Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, a PlayStation VR exclusive. You are Astro, the world’s most adorable little robot, and you must launch yourself around a series of platforming worlds in order to rescue your little buddies. You’ll need to use the VR headset to peek around corners and behind walls to find secrets, which feels surprisingly immersive.
7. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
The aim of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is to defuse a bomb. One player is the actual bomb disposal “expert”, fiddling with the mechanisms and physically carrying out the work, while the other has access to the instruction manual and is telling them what to do. It’s a brilliantly simple concept, and Keep Talking finds ways to wring all the entertainment possible out of it.
8. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Think about how scary Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is without the VR headset on. Now think about how much more terrifying it would be if you strapped the game to your face and removed the ability to look away when things get tense. Resident Evil 7 supercharged the franchise once again, and its VR version is a great way to experience this horror tour de force all over again (or for the first time!).
9. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
You’ve almost certainly seen the meme that Skyrim keeps getting ported to every single system, but there’s a good reason for that; despite its shallowness and repetition, it’s one of the most immersive exploration-based RPGs around. VR makes Skyrim even more of a joy to explore and conquer; you can see every bandit you take down up close, and dragon’s breath feels even closer.
10. Beat Saber
Don’t play Beat Saber if you aren’t prepared for a pretty intense physical workout. The core aim of the game is simple: slash your lightsabers in time to the music and dodge obstacles coming your way. Since you’ll have to physically swing the swords in VR space, though, you’ll quickly find that it’s a demanding exercise, albeit one that’s an incredible amount of fun.
Ingeniously, Moss doesn’t cast you as the little mouse, Quill, but rather as a spirit helping Quill through his journey. Moss’ adorable picture-book visuals and diorama-style puzzles make it a great little adventure game in its own right, but thanks to the immersion afforded by VR, it truly shines. There’s a sequel available right now for PSVR, too, so if you like this, be sure to check that out.
12. Fruit Ninja VR
We’re as surprised as you are that this one works as well as it does, but here we are. Fruit Ninja VR is a rollicking good time; it gives you the chance to be exactly the kind of sword-swinging ninja master you’ve always dreamed of being (come on, be honest), but it’s family-friendly enough that you won’t have to worry about the violence scarring you for life.
13. Superhot VR
The premise of Superhot is already brilliant – it’s a first-person puzzle shooter in which time only moves when you do, and that includes bullets and enemies. In VR, you’re that much closer to the action, meaning that every decision pays off more satisfyingly than you could have imagined. In addition, the story, which almost incorporates VR as a platform itself, is more immersive in VR.
14. Rec Room
This is exactly the kind of thing we had in mind when we first started dreaming of VR. Rec Room is an interactive playground environment in which you can play a range of school-style sports (although we don’t remember teleportation being on the curriculum). If you can imagine a sort of Wii Sports-style experience, but in VR and with slightly better graphics, you’re most of the way there.
Obduction being available in VR is the kind of decision that just makes sense. It’s a fully immersive puzzle box environment of a game; it comes from the designers who made Myst and Riven, so if you’ve played those games, you’ll know what to expect here. Obscure storytelling mixes with tactile, satisfying puzzles, and interacting with it all in VR makes you feel like you’re really exploring an alien land.
16. Fallout 4 VR
While Skyrim remains Bethesda’s definitive VR RPG, Fallout 4 could certainly give it a run for its money. If you’re after the kind of free-form, character-driven roleplaying you’d get from an old-school Fallout game, you won’t find it here, but Fallout 4 is a huge, expansive open-world shooter with plenty of great scenarios to discover. It’s no New Vegas, but in VR, the wasteland is appealing to explore.
17. Wipeout Omega Collection
If you can play Wipeout Omega Collection on VR for the first time without actually, physically screaming, then you have our undying respect. Omega Collection gathers several of the best Wipeout games together in one collection, and it’s just as dizzying, frenetic, and confusing as these games ever were. Add VR into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for some seriously vertiginous fun.
18. Eve: Valkyrie
The space MMO Eve Online is often accused of being somewhat dreary and slow-paced. That accusation will come nowhere near Eve: Valkyrie, which is a desperately frantic multiplayer shooter set in the same universe as the MMO. Nothing will bring you closer to the feeling of actually piloting a spacecraft, but at the same time, you’re going to want to set aside some time for a break after playing this one for a while.
19. Rez Infinite
If you were to point to a game that could act as a showcase for the beauty of VR, Rez Infinite would do the job very nicely. The original Rez was a multi-coloured, neon-lit odyssey through a trippy dreamscape, and that’s exactly the experience Rez Infinite offers, only now, you’re right there in the action. It’s the same kind of rail shooter fun, but with added immersion.
20. Land’s End
Alright, let’s unwind a little. Have you played Monument Valley? It’s one of the mobile puzzle games that spearheaded what many believed would be a mobile gaming revolution (one that, unfortunately, seems yet to happen). Land’s End is from the same developers, and espouses the same kind of minimalist visuals and endlessly relaxing puzzler gameplay.
Maybe sometimes, you don’t actually want to be fully immersed in VR. Maybe you just want to play a normal game as if you were watching it on a TV, but without the disconnect of the display taking you out of the experience. Witchblood can provide in that case; it’s a classic 2.5D platformer, but you’re viewing it in VR, making it easier to judge distances and master combat.
22. L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files
Sure, L.A. Noire probably isn’t the best open-world sandbox game around, nor is it the best detective game. However, it does a great job of pulling those two elements together, and The VR Case Files lets you inhabit Cole Phelps as he solves some of the game’s most iconic and difficult cases. Live the life of a real 1940s noir detective and maybe solve some crimes while you’re at it.
23. I Expect You To Die
As the title suggests, I Expect You To Die casts you as a James Bond-style spy. You’ve been locked in a supervillain’s elaborate deathtrap, and it’s up to you to escape however you can. Both this game and the sequel are well worth playing; they combine campy humour with some genuinely ingenious puzzle design, and although each mission will likely take you a few tries, you’ll be chuckling all the way.
24. Elite Dangerous
Have you ever wanted to experience life as a space pilot, drifting through the galaxy and taking on missions? Elite Dangerous lets you live out that fantasy, and it is, quite simply, breathtakingly beautiful. You can either choose to play the game alongside other human beings or go it alone if you want to. Either way, you’re getting a huge galaxy to explore, plenty of missions to take on, and some very involved flight controls.
25. Pavlov VR
If you love CS:GO and you’re looking for a similarly intense competitive shooter in the VR space, Pavlov VR has you covered. Its weapon controls are satisfying and immersive; you can either double-hand a weapon to improve its accuracy, or dual-wield to spray-and-pray your enemies away. This one’s constantly being updated, so even if it doesn’t quite feel complete now, it will soon.