On the lookout for the best VR games of 2021? Well, we can help you there.
Virtual reality allows you to immerse yourself entirely in a game world more than any other platform and as VR slides ever more into the mainstream we’re seeing more choice of games than ever before.
Regardless of which VR headset you’re using, there’s a wide array of games for you to choose from and the best VR games will allow you to experience high-quality, high-octane gaming moments you’d be hard-pushed to find anywhere else. From frenetic first-person shooters to more laidback puzzle experiences (and even something in-between) we think you’ll find the best VR game for you in this list.
So, whether you’re a PC gamer using the Valve Index or you’ve just plugged your PlayStation VR into your PS4 or PS5, we have something for you here so keep reading to find the best VR games of 2021. If nothing grabs your attention right now, do check back later as we update this list when new excellent VR games are released and earn a place.
- Just got a Quest? Check out our pick of the best Oculus Quest games
Trover Saves the Universe (PSVR, Oculus)
This comedy game is from the team at Squanch Games, which was founded by Justin Roiland (the co-creator of Rick & Morty). And because of that fact this game very much feels like a Rick & Morty space adventure but with different characters. Ridiculous missions, hilarious voices, fun, colorful and bizarre stories, worlds and alien races.
It's been around since 2019 on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One, but it came to Oculus VR headsets in June 2020. It gets around some of the tricky (and not to mention vomit-inducing) movement issues that are common in other games by placing you in a chair that serves as the game's user interface and you can control the main character, Trover, from a distance as well as teleport your chair to different spots in the game.
Star Wars: Squadrons (Multiplatform)
Star Wars: Squadrons from Motive Studios is a VR game that will fulfil the childhood dreams of many. Letting you play as both Rebel and Imperial pilots, this ship-to-ship combat-focused flight sim is ideal for VR.
The game has a single-player campaign as well as multiplayer modes and although it's not a VR-exclusive title, playing in a VR headset really only adds to the excitement that you experience when whizzing around space in an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter.
Sure, it doesn’t have a huge degree of breadth, but really it’s depth of immersion that you’re looking for with Star Wars: Squadrons and it definitely provides that.
Some were afraid that Half-Life: Alyx, one of Valve's first first VR games and the first new entry in the series in over a decade, might not live up to the expectations. But, without a shadow of a doubt, this is a Half-Life game that fills the roomy shoes that Valve left behind in 2007. It's that good.
It is, like its forebears, a mind-bending joyride with a physics system to die for. The inventive, head-scratching scientific puzzles you’re used to from the PC games? They’re here. Tense jaunts through zombie-infested death pits that instil terror better than most ‘horror’ games? Alyx has got that in droves.
No Man's Sky (PSVR)
The action-adventure survival game that is No Man’s Sky by Hello Games was one one of the VR world’s most anticipated releases of 2019. That's not only because the original No Man’s Sky game seems perfectly poised for the VR experience.
Traversing and discovering its generated worlds is already one epic adventure many gamers would gladly immerse in. However, Hello Games has taken it to the next level by making No Man’s Sky’s VR experience better than most other developers have on their games, already making it an excellent contender for being one of the best VR games in 2021.
Superhot VR (Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality, PSVR)
Super addictive first-person shooter Superhot has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a browser-based demo in 2013. It's found its natural home on VR headsets, where it makes the most of 360-degree tracking by having enemies flank you from all sides.
Because time moves in slow-motion when you do, Superhot VR benefits from the flexibility of a bigger playspace. As the difficulty ramps up, you'll need every inch of cover to dodge incoming fire, bullet-time style, while crushing faceless enemies using guns, shurikens, and - most satisfyingly - your clenched fists.
Defector (Oculus Rift and Rift S)
Twisted Pixel, the developers of Wilson’s Heart, are at it again. This time, they brought an intense spy action game into VR, and from the first peeks we’ve had, it looks more like a Mission Impossible game than the actual Mission Impossible games ever did. Released only in 2019, this action-shooter VR game will take you for the ride of your life, one full of impressive production value and lots of freedom of movement.
Have you tried out The Void yet? It's an amazing location-based VR experience from ILMxLAB and now the team has created a home-based VR experience for the Oculus Quest and it's extremely fun and exciting for Star Wars fans.
It's a narrative-driven game that puts you face-to-face with Vader, offers up light saber training and allows you to explore some of the mystical depths of Mustafa. The best news is, this is just the first part of a three-part series, fingers crossed the next two instalments will be just as good.
Space Pirate Trainer (Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality, HTC Vive)
Having debuted on the Vive back in 2016, Space Pirate Trainer is a space-based shoot-em-up that's like the laser guns Star-Lord uses in Guardians of the Galaxy mixed with the slow-mo 'bullet time' of The Matrix – and if that hasn't immediately made you want to try it out, I don't know what will.
This golden oldie is the most fun on the Oculus Quest and almost a whole new experience without a cord tethering you to the spot. Choosing from an assortment of weapons and gadgets, including a nifty shield, the added movement afforded by the Quest’s inside-out tracking system is almost an additional weapon in itself.
It all makes for a physically demanding experience – stay rooted to the spot and you’ll be blasted into oblivion. While its gameplay can become repetitive over time, like Beat Saber, it has a magnetic ‘one more go’ feeling about it that seems to pull us back in.
Beat Saber (Multiplatform)
Dance Dance Revolution meets Star Wars; Guitar Hero meets Tron; all of that happens in VR in Beat Saber. The new rhythm game has players slashing around glowing sabers to the beat of a musical track. It challenges players to keep up with the tune while cutting specific colored blocks from specific directions and dodging obstacles.
Beat Saber is currently available for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality devices. If you want to jam out to some music, chop up some blocks, and break a little sweat, Beat Saber is definitely one of the best VR games for you.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (PlayStation VR exclusive)
If you own a PlayStation VR headset, stop whatever it is you're doing, head over to your PS4, and buy Astro Bot: Rescue Mission – this is the killer title the PlayStation VR has been waiting for.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission isn't just a great VR platformer, it's also a great platforming game full stop. Filled with the kind of inventiveness we've only come to expect from Nintendo's Mario series, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission utilizes the VR format with such wild imagination, making other efforts look lazy. Weaving levels all around the player, and using scale to both disarm and delight your expectations, it's quite unlike any of the best VR games you'll have played before.
It's hard to put the Tetris Effect experience into words. Fundamentally, you’re playing a regular game of Tetris, except that the environments you're playing in change. Each level has its own distinct flavor - with music and visuals tailored to its theme. For example, you can play an underwater level and hear soothing underwater noises, while sparkling whales float around your head.
It's a psychedelic and hypnotic experience, and one that everyone should have the privilege to play.
Skyrim VR (Multiplatform)
At this point, Skyrim should need no introduction. It’s been released, and released, and released again. This time, it’s come to the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, and, in doing so, it offers the biggest adventure game we’ve ever seen in VR.
Not only do you get to re-live the entire base game of Skyrim in VR, but the game includes the Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn DLC as well. Even if Skyrim VR isn’t exactly perfect, having some dated graphics (that can be improved with mods) and not being designed for VR from the ground up, it’s still an adventure easily worth diving into.
After a wait that seemed to last this side of forever, Moss finally landed on PlayStation VR in February 2018. Quill, the heroine of this tale, may be pint-sized (and literally have a tail), but Moss uses size to its advantage by giving players the perspective of its rodent protagonist.
A family-friendly VR adventure, you'll guide Quill through forests and ruins, direct her past enemies and take direct control of environmental elements to solve puzzles. The purpose is to save Quill's uncle, and by giving you dual control over a hero avatar and as an omnipotent influence on her surroundings, it's the perfect way to take advantage of the power of VR.
Moss is available on PSVR, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index and Windows MR.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PlayStation VR exclusive)
With most of even the best VR games being bite-sized, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a breath of fresh air, even if it’s a simultaneously horrific one. Despite the ability to play it otherwise on PC, Xbox One and PS4 proper, this is the first installment in the Resident Evil series that you could say was designed with virtual reality in mind. That’s because, unlike the entries before it, Resident Evil 7 is played using a first-person perspective.
Don’t assume you can just run and gun your way through the game, however, as Capcom has taken Resident Evil back to its survival horror roots with Resident Evil 7. As such, you’ll have to think tactically about how you manage to survive encounters with the game’s freaky enemies. As Ethan Winters, a resident of Dulvey, Louisiana whose wife went missing three years prior, you’ll be tasked with exploring a creaky old deserted house in an effort to find her.
The silver lining is that there’s only one location throughout the game, so don’t expect anything too chaotic beyond a generous helping of jump scares.
Elite: Dangerous (Multiplatform)
It may be over thirty years old, but the Elite franchise is still one of the best VR games to date, thanks to creator David Braben's fight to reacquire the license.
Drawing elements from the first game – e.g. trading, exploring and engaging in combat within a massive, procedurally-generated universe – Elite: Dangerous is an Elite game for the 21st century crowd. It's even represented as such in its depictions of our galaxy in the future.
Oh, and did we mention the gameplay is massively-multiplayer? Navigating the next frontier has never felt so real and connected. Elite: Dangerous is a game best experienced online and in VR.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Multiplatform)
Assuming you know somebody generous enough to print the 23-page manual, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the new Mario Party, at least in the sense that it will make your friends hate you.
Developed by Steal Crate Games, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes requires careful attention from a recommended 2 to 6 players. While one player works to defuse a bomb, the others have to provide clear instructions on how to do so.
Demanding some intense cooperation from your peers, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a fun game with the right group of people, and it's even more enjoyable in VR using either a Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift headset. Keep in mind that while a gamepad is optional with the Gear VR version, the Oculus Rift version must be paired with a controller.
Fallout 4 VR (HTC Vive Exclusive)
When we reviewed the original game, we loved the massive, detail-oriented open-world with intriguing side quests and that exalted soundtrack. Then Bethesda's legendary post-apocalyptic open world game was given the VR treatment in 2017, complete with full VR tracking and motion control shooting.
Fallout 4 in virtual reality is even more ambitious than the original, making it a must play for anyone with a HTC Vive and one of the best VR games on hand.
Batman: Arkham VR (Multiplatform)
Though the franchise may have already concluded on conventional platforms, Batman: Arkham VR is the follow-up to Arkham Knight virtually none of us were expecting. Not long after Rocksteady Studios revealed its third entry in the Batman Arkham universe would be its last, the developer announced this exclusive to PlayStation VR that would later make its way to all three headsets.
Batman: Arkham VR is more of a self-contained detective story than a canonical sequel or prequel to the established Arkham mythos. You won’t be knocking goons unconscious with a VR-reimagined version of Rocksteady’s signature combat mechanics. However, what you can expect is not much more than a 90-minute, DLC-sized story mission at a fraction of the cost of a full-priced game.
Arizona Sunshine (Multiplatform)
Lengthy VR experiences are pretty thin on the ground as it stands, and that's part of what makes Arizona Sunshine such an enjoyable experience.
The game, which sees you exploring a zombie-infested Wild West, is a refreshingly lengthy experience that you can really sink your teeth into, which contrasts with the more arcade-like experiences offered by other games.
Movement is handled by teleporting yourself around the environment which handily allows you to cover great distances without motion sickness, and you reload and change weapons by moving your weapon to your ammo belt.
Out of any of the experiences we've played so far, Arizona Sunshine feels like what VR games might eventually become once developers have the time and money to craft full-length virtual reality experiences.
But in the short term searching old mine shafts with a six-shooter in one hand and a blinking flashlight in the other is just plain cool, even if you'll have to keep your play sessions to half an hour at a time just to hold your nerve.
Minecraft VR (Multiplatform)
It's official: the world's most popular block-'em-up is now on VR. Minecraft Windows 10 Edition is now out on the Oculus Rift, but you won't need to splash out $599 / £499 / AU$649 (the cost of the Rift) for the experience.
That's because it's also available on the Samsung Gear VR, with all of the Oculus version's features in tow. Windows Mixed Reality platforms are also supported. What's more, there's even a theater view in case it makes you sick just thinking about 360 degrees of lego brick terrain.
We're not sure what excites us most about exploring Minecraft in VR — legging it from creepers in the dead of night or burrowing into the landscape like goggle-wearing, pickaxe-wielding mole. A bit of both, probably.
Eve: Valkyrie (Multiplatform)
Yes, Eve: Valkyrie will make you feel at least a little bit sick. But isn't any epic gaming experience worth a bit of pain? What started out as a spectacular tech demo for the Icelandic developers of Eve: Online has evolved into a fast, squad-based dogfighting simulator set in deep space.
That focus on combat allows the game to be much less realistic and more visceral than its competitors - and it's more arcadey as a result. It may not be able to deliver long-term thrills, but if you're looking to be dazzled by what the Oculus Rift has to offer, look no further than Eve: Valkyrie.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew (Multiplatform)
Virtual reality gaming doesn't get much more social than this, a game in which you and three other players team up to pilot a Federation starship from the long running Star Trek franchise.
Although the game includes a single-player mode it's definitely an experience best enjoyed with friends, where you'll soon fall into a rhythm of anticipating each other's every need and tailoring your actions accordingly.
If you don't have friends with the same headset as you then you don't need to worry, as Ubisoft has also included cross-platform play, so PlayStation VR, Oculus, and Vive players should have no problem teaming up to tackle the Klingons together.
Lucky's Tale (Oculus Rift exclusive)
Lucky's Tale is an intriguing little platformer. Think Mario 64 spliced with Crash Bandicoot, viewed with a third-person camera angle that you can manipulate by moving your head, and you'd be halfway there.
The VR element lets you peek at more of the level as you go along, which sounds gimmicky but actually introduces an exploration element as you tilt your head to reveal secrets in the level. It won’t blow you away like other VR games will, but Lucky's Tale proves that VR can breathe new life into old, ostensibly dead genres.
Michelle Rae Uy also contributed to this article.