So, you invested in the Oculus Rift. Well, what now?
You can’t just hang out in the Oculus Home all day. Well maybe you can, it is rather beautiful in there. But there’s no sense in missing all the awesome experiences. While the Oculus store has an excellent catalog nowadays you will also want to download and set up Steam VR and Epic Games.
Steam has a bigger list of apps and games, but as usual there’s a lot of junk. There are even some titles on Steam that claim to support Oculus and/or Touch but are so buggy they hardly work at all. Make sure you check out reviews before buying anything. Epic Games is a more recent platform developed as competition for Steam; not as much junk to sift through quite yet, but the platform is constantly shifting to find its niche. As always with competing platforms, make sure to check games hosted on both to see who has the better price and experience review.
In case you missed it , our Setup the Oculus Rift Guide has instructions on setting up Steam VR. If you have an HTC Vive and not a Rift then you can use a ‘hack‘ called Revive to run Oculus Rift games on the Vive. That being said here is our list of the best free games and experiences on the Oculus Rift
Ready to go? Great! Power up and let’s explore the amazing power of Unreal Engine 4 and the Oculus Rift together.
It can be a doozy of a first experience; luckily, you have two major ways to experience and adjust to VR— games and experiences. While you can find a lot of good content ranging from decent to hefty price tags, our two lists below focus on what you can enjoy for free. We’ll look at the games first; scroll down if you are more interested in the experiences. Without further ado, here’s our top gen best free games and experiences for the Oculus Rift!
10 Best Free Games for the Oculus Rift
After you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor it’ll be time to get your interaction on. You’re probably still broke though so thankfully there is quite a bit of free content to keep you going. The first few titles in this list are the best way to start getting use to VR play styles before moving on to the larger, more in-depth titles— and they’re all around just fun to play!.
Lucky’s Tale – Oculus – Touch Supported (no motion control)
Oculus’s flagship title Lucky’s Tale is a classic platform game with an incredible amount of polish. Well made levels that draw the eye in every direction, excellent music and sound, and 3D modeling so perfect it makes everything look like it has real physical substance. Lucky himself looks just like a living and breathing vinyl collectors toy. It’s clever camera usage not only makes for very comfortable play but it is obviously meant to serve as an example to developers on how to use viewpoints in VR. From the way the camera floats along perfectly to the clever little 2.5D cave sections these clever camera tricks make what might otherwise be a basic and old fashioned game thoroughly enjoyable. Very comfortable and a great starting point, also now supports Touch controllers.
Farlands – Oculus
A beautiful exploration game where you are tasked with researching alien life. The creatures are all gorgeously drawn and animated right down to the tiny little ‘collectable’ insects. You move around via a comfortable teleportation system that works best with the Oculus remote, though you can use the Xbox controller if you like. Progress is slow at first while you learn how to get reactions out of creatures, but when you do you need a quick trigger finger to take photos, these photos are then filed into reports back on your spaceship. Collect enough information and you will be rewarded by unlocking a new area, you can only unlock one area per day which is kind of nice as it spreads the content out over a week or so. Made by Oculus Studios as one of the launch titles it runs very well on any system and is very comfortable to play.
Mountain Goat Mountain – Oculus
A simple but addictive game that was actually ported from android, somewhat like a 3D frogger. Another good starting game as you just sit in one position while the endless mountain scrolls past you, you don’t need to move your head much and the perspective is nice and shallow. The gameplay comes in short bursts of fun that can be frustrating at times because of the diagonal movement and difficulty in telling what row of blocks you are lined up with. But it has all the hallmarks of the great mobiles game with collectable currency, endless levels and unlockable skins and areas. Just don’t look down to much.
Dragon Front – Oculus
Collectable Card games are all the rage these days so it’s no surprise that there is one for VR. Free to Play but by no means ‘Pay to Win’ Dragon Front is just as addictive and well balanced as it’s non-VR counterparts. It has a great fantasy/dieselpunk asthetic and multiple factions to chose from with 100s of cards ranging from spells to warrior squads to fortifications and even champion cards that can change the tide of battle in one turn. Unlike many cards games this one really comes to life thanks to VR and full unit models with attack animations. Regular updates are planned bringing entire new factions while the VOIP multiplayer and leaderboards add to the replayability. A proper enjoyable timesink, obviously with no movement it’s also good for motion sickness
Herobound: Spirit Champion – Oculus
Herobound is widely considered one of the best games on the Gear VR. A ‘Zeldalike’ dungeon crawler with solid tactical combat, puzzle solving and exploration mechanics. There are weapons and abilities to unlock and four chapters to play through representing the four elements, earth, water, air and fire. Each dungeon takes a satisfying amount of time which is not to surprising considering this was a paid game until just recently. Being mobile based originally it does have rather simple graphics and sound but plenty of variety and charm. It also wins extra points for comfort, running well on even the lowest spec machines and using the same clever camera system as the much celebrated VR title Chronos.
Robo Recall – Oculus – Touch Required
Made by Epic games for a whopping $10 million Robo Recall is being called the “First triple A VR game”. With great physics, great weapons, and excellent use of motion control there are so many different ways to ‘recall’ and it all flows naturally. You can grab enemies using the Touch controllers and tear them limb from limb then use those limbs to smash more bots. You can deflect bullets with your guns or just toss your guns entirely and grab bullets out of the air and throw them back. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s free, this is a proper full length game that should take you at least 10 hours to complete and each level has a bunch of unique achievements to keep you coming back for more.Reminiscent of classics from Epic’s “Megagames” era it’s funny, retro, and awsome in every way, simply the best fun you can have in VR.
NVIDIA VR Funhouse – Oculus – Touch Required
A collection of carnival games designed to show off NVIDIA’s latest graphics and physics. All the classics are here from shooting galleries to mole smashing but the real star is the technology. The first time you play each game you will probably forget to even start before the timer ends. The fire, liquid and hair animations are jaw dropping with all the newest lighting and shadow effects added for extra measure. The physics also are frighteningly realistic, most of the sets are completely destructible, balloons bounce off each other just as you would expect and the sticky throwing squids (you read that correctly) stretch and flop in a way that defies what you know about computer graphics. Very high energy and heaps of fun but it might struggle on a low end PC.
Dead and Buried – Oculus – Touch Required
A free gift for anyone why buys Touch brand new, Dead and Buried is a full-blown game. There is a shooting range for single player but most of the game is based around co-op and multiplayer. Lot’s of great game modes are on offer including quick draw, train heists and the ever popular zombie hoard. It has a very unique steam-punk/borderlands/undead western style and unique customizable characters. Dead & Buried is a very physical game that can be a real workout as you need to constantly duck behind cover to stay alive. The developer wanted it to be a game anyone could pick up and play so they used laser sights to simplify aiming, letting you focus on making friends and having fun rather than “gittin good”. A great social experience, it is best enjoyed with a good team so tell your friends to get into VR!
Accounting – Steam – Touch Required (and a lot of space)
Rick and Morty fans were jumping for joy last year when show creator Justin Roiland announced he was starting a story driven VR studio. His first game Accounting, made in collaboration The Stanly Parable creator Crows Crows Crows, is a tasty teaser of what he has in store for us. It features hilarious foul mouthed dialog, a clever VR inside VR story and some brilliant novel puzzle solving. The entire experience is designed to take you as far from reality as possible and overload your senses, we say this a lot here at VR Beginners Guide, but this is another experience that would only work in VR. Unfortunately you will have trouble with this one using the standard Oculus Touch setup, it requires a lot of space and you need to be able to turn in all directions so you might want to try the experimental room-scale setup. Obviously it’s also for mature audiences only, well maybe mature is not the right word, but you know what I mean.
The Lab – Steam – Touch Required
A collection of games from Valve, apparently made during a crazy weekend bender and set in the Aperture Science Labs from the Portal games. A really eclectic range of stuff on offer, from ambient experiences and interactive videos to first person tower defense, arcade shoot’em ups and catapult physics games. The quality varies from game to game but some of them can really eat up a lot of time. Even just exploring the hub area is great fun and lets you see what Aperture science was like before the mysterious calamity took place. And with Valve apparently refusing to make Half-Life 3 this may be the last chance we get to enter this world. If you don’t pet the robot dog you have no soul.
10 best free experiences on Oculus Rift
One of the best places to start is with the many free “experiences”. These are non-interactive short films that happen all around you. With little or no movement you are unlikely to get any motion sickness, and as you grow more comfortable you can explore the ones in the list below that have minimal interactive features, such as exploring the scenery in ‘Lost’. From educational to musical masterpieces, many of these experiences are worth enjoying even for those familiar with the VR experience. A great way to start your VR journey, all available on the Oculus Store.
If you went through the normal setup you should recognize this one but it’s worth seeing again. A brilliant little series of short demo scenes. These vignettes were designed to show off then-new features like eye-tracking and introduced the concept of an immersive VR presence. The collection spans a variety of settings and themes and is still hailed as one of the best ways to show off the power of VR. Say hi to the T-rex for me.
Nothing gives me confidence in VR as a true art form more than Dear Angelica. Made entirely in the VR art app Quill, meaning everything is hand-painted, the story explores the way we remember people in our dreams. Featuring the vocal talents of Geena Dacis and Mae Whitman, the stunning story centers a mother and daughter. Scenes are drawn around you as the immersive tale progresses, individual strokes which render in real time. Put simply, this is an experience that could only work in VR.
One of the great Oculus Story Studios titles—the first, in fact. Directed by the same guy as Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella, Lost demonstrates the potential for narrative experiences in VR. While there is little interactive experience, the scenes playing before you have a lot to explore visually. You can look away to examine the environment, but the story will continue to progress. Watch it at least once all the way through before you explore the visuals too deeply. Excellent sound production on this one.
From the director of Madagascar, a cute little video that puts you in right in the action as one of the characters. What would happen if aliens came to conquer our world, but instead of landing among humanity they first discover… bunnies?! Players are given control of one of the bunnies, who must overcome these not-so-imposing invaders. With quality animation and great comedic timing, Invasion is fun for the whole family. Narrated by Ethan Hawke.
A personal favorite, this surreal music video was actually released for the Oculus DK2. A pioneer in its time, Surge was one of the first real-time music videos produced for the VR experience. A beautiful experience that feels like the music is creating a new universe around you. Headphones are encouraged for the best experience as music and visual effects flow together seamlessly around you. The brain behind this masterpiece is Arjan van Meerten, a 3D animator and musician by trade.
Emmy award-winning and narrated by Elijah Wood. Produced by Oculus Story Studio, Henry follows the hedgehog film’s namesake for his birthday— but where are his friends? Henry is hilarious then depressing then uplifting all in the space of a few minutes. Basically a short Pixar film. In fact, creators of Brave and Toy Story 3 were involved with this family-friendly production.
Not everyone grew up with Ms. Frizzle. Luckily, we now have Oculus Rift, which is about as close as we’ll get to a Magic School Bus. The Body VR: Journey Inside a Cell guides users through the bloodstream and into living cells. Players will travel through the human body in this short documentary. While rather simplistic visually, this experience is a great example of what VR is capable of outside of gaming. This award-winning educational VR journey is a great way to learn about the blood stream, cells, and organelles. Many of the five star ratings praise it’s accuracy and control simplicity.
If you’re looking for an action-packed cinematic experience that also allows you to deeply explore the Rift’s capabilities, then look no further than Epic Games’ Showdown. Basically a tech demo for the Unreal Engine 4 in VR, Showdown is a slow motion, bullet time thrill ride through an epic battle against alien robots. Showdown also allows players to compare renders and pixel density by pushing the corresponding remote options. Not to be missed.
Senzo Peso is “a mini Opera created by world-class musicians and artists.” Explore a beautifully crafted, dark 3D world as your soul is guided into the after-life by the game’s namesake, the Siren Senza Peso, who’s melodies accompany the journey. Originally released in 2014, the creators returned to update their masterpiece for an enhanced re-release. This visually stunning 3D experience comes highly rated, but it also requires a highly rated PC to fully appreciate. Headphones are recommended for the best audio experience.
Based on a multi-award winning short film about a robot who just wants love, at any cost. Abe VR is a bone-chilling masterpiece created in Unreal Engine 4. This psychological story explores concepts involving emotion and empathy, while adding to the immersion with such techniques as eye tracking. Definitely not for the faint of heart, the short-film was classified as a horror; the game follows in its footsteps impeccably. The cinematic Oculus experience is the first ever to be officially certified by the British Board of Film Classification, receiving a 15+ age rating that translated to “M”— and it truly deserves its M rating, you have been warned.
ADULT VR CONTENT
Most of the list above is for younger audiences, teens, and families, but Oculus Rift has plenty to offer for the 18+ crowd. If you are over 18 and looking for the best adult VR content, check out our post on the best VR pornTags: Featured Posts, Related Posts, Our Favorites