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So as anyone who has ever used Steam knows that the platform is absolutely huge. With over 12,000 titles rising, the amount of content available is staggering and it can be hard to find the gems. Quality control isn’t exactly a priority for Gabe Newell and his team so basically, anyone can publish their game on the Steam platform. This means relying heavily on user scores, reactions, and reviews to help you find great titles among the not-so-great ones. The same rules apply when searching for VR titles.
There are a lot more available than on, say the Oculus Store, but quantity over quality isn’t always a good thing. But fear not! We’re here today to provide you with a selection of the best free VR titles and experiences available to download on the Steam platform. We’ve done all the deep diving to cherry-pick some real pearls for you to play. As always, our list is based on personal opinion so, please don’t be upset if your favorites are missing from our list. At the very least, all titles listed below are free to play so you’ve got nothing to lose by testing them out. Let’s get into it!
1. Rec Room
Let’s start with an all-rounder that’s brimming with content. Rec Room offers you an open space with vast amounts of content for you to stumble upon and exploration is very much encouraged. You begin by creating your own avatar in your own bedroom/studio space. You get to play online with thousands, if not millions of Rec Room fans. The different lobbies to engage with are ever-growing and there are experiences to enjoy for everyone. This is a great game for the kids too. It would be impossible for me to list off all the activities that are available, but to name a short few you can do the following:
Take part in laser tag tournaments
Compete in a paintball match
Experience a PUBG style PvP tournament
Play charades with friends
Explore a dungeons & dragons style adventure
Chat with friends
and the list goes on and on and on!
Put simply, this is a massively creative sandbox where content is constantly updated, and the feeling of inclusion and community is wholesome and sincere. You will meet some amazing people online and the content is more geared to family-friendly / PG-13 so you can have some confidence that the people you interact with will mostly be respectful.
The visuals are quite basic and cartoonish which suits the overall vibe of the game. Customizing your avatar and unlocking challenges leads to rewards and further customization objects making it feel like every play session offers you a small sense of progression. So, whether you’re the sporty type, or just feel like hanging out and being sociable, then Rec Room is such a wonderful experience for all. Best of all, with a little adult supervision, it’s quite safe for even younger members of the family to enjoy.
If Rec Room is the wide-eyed innocent youth, then VRChat is the grown-up sweary goth teenager with a chip on its shoulder! VRChat is very much a grown-up version and the darker side of the Internet compared to Rec Room. Gone are the cutesy graphics replaced with more realistic avatars. Seeing semi-naked Anime characters wandering around is considered the norm. The user base is also a little bit more adult, and I would not recommend any young children playing VR Chat. Foul language is par for the course and environments and interactions seem a little seedier than in Rec Room.
It does however top Rec Room in scope and there are vast amounts of lobbies and activities to involve yourself with although the emphasis does seem more on chatting and interactions with others. There are no restrictions on avatars used or language and depending on what lobby you visit, you may end up seeing or hearing quite offensive things, not for the easily offended and definitely not for kids. Aside from needing a thick skin though, the overall experience in VRChat is quite pleasant.
As mentioned, there seems to be an infinite amount of content if you’re willing to explore. Some of the user-created lobbies are actually amazing standalone experiences. Swinging like Spiderman in a comic-created world stands out in VRChat as it’s probably the best Spiderman experience in VR that’s currently available which is no mean feat.
There are also plenty of PvP first-person shooters to enjoy within VRChat if that is more your cup of tea. The level of customization is ridiculously high and basically, if you can think of it, most likely it already exists in VRChat. You may even be lucky enough to stumble across famous YouTubers or content creators on your travels.
So, if you find Rec Rooms visuals and content a little childish and you’re not sensitive to bad language or sexual content, then perhaps VRChat is a better fit for you. It is the darker emo kid of the content family. Check it out!
3. Gorilla Tag
Okay, so this one is absolutely bonkers! But it’s also a ton of fun. It’s basically the game ‘tag’ from your childhood but it’s so ridiculously addictive. It’s multiplayer online where you all play in a wooded playground area and yes … you are Gorillas. One person is ‘It’ and once they touch someone, they also become ‘It’ the more players touched, the harder it becomes for the untagged players to escape being caught within the time limit. So simple and yet so much fun!
The real genius behind the game is how the movement is controlled. Frantic swinging of your arms can lead to true moments of hilarity but once you get used to traversal, you’ll be shimmying up trees like your Ezio from Assassins Creed and taking huge leaps from branch to the platform to the ground just to escape your pursuers. It’s the online element too that will keep you coming back for more.
Chatting with your friends as you’re being chased is just smile-inducing and online lobbies are always active so even if you’re mates aren’t online … you have no trouble finding a game. Graphics are very basic but that is irrelevant as this is all about the game play. Good crazy frantic fun!
4. The Lab
This is Valve’s own creation so as you’d expect, the level of polish is evident from the second you load it up. Originally designed with the Valve Index in mind but open to any PC VR headset, this is well worth your time. Lots of mini games and experiments to choose from and set in the world of Aperture Science (think Portal and Half-Life and you’re nearly there!) The mini games themselves are tremendous fun to experiment with.
From a tower defense game that will test your archery skills to throwing a stick for your robotic dog on beautiful hilltops, they really have set out to impress the user. As mentioned, you can expect every aspect to feel polished and refined for your pleasure and the visuals alone are quite impressive. Getting to grips with fixed robots in Aperture Labs will make you feel like you are immersed in the world and environments of the Portal games which may lead to your jaw dropping to the floor!
Aside from the crisp visuals, great refined gameplay, and stunning scenes, there is also a healthy sense of humor applied to the experience. The real beauty here though is that while you’re having all this fun, you’re getting used to using VR and exploring the things it has to offer. Getting to grips with your controllers as you manipulate objects, flip switches, cast spells, and fire bows and guns instantly makes you see the potential for future games and helps you decide what type of VR player you are. It may also help you decide the VR game genres that will interest you the most.
You get to take part in eight experiments in total and may find yourself sinking plenty of hours into this title with repeat game play sessions. The only downside I found with Valve’s amazing title is that is designed specifically with room-scale VR in mind. So, if you’re not sporting a Valve with room sensors or if you playing in a small space, then it’s not as impressive. A minor gripe though as teleport movement can be used and this is still bags loads of fun regardless of what headset is atop your bonce. Go play it now!
5. Propagation VR
One genre seems like the perfect fit for virtual reality and that is Horror! The feeling of immersion wearing a headset and inhabiting space can make horror titles feel bone-chilling. It’s hard to look away when you’re inside the game and that’s why a game like Propagation VR is a must-have for all you die-hard fright seekers. A first-person shooter at heart, you’ll find yourself getting increasingly sweaty as you fight off waves of undead zombies and unspeakably nasty creatures in this nightmarish apocalypse.
The horrific and varied monster design, a surprising level of detail, and mood lighting or lack thereof, all help keep your nerves completely shredded as you try to survive. Gunplay feels weighty and satisfying and with ammo scarce, you may find yourself having to face the creatures of the night with just your fists. Definitely not a game for the faint-hearted among us but well worth trying out if you have the bottle! If you can stick it out, the game is quite short but that is a common trade-off when playing free-to-play experiences.
Movement is non-existent as you stand on the spot but the creatures come at you from all directions. This makes it easy for new users to pick up and play, and it’s worth sticking on at a party or with friends around as you most likely terrify anyone who’s brave enough to have a go! Brilliant fun for all the wrong reasons but needs to be tried. Just remember to have a spare pair of clean pants available before trying it out!
6. The Red Stare
A more voyeuristic puzzler now to whet your appetite. The Red Stare is set during the 1950s with Communism and the cold war keeping tensions high in the States. You play a spy who is confined to a room in a high-rise apartment block facing another similar apartment block. Your role is to identify the potential Russian spy living a supposed normal life among the other residents of the building. There are plenty of objects within your small apartment to interact with, but you’ll mainly use your camera to spy on and capture photos of your potential sleeper agent.
The premise is solid, and the gameplay is quite fun. Reminds me of a lot of smaller indie titles like Papers Please where a wrong guess leads to consequences, and you’ll have to keep your wits and solve all the clues to spot the disguised spies. The sounds and visuals are great which really helps set the tone and the era feels authentic. With the equipment you have at hand there is a surprising amount of depth to this title and having your notebook, camera, and planning board around you makes you feel like you’re really in the moment.
There are only two scenarios to play through so you should have everything all wrapped up within a couple of hours but that doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment. The narrative is captivating, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you make the wrong decisions. Movement is a little awkward as you’ll need a decent size play area to move around in but honestly, that is the only downside here. A great little spy adventure that sucks you in and keeps you gripped while playing. Feels like a steal that this title is still free to play. Go check it out!
7. Taphouse VR
As the tagline says this is a VR bartending simulator. Set in a sort of mythical medieval tavern, you act as a bartender serving dwarves their much-needed liquid refreshments. The graphics are fairly basic and cartoonish but aren’t without their charm. There is plenty of variety of drinks you can concoct and even though quite basic, it does include popular cocktails such as Cuba Libra and Tequila Sunrise.
Not exactly a life coach moment but you may pick up some skills on how to make basic cocktails in the real world which is a nice surprise. The cash you earn from getting out orders correctly can be used on the other side of the bar to play the slot machine and hopefully win big. The emphasis here is on the fun.
The game encourages you to mess about and have a laugh. Your dwarf customers kind of steal the show here though. Their drunken mutterings, interactions, and fights all make for some exciting sights to see. The environment behind the bar is also interesting and the sheer amount of mixing options and equipment you can interact with is actually quite impressive.
There are three difficulty settings and two game modes. The challenge mode is the meat of the content here as you try to get as many drinks out to the thirsty hordes. Sandbox mode can also be a lot of fun to play around with as there are no restraints of time pressures to adhere to. Practice your mixology skills and interact with the punters without the pressure of putting together orders is a great way to just relieve stress and unwind.
The only downside to Taphouse VR is that it will become quite repetitive after a few playthroughs. The dwarves all look the same bar a few changeable props and outfits. It would have been nice to have added challenges with different characters, but I guess you can’t expect too much for a free-to-play title. The longevity just isn’t there but it’s a fun experience to try out.
8. Epic Roller Coasters
Since the very early days of watching 3D YouTube videos using Google cardboard … roller coasters have always been a whole lot of fun in VR. The sense of movement and speed when wearing a headset is hard to describe but it absolutely tricks your brain and gives you that lurching feeling in your stomach as you hurtle down a fast slope. That feeling has only been refined and improved upon over the years and Epic Roller Coasters is one of the best free experiences to try out on Steam to date. This is of course free as mentioned but the developers are hoping you’ll enjoy the experience so much that you’ll shell out for extra content.
Different carts, tracks, environments, companions, and avatars are hidden behind a paywall but that’s not to say that the free experience isn’t great too. You get a few different options for tracks carts, companions, and game modes for zero bucks and there is plenty of free content here for you to enjoy. The comfort levels are adjustable to allow for a range of new VR beginners and seasoned users with iron stomachs! A good suggestion is to try without blinkers but only have short gaming sessions to stave off motion sickness.
The game modes too add great replayability to tracks. The gun mode where you try to hit targets as you ride is particularly addictive. Trying to hit targets and spotting those half-hidden treasures makes for an immersive challenge that will have you coming back again and again trying to beat the high score.
The tracks themselves are also very creative. The developers have a lot of fun basing their tracks in out of this world experiences from exploding mines to Jurassic worlds it never takes itself very seriously. You may find yourself hurtling along a track before your cart leaves the rails altogether diving high into the air only the land back on another piece of track. Good silly physics-defying fun!
Another game mode sees you control the pace of your cart as you motor along. More challenging than it sounds as if you go too fast, you’ll crash or too slow and you won’t make it up the inclines. One for the control freaks among us. Not for everyone but still a great addition to lengthening your gaming experience. There are many roller coaster experiences out there you can experience but this is one of the best. Definitely, a must-try at the affordable price of … for free!
9. Google Earth VR
A change of pace now with one of the most essential free apps to sink your time into on PCVR. Ever wanted to fly around the world like Superman? Or have you ever wanted to take a stroll down Madison Avenue, but don’t want to leave your house? If you’ve ever used Google Maps or Google Street View then you are probably familiar with what is on offer here. However, don’t underestimate just how immersive it can be to explore locations all around the globe from the inside of your headset.
The aerial views as you zoom in on the location you want are simply breathtaking. Getting to explore familiar locations but also new and exotic parts of the world is an amazing experience. It’s easy to sink many hours into this free app as you explore different parts of the world. Getting to take a virtual walk down a familiar road or better yet, exploring famous scenic monuments around the world has never been more impressive. The views from space alone of this beautiful ball we inhabit are enough to leave your jaw dragging on the floor!
The chance to explore the world in 3D can’t be understated, this is such a superior experience than the flat screen version. It almost feels like being outside while not leaving your comfy chair. The wonderful sites available are limitless and exploring parts unknown is almost a spiritual like experience.
The fact that the good people at Google are making all this amazing technology and flawless imagery available to us for free is so wonderful. You owe it to yourself to check this one out. The screenshots from Steam alone will make you want to download this one. I guarantee you will go back to all the old places you remember from your childhood first!
10. Spiderman: Far from Home Virtual Reality
To help promote Spiderman Far From Home a few years back, Sony pictures with the help of game developer company CreateVR put together a short Spiderman experience for everyone. The level of polish here is fantastic and having the official backing of Sony Pictures behind the experience offers huge benefits. Voice acting from Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon really elevate the short experience and adds a layer of authenticity. Getting to play as your friendly neighborhood Spiderman is pure wish fulfillment. And brings out the kid in everyone who gets to play it. The first time you run and leap off a building (which happens in the first few moments) is both shocking and exhilarating in equal measures.
You are Spiderman! It can’t be put simpler than that. The web swinging feels realistic if a little disorientating. It takes a little getting used to and perhaps the experience should be restricted to more experienced VR users to avoid that motion sickness. However, once you’ve mastered swinging from building to building, ziplining and catapulting yourself through the air feels just awesome! I did mention that VRChat offers a better web-swinging experience and that still is correct however this is a very close second.
The fact that it’s official also makes it worthy of your time. The overall experience is quite short as previously mentioned so don’t expect more than an hour of enjoyment here. That said, it’s a solid short experience. The visuals are good, the web swinging mechanics are enjoyable once mastered and getting to battle giant metal robots is bundles of fun.
With Spiderman currently filling our cinema screens and dominating the Marvel universe, there’s never been a better time to don the mask, strap on your web shooters and take a leap of faith. Well, worth checking out! Special mention too for Spiderman: Homecoming VR experience also which came before this. Again, frustratingly short but still a lot of fun to play for a free experience. No swinging in this one though, just target practice with web shooting and a few other surprises. Great to get you in the mood for some Peter Parker Parkour … only joking, leave that up to the professionals!
11. Adventure Climb VR
Since the release of The Climb VR by Crytek and more recently it’s a very successful sequel it’s very apparent that there’s a market for climbing simulation games. The thrill of ascending great heights with just your wits and arm movements keeping you alive it’s clear that climbing can become an addictive VR experience. Enter Adventure Climb VR, a free experience from developers MXTReality. Although lacking some of the visual flair and detail of The Climb, this is still an amazing experience for the price of zilch!
The graphics aren’t going for the level of realism achieved by Crytek but they are decent and suit the title well. You only get one environment, a rocky Canyon to explore but the amount of challenge and chance to race makes it one you’ll keep coming back for more with. Multiple pathways are on offer to explore further and find the best and/or fastest path to the top depending on your play style.
The sense of height and scale is impressive and hard to convey to others. You really have to experience it for yourself. Getting a workout from frantic arm movements and then glancing down to the chasm far below can certainly get your heart pumping faster. The game itself was developed by actual climbing enthusiasts, which come across well in the finished product. Their dedication to providing a realistic climbing experience is inspiring.
It’s a pity that there is only one level available to explore but they’ve made great efforts to add alternate routes, secrets, and hidden easter eggs to encourage the explorer in all of us. Going off the beaten track is encouraged and finding a new secret area is deeply satisfying. Playtime will vary from player to player but not much more than thirty minutes of glorious gameplay here which will leave you wanting more. Hopefully, the developers feel sorry for us and add some more levels but I guess we can’t complain as it’s free. One for the adrenalin junkies among us without the fear of actually falling to your death … which is nice all things considered!
And that’s our list. Plenty of variety to suit all VR newcomers and experienced players alike. The fact that you can have all these varied experiences at no extra cost to you is truly impressive. As buying VR headsets and accessories can be very expensive (not to mention the beefy PC needed to power it) it’s great to see that you can dive right into some quality experiences without dipping into your pockets on Steam. So, whatever your preferred genre or comfort level is, you owe it to yourself to at least try all these titles out. You’ve got nothing to lose but your time and, in this case, it’s time well spent. Go forth and enjoy! All hail Steam!