The best free games and experiences for Oculus Rift

Posted on: March 3rd, 2017 by Jason Hawken
This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Virtual Reality Beginners Guide

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. 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. 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

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.

Lucky's Tale - Free game for the Oculus Rift

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 alien - A free experience for the Oculus Rift

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 screenshot

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.

dragonfront screenshot one of the best free rift games

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

Hellbound Spirit Champion screenshot - this is another free Oculus game

Herobound: Spirit ChampionOculus

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.

game robo recall 1

Robo Recall OculusTouch 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 funhouse 3 VR image of balloons

NVIDIA VR FunhouseOculusTouch 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 screenshot - came free with touch purchase

Dead and BuriedOculusTouch Required

A free gift for anyone why buys Touch brand new, D&B 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 screenshot 2 from steam - a free vr experience

Accounting SteamTouch 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 vr game from steam

The LabSteamTouch 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. A great way to start your VR journey, all available on the Oculus Store.

oculus dreamdeck screenshots 3

Dreamdeck

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. Say hi to the T-rex for me.

Dear Angelica VR experience for the rift - screenshot

Dear Angelica

Nothing gives me confidence in VR as a true art form more than Dear Angelica. Made entirely in the VR art app Quill, it explores the way we remember people in our dreams. Put simply, this is an experience that could only work in VR.

lost free experience screenshot for the oculus rift

Lost

One of the great Oculus Story Studios titles. Directed by the same guy as Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella. Excellent sound production on this one.

invasion bunny screenshot for oculus rift

Invasion

From the director of Madagascar, a cute little video that puts you in right in the action as one of the characters. Narrated by Ethan Hawke.

surge walking alien screenshot for rift

Surge

A personal favorite, this surreal music video was actually released for the Oculus DK2. A beautiful experience that feels like the music is creating a new universe around you.

henry oculus story stdio 2 screenshot of henry for oculus rift

Henry

Emmy award winning and narrated by Elijah Wood. Henry is hilarious then depressing then uplifting all in the space of a few minutes. Basically a short Pixar film.

the body vr a free rift experience - screenshot of cells

The Body VR

Rather simplistic visually but a great example of what VR is capable of outside of gaming. Travel through the human body in this short documentary.

showdown free experience for oculus rift screenshot. flying bullets

Showdown

Basically a tech demo for the Unreal Engine in VR. A slow motion thrill ride through an epic battle against alien robots. Not to be missed.

senza peso screenshot of purple tree

Senza Peso

Another music video. Touted as a “mini-opera” it features an interesting blend of music, 3D graphics and 3D film.

abe vr robot screenshot

Abe VR

Based on a short film about a robot who just wants love, at any cost. This one is not for the faint of heart. Truly deserves it’s M rating, you have been warned.

 

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