VR is still in its infancy. For us early adopters, we’ve had to pay a hefty sum to sit atop the bleeding edge of technology. Why do that? For the games, of course! There are a ton of developers doing excellent work in the space, exploring and experimenting with the potential of this brand-new medium.
But now we can put our wallets away, as many of those developers have released their games for free! Not free as in “cheaply made” – free as in “remarkable value.” Why pay a pretty penny for tepid ports of last-gen titles which weren’t made for VR to begin with? Playing tailor-made VR games doesn’t have to break the bank. And these free offerings are the proof in the pudding.
The 10 Best Free VR Games
Let’s scroll through the best free VR games, starting with number 10.
10. Spider-Man: Far From Home Virtual Reality
Marvel fans and non-fans alike will enjoy donning the mask of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in VR. Sling webs and swing around a low-detail recreation of New York City. Yes, jumping off a skyscraper and catching yourself with a web just a few feet above the ground is as exhilarating as you always imagined.
Far From Home VR is short and sweet, but it’s hard to complain considering the cost. And the full voice-acting by current Spider-Man actors is excellent. You definitely get your money’s worth here and then some. More superhero VR experiences, please!
9. Google Earth VR
As we’ve discussed before, Google Earth VR isn’t exactly a game per se. But it is an incredible VR experience – one which won’t cost you a dime to enjoy.
Get a different perspective on your hometown, fly around the world, and check out Europe from low earth orbit. Google Earth VR is the perfect gateway drug to VR for friends and family who don’t quite understand the technology yet. Show them someplace they know well or somewhere they’ve always wanted to go. Then watch the smile spread across their face as it clicks for them too.
8. War Robots VR: The Skirmish
Who doesn’t love mechs? Massive, heavily armed, ambulatory dispensers of destruction. The MechWarrior series has long set the standard for mech battles, but the mobile app War Robots has made a name for itself as an excellent multiplayer mech battle arena. While developer Pixonic’s exploration of VR is surprising, it makes perfect sense.
The Skirmish is a small sample of what a larger VR mech game might look like. Don’t expect the multiplayer component here; this is only intended to serve as a sizzle reel for the overall idea. And boy, does it sizzle!
7. Octopus Bar
Aside from games, VR is a great way to experience a story first-hand, with all the interactive frills that the medium offers. Octopus Bar is a Studio Ghibli-inspired experience that invites you deep into a mystical Japanese forest, where an octopus waits to serve you. The visuals are stunning in VR, easily immersing you in the magic of the setting.
Talk to the cheerful frog, explore the forest, and complete tasks to keep the bar humming and ghost-free. There isn’t a whole lot here, but every bit of it is sweet.
6. Desert Bus VR
The memetastic Desert Bus experience comes to VR! Get behind the wheel of your bus and make the drive from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time. In VR. All eight hours of it. Without saves or breaks.
The only challenge here is that the bus tends to veer to the right, so it requires your constant vigilance to keep it on the road. The scenery is as minimal as you’d expect from the endless desert, though you might be lucky enough to have a bug splat your windshield for a change of pace. Some simply won’t understand the appeal of Desert Bus, but for the rest of us, it’s a rare thrill that’s only amplified through the visceral reality of VR.
Make no mistake, VRChat is simply a glorified chat room in virtual space. But it is a mistake to simply write it off.
VRChat is a glimpse of the bright future of VR – one where you aren’t restricted by the rules of a game or limited to the content created by development teams. VRChat represents the first VR space designed solely for fulfilling a fundamental human need: the need for interaction and socialization. It proves that VR isn’t just for telling stories or playing games. It can also integrate with our daily lives in more natural and conventional ways.
Anyone can create and import content, from avatars to living spaces. This turns VRChat into a living, breathing world forged by and large by the participants. It’s the closest thing we have now to Ready Player One — and it’s free. You simply can’t go wrong by giving it a try.
4. Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay
Star Wars has a long history of excellent games that tie the movies together with the broader universe. In Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay, you get to influence the outcome of The Last Jedi by your deft work repairing BB-8 and other droids aboard a Resistance starship. It’s another great opportunity to step into Star Wars, and it’s made even better by the presence of VR and the nonexistent price tag.
Each robot has a unique personality that comes out through your interactions with them, and the repair process evokes memories of The Lab. While the experience is as short as you’d expect, it’s certainly sweet. Moreover, it comes with the high production values you’d hope for in a Star Wars title.
3. Rec Room
Rec Room is like VRChat with more game. That’s the long and short of it. You still get all the virtual social spaces, but with plenty of ways to challenge your newfound friends to friendly competitions. Play laser tag, dodgeball, embark on adventures, and much more.
Just like other social experiments in VR, Rec Room allows you to bring your own fun with custom-built social spaces, and even your own games. While it’s clearly designed to be a little more kid-friendly than the competition, it’s an experience that anyone of any age can enjoy. If you find the thought of a pure virtual chatroom intimidating, Rec Room adds plenty to make it more palatable.
2. Robotics in VR
While intended more for education than play, Robotics in VR is proof that learning can be plenty of fun. Remember the K’Nex line of toys that seemed to be everywhere two decades ago? Maybe? Well, Robotics in VR clearly draws inspiration from them and then some.
The gameplay loop is simple: use plug-and-play parts to build robots. For some, the promise of a virtual Lego set is all you need for hours of fun. But Robotics in VR takes it a step further by focusing your productivity. There are unique jobs to be completed, requiring different types of locomotion or mechanical interactions. Build yourself a robot (or two) that can get work done, or simply enjoy building and testing robots of your own design.
1. The Lab
The best free experience in VR is still The Lab, Valve’s inaugural foray into the realm of virtual reality. While we’ve done a full write-up on it in the past, allow us to provide you with the highlights to bring you back up to speed.
Set in the Aperture Science facility, The Lab presents a variety of unique VR minigames as different tests for the player to undertake. Play with a little robot dog in photorealistic real-world environments, destroy a storage facility by launching personality cores, and use a bow and arrow to defend a castle against little Portal people. The Lab has a little bit of everything; clear evidence of Valve’s experiments in the space to feel out what’s possible with VR. The first steps on the long journey that led Valve to Half-Life: Alyx, which hits Steam on March 23rd.
The Lab offers some of the best bang for your buck, so to speak, with plenty of variety and far more playtime than most other free offerings. Each minigame in the collection drips with polish and high production values. And there’s no better way to pass the time until Alyx comes out than grounding yourself in the Half-Life universe through the lens of VR.