I was flat out in the prone position, belly crawling up to the top of the hill. Off to the right, my friend was preparing to flank the enemy squad in the valley. The hillside across the way that had once been teeming with hostiles now lay still. The buildings at the bottom of the valley were dark. Everything was eerily quiet. Something was wrong. 

Then the gunfire started. 

I held my position, spraying down at their fortified position while my friend tossed flashbangs. The firefight was over in about thirty seconds. We were both dead.

“I think they saw me,” he said after a quiet moment. No kidding. 

I stood and removed my VR headset to wipe the sweat from my brow. Though hundreds of miles separated us, I could hear my friend’s voice loud and clear. When I put the headset back on, there he was — standing beside me and decked out like a Tier 1 operator. 

VR is pure magic, even when you’re by yourself. But it’s so much better with friends. Of course, there’s a lot of different ways to experience VR together. So let’s take a look at the best paid, free, and local multiplayer VR games for your next game night. 

Best Multiplayer VR Games

Listed in no particular order, let’s check out the best VR games for multiplayer.

6. Onward

Our pick the best multiplayer VR shooter

Onward
  • Developer: Downpour Interactive
  • Platforms: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Multiplayer: Online w/ up to 10 players
  • Modes: Competitive, cooperative
  • Website: www.downpourinteractive.com

The game from the opening story was Onward, developed by Downpour Interactive. Long-time Rainbow Six fans, rejoice — Onward brings the tactical shooter to the VR space with significant aplomb.

Stealth is always wise until you’re spotted. Then the spectacular gunplay with fully realized modern weapons and realistic physics take over. Excellent body tracking and inverse kinematics mean that your virtual self always looks mostly correct, adding to the incredible sense of immersion. Heck, even team communications are accomplished with an in-game shoulder-mounted radio.

Meanwhile, taking a hand off your gun to call in support from your team is as nerve-wracking as it should be. And reloading a weapon while under fire takes steady hands and plenty of practice with each of the intricately designed guns. 

You can play plenty of player-vs-player multiplayer modes, like VIP and modified king of the hill, but the real star here is the co-op mode, in my estimation. Participating in a Terrorist Hunt with my buddies brings me right back to the Rogue Spear LAN days — except this time, we’re right there in the thick of it thanks to VR. Move slow, check your corners, and watch each other’s backs. If you have even a passing interest in slow, methodical gameplay or military simulations, you can’t afford to miss Onward

5. Pavlov VR

Our pick for the best paid multiplayer VR game overall

Pavlov VR
  • Developer: Vankrupt Games
  • Platforms: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Multiplayer: Online w/ up to 10 players
  • Modes: Competitive, cooperative
  • Website: www.steampowered.com

Desert sands. Two bombsites. AK-47 and M4 rifles. Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists.

Let’s be honest: Pavlov VR is Counter-Strike. Even the stock maps barely try to hide it. With the added bonus of maps ported straight over from its aforementioned ancestor — alongside maps from other games like Modern Warfare — Pavlov VR becomes the must-experience multiplayer VR title of this gaming generation. Navigating familiar maps and using all the same callouts you know and love in VR is a unique and rare thrill. 

You know the drill here: teams of 5 (or more, depending on the server) face off in the arena, with one group trying to plant a bomb and the other trying to stop them. There’s also Team Deathmatch and Zombie modes to keep the gameplay fresh and engaging. And bots, in case you need to brush up on your skills. The bots serve as the foundation for the Zombie mode, a largely cooperative affair in the same vein as the Call of Duty Zombie modes. 

With a time-tested gameplay loop, adding VR to the mix is simply the icing on the cake. Get your daily workout in with the same game and maps you’d be playing anyways. You’ll be glad you did. 

4. Vivecraft

Our pick for the best VR multiplayer mod

Vivecraft
  • Developer: Various Developers
  • Platforms: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Multiplayer: Online w/ players capped by server
  • Modes: Competitive, cooperative
  • Website: www.vivecraft.org

Ok, I know Minecraft isn’t technically free. But most folks have a copy or two (or ten) of the Java Edition nowadays, and Vivecraft is a freely downloadable mod that ports the entire experience over to VR. When I say “the entire experience,” I mean it — multiplayer included. Despite the name, it works with all major headsets on the market. 

Set up a server with your favorite mods and Minecraft, then prepare yourself to experience the voxel world as never before. Bring your friends along to build forts, brave the Nether, or simply plumb the darkest depths — all in VR. Have you ever stopped to consider that the Minecraft blocks measure 1 meter cubed? It’s bigger than you think. And Creepers are taller than you think. Prepare yourself for a jumpscare or two when exploring your first cave. 

Since all Java Edition mods are supported, that means that your Vivecraft experience can be whatever you want it to be. Start a VR Hunger Games server. Expand your crafting options or add RPG elements. Play cooperatively in the vanilla game. Stab your friends in the back with a diamond sword in a formerly cooperative experience. However you prefer to craft your mines, you can load up Vivecraft and take your server into brave new realms. 

3. VRChat

Our pick for the best free multiplayer VR game

VRChat
  • Developer: VRChat, Inc.
  • Platforms: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Multiplayer: Online w/ players capped by server
  • Modes: Competitive, cooperative, social
  • Website: www.vrchat.com

As soon as I saw Ready Player One (I haven’t read the book ⁠— I know I’m missing out), I knew that I was seeing a vision of the not-too-distant future. The fact is, science-fiction works like Ready Player One and Sword Art Online are rapidly becoming science-fact thanks in part to games like VRChat Inc. 

While there are competitive modes to be found here — like capture the flag and other sports well suited to the concept — they aren’t the main draw. As you might imagine, the social aspect is the real selling point of the experience. That comes with just as much variation as you’d expect. Perhaps you’ll simply find another group of players from across the world and shoot the breeze for a time. Or maybe you’ll set off on an expedition to explore strange user-created lands. You can even find a seat and watch a movie in one of the virtual theaters. It isn’t so much a game as an alternative tool to facilitate interaction with other humans. Just like a predecessor to the Matrix should be. 

Eventually, I’m sure we’ll see business-focused variations on this theme to take Slack and Discord meetings to the next level. But for now, we’ll have to make do with men masquerading as anime girls and anthropomorphic creatures. 

2. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Our pick for the best VR party game

Keep Talking Nobody Explodes
  • Developer: Steel Crate Games
  • Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Multiplayer: Local w/ one defuser (VR player) & unlimited support personnel (non-VR players)
  • Modes: Cooperative
  • Website: www.keeptalkinggame.com

You’re trapped in a room with a bomb covered in strange puzzles and arcane symbols. They mean nothing to you. There aren’t any hints to be gleaned from the bomb’s chrome container, and your only hope is someone wielding a bomb defusal manual, located safely away from the blast radius. But they can’t see the device. Only you can. 

The clock is ticking. 

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is one of the best party games period, VR aside. But the addition of VR takes the experience to new levels of frantic screaming and incoherent babbling as you and your friends try to keep from blowing up. The specific wires, devices, and locks that protect the bomb are randomized each time. And the solution for each puzzle can be found somewhere in the pages of the freely downloadable bomb defusal manual. It’s a brilliant stroke to ensure that success can only come through cooperation. And cooperation requires clear, quick communication. Which is hard as you watch the remaining time before detonation inexorably marching toward zero. 

It’s easy to understand, easy to play, and perfect for social gatherings — especially since it only requires one VR headset. If you or someone you know has VR, pick up Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. 

Until the bomb goes off in your hands, that is.

1. Takelings House Party

Our pick for the best local multiplayer VR game overall

Takelings
  • Developer: DimnHouse
  • Platforms: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Multiplayer: Local w/ one homeowner (VR player) & up to eight Takelings (non-VR players)
  • Modes: Competitive
  • Website: www.takelingshouseparty.com

Remember The Borrowers? It’s a classic story about a family of tiny people leading secret lives in and around our own. Many popular stories are based around this concept, so there’s got to be something to it. And where there’s timeless inspiration, there’s bound to be a game or two derived from the concept. 

Takelings House Party in an asymmetric multiplayer game that pits one homeowner against up to eight Takelings rampaging through the house. The Takelings, controlled via controllers or the companion smartphone app, are merely trying to make a living by “borrowing” anything of value that isn’t nailed down. And the VR player won’t stand for that. 

Gameplay becomes pure chaos as smart Takeling players watch and wait to move until your back is turned. The VR player will be flailing around like drunk whack-a-mole, struggling to keep his prized possessions where they belong: randomly strewn around the house. It’s the perfect blend of simple gameplay and laugh-inducing emergent moments that the players will talk about for months after the fact. 

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