The long-awaited virtual reality (VR) headset Oculus Rift has started shipping, and deliveries can be expected from next Monday (28 March). But, if you’re a proud owner of the brand new device, what will you be able to play from minute one?
The Oculus Rift was first mooted back in 2012 and, after a successful Kickstarter and several iterations of the technology, the final version was unveiled in May of last year. Pre-orders were open from 6 January, and those pre-orders have finally shipped.
And they’re not being shipped alone, so to speak. All pre-orders come with Playful’s Lucky’s Tale (platformer) and CCP’s EVE: Valkyrie (multiplayer space shooter) for free.
But what else is out there that for the headset? A device’s success can often be tied to how much a person can do with it, so having a tranche of games available from day one will go a long way towards ensuring it gets traction with gaming fans.
In that regard, the Oculus Rift has nothing to worry about. Oculus has promised that there will be more than 100 VR games available by the end of 2016, but they have announced a collection of 30 that will be available to users from the moment of unboxing on Monday.
So, if you’re one of the lucky few that’s got an Oculus Rift winging its way in your direction, here’s what you’ll be able to play in your brand new virtual reality as soon as your headset arrives:
Space exploration and survival game ADR1FT casts the player as an astronaut with no memory exploring the ruined environs of a space station, as their EVA suit slowly leaks oxygen.
You’re the only survivor and are trying to figure out what happened, find the resources that will keep you alive, and repair the vehicle that will get you home.
Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games
Already available on the Gear (in the US and Canada), Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games is a platformer featuring all of your favourite characters from the always weird Adventure Time cartoon.
The titular Magic Man has turned you into a tiny balloon, so you have to use Finn and Jake to help you track him down and get him to turn you back. Sounds about right.
AirMech: Command is a VR update to the existing AirMech series, which sees you playing as one of the last survivors of war. You now fight in a war machine created using found, salvaged and stolen tech.
Build an army, and choose whether to fight on the side of good or less than good.
The first horror entry on the list, Albino Lullaby is all twisty and dark. Not reliant on big jumps or lots of blood and guts, the game instead just gets inside your head.
It’s pitched as a ‘psychological nightmare’, where the gamespace constantly shifts and the narrative is consistently messed up.
Audio Arena looks like a lot of fun, for all that it seems like a fairly simple concept. It’s a single player arena game, and all the gameplay is generated by music.
Enemies are generated on the beat of the music, and the power-ups you use to defeat them are activated in time with the beat.
The play is entirely controlled with head tilts.
BlazeRush? More like MajorNostalgiaRush. Immediately bringing me back to childhood favourite Micro Machines – albeit a far grittier version – BlazeRush is an arcade racing survival game, with weaponry, chaos and tactics.
Sign me up.
Chronos is an RPG that positions the player as a young hero on a quest to save their home from a great evil. So far, so predictable, yes? Not quite.
The game centres on a labyrinth, which the player must defeat in order to save their homeland. Every time the hero fails, they’re booted from the labyrinth and – because mysticism – must wait a year to return.
The real trick here is adapting to changing game play as your character ages. They start out young and full of energy, but age into wisdom and stronger magic. Intriguing premise.
Already available on the Gear, Darknet is a strategy game that positions you as a hacker trying to crack computer networks before anti-virus programs shut you down.
Nodes in a network are represented as spheres, which you have to infect to get your virus to the core of the network.
Another horror entry, Dead Secret too eschews the traditional horror-based jumps in favour of an unsettling murder-mystery thriller.
Playing as a reporter in the 1960s, you become embroiled in a murder case, trying to find out what happened before you become the next victim.
Defense Grid 2 Enhanced VR Edition
A tower defence game, Defense Grid 2 Enhanced VR Edition sees the return of Defense Grid’s strategy-driven gameplay, but adds in multiplayer and online modes.
It also sees expansions to the maps, story and cast of characters, and allows you to build your own levels.
The premise of Dreadhalls is simple, but the resulting experience is far from that.
Dreadhalls is a minimalistic, horror-based dungeon crawler, where your sole objective is to escape from the dungeon you’re trapped in and avoid all the creatures out to do you harm.
All you have to help you are your own wits, and a light that you have to keep fuelled with oil or you’ll be plunged into darkness.
Elite Dangerous: Deluxe Edition
Elite Dangerous is a massively multiplayer space adventure game in which all of your actions affect the overarching narrative, with open-ended gameplay based in a galaxy modelled on the Milky Way.
You start with a small ship and very little money, and must develop your own path however you choose, progressing through the game through trading, mining, piracy or even assassination.
A follow-on from the original Esper – as you may have guessed – Esper 2 sees the player becoming an agent of the ESPR organisation, set up to deal with the growing number of people exhibiting telekinetic abilities.
Your mission in Esper 2 will see you travelling the world, solving puzzles and uncovering secrets as you try to stop the villain getting their hands on a mysterious object.
A simple arcade shooter, EVE: Gunjack looks, nonetheless, like a lot of fun.
You’re a gunner whose only task is shooting everything that moves. You’re going to have a heavy workload, because swarms of enemy ships are on the way to overpower your mining platform.
Shipping with your Oculus Rift, EVE: Valkyrie is a multiplayer space shooter, placing you in the cockpit for some intense dogfights.
Game progression is based on rank and reputation, and an element of strategic thinking.
Fly to KUMA
A platform-based puzzle game, Fly to KUMA sees you moving blocks to help giant, pink, be-suited teddy bears reach their destination.
Adding difficulty to the gameplay are the traps and obstacles you have to avoid along the way.
Herobound: Spirit Champion
In Herobound: Spirit Champion, take control of a ‘little goblin dude’ on a quest to save the world.
You’ll encounter puzzles and combat, but some powers and items that you discover along the way should help you deal with those.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes has been touted as the most inclusive VR game available, where active participation by non-headset wearing players is not only encouraged, it’s required.
Keep Talking hinges on a simple premise. The headset-wearer is in a room with a bomb, except he or she has no idea how to diffuse it. The only people who can do that are the other players (‘experts’), who can’t see the bomb.
The key is talking it out among yourselves, to see if you can beat the bomb.
Designed exclusively for the Oculus Rift, and shipping with the device, Lucky’s Tale is a platform adventure game.
You play as fox Lucky, who explores the lovingly crafted world of the game, collecting gems, fighting monsters, and even building your dream home and town.
A quick visit to the website for Omega Agent, a glance at the tagline, and I’m a convert: ‘Secret Agent training. With jetpacks. In VR’ – that’s a win-win-win.
In Omega Agent, you play as the aforementioned secret agent, undergoing training at a remote, Cold War facility. You strap on a nuclear-powered jetpack, and blast around an open world city carrying out missions with a view to become the ultimate spy, the Omega Agent.
Pinball FX2 VR
I still feel a stir of nostalgia when I see even a photo of Windows’ old Full Tilt!, and one has to wonder if Zen Studios are hoping Pinball FX2 will be the VR equivalent.
This is, of course, pinball with a difference. In addition to the simple pinball game itself, each machine comes with its own unique environment and surroundings.
You can also explore the beachfront house that, well, houses the machines.
Racing game Project CARS gives you a first-person viewpoint of all the action as you drive high-performance cars around over 100 tracks.
Choose from muscle cars, supercars, GT and even karts. Dynamic weather changes and driving conditions add an extra layer of difficulty – and fun – to the game.
Another racing game, Radial G takes a slightly different tack to Project CARS and BlazeRush. Vaguely reminiscent of the PlayStation classic Wipeout, the seemingly fast-paced Radial G trades in the open tracks for a tubular design.
Track characteristics vary from planet to planet, so you will need to learn how to adapt your craft and racing style to counteract them.
A classic puzzle game, Rooms brings you 144 levels – spread over four mansions – to solve.
The gameplay sees you (playing as accidentally-trapped Anne) moving rooms around, and using objects found within them, to find a way to a mansion’s exit.
Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe VR
Sadly not a much-needed shuffleboard game, Shufflepuck Cantina sees you playing air hockey in a space bar. Because of course.
Smashing the Battle
Smashing the Battle is a hand-to-hand fighting game that pits two women against hordes of robots.
From the looks of the trailer, if you’re expecting more than scantily-clad heaving bosoms, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
The hint may be in the name with The Climb, a VR game allowing players to scale the heights of a series of gorgeous environments, and giving them all the thrill of rock climbing with none of the risk of falling.
Perhaps, though, it’s still not for the faint of heart or the afraid of heights.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The first-person mystery game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, sees you playing as a detective with a strong belief in the occult. After receiving a letter from a young boy – the titular Ethan – you travel to his home town, where a series of suspicious murders have taken place.
While there are a few puzzles to solve, the game creators say it’s the story, not the puzzles, that you should be focusing on. It’s all about the atmosphere, they say.
Oh, and your ability to communicate with the dead.
VR Tennis Online
A multiplayer tennis game, VR Tennis Online allows you to use a range of shots and techniques to advance your ranking.
You’re automatically paired against opponents based on rating, and winning games will allow you to play against stronger players.
Pitched as a ‘first-person grappling hook exploration game’, Windlands sees you swinging through the ruins of a fallen civilisation and uncovering its secrets.
The super enthusiastic (vaguely NSFW) Irish guy up there seems to be liking it anyway. I think.