Best Steam VR Games And Experiences: 25 Apps For Index And Vive

Best Steam VR Games And Experiences: 25 Apps For Index And Vive

Sony and Facebook may have their own stores for their respective headsets, but if you’re looking to get into virtual reality games on PC, you’ll want to check our list of the best Steam VR games whichever headset you have. Whether you’re looking for the best Vive games or best Index games, this is the place to be.

Since 2016, Valve has encouraged a culture of openness for VR games on Steam (officially known as Steam VR). That means most PC VR headsets can run most Steam VR games. That said, we’ve already got a list of best Oculus Rift games focusing on both Facebook’s store and Steam VR. So for this list of best Steam VR games we’re focusing mainly on the best Vive games and the best Index games and won’t include any Rift exclusives.

Obviously, you’ll be able to buy all of these games over on Steam. Also note that this list includes some Early Access titles, which are games that haven’t finished development, so buyer discretion is advised.

The Best Steam VR Games And Experiences On Index And Vive

25. The Wizards: Dark Times – Read Our Review

The original entry in The Wizards series showed a lot of promise with gesture-based controls and polished visuals, but it ultimately boiled down to another arena-based combat game. The Wizards: Dark Times is the fleshed-out sequel the game’s mechanics deserved, with a full, linear single-player campaign, new enemies and new spells.

Spell-casting is one of VR’s most satisfying tried and true mechanics, but nowhere does it feel as slick as this system, which sees you summoning magical shields and ice arrows with the flick of a hand. It might be a little more mature than your standard Harry Potter fare, but The Wizards: Dark Times is the ultimate destination for VR magic fans.

24. Red Matter – Read Our Review

VR has plenty of great exploration games, but none of them feel quite as finely-tuned for the platform as Vertical Robot’s Red Matter. In this intriguing adventure-mystery, you journey to an alien planet to investigate an abandoned enemy base in the midst of a Cold War-style sci-fi conflict.

But it’s the dedication to immersion that makes Red Matter shine. From the comfortable hopping locomotion that works given its setting to the way your variety of tools emerge from virtual representations of the controllers you’re holding. If you truly want to feel like you’re in another world, Red Matter is one place you have to go.

23. Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (H3VR)

Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (H3VR) first released in 2016 but it remains even in 2020 one of the most regularly updated VR games. The developers at RUST LTD are constantly adding new game modes and weapons to their collection of experiments.

There are simulated shooting ranges with hundreds of weapons already available plus game modes like Take and Hold that, altogether, are keeping some players entertained for hundreds of hours. With each and every update, this cements its place as one of the best Vive games and best Index games on Steam VR.

Not to mention that the game has a great sense of humor and an enthusiastic curiosity to explore new things in VR. Vacation Simulator is the kind of experience that proves we haven’t explored all there is to VR yet. Far from it, in fact; there are some minigames here that could be fleshed out into their own titles. That makes Vacation Simulator one of the best Vive games and the best Index games.

22. Accounting+ – Read Our Review

VR doesn’t get weirder nor more surreal than Accounting+, and we mean that in a very good way. This mad mashup from the minds behind Rick and Morty and Crows, Crows, Crows is a startling, erratic exploration of character presence in VR. In Accounting+, grotesque creatures scream at you and friendly abominations are gutted accidentally. It’s scary, awkward, hilarious and a wide range of other things that many VR games aren’t. That makes it one of the best Steam VR games. If you’re a Ricky And Morty fan, you can’t miss it.

21. The Under Presents – Read Our Coverage

Building on the surrealist success of Virtual Virtual Reality, The Under Presents is Tender Claws’ most ambitious and all-round best VR experiment yet. In this thriving hub of performing virtual arts you’re always bound to discover something new, be it in the scripted content, live shows or social interactions.

The Under itself is a theater consisting of scripted stage performances that you can enjoy with others, or watch an Invisible Hours-style headlining play. At points throughout the day, though, you’ll also discover actors performing live in mini-plays and mock game shows you can interactive with. The Under Presents is a living, breathing hub of VR exploration, and you shouldn’t miss it.

20. Budget Cuts 2: Mission Insolvency – Read Our Review

The original Budget Cuts was a groundbreaking experience in terms of locomotion, but limited enemy AI and confusing level design held it back from reaching its full potential. Fortunately, Budget Cuts 2 fixed all of those issues and then some, resulting in the experience we wished the first game had achieved.

This is a thrilling bit of VR stealth where quick reactions and fast thinking are necessary to sneak through enemy bases. What makes Budget Cuts tick is its dependency on player skill; if you don’t master tossing knives and shooting arrows, you’ll end up dead pretty fast. It’s a rare sort of VR game that actually requires players to fully embody the avatar they play as. This sequel rightfully takes its place as one of the best Vive games and best Index games.

19. The Room VR: A Dark Matter – Read Our Review

Puzzle masters Fireproof Games knock it out of the park once again with a typically excellent rendition of The Room series, this time for VR headsets. This short, sweet adventure is set in The British Institute of Archaeology, where you’ll solve challenging trials in search of a missing archaeologist.

What makes The Room VR work is its commitment to the platform it’s appearing on. This isn’t just a bunch of puzzles that would work on a traditional screen; each and every one has been thoughtfully invented with VR at its core. That makes it easily one of the best Steam VR games, especially if you’re into puzzles.

18. Onward – Read Our Oculus Quest Review

With seemingly overnight success and some of the most solid, realistic shooting mechanics in VR, you wouldn’t have considered Onward to have been developed by just one person who hadn’t even made a game before. But that really is how this excellent multiplayer military simulation game came into existence, paving the way for a new breed of VR games, the kind that people have wanted for ages.

What’s so impressive about Onward is its distinct identity. Whereas Pavlov impressively apes Counter-Strike with its tightly-designed maps, Onward is much more grounded in realism, with its pacing reflecting that. This is a game that demands tight teamwork and measured movements if you’re to survive on the battlefield. It’s still in Early Access — and recent updates have marred the quality to accommodate Oculus Quest — but Onward has easily proven itself to be one of the best Steam VR games.

17. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition – Read Our Review

Hellblade developer Ninja Theory may have recently been bought by Microsoft but that didn’t stop it from releasing one of 2018’s most surprising, polished and all-around best VR games. You probably already know Hellblade as an intricately woven and unbearably tense exploration of mental health complete with eye-popping visuals and fantastic combat.

Hellblade’s VR edition is all of that… in VR. Ninja Theory pulls off a first-rate VR conversion here, managing to mine fresh gold from the game’s most intimate and effective moments. If you want proof that you can port big games to VR and, with just a little thought, enhance the experience, look no further than Hellblade VR.

16. Gorn – Read Our Review

There’s definitely an argument to be made for keeping VR games from getting too violent but Gorn basically rips any such debate’s jaw off and then beats it to death with its own arms. Before we step into the murky ground of ‘realism’, Free Lives has jumped all the way over to the other side of the canyon and spilled a frankly hilarious amount of gore in the process. Gorn is all about being the last man standing in a gladiator arena, and the game has little in the way of rules to stop you from doing that.

Want to pull a guy’s head off? Bash him in with a rock? Swing a mace into a face and knock some eyeballs out? Gorn lets you do all that and it feels wonderful, not because we have psychotic tendencies but because it’s all so stupidly over the top that you can help but laugh. Beyond the stupidity, though, there is actually a great structure in place here that will keep you coming back to unlock new content and make battles surprisingly tense affairs, too. It’s as stupid as it gets but Gorn’s a game you should take seriously too.

15. Vanishing Realms – Read Our Review

The wait for new Vanishing Realms content seemed to stretch on for an eternity but, when it finally arrived, it delivered on everything we’d hoped for. This fantasy RPG delivers all you need from a VR adventure; sword-slinging melee combat, accurate archery and spell casting.

Mechanically Vanishing Realms is a little simpler than some of its successors, but it’s also wholly accessible and dialed into the moments that really make VR sing. Vanishing Realms has always been one of the best Vive games, and now it’s one of the best Index games too.

14. Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted – Read Our Review

Ever wanted to give yourself a heart attack? Firstly, what’s wrong with you? Second, Five Nights At Freddy’s VR is the closest you’ll get to that experience in the comfort of your own home. Most VR horror games try to be at least a little cautious with their jump scares so that people can actually play them. FNAF has no such interest in any consideration.

Across several minigames that include content from past games and new experiences, you’ll try to survive against a haunting army of abandoned animatronics, trying to keep tabs on them as they stalk you and trying to fix things without being eaten (wait, do they eat you?). If you’re looking for the ultimate VR scarefest, you can’t go wrong with this house of horrors, making it one of the best Steam VR games.

13. The Persistence – Read Our Review

Firesprite’s VR debut is a tantalizing horror treat. It uses procedural generation to generate a spaceship riddled with horrific enemies that you need to sneak your way through. Think Dead Space in VR. If the very thought of that doesn’t send you running for the hills then this could be for you.

Plus, compatibility with traditional game controllers over VR motion controllers does give The Persistence a mechanical, refined edge compared to a lot of its contemporaries. If you’re looking for a genuinely deep, calculated VR game, this is worth enduring the scares for.

12. The Gallery Episodes 1 & 2 – Read Our Review

The initial entry in Cloudhead Games’ groundbreaking The Gallery series was one of the purest, most exciting explorations of what VR adventure gaming could be for its time. It boasted the childlike fantasy of films like The Dark Crystal and combined that with an entirely new way to solve puzzles and interact with characters. It was a tease of what was to come for VR.

Then Episode 2 came along and successfully turned all of that into a ‘full’ experience. On the hunt for your missing sister, you journey to other worlds and meet an impossible cast of characters across some truly amazing landscapes. The Gallery is all about really making you believe you’ve teleported to another world, and it’s one of VR’s most successful titles in that respect. Paired together, The Gallery series is one of the most complete, thoughtful experiences you can yet find in VR. We can’t wait to find out more about Episode 3, but what’s here is already one of the best Vive games and the best Index games.

11. Moss – Read Our Review

Moss is one of a handful of 2018 games that proved that third-person VR experiences don’t just work but can make for some of the absolute best content out on the platform right now. You guide an adorable little mouse named Quill through diorama-sized levels, solving puzzles and taking on fearsome critters in sword-based combat.

While its mechanically refined, Moss’ real claim to fame is the bond you build with Quill over the course of the adventure. Playing as a larger companion to the tiny protagonist, you really start to connect with her as you work together to overcome obstacles. It feels very much like a team effort, which is quite a remarkable feeling in itself. Moss is easily one of the best Vive games and best Index games – bring on Book 2.

10. Paper Beast– Read Our Review

Another World creator Eric Chahi is back with a similarly transformative VR adventure. In Paper Beast, you immerse yourself in a virtual ecosystem consisting of digital animals born into a breathing world you can reach out and feel. What follows is a magical safari ride through an impossible universe, complete with some of VR’s most natural puzzles.

What makes Paper Beast really sing, though, is just how believable its menagerie of animals is in VR. Interactions with them are seamless and natural, and each makes a dent (sometimes literally) in the surrounding world. Paper Beast might be a little on the short side and it might not have any explosions, but it’s one of the best explorations of the new types of experiences VR can enable.

9. Beat Saber – Read Our Review

Who would have guessed that, with everything developers could do, the closest VR has yet gotten to a ‘killer app’ is a rhythm action game with knock-off lightsabers? It seems ridiculous but just one go on Beat Saber and you’ll understand why it’s such a hit; it’s an utterly entrancing experience that makes you feel like a master. That’s all you need VR to be.

You slash notes that arrive on time with a beat. It sounds simple but, in practice, there are few things more satisfying to do in VR. It won’t be long until you’re throwing your motion controllers around like a ninja. Plus you’ll be working up a sweat and instinctively dancing to the given track. Many people will tell you Beat Saber is one of the best Steam VR games, and they’re absolutely right.

8. No Man’s Sky VR – Read Our Review

No Man’s Sky promised to bring its entire universe of billions of procedurally generated planets connected by unending oceans of space that can be explored by yourself or with friends all into VR. It’s had a few technical hiccups, but you can’t deny it delivered on that hugely ambitious premise. You can lose endless hours here journeying to the top of mountains, scouting below the oceans and duking it out in spaceship battles. Not to mention the continued wealth of free updates add even more impressive new features.

Better yet, Hello Games put incredible effort into this VR update, making it feel native to the game instead of tacked on. Still, remember this is No Man’s Sky. There are plenty of beautiful sights and sounds, but also a fairly punishing survival loop and resource-gathering grind to fight back against. If that sounds up your street, No Man’s Sky will probably be one of your most loved VR games.

7. Pistol Whip – Read Our Review

Pistol Whip may be the new kid on the block but, for our money, its sharpshooting, sharp sounding, beat-based gameplay proves to be even more hypnotic than Beat Saber. In this neon-lit shooter, you stream down corridors, blasting bad guys to grizzly tunes, avoiding incoming fire and trying to rack up the best scores.

Pistol Whip’s key is to take influence not just from the VR sales king but also Superhot and, most prominently, John Wick. Whereas Beat Saber wants to make you a dancing Jedi master, Pistol Whip aims to teach you gun-fu with style, elegantly fusing the rhythmic and cinematic together into a pulsating, vibrant monster of its own. Pistol Whip is definitely one of the best Vive games and best Index games.

6. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Read Our Review

We would have never pegged a game based upon The Walking Dead to carry some of the best design and user-interaction you’ll find in VR, but Saints & Sinners delivers all that and then some. This sets the bar for VR zombie games with Boneworks-style, physics-based combat that has you wrestling with hordes of undead, throwing every ounce of effort you can into every swing and stab.

But this isn’t just a wave-based survival game (though it has that too) or silly sandbox. Saints & Sinners packs its action into a full, meaty VR campaign that sees you trekking through the remains of New Orleans. Add in human enemies, side-missions and the ability to kill zombies with a spoon, and you have one of the deepest native VR games on the market. Saints & Sinners will be one of the best Vive games and best Index games for some time to come.

5. A Fisherman’s Tale – Read Our Review

As great as VR is, its initial novelty is bound to wear off after your first few weeks or so. If you want to recapture the magic of putting on the headset for the first time, though, there’s one destination that’s bound to deliver: A Fisherman’s Tale. This is a mind-bending puzzle game unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. That alone makes it one of the best Steam VR games.

In A Fisherman’s Tale, you solve intricate, scale-based puzzles in which you work… with yourself. Its best puzzles utilize a miniature model of the lighthouse the game’s set in. Lift the roof of the model and you’ll see a mini-you, imitating your every move. Just try and keep your brain from breaking as you hand yourself giant objects, or reach down to poke your own head. It’s a trip to say the least. Throw in a poignant story about self-acceptance and you have a short, sharp VR game that will stay with you much longer than most multi-hour epics.

4. Boneworks – Read Our Review

If you want to see how far VR design has come since 2016, look no further than Boneworks. Stress Level Zero’s third VR game might not have the most masterfully designed of shooter campaigns, but its physics-based combat sandbox is a true marvel to behold. In this virtual reality shooter, every object, from broomsticks to bin lids, can be picked up and wielded as a weapon. Every item has a physical presence in the world, meaning you can hook crowbars to edges and then climb up them, or nudge doors open with the end of a gun.

The result is a stunning showcase of things to come. Boneworks truly changes the game not just for VR combat but also world design, with fantastic puzzles that require player invention to be solved. Take a good hard look at Boneworks, because it’s laid the foundations for the future of VR gaming. Knuckles support, in particular, makes it one of the best Index games.

3. Skyrim VR – Read Our Review

It turns out that the Skyrim of VR is, well, Skyrim in VR. There are definitely some awkward quirks to Bethesda’s port of its ever-popular fantasy RPG, but we were more than willing to put them to the back of our minds as we explored Tamriel like never before. With hundreds of hours worth of content, full autonomy to make the kind of character you want and an enormous world to explore, Skyrim VR is the closest we’ve come to fulfilling every adventurer’s dreams (outside of taking an arrow to the knee).

Plus, on top of the original game, mod support makes this an unending fountain of brilliant fan-made content that can turn you into entirely new characters or even let you experience whole other games that are every bit as good as the original. Skyrim VR is going to be hard to top for some time, and retains its crown as one of the best Vive games and best Index games.

2. Superhot VR – Read Our Review

Superhot is, without a doubt, the most instantly rewarding game to play in VR. The flatscreen original was great but, by bringing your whole body into this groundbreaking shooter, the developer completely flips the game on its head. In Superhot (stop me if you’ve heard this before), time moves only when you do. That means that when you’re still, the world around you is too. Every time you raise your arm or duck your head, the world crawls into life. You’re essentially a human video playback device.

Superhot gives you a stark realization of the physicality of VR and what that means for gaming. It’s an experience in which you are aware of every inch of your body. It also makes it effortlessly easy to feel cool in VR; every catch of a handgun or toss of a ninja star comes with an incredible strand of slick satisfaction you won’t find anywhere else. Superhot VR is currently the gold standard for VR shooters and, in our opinion, one of the very best Steam VR games.

1. Half-Life: Alyx – Read Our Review

Well over a decade on, Valve’s legendary shooter series returns in fine form for VR headsets. Set between the events of Half-Life 1 and 2, Alyx casts you as its titular character. Alyx Vance sets out on an adventure that takes her across the iconic setting of City 17. What might seem an experimental spin-off quickly establishes itself as an essential chapter in the series’ canon.

Half-Life: Alyx might not feature the sandbox physics of Boneworks or a crowbar to mash headcrabs with, but what it lacks in innovation it more than makes up for in unprecedented production value and design, the likes of which we’ve not seen in VR. Every shootout, every puzzle and every setpiece has been meticulously refined with immersion, comfort and interaction at the core. If you’re not ducking out of the way of zombies, you’re huddled behind car doors returning fire or disarming mines in tense games of Operation.

These various elements combine together for a 10+ hour game that feels both true to its roots and VR. It makes for a worthy addition to the Half-Life series and, without a doubt, the best game on Steam VR.

Update 08/10/20 – Rec Room, OhShape, The Exorcist VR, Vacation Simulator and Virtual Virtual Reality were removed from the list in favor of The Persistence, The Wizards: Dark Times, Five Nights At Freddy’s VR, Paper Beast and The Under Presents.

Update 04/04/20 – Transpose, Groundhog Day: Like Father, Like Son and LA Noire: The VR Case Files were removed from the list in favor of Half-Life: Alyx, The Room VR: A Dark Matter and OhShape.

Do you agree with our list of the best Steam VR games? Do you think these are the best Vive games or the best Index games? Let us know in the comments below!

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