VR is an incredible platform that, in my eyes, is still just in the early Nintendo-type days of its existence. Part of the problem with reaching the mainstream is that it’s hard to articulate why VR is so incredible. You can show people with headsets on and flailing around all you like, but much like the movie The Matrix, you really can’t tell someone what the Matrix is; you have to show them instead. I was one of those people who doubted VR at first because I couldn’t really get a grip on what it was. When I finally got to experience it at VR world in New York City, that’s when I knew this was going to be something big.
Most systems get a nice boost at the start of their lifespan via a huge, triple-A experience backed by a major studio. VR was never that lucky, and it’s part of the reason it hasn’t quite boomed just yet. Instead, indie developers have been carrying the load for the majority of the time, and you know what?
That’s a great thing because these companies just ooze creativity and show they care far more than the big-money companies do. I’ve been playing these indie titles steadily for almost four years now, and they’re only getting better and more polished. The best part is that the developers often work with the fans to improve their games through Discord and that close community is what powers some of the best VR games around. Let’s take a look.
- Unknown or small studios
- VR games
- Available in stores, no Sidequest games on the list
Bottom line Up Front
Tales of Glory is the best Indie VR game out there. It’s got endless content to enjoy, and the combat physics are amazing.
#1 – Boneworks
- Genre- Sci-Fi Adventure
- Developer- Stress Level Zero
Before Half-Life: Alyx came to town, all the rage was over Boneworks and the small development team that put together a game with the most impressive physics system in VR. Praise was given for a good reason, too, as Boneworks is a great game that is replayable, and it still has some of the best physics VR has to offer.
Half-Life is a clear inspiration to these developers at Stress Level Zero, and you can see it from the tone established to even some of the areas you explore. You start off as a worker in a factory that is slowly going completely haywire, and soon enough, you’re facing off against rogue zombie robots who can do nothing more than to take you down. You’ll have to fend off these enemies with an array of weapons, including axes, swords, guns, and pretty much anything you can get your hands on. You can also fight unarmed, and it’s often the most fun way to play, as any piece of environment is a weapon as well.
You’ll be solving puzzles, traversing climbing segments, and ultimately getting an awesome workout while playing Boneworks. Once you complete the main story, you can compete in multiple arena modes that give you endless enemies to fight off with any equipment that you choose.
Boneworks is still a great representative of how amazing VR can be and is easily one of the most immersive games out there.
#2- Blade and Sorcery
- Genre- Sandbox Fantasy Combat
- Developer- Warpfrog
Do you know what the game on the most played VR game list is right below Half-Life: Alyx? It’s a little game called Blade and Sorcery, and it’s an indie game that is led by a tiny team that delivers in some huge ways. What makes Blade and Sorcery’s success so amazing is that it technically isn’t really a finished game. It’s been in Early Access for years now and still only has a randomly generated dungeon mode on top of its usual arena combat to show for it. Despite that, it’s still one of the best games in VR.
Blade and Sorcery place you in a variety of arenas of your choosing, hands you weapons, shields, and armor, and lets you choose from a long list of options of what kind of warriors you want to face. Different options produce different numbers of enemies, and as soon as you select to start the fight, you’re on your own.
The weapons physics in this game is what makes it truly stand out. The way your sword clashes off an opponent’s shield is epic, and even more impressive are the stabbing and slashing physics. You can fully impale your enemies here, and while the effect is disturbing, it’s a technical marvel that all other melee combat games should look to copy from here on out as the realism is a startling and amazing accomplishment considering the size of the team.
As is any great PC game, a huge attraction draw is the mods. The developer realized this too and made it very easy to create mods for Blade and Sorcery, and the result is an epic mix of add ons that make the game so much better. So far, we’ve got tons of new maps, new weapons such as lightsabers, new enemies to fight, voice lines added to your enemies, new powers, and so much more. Mods get added to this game daily, and you never know what wild addition will be coming to the game next.
If you like melee combat, magic, and endless fighting, Blade and Sorcery is an excellent choice and is one of the best experiences in VR, period.
#3 – Tales of Glory
- Genre- Medieval Action Simulator
- Developer- Blacktale Games
Some of these indie game studios are small, but rarely are they created by one person. That’s exactly the case with Tales of Glory, as this amazing game was made and has been maintained by one person at BlackTale Games. The result is an endless game that is one of the most unique experiences in VR that hasn’t been matched by any game yet, and we’re going on almost three years since its release.
Tales of Glory takes the idea of Mount and Blade and puts it into VR. For those unfamiliar, Mount and Blade is a massive medieval life simulator that has you commanding an army, fighting in massive castle sieges, and overthrowing kings while building your army from various factions and freelancing mercenaries. In VR, that’s all here, plus fighting in tournaments and custom fights along with an arena mode.
You start the game as a lowly peasant looking to restore your family name, but you’ll slowly take on missions, gather better weapons and armor, and start being able to recruit a variety of different warriors too. After battles, you can let people go, recruit them to your cause or just finish them off if you don’t feel like adding to your army. You can work for various kings, or you can set out for yourself and conquer the land in your name, and the battles get tougher and tougher as you conquer the more powerful armies out there.
The combat here is incredible, and your very strength goes into your weapon swings, so don’t expect to just wag your controller lightly and have anything happen. If you want to split helmets and take off heads in the heat of battle, you’re going to have to work for it. You can use every kind of medieval weapon imaginable here. You’ve got flails, maces, spears, throwing spears, javelins, two-handed swords, two-handed axes, knives, and so much more are available to you as well as bows and tons of different shields and armors to try out as well. You
You control a massive army here, too, and that means 100+ soldiers can be ordered around with not only your controller, but your voice works as well, and it adds to the immersion so much when they’re following your actual orders.
You’ve got about 30 hours worth of main game here, and then on top of that, you can play custom battles with any amount of soldiers that you want on each side. This, combined with the arena mode, just makes this a pretty much endless experience which is wildly impressive for a one-man team to accomplish.
#4 – Until You Fall
- Genre- Roguelike Action
- Developer- Schell Games
Few games come at you with more confidence than Until You Fall. It doesn’t bog you down with heavy-handed stories or lengthy tutorials; it just points you toward the path and says good luck. Until You Fall is a roguelike that has you traversing area after area taking down enemies until you finally reach the final boss. You are unable to save during a run, so it’s a pure endurance test both physically and mentally in order to beat this game.
It’s borderline impossible to beat the game the first go through, but as you suffer defeats, you gain money that can be used to purchase upgrades as well as new weapons. Each new weapon has a different special ability to help you out too, and learning which ones are best for you is part of the fun.
Although it’s a melee combat game, the combat isn’t really physics-based. Yes, your strikes will physically affect the enemy, but there is no physics system governing the combat per se. Instead, you have to widdle down an enemy’s armor, and they’ll eventually enter a staggered state. When this happens, you need to perform the correct directional slashes on the screen to complete a combo and deal out a ton of damage on your opponent. Enemies are pretty varied, and learning their patterns is as crucial as blocking their attacks and the back and forth is an exhausting experience that is one of the most difficult and fun experiences I’ve had in VR.
#5 – Pavlov VR
- Genre- Multiplayer Shooter
- Developer- Vankrupt Games
You would think when VR first became available in the mainstream that one of the top priorities for VR game developers would be to put out a multiplayer shooter. You’d probably expect the EA’s of the world or some other mega-company to put out a Call of Duty clone in VR and rake the money in, right? Well, that didn’t happen, and instead, we were gifted Pavlov VR by Vankrupt Games. Not exactly a well-known name before this game, but since, it’s become the most popular multiplayer game in VR.
Pavlov VR makes no attempt to hide its influences, and it’s clear from the get-go you’re getting Call of Duty in VR. That’s not a slam on it because this is a far more varied game than Call of Duty could ever wish to be. Pavlov VR gives you a wildly varied multiplayer experience with a ton of different modes and mods to boot.
The shooting is incredible, and the variety of guns is astounding, with each one requiring a manual reload with a different reloading process specific to each gun. In terms of mods, you’ve got traditional modes like team deathmatch and deathmatch, but then you’ve got crazier stuff like TTT, Zombies, mission-based modes where you face off against a horde of undead with others while trying to complete objectives and even a massive map where you just fight to survive amongst players and zombies alike.
TTT is my favorite because it’s a battle of wits and skill as a few players are given the designation of terrorist to start out, and it’s up to the detective to figure out who is who, and this results in some hilarious and tense scenarios as player’s acting abilities are tested.
The player base is massive here, and the modding community is highly active as well, and we’ve already seen Star Wars variations and WW2 maps and guns added as well as tanks and other vehicles too. Pavlov VR is an ever-expanding experience, and it’s one of the best games in VR despite being from a small studio.
#6 – Pistol Whip
- Genre- Rhythm Shooter
- Developer- Cloudhead Game Ltd.
As VR started, one of the hottest games around was Superhot. It was a port of a flat-screen game that took a majestic leap once it hit VR, and the result was an incredible experience that changed how a lot of developers looked at VR games. Then came an influx of VR rhythm games like Beatsaber and Audioshield, and just like that, Cloudhead Games had their idea for a VR title come to them in a glorious mix of all of those games.
Pistol Whip is a rhythm-based shooter. That’s not really a common genre, so it might be tough to get what exactly that means. At the start of each level, you’re given one or two pistols based on your preference and sent forth on a track where you will have to dodge and shoot your way through the end of the level.
Accompanying this action is an awesome soundtrack that coincides with the enemy placement in the game. For example, when the beat is about to drop, expect a horde of enemies to appear and start lighting you up, and if you shoot them to the beat of the song, you get a better score.
There are tons of different maps and gun types to experiment with, and there’s even a short story mode, which, while brief, has some cool beats to it, including a massive boss which you can’t face in any of the other levels.
Not only is Pistol Whip incredibly fun as a game, but it’s also a tremendous workout. No matter what difficulty you’re playing on, you’ll find it hard-pressed to make it through a full round without sweating a bit, and spending even 30 minutes playing Pistol Whip burns an insane amount of calories equivalent to a 30 minute run at times.
Pistol Whip is an awesome party game too, and there are a few better games to show your friends and introduce them to VR.
#7 – 2MD Football Evolution
- Genre- Sports Simulator
- Developer- Truant Pixel, LLC
VR isn’t just about fighting and shooting games; it also has an awesome ability to adapt to sports as well. While some sports are definitely harder than others when it comes to implementing them into VR, Football is one of the more sensical ones for the platform. 2MD Football Evolution gives us a real-life quarterback simulator, and the result is endless fun with some impressively accurate throwing physics.
You take on a gauntlet of different teams and are given 2 minutes to score to win the game. The clock is realistic, so incomplete passes will stop it at any time. You have four downs before you’re launched back to your initial placement on the field, too, so the challenge is pretty tough. You will be physically throwing the ball here, and your strength determines how hard the ball gets thrown.
Your players are basically robots, but they respond to audibles you call and generally move and catch pretty well too. You can draw up your own plays in the opening menu, and the creativity is limitless as you place receivers in different formations, set up screenplays, and more. Each play is bound to a button, so you can audible into a bunch of different plays at any time. These audibles will be needed because defenses switch it up from team to team and do their best to trick you.
If you’re looking for a cool VR football experience, I’ve seen nothing even come close to what 2MD Football Evolution has to offer.
#8 – The Thrill of The Fight
- Genre- Sports Simulation
- Developer- Sealost Interactive LLC
VR has always been tailor-made for boxing, and despite that, there really aren’t that many boxing games out there. If you think that’s strange, the main reason is The Thrill of The Fight. This game came out in 2016, which means it was one of the first mainstream VR titles, and it was so damn good that very few people have tried to top it in the years since.
The setup is simple; you can choose from training or a gauntlet of fights from the main menu, as well as tweak settings like your glove size. Once you jump into the fight, it gets real awfully quickly. Regardless of what difficulty you play on, your opponent is aggressive and quickly in your face, and you need to use your entire body here to dodge, get positioned, and deliver punches as you see fit. Unlike other VR boxing games, there’s absolutely nothing governing how many punches you can throw except your own stamina.
While this sounds amazing, you need to keep yourself measured here as you can get exhausted very quickly. Not only do you have to keep your own stamina in check, but you also need to be wary of your play area. The Thrill of The Fight was one of the first games to utilize full room-scale, so if you have the space available, you can turn your living room into a full-sized boxing ring.
You need to hit weak points like the jaw or the stomach to stagger your opponent, and when you get them the right way, the effect circle will turn red, and once that happens, you can knock them out cold. They can do the same to you, though, so you need to be careful when you decide to attack vs. when you need to stand down.
There are a bunch of opponents to fight, special events like fighting Ghosts for Halloween events, and best of all, it’s an incredible workout that will get you in fantastic shape if you treat the fights like real boxing matches.
#9 – The Wizards: Dark Times
- Genre- Fantasy RPG
- Developer- Carbon Studio
While early in the VR lifecycle, we had a port of Skyrim VR, it was pretty clear that this was just a direct port that wasn’t completely built for VR, and while the experience was still amazing, it wasn’t a true VR experience. That left us without a legit fantasy RPG in VR, and that void felt real for a bit. Then came The Wizards, a fun but short experience that felt more like a demo than a full game. The Wizards: Dark Times is a sequel to that game that finally feels like the VR fantasy RPG we’ve been waiting for.
The magic system here is incredible, and instead of simply selecting spells and having them be equipped, you have to perform motions with your arms in order to equip a spell. There are a bunch of spells to learn, and you can combine them to create some spectacular effects.
The story isn’t anything special, but it’s interesting enough and pushes you forth through the absolutely gorgeous world you get to explore here. The graphics are unbelievable and produce some of the most impressive visuals VR has to offer. The combat is awesome too, and the combination of magic melee weapons and long-range spells is excellent. The suite of enemies you’ll face are varied, with some impressive boss encounters thrown in as well.
There is also multiplayer, so you can play through the whole game with a friend. You’ve also got access to an arena mode for you to take on waves of enemies with all kinds of different cool variations added.
The Wizards: Dark Times is an awesome RPG that uses VR in some impressive ways to create a totally immersive and magical experience.
#10 – Swords of Gurrah
- Genre- Multiplayer Sword Fighting
- Developer- Devster, LLC
One thing that VR games have been missing is a melee combat game that includes head-to-head multiplayer. The biggest hurdle with implementing this type of experience is how you treat a sword making contact with another player in VR. Does it go through them? What if you clash blades? How do you stop a player from swinging their controller completely in real life? It’s a hell of a dilemma that seemed unsolvable until Swords of Gurrah came along.
Led by largely one man, Swords of Gurrah solves that online melee combat issue by creating a system where the blades explode on contact. These swords and axes shatter when they contact either another player or another blade and quickly reform afterward so you can be ready for another strike.
The twist here is that you can also pull the trigger on your controller at any time to harden your blade, which makes it impossible to break but causes no damage. When your weapon is hardened, you can break your opponent’s blade, leaving them defenseless for your next strike. It’s a fascinating dance to figure out when to go on the offensive or when to wait for your opponent out for the next big strike.
There are a bunch of modes to choose from, including duel, team deathmatch, and capture the flag, and there’s even a cooperative mode that has you facing off against enemy hordes and a boss as well.
For an indie game, you will get a ton of mileage out of this one and even a pretty great workout as well.
Question: Are Indie VR Games Priced Differently than Normal Ones?
Answer: While it heavily depends on the creator, indie VR games are generally cheaper than their triple-A counterparts.
Question: Are These Games Available on all VR Systems?
Answer: Where a game is available changes from game to game. Generally, the less popular indie games tend to stick to one platform while the massive hits like Blade and Sorcery slowly make their way to other platforms as well.
Question: Do I Need a Motion Controller to Play all of These?
Answer: A lot of VR games support gamepads or mice and keyboards to play with. Each game is different, though, so be sure to check on the page you’re buying it on whether it supports these additional methods of control.
Although you would think that the best titles in VR might be from the big studios, it turns out that the gems of the bunch are those actually created by the small game developers of the world. Their passion and creativity are what has been fueling the early years of mainstream VR, and slowly but surely, these small game companies are going to gain enough popularity to become titans in the industry.