- Best Entry Level VR Headsets - December 25, 2022
- VR Games on our Radar in 2023 - December 15, 2022
- Ashok Interview - December 1, 2022
VR is one of the most incredible mediums in all of gaming for one reason. You can do things that you simply can’t do in real life. Yes, that’s always been the fantasy that video games sell you, but now? It’s actually a truth. Feeling the experience of being in these worlds is something that no other form of entertainment has ever been able to achieve. When it comes to the ultimate fantasy, flying generally takes the cake, and in VR, your options to take to the skies and beyond are pretty impressive.
I’ve been a VR gamer for almost 5 years now and have experienced some of the most thrilling VR flight simulators out there. These include realistic sims to completely out there and crazy flying experiences that wow you at every moment. Whether it’s games focused on flying or ones that just have it as a prominent feature, there are so many ways to take to the skies in VR.
We’re going to explore all the best VR flying experiences out there. These include realistic flight simulators that will require you to learn thoroughly about the craft you’re flying, as well as pick up and play flying games that will have you soaring through the skies in no time. Get ready for takeoff.
- Fun to play
- Accurate flying mechanics
- Amazing visuals
- Great Combat
Bottom Line Upfront
Elite Dangerous is the most amazing flying simulator out there. The systems at work are numerous and mind-boggling to get your head around at first, but it feels like you’re really learning how to fly. The MMO experience here is simply unreal, and the way it shapes an overall narrative is amazing to witness. The combat is more thorough than any game I’ve ever played as well, making Elite Dangerous the complete package.
Best VR Flight Simulators
1. No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky is a game about exploring the endless universe as we know it. It takes randomly generated planets that literally have unending amounts of variety and dares you to explore them all while being led along by a mysterious story in the meantime. In order to explore the planets and galaxy thoroughly, you’re going to have to take to the skies. Once you repair your initial ship, you’ll lift off into the great unknown of space and be free to travel as far as your fuel supply will take you.
Unlike most flight games in VR, you can land on any planet you want and explore their unique environments and fight against dangerous alien presences. To say this is an incredible experience is a true understatement. The flight controls are pretty easy to get a grasp on, but there is very little in the way of autopilot here, and you’ll be controlling your ship’s every movement.
You won’t just be flying peacefully through the galaxy while playing No Man’s Sky as space pirates and other threats will come at you from all angles from the dead black of space. This leads to some incredibly intense firefights that can be dizzying if you’re not used to flying in VR.
My favorite moments in this game come when you’re just gliding through space with the colorful nebulas coming into view all around you while the surging soundtrack begins as you pick up speed. It’s euphoric and one of the most incredible gaming experiences I’ve ever had.
- Amazing, unending exploration in a beautifully detailed galaxy
- Sharp flying controls
- Awesome visuals
- Fully Multiplayer world
- Flying is a bit too simple
- Overwhelming systems to take in
- Tough learning curve
- Can require grinding at times
2. Microsoft Flight Simulator
For those who want their VR flying experiences closer to the flying experiences, you can find on earth, look no further than Microsoft Flight Simulator. This game requires you to sit at the computer and have a keyboard and mouse handy in order to take on its incredibly extensive systems, but once you get comfortable with it, it’s as close to flying a real plane as you can possibly imagine.
The graphics here are just jaw-dropping, and several times while playing, I had to remind myself that what I was seeing wasn’t real. It’s that good. That’s in part because the experience is very basic; you just fly around and see some incredible realistic vistas of real places on earth.
You can add a flight controller to make this experience even more immersive. For those looking to learn how planes really work and want to see what it’s like for the pilots of the world when they’re taking to the skies, Microsoft Flight Simulator is the perfect choice.
- Wildly in-depth flying mechanics
- Unreal visuals, nearly lifelike
- Endless hours to explore the world
- Not a ton to do outside of flying around
- Could use a few more modes
- Tough learning curve
3. Star Wars: Squadrons
VR and Star Wars were just made to be with each other. Whether it’s the incredible locations Star Wars has or the iconic fight sequences, everyone has something they love about Star Wars. I’m a lightsaber guy myself, but even I couldn’t resist taking to the skies in a tie fighter or X-Wing in Star War: Squadrons. This game is played on a mouse and keyboard but can be used with several flight controllers to amplify the experience considerably.
One thing to note here is you don’t have VR hands in this game, which is quite annoying, but due to the lack of compatibility with motion controllers, it’s understandable. The star of the show here is the space combat and let me tell you that it’s some of the most exhilarating you can experience in VR.
There is a full story mode as well as a multiplayer one, and there are tons of different ships you get to pilot. The flying is scarily accurate, and you’ll feel the weight of your ships with every turn, and all the impressive maneuvers you’ve seen in Star Wars movies are there to try out yourself as well. All the sound effects and special effects you’ve come to see in Star Wars are now fully available in this wild VR ride.
- Feels like you’re in Star Wars
- Amazing graphics
- Slick flying mechanics complete with epic sound effects and visuals
- Exciting Multiplayer mode
- Strong campaign
- No controller support
- Dizzying at times
4. VTOL VR
If you like Microsoft Flight Simulator, VTOL VR should be next up on your list as this game takes the fierce realism that inhabited that game and mixes it with exciting air combat that is both terrifying and exhilarating to experience. You’ll be piloting fighter jets in VTOL VR, and that means the cockpit is very narrow, giving a bit of a feeling of claustrophobia at first.
Once you get past this, you’ll be using your motion controllers to press different switches, control the throttle and launch your variety of weapons at your enemies.
VTOL VR prides itself on realism, and because of that, each aircraft you pilot will feel different in both weight and speed. You’ll have a story mode to play through here, although you can just fly freely on your own as well. You can also play in multiplayer as well, leading to some incredibly exciting dogfights that will leave you breathless. For those that want to experience some realistic military combat action, few VR games do it better than VTOL VR.
- Amazingly realistic gameplay
- Exciting firefights
- Impressive use of motion controllers
- Fun Multiplayer
- Tough learning curve
- Graphics could be better
- Requires a powerful PC to play properly
5. Project Wingman
In a similar vein to VTOL VR, Project Wingman aims to take military VR air combat to the next level. The big difference here is that the experience is less focused on being a direct flying simulator and instead brings the action of a movie in the vein of Top Gun to your headset. This is a single-player game and heavily story-focused, and you’ll have hours of content to take on here.
The flying here is a bit more on the arcadey side, but it’s incredibly responsive and fun. The one downside is there is no controller support, so you’ll be playing this one using a keyboard and mouse or flight controller if you have one. The graphics here are simply outstanding, and the missions on tap are action-packed and exciting with over-the-top explosions, teammates yelling in your ear over the radio, and all the craziness you can handle.
There are tons of different weapons to choose from and a large number of aircrafts as well. The best part about Project Wingman is it has a roguelike conquest mode, which makes every encounter random. The bombastic soundtrack and shifting times of day for each mission are also a nice touch. It’s not one of the biggest names in the VR flying genre, but it sure as hell is one of the most fun.
- Incredible visuals
- Intense action
- Great campaign
- No Multiplayer
- Flight feels a bit arcadey
- Requires high-end PC to play
6. DCS World VR
DCS World has been out for almost a decade now, but it recently got the VR treatment and with it comes possibly the most accurate VR flying experience you can have. It takes the startling realism of Microsoft Flight Simulator and combines it with the combat of Project Wingman.
You can travel incredible amounts of land in DCS World VR, and the entire experience can be played in multiplayer as well. You’re going to have to take some time to learn how to fly in this one as the tutorial is extensive, and you should be ready to take notes while it’s happening. Once you get the hang of it, you have access to a mission generator; you can create your own missions and campaigns and legitimately have hundreds of hours’ worth of fun with this one.
You also have the option to play in casual mode if you don’t love the hardcore sim aspects. You can absolutely lose yourself in this one, and the best part of it all is that it’s completely free to play.
- Free to play
- An almost unending of landscapes to fly over
- Exciting multiplayer
- Intricate flying mechanics
- Requires a high power gaming PC
- Additional add-ons are expensive
7. Elite Dangerous
While it’s obviously tough to say what it would be like to fly a massive spaceship throughout the galaxy, I’m fairly certain it would be pretty similar to the experience in Elite Dangerous. This is a flatscreen game that’s been given a VR update, but make no mistake, this is as intense a VR experience as you can have. In terms of graphics, this is the best-looking VR space fairing game you can find. Now, there is a ton to understand here before you can fully access it.
The learning curve here is steep, to say the least, and I’ve barely been able to get my ship moving at some points, but once you get it, it’s absolutely mesmerizing. The graphics will blow your mind and the fact that the entire experience is multiplayer, with your story and other players combining to shape the biggest narrative, is just an achievement beyond words.
You can travel a never-ending universe, approach the Sun, become a bounty hunter, fight in wars, and do pretty much anything you can think of. This game will absorb your soul if you let it but in the best way. The flying is incredible, and the feeling of going from normal to warp speed is just unparalleled. This is for the hardcore flight sim crowd, but trust me, given the proper time to get to understand it will yield one of the best experiences in gaming history.
- Incredibly immersive space exploration
- Intriguing multiplayer experience
- Brilliant flying system and mechanics
- Amazing Graphics
- Freedom to explore the universe
- Huge amount of information to take in
- Might be too complex for some players
- The good parts of the game take a while to get to
8. Eve Valkyrie
Maybe you’re not interested in exploring a never-ending universe and just want to get into intense dogfights in the depths of space against unbelievable-looking backdrops. Eve: Valkyre is a multiplayer-only title that pits you against a bunch of other players in a variety of different modes. The flight here is very arcade-like, but because of that, the speeds you’ll be traveling are going to be a wild thing to experience.
Since it’s a multiplayer-only experience, you’re pretty much reliant on the playbase to get a good experience here, but as long as you can find a full room, the variety of ships and weapons at your disposal makes for an awesome experience in VR.
- Easy to learn, hard to master combat
- Instant action
- Amazing combat arenas
- Exciting Multiplayer dogfights
- Multiplayer only
- Limited gameplay
- Your experience relies on your ability to find a game
9. War Thunder
War Thunder has been around since 2013, but with the boom of VR taking over the gaming world, it seemed perfect to be adapted to it, and sure enough, that’s just what happened. Not only do you get air combat in this game, but you also get ground and sea as well. War Thunder boasts an absurd 2000 vehicles to choose from, and each one is based on a real-life vehicle. The aircraft options are especially impressive, and the action taking place here has to be seen to be believed.
The battlefields here are massive, and all are based on real-life war scenarios. The flying here is a little less intense than VTOL and more along the lines of what you get in Project Wingman, and that level of detail is pretty impressive considering the variety of land and sea vehicles that you get to pilot as well.
Other games might be heavier on the simulation aspect, but few come close to creating the wild war scenarios that War Thunder pulls off. It’s an impressive game in many aspects, and the flying simulator part is just a cherry on top of the cake.
- Incredible war simulation
- Great graphics
- Tons of vehicles to choose from
- Exceptional flying mechanics
- Tough to run well in VR
- The game was converted to VR, so bugs will arise
XPlane11 is simply the most comprehensive flight simulator out there. That’s either going to be music to your ears or a complete nightmare depending on the type of VR gamer you are. You can easily relate XPlane11 to being on the level of Elite Dangerous in terms of its flying mechanics complexity. But just like that game, the reward for figuring it out is pretty outstanding.
Actual pilots have played this game and said the result is highly accurate, so that should tell you how realistic it is. You play this one with a keyboard and mouse or a flight controller, and the level of detail here is crazy. You’ll have everything available to you, from de-icing systems to oxygen systems and so much more.
The result is an incredible depiction of what it’s like to fly these different aircraft, and it would be easy to see this game used as a tool for flight schools to utilize. This is for the most hardcore flight sim seekers out there.
- Wildly accurate to actual plane controls
- Sharp mechanics
- Gorgeous visuals
- Intricate systems that no other flight sim has
- Limited gameplay options
- Steep learning curve
- Somewhat rough VR implementation
My Top Picks
- No Man’s Sky- It’s a never-ending experience that offers some thrilling VR space travel with an awesome on-ground experience, and the two of them come together to create an unforgettable gaming experience.
- Project Wingman– Incredible graphics mixed with some great voice acting, sharp flying mechanics, and over-the-top action makes Project Wingman a must-have for VR players looking for some awesome air combat.
- Elite Dangerous– One of the most ambitious games ever made, Elite Dangerous makes an art form out of flying that requires careful studying and concentration to play effectively. Mastering its many systems will give you the most thrilling flying sim in existence.
Question: Which is the Most Accurate VR Flight Simulator?
Answer: There are a handful to choose from, but the most accurate one is Xplane11. It has some absurdly detailed systems at play that most flight sims wouldn’t dream of including, and it makes for the most accurate experience in the genre
Question: Can you use Motion Controllers in VR Flight Simulators?
Answer: Most of the time, the answer is no, as you’re usually restricted to keyboards of flight controllers that you purchase elsewhere, but certain games like No Man’s Sky and VTOL VR have motion controller support.
Question: Is There any way Around Flight Sickness in VR?
Answer: Motion sickness is going to be a persistent thing in any VR game, but flight sims are generally the biggest offenders in that regard. In order to remedy it, I’ve found that chewing on a ginger candy helps balance out any feelings of nausea, but that’s just me. Everyone will find their own method for dealing with motion sickness.
Whether you’ve taken to the skies yourself in real life or always dreamed about it, VR can give you some of the most amazing highs you can experience in the world of flying period. The experience of being a pilot of these different crafts is just exhilarating, and each game has something very unique to offer. Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out how best to take to the skies in VR.
Best VR Games Without Controller