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VR is a wonderful piece of technology. While it’s technically existed since the 60s, it really didn’t come into its own until we hit the 21st century. These days, there are numerous different VR headsets on the market, all with different ways of controlling and tracking head movement, and all offering some pretty great ways to feel like you’re in a different world. Of course, all this sterling technology does come with the drawback that it’s bloody expensive.
So, say you’ve just spent all of your money on a fancy VR headset, what exactly are you supposed to play on it without any money for games? That’s where the glorious internet comes in to save you once again. We’ve compiled below a list of the absolute best VR experiences and games that you can get absolutely free, just like all the best things in life.
Digital Combat Simulator World – Steam Edition
If you’ve got a VR headset, and a rig that’s powerful enough to make the most of it, then you should probably already have DCS World installed. This free-to-play combat simulator game is a great time on your VR headset and is free to get started with despite being absolutely massive. Even with just the free content, you get a huge stretch of land to enjoy, as well as two different planes to try out.
Don’t get it twisted, DSC is a very realistic simulation, not a game for messing around in, but even so, it’s one hell of an experience considering that you don’t have to pay anything if you don’t want to. You can simply fly around the world enjoying yourself, or get some other players involved and go for an all-out war, it’s completely up to you. Another great note here is that the game just straight up looks amazing, especially for a free VR game. Once your wallet has recovered from buying that next-gen headset, you can even sink a little money into the game to buy different types of vehicles to try out and even some extra maps to expand the landscape you can play in. It’s all pretty impressive, and a great first step for someone who’s just invested in a VR headset.
Spider-Man: Far From Home VR Experience
Now onto something that even the PSVR users will be able to enjoy. The Spider-Man: Far From Home VR Experience is exactly what it sounds like, a VR experience where you get to pretend that you’re Spider-Man. It’s a little more bare-bones than most fully-fledged VR games, but as both a free experience and a way of getting people hyped up for Spider-Man Far From Home back when it was coming out, this game really did the job.
You get to do all of the stuff that Spider-Man can do in this one. You go from web-shooting challenges to swinging through the city, even completing some racing challenges and things like that while you’re at it. Not only does this fulfill the childhood dreams of many people, but it also features the real voices of the characters that were used in the movie, so if you’re a fan then you’ll probably have a whale of a time.
One important thing to note is that there is actually another Spider-Man VR experience that was made for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Try not to get the two confused, as the earlier VR title is much, much more limited, and less interesting experience overall.
If you’re looking for a free VR game with a bit more variety, then Rec Room is probably the game you’re looking for. It’s a free-to-play, cross-platform multiplayer game that has some elements of PlayStation Home and VR Chat thrown into the mix. You create a free account, explore an overworld, and can chat with other users in real-time depending on how close to them you actually are, rather than being able to hear anyone in the same room as you (which could be maddening when there are lots of people around). The key difference between VR Chat and Rec Room is that Rec Room is also actually a video game as well.
Once you’ve made your custom avatar and gone through the opening tutorial, you get access to hundreds of different rooms, some created by the developers, others put together by the players. You can engage in everything from paintball to sword & sorcery adventures, and even take part in a miniaturized version of the Olympics. You also get your own dorm room that you can mess around with, including a whiteboard to draw on, and your own mini-basketball hoop which you can practice missing buckets in the privacy of your own room.
Considering just how much content there is in Rec Room, it’s shocking that it doesn’t get talked about more often. You can even technically play it without VR if you want, making it really accessible. On the plus side, there’s still a healthy player base thanks to being available on a number of platforms, including Steam VR and PSVR as well. If you ever wanted to paintball your friends from your own sofa then you’ve got the opportunity at last.
When it comes to more social experiences, VR Chat is probably the most popular and in many ways the most infamous of options. It enables users to create rooms, dress up in different avatars and just hang out to chat with their friends. You can even download a production kit and basically change your avatar into anything that you want, assuming that you abide by the general rules about nudity and violent imagery that is.
VR Chat is a great experience and is also quite a lot of fun as well since players can create anything they like. Players have created YuGiOh games, basketball matches, and various other maps and areas for others to enjoy. It’s a huge collaborative effort, and offers a much more customizable version of Rec Room, but without the ease of building that you get with the aforementioned game. Creating stuff in VR Chat usually requires that you use outside software, like Unity, instead of in-house stuff like Rec Room.
The only warning you need when it comes to VR Chat is to avoid public rooms if you’re faint of heart. Some of the stuff that goes on in those rooms is a bit insane. You’re liable to see all sorts of messed-up stuff in the game if you’re not careful about it. Still, probably worth dealing with for a free game that is this good.
Another PC VR exclusive title here, Propagation VR is a free, zombie-survival shooter that tasks you with surviving against wave, after wave of the undead. Basically think COD’s ‘zombies mode’, but in VR. You need to keep yourself alive armed only with your fists, and a fair few guns while you’re at it. It’s an incredibly polished game considering that it’s free, and comes with a really well-made tutorial that teaches you everything you need to know to start busting some zombie heads bare-handed.
There’s only one area that you play in, but there is also something of a storyline to enjoy, and a whole slew of different zombie types for you to deal with. Honestly, it’s more than just zombies though. Let’s just say that if you suffer from arachnophobia you may want to give this one a miss because giant spiders do become a bit of a problem. There’s also the option of playing with a friend in co-op, but only if you’re willing to sink a little money into the game and shell out for the DLC.
Whether you buy the co-op mode DLC or not, Propagation VR is an excellent time, and well worth the initial investment of nothing at all. In many ways, the game is even better solo, making it much scarier when a giant spider jumps at your face than when you have friends backing you up.
Epic Roller Coasters
If you’ve been missing rollercoasters lately, you should really consider checking out Epic Roller Coasters. This free VR title allows you to experience the fun of a theme park without having to worry about other people’s puke or having to wait in lines before getting to ride. The free version of the game includes only one coaster to ride, but it manages to do a whole bunch of stuff that you really couldn’t do on a proper roller coaster. There are falling rocks going over your head and parts of the track that launch you from one piece of track to the other.
One of the best elements of the game, and easily one of the most ignored elements of a good VR title, is the sound design. When combined with the decent visuals, well-done sound can really make you feel like you’re there, and Epic Roller Coasters achieves this feeling handily. The only thing that’s really missing is the feeling of the wind blowing in your face as you play, but being that immersed might make the motion sickness even worse. On the plus side, the developers did think about that and added a target symbol on the hood of the coaster for you to focus on if you start feeling sick.
Once you’ve done playing the free coaster, you can always splash out on some of the DLC packages that add more coasters and areas to the game. There’s even expanded gameplay where you get to shoot different targets as you blast around the track. Definitely worth the time if you think your stomach can handle it.
Google Earth VR
It’s not just games that make VR a fun experience, there are other types of VR titles that can be a fun time to mess around with. That’s very much the case with Google Earth VR. It’s just a VR version of the same Google Earth that’s been around since 2001, accept that you’re floating around the earth in VR, and can even zoom down into the streets and contours of the terrain and really feel like you’re flying as you play it. There’s also the option to just teleport around the world to anywhere you’d like, which is a nice touch, and a great way for a slightly underwhelming vacation.
A lot of the appeal of Earth VR is to do with how relaxing it is. You can just put on some music, grab your VR headset and float over the earth like you’re a bird. It’s a great experience and a sign that someone at Google knew what they were doing. It certainly becomes less interesting at the street level, because the smooth transitions are gone in favor of the regular fade-in/fade-out transition in regular Google Street View. Even with that proviso, it’s certainly an amazing leap of technology to be able to look around any street in VR.
No matter what you do in terms of sticking to floating, or walking up real streets, Google Earth VR is a great experience. If you ever feel like you need the most relaxing experience possible, just put on one of those LoFi YouTube playlists, boot this game, and zone out.
The Final Word
These are some of the best free VR games available on the market for a number of different platforms. Whether you’re strapped for cash and looking for something to do or have just bought a VR headset and want to try it out before sinking your money into something, you should find an interesting experience somewhere on this list.
Having said that, there are a huge number of different free VR games on the market, from interactive movies to free mini-games. Are there any games out there that you think we missed? Do you have a favorite free VR title that you think deserved a place on this list? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below, and don’t forget to check out our other ‘best of’ games lists.
For as long as he can remember, Charlie has always been interested in computers and gaming. It all started with the Sega Mega Drive and then evolved into PC gaming in his early teens. CS 1.6 was his first go at competitive gaming which soon evolved into CS:Source and now CS:GO - a game that he still plays (almost exclusively) today. Throughout that period he has also been a keen PC builder and enthusiast - dedicating a large portion of his time to the craft. My current rig is an ASUS 5700XT with AMD's Ryzen 3600X.