#1 BEST SEATED VR EXPERIENCE
Alien Isolation VR
Alien Isolation is a hit game from 2014 that was catapulted into the VR arena in 2017 thanks to modder Nibre and his 2017 mod for the Oculus called MotherVR. Vive SteamVR support was added in August 2017. If you do not already have Alien Isolation in your game library, make sure you shop around as it is available for less than ten bucks from time to time.
You may be wondering why this game is in the VR Seated Top 10, the reason is that this unofficial mod is the only way to play Alien Isolation in VR, and it is designed only to be played seated. What this means is, if you attempt to stand and walk around the game will black out (see below for standing fix).
You’ll also need an Xbox Controller, or if you can suffer it – use a keyboard and mouse to play.
There is massive interest in this mod, and rightly so as the original game was hugely popular for it’s great graphics and tense gameplay. Interest ina virtual reality version is so high that the VR mod is constantly being updated, and may even include new controller support and room scale in the future. The best way to track new updates is from Nibre’s Twitter page.
How to Play the VR Version of Alien Isolation
As explained in the MotherVR Github, running your Alien Isolation install in VR is extremely easy. Download the latest MotherVR file from Github and drag the dxgi.dll file into your Alien Isolation installation folder. If you are playing on Steam with the HTC Vive, you’ll need to right click on the game in your steam library, click on properties > General Tab, and then Uncheck: Use desktop game theater while SteamVR is active. Then click set launch options and type “-steamvr” without quotes into the text field. Launch game from steam as normal, disregard the “This is not a VR game” warning from Steam which pops up if you already have steamVR running, then put on your headset. Wait for the intro music to complete and then the main menu will display in the HMD.
Once the game launches jump into the game settings and set all of the video options to Max settings apart from planer reflection which should be switched off to avoid weird floating orbs spoiling your view.
As you play from the seated position, as intended, you will notice than any attempt to stand is greeted with an HMD blackout. You can disable this effect with an additional switch “-steamvr -disableblinders“. If you run into trouble, hit both bumpers on the Xbox controller to reset your view.
As mentioned earlier this unofficial Alien Isolation mod to make it playable in a VR space is designed to be played seated, and I have to admit playing seated was more immersive than I had anticipated. Virtual reality gaming is all about putting the gamer in a virtual space, playing that space seated goes against the promises and expectations of VR gaming particularly when experiencing an open exploration environment – however it actually works really well.
I still felt like I was actually aboard the space shift, ducking my head due to low doorways and airlocks, and straining to peek around corners in anticipation of a jump scare moment.
Another aspect that surprised me was how well the various aspects of the game that were intended for 2D play just seemed to work in the 3D VR space. For example hitting back on the xbox controller brings up the schematic map overlay, it appears in front of the player and is perfectly clear, with functions like zoom and scroll working perfectly – very cool.
I also noticed that while the game is paused like this, you can look down and see you actual body, from the shoulders down, perfectly modeled – very cool and added to the immersion greatly.
As this is an unofficial mod, free of charge, it’s only fair to warn that this VR version of Alien Isolation is not without a few hiccups. For example, you will be disorientated from time to time due to a weird in and out skewing when turning your head, and manipulating items such as door braces and computer terminals can throw you off for a moment.
This is one of the most terrifying VR experiences on the planet, and a true full length AAA game in VR. Enjoy it – it is a terrific experience! The lighting and sound effects are so immersive, and the graphics are top notch – throw in the awesome level design and these are the reasons that this is the most played VR game in my entire 150 strong library.
Miss this and your are missing out!
June 2018 Update – Version 0.6 released with imporved experience!
What other gamers are saying about Alien Isolation VR
“The lighting, the music, the audio, and of course the spectacular gameplay makes this game terrifying and left me in awe for the first time in a very long time.” GhostLLL Reddit
AAA huge content VR gaming
Less than $10
a good nights sleep
minor visual glitches
#2 BEST SEATED VR EXPERIENCE
Elite Dangerous VR
Possibly the single most immersive VR experience available today, Elite Dangerous is an absolute monster of a game. Not only does it open up an entire universe to explore, but updates now only VR astronauts to explore the surface of planets in addition to trading, exploring, fighting and undertaking missions. Elite Dangerous natively supports VR and has a huge following. The developers are constantly adding new features making this arguably the most supported VR title available.
I can remember playing the very first elite and being absolutely blown away that it was possibly to fly through the galaxy and even land on planets – and this was all done in wireframe! Now it full HD with realistic textures and mindblowing space vista’s that provide many WOW moments, this is indeed a great time to be a gamer.
This gushing admiration for such a success story of a game has to be tempered with some cautionary realism however – Elite Dangerous is a game with a very steep learning curve. You will have to sink a lot of gaming hours into Elite Dangerous to reap rewards and satisfaction, but this is a learning curve worth traversing as the VR immersion is truly enthralling. Docking (and leaving) detailed space stations never gets old, and traversing the vast regions of space becomes a joy to behold. Thankfully there are many great video tutorials available on all aspects of this game so help is never far away – unlike the target of your next mission.
Immersion is enhanced further (if that’s even possible) with the addition of inexpensive voice packs which actually allow you to control your ship using voice commands only. Even cooler, these packs result in your ship confirming your orders back to you – something you have to experience to appreciate the absolute immersion. Voice packs have even signed up some impressive voice actors, such as William Shatner.
On the subject of controls, Elite Dangerous VR can be played with an XBox controller, however it is with HOTAS controllers that immersion finally reaches the point of blurring reality and fantasy with utterly stunning results.
For all of the above and so many more reasons that I do not have space to go into here, Elite Dangerous is the best of seated VR games. According to figures I’ve seen, there is no other VR game that sucks in as many hours that Elite Dangerous, people play this game for 1000’s of hours.
Agree or Disagree?
What other gamers are saying about Elite Dangerous VR
“If you aren’t playing Elite Dangerous in VR, your life is incomplete. It’s the best and most convincing VR game out there by a long way.” Reddit
Steep learning curve
#3 BEST SEATED VR EXPERIENCE
House of the Dying Sun VR
So, having read just how fantastic Elite Dangerous VR is, where does that leave House of the Dying Sun, another seated space epic in Glorious VR? House of the Dying Sun is arguable equally as gorgeous, however concentrating on mission based dogfights, gameplay is more limited, and the lifespan far shorter. Expect to complete this game in under 4 hours, while Elite Dangerous just keeps growing.
This game will give you instant gratification, while Elite Dangerous wants you to invest in it before it will give you a return. And this is what your decision will rest on, do you want a quick VR space battle hit now and again, or are you in it for the long haul with bigger rewards?
What other gamers are saying about House of the Dying Sun VR
“Just about the best pure space-flight sim you can find for VR right now. Lovers of X-Wing or Wing Commander will feel right at home here.” Draegos (Steam)
Space Fans short on time
Value for Money (too short)
#4 BEST SEATED VR EXPERIENCE
Project Cars VR
Project Cars is a hugely detailed racing game that was been patched by the developer in 2016 to support VR. What this means is that navigating in game menus and other VR challenges is nicely incorporated into the game. I also liked nice touches like automatically resetting the viewpoint at the start of races so even if you moved seat position, you do not have to mess around with any calibrating nonsense – your seated position will be perfect in the car.
Best Project Cars VR Settings
Project Cars is a good example of a game that is stunning on a gaming monitor, but not so impressive in virtual reality due to the resolution capabilities of current gen headsets. For this reason, you’ll want to tweak the settings to maximise the eye candy without compromising the performance. This means the usual trial and error of setting all visual effects to max, then toning them down one at a time until your PC can handle it.
However, I found that even more important are the race settings. Vive early adopters will know the term screendoor effect. This is a visual distractor in the headset that occurred in a lot of early VR games, but was compensated for in the second crop of games by clever use of colour. A lot of white leads to screendoor effect, and Project Cars has a lot of bright white, therefore suffering from the dreaded screendoor effect. To remove this I found a couple of good settings – (1) do not race in the rain and (2) race at night as much as possible.
Of course this is personal preference, but for me, Project Cars VR looks best at night with a cloudy sky, ie cutting back on bright white skies.
On the flip side, while many games struggle to display text appropriately for VR hardware limitations (making it blurry or hard to read in VR games) I found that Project Cars in game menus were very clear and very easy to navigate – very cool.
With that out of the way, how is Project Cars VR as a seated VR game? It is fantastic! Once you realise you are not fixed to a straight ahead view like 2d gaming, and can glance left and right, it’s a pretty immersive experience. Watching replays is especially rewarding as without the requirement to concentrate on steering you are free to look around and enjoy the race without worrying about how close you are to the car in front.
Project Cars is a mixed bag. On a PC monitor it is absolutely gorgeous and one of the best racing sims out there, with absolute masses of content.
In a Virtual Reality headset however it struggles. First Gen VR headsets do not have the resolution required to handle a game with constant references to middle and far distances. In a racer what this means is that unless the car infront of you is basically on your front bumper/fender it looks like a pixelated mess. Yes, the interior of your own car is beatifully recreated and yes the immersion is pretty convincing – but the graphics are like a step back in time, and that’s not good enough for breaking technology like virtually reality.
Having said all of that, if you are a keen racer then I’m sure you will get a huge kick out of this. For the rest of us casual gamers however, I’ll go out there and say that racing games are something to look forward to in next gen VR with super high resolution headsets.
For these reasons, Project Cars VR only just slips in to our Top 10 Seated VR list.
What other gamers are saying about project cars VR
“Project cars is now officially pants shitting scary when you spin out.” Reddit
Epic Racing Fun
#5 BEST SEATED VR EXPERIENCE
Farlands is a gorgeous seated oculus game that is also playable on the Vive using Revive. In a typically word starved description, Oculus describe Farlands as “…a research mission to a little alien planet you can visit every day.” – and that is exactly what this is – an exploration game that involves finding and cataloging different breeds of alien lifeform. It is worth restating the first impression Farlands gives though – it is absolutely stunning; from the landscape, the alien creatures, to the interior of the spaceship, this is a stunningly beautiful game.
Equipped with a clever multifunction tool that works equally as well with the Vive wands as it does with the intended Rift controllers, you character will scan, photograph and log new life forms – all from the comfort of your chair. As stated in our intro however, you will need a decent swivel on your chair as the action occurs all around the planet surface.
You’d be hard pushed to find a better looking game than this to enjoy from your chair, all the more remarkable because this is a totally free game!
STEAM |OCULUS | DEV WEBSITE | FREE | 7.4Gb |
What other gamers are saying about farlands VR
“This game is surprisingly fun” 2EyeGuy
There’s more to playing VR games seated, there are all what I like to call VR experiences – these are VR titles that do not require the user to do anything other than enjoy the show. For just plain chillin’ with the latest entertainment technology, these provide perhaps some of my favourite VR moments – and you can enjoy them too. A fringe benefit with experiences is that they are usually free or very inexpensive!
And so it is with Fatasynth, a free 7 minute psychedelic VR experience you can enjoy from a seat – you don’t even need to hold the controllers – this is a hassle free ride!
I will admit, I did not stay seated for long however, those beats and pulsating strobes had me cutting shapes on the floor for a little 7 minute fun dance workout – that’s how good it was.
Abe is an eight minute seated experience as opposed to a game – and a pretty freaky experience too. It’s based on the cracking award winning 2013 short film of the same name and basically put you in the movie as the poor victim. From the moment it starts up and you find yourself strapped to a bed, with what looks like a blood spattered body lying on the gurney next to you, you know things are pretty bad, and going to get worse. I should have known when the film classification screen popped up at launch, describing a Linear VR experience that has a minimum 15 year age restriction that this could be an intense experience.
And it was, quite intensive but also, sorry to say, just a little boring. Yes there was a story, and yes it was beautifully presented, but this VR experience would have been better received as one scene in a full game – I could see that working very well. However, as a free for download VR title, and one that can be enjoyed sitting (actually lying) down, it is worth a look! Watch the Abe Trailer below to see if it is the sort of thing that ticks your box – but don’t watch the film short before watching the VR version as the VY version is exactly the same.
If you enjoy Abe, watch out for the MGM feature coming soon!
STEAM |OCULUS | DEV WEBSITE | FREE | Mb |
BlazeRush – Super fun game.
Probably the best all round VR game I’ve played to date. Just picked it up and it’s incredible. Maybe my favorite vr game to date.
Digital Combat Simulator
Dirt Rally Dirt Rally is awesome blew me away! Only through Oculus store. If you have this game in your Steam library, you are out of luck.
STEAM |OCULUS | DEV WEBSITE | < $10 | 514Mb |
Edge of nowhere
Euro Truck Sim
Euro Truck Simulator 2
Euro/American Truck Sim
Fated …. not that of an AAA but yea i liked it very much and the end is heartbreaking …
House of the Dying Sun
iRacing is excellent in VR!
Live for Speed
Luckys Tale – Oculus / Revive
Lunar Flight – Steam £10.99
Subnautica. My hands down favorite. I can’t play it outside the Vive anymore
Star Trek Bridge Crew
The Witcher 3 with Vorpx
Vector 36 best racer I’ve ever played by a mile, Absolutely mind-blowing in VR (use Always On re-projection for smooth 90fps)
Nothing else out there comes anywhere close to this, it’s a gift from the VR Gods.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes