1 – Half-Life: Alyx
from R330 | Steam
At this point, you should resign yourself to never, ever seeing Half-Life 3. If a proper Gordon Freeman sequel ever shows up, it’ll have a different name. But instead of crying bitter tears over the fact, you could instead cry tears of complete and utter joy over the fact that Half-Life: Alyx exists.
The game series is known for its interesting physics, and this experience is no different. You’ll find yourself interacting with the game world in strange and exciting ways, all while feeling as if you’re actually there. Which may not be as pleasant as it sounds. Remember Ravenholm? If you don’t, then you’ve never been terrified by the clattering of something clambering up a drainpipe to eat your face. Well, in VR, that sort of experience is considerably more intense.
This is the sort of experience you’re buying very high-end virtual reality hardware for. We can’t wait to lay hands on a few more of these. Beat Saber is okay. This? This is pure magic.
2 – Hitman 3
from R1,000 | Steam, PlayStation
Hitman 3 has us really, seriously torn. As a standalone game, without resorting to virtual reality features, it’s excellent. Stalking your prey as 47, the game’s ‘hero’, while dressed as outlandishly as possible is always going to be a blast. The way the world reacts to your presence, or doesn’t (if you know what you’re doing), is incredible. Plopping into 47’s skull using the PlayStation VR is also quite a tight experience. It’s hard not to feel joy as you garotte yet another hapless minion and steal his pants.
But then there’s the Steam/PC version of the VR feature. It’s… lazy. The developers have made little effort to take advantage of more impressive control devices on the platform. The whole experience on PC is a little janky, as a matter of fact. What we’re saying is: If you’re going to play Hitman 3 in VR, do it on the PlayStation rather.
3 – Star Wars: Squadrons
from R650 | Steam, PlayStation
So you’ve always wanted to be Luke Skywalker, piloting an X-Wing fighter around the underside of an Imperial Destroyer, have you? Star Wars: Squadrons is just what you’re looking for. You won’t be Luke, wielding the Force in an attempt to save the Rebel Alliance, but you’ll get awfully close.
Squadrons is unusual in that you don’t absolutely have to have a VR headset in order to play it. It’s a high-end Star Wars title, with or without virtual reality hardware. But since you’re locked into a first-person view, and that persists across its excellent single- and multiplayer modes, VR really is the way it should be experienced. That means no playing it on the Xbox. Play it on the PC, or the PlayStation, as the developers intended (sorry Microsoft, no VR for you).
4 – The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners
from R220 | Steam, PlayStation, Oculus
Done in the style of now-defunct Telltale Games’ excellent Walking Dead games, Saints and Sinners drops you into a world filled with the walking dead. There are several ways to play this visceral and gripping title. You can go in all sneaky, or loud and brash, but either way, you’re likely to experience a jump-scare or twelve along the way.
Saints and Sinners is unusual for a VR game, in that it’s surprisingly deep. Gameplay will take around fifteen hours, and will see you performing missions for factions, sneaking away from zombies or attempting to kill hordes of them with makeshift weapons. All while a story plays out around you. And, if you’ve got a thirst for more undead slaughter afterward, don’t miss out on Arizona Sunshine, which has a focus on zombie-popping gunplay.
5 – Beat Saber
from R175 | Steam, PlayStation, Oculus
Beat Saber is the very first game that anyone with a new VR headset should try out. It’s incredibly simple to play, it showcases exactly what can be done in a virtual world, and it runs on basically any VR hardware that isn’t a box holding your smartphone on your face. Add to that the fact that your arm movements aren’t violent enough to cause (too) much damage to your home or any spectators, and you’ve got a brilliant first step into the world of VR.
As for the game? You’ve got two light sabers and you need to slash at blocks in time with the music. It’s easy to get into but incredibly hard to put down. Either your headset’s battery or your poor cardio will conk out before your desire for one more round will.