Last updated: 2018-04-24
I’m planning on updating this article periodically throughout 2018 with the best free HTC Vive VR experiences on Steam. I’m sure many of these games work for Oculus Rift and on other platforms, but I only have a HTC Vive and play pretty much exclusively through Steam.
Note: order is not important, I’m just adding them sequentially based on when I played or when I remembered to add them. This also includes games from all time, not just 2018. And lastly, this is a work-in-progress.
If you’re looking for the best PAID HTC Vice VR experiences head over here.
- Fantasynth: Chez Nous – no locomotion, no real interactions, but a sick experience if you like Milkdrop-style visualizations and electronic music. I was blown away and hope they release more tracks or a procedural experience like Milkdrop.
- Free Locomotion: NO
- Amount of content: 5 minutes
- The Body VR: Journey Inside a Cell – this is one of the genres I am most excited for in VR. I think learning about our world through VR experiences could change society. This is an excellent first example of that future and I was in awe learning about the human body. Some basic interactions, no locomotion, and overall felt polished.
- Free locomotion: NO
- Amount of content: 15 minutes
- We Were Here – another genre I’m really excited for in VR. My friend and I started with little explanation and had to figure out how to communicate and solve puzzles. Some of them had the pressure of time against you which added such a great element to the game. I can’t wait to play the sequel.
- Free locomotion: YES
- Amount of content: 2-3 hours, BUT it could be doubled by playing both sides (the Librarian and the Explorer)
- Google Earth VR – very cool VR experience that upgrades the Google Earth experience significantly. I live in Denver and it was fascinating exploring the city from this perspective. Only draw-back is that many areas are still flat (no cool 3D building effect). Overall, definitely worth installing and one of those apps you keep installed forever.
- Free Locomotion: YES
- Amount of content: 1 hour minimum to explore and get a feel for it, but one of those games/apps you’ll probably return to many times
- Waltz of the Wizard – this game was SO cool. I loved every minute of it and there were some mind-blowing experiences. Whoever made this is some sort of genius. Be sure to thoroughly explore the whole thing. There’s about 30-60 minutes worth of content. Hopefully they make a sequel or a full version at some point.
- Free Locomotion: YES
- Amount of content: 1-2 hours
- Belko VR: An Escape Room Experiment – I felt a real sense of urgency and tension in this game. The puzzles were somewhat easy to solve, but overall I thought this was really well done and the ending was shocking. I can’t wait to see how the escape room genre evolves in the future.
- The Lab – a must install VR game that’s basically on every best VR games list imaginable. Let’s just leave it at that.
- Accounting – short, weird, free, and hilarious. Definitely worth the install.
- Rec Room – another one of those must install VR games that provides a good chunk of content, weird social encounters with other players, and some genuinely fun mini-games.
- Bigscreen Beta – don’t skip out trying this app like I did when I first got my Vive, it will seriously upgrade your movie watching experience. Obviously the resolution is lower than a HD screen, BUT the trade-off of watching on a simulated 50 foot screen in the middle of space is fucking awesome!
- Gnomes & Goblins – this one is teetering on the edge of being in the almost-but-not-quite section because it’s so short, BUT what a cool experience overall! It felt so magical and friendly and cozy. It was like they brought a childhood book to life. I can’t wait for the next release!
- Senza Peso – wow! What an amazing VR experience. This brought back memories of Myst and Riven and Molten Core from World of Warcraft. It’s only 5-10 minutes long, but I loved every second of it. Hopefully there is more to come!
- TheWaveVR Beta – what did I just see? I felt like I was in the realm of the gods. Mad gods who create worlds without meaning or purpose, just because they can. Amazing and fascinating are two words that might describe this game.
- Welcome to Light Fields – this is another teetering on the edge of not making this list because it’s short and simplistic, BUT it’s worth seeing. This demo showcases an aspect of the future of VR: photorealistic environments. It’s also just well made and has some really interesting shots.