Locomotion used to be tricky to pull off in Virtual Reality, but many games feature full VR locomotion systems now. There are also third-party systems, like Natural Locomotion, which have taken advantage of the arm-swinger form of movement. The user can swing his or her arms and move the body to travel around the virtual world.

Solving this problem has given VR a chance to grow into experiential gameplay that tests the physical limits of the body. Very soon, and already with the help of some modifications, your body will be the key to winning. Here are some of the games already playing with this idea, and an upcoming title we think will motivate everyone to win by moving.  

Sprint Vector

Type of Locomotion: Arm Swinger

Platforms: Oculus, Vive, Windows MR, PSVR

Sprint Vector is a unique kind of racing game that features one of our favorite new forms of locomotion: arm swinger. Players must outwit and outmaneuver one another while avoiding traps and grabbing power-ups along the way. Those bursts of speed are critical to winning the game’s competitive multiplayer races, which are heavy on cardio. Slide, run and fly through multiple courses that will test your body’s physical limitations.

Skyrim

Type of Locomotion: Free Movement

Platforms: Oculus, Vive, Windows MR, PSVR

Skyrim is the quintessential adventure title, for console and now VR. Its epic landscape will have players traversing snowy mountains, fighting dragons in blizzards, running from zombie-infested tombs and searching for treasure in the game’s most dangerous dungeons.

The combination of melee and VR locomotion make for a unique form of workout that allows you to go for long periods of time. Those invested with the narrative or the scenery can easily clock thousands of steps in a single session.

We recommend utilizing either Natural Locomotion or simply stepping in place to avoid motion sickness. I’ve developed a technique in Fallout 4 where I “step” my free locomotion by tapping my gamepad with every step I take in the real world. You can work up to other forms of movement once you’ve overcome this single boundary.

Skyrim blends combat and exploration so seamlessly that you can keep your heart rate consistently at or near fat burning range with low impact cardio.

Echo VR

Type of Locomotion: Climbing/Swimming

Platforms: Oculus

Echo VR is a futuristic sports game where players climb around an arena, propelling themselves from one platform to the next, chasing a disc they use to score goals. The first in what I hope will be a long line of zero gravity sports in VR.

Players will use rocket boosters on their hands to maneuver while scoring goals by tossing a disc into their opponent’s goals. Other players will attempt to intercept you, sometimes with their bodies.

In practice, you could say this feels like mountain climbing in space with a touch of flight. The fast-paced action and emphasis on multiplayer make your body into the controller. You need to be fit and able to handle what can be very aggressive sessions.

Climbey (and The Climb)

Type of Locomotion: Climbing/Parkour

Platforms: Oculus (The Climb only), Vive, Windows MR

Climbey is the most innovative title on this list because it combines multiple forms of locomotion. Be sure to check out the free demo. You will need to jump, climb, and run around a series of parkour challenge maps. You are basically two hands and a head, and your job is to climb all over whatever course you’ve generated for yourself.

To move, you need to propel yourself on your hands/palms, like some kind of cartoon gorilla. You’ll use the momentum of a swing to cross monkey-bar like obstacles, from the top or bottom, and climb vertical towers as quickly as possible.

A single slip up and you tumble to your doom, which is to say you restart the level from the beginning (or your last used checkpoint).

This game is very different from The Climb, which is more of a realistic climbing simulator with some harrowing moments. Players will need to scale various mountain courses without falling, learning how to conserve stamina and move effectively on a vertical face. The Climb does toy with vertigo a little bit, so players who are afraid of heights should be aware of that going in.

Lone Echo

Credit: Echo Games

Type of Locomotion: Climbing/Swimming

Platforms: Oculus

In Lone Echo, you are the Echo Unit, and you must maneuver around a space station performing various tasks to help your human overseers. There’s a more in-depth story we won’t ruin, but to discover those truths you will need to climb your way through zero-G environments to carry out your objectives.

Although the freedom of movement can be disorienting, the true six-degrees of freedom is also its greatest strength. Take it slowly and appreciate its atmosphere before you start working your way into speedrunning it.

It’s a fun and immersive way to get into this type of movement.

Hot Dogs Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades

Credit: Rust LTD

Type of Locomotion: Arm Swinger

Platforms: Vive, Windows MR

Hot Dogs Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is kind of a lot to explain, but the simplest way to think about is mini-games combined with super-realistic gun mechanics. It’s very close to what a sandbox ought to be, with a simple world designed for destruction.

The recently added arm swinger VR locomotion tops off a range of options for moving about in this world. You can stack fireworks, grab different weapons, rearrange furniture to blow up and more. It’s like a physics and pyrotechnic dream simulator, with a very light workout attached. Die Hard meets Tilt Brush.

This game is goofy fun and remains one of the top VR experiences. Why not add a bit of cardio to it and get a light work out?


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