In a previous article, I outlined what I felt what were the best and most essential accessories for the Oculus Quest, in order to maximize its potential for virtual reality fitness. In this article I want to focus on the games and titles themselves, providing a detailed overview of exactly what games to buy that will help you torch calories, strip fat and carve out your ideal body.
I’ll start by covering the two essential games that anyone interested in VR fitness needs to own, These are the reliable staples that can form the backbone of any VR fitness routine, with proven results for weight loss, increased fitness and improved body composition.
I’ll then break down further active titles by genre, showing you the best titles you can buy that match your gaming preferences, be it punching, sword fighting, ball sports, shooting etc. I’ll also highlight some of the best upcoming titles to look out for later in the year.
By the end of the article, you will know exactly what games to buy that will give you the best exercise results as well as have the most fun in achieving them. I firmly believe that virtual reality fitness can be as effective as traditional cardio equipment, and a whole lot more exciting. As the old adage goes ‘ the best form of exercise is the one you enjoy doing consistently’, and virtual reality exercise is by far the most enjoyable form of exercise I have found!
Note, where available I’m also quoting the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise scores. This organization subjects VR games to scientific testing to determine how many calories a person can burn playing them and gives them a MET score. For more information on how they score games follow the link here.
Ok enough background, let’s get to the games!
Essential Fitness Games: Beat Saber & Box VR
First up, when it comes to using the Oculus Quest for exercise there are two titles that everybody should own. Combined these two games will give you a complete upper and lower body workout.
Hands down the best selling VR game ever, this game needs no introduction. Slice blocks with twin light-sabers to the beat of the music, this is a simple rhythm game at heart but with a style and polish like no other. It feels incredible to play, exhilarating rather than exhausting, with various difficulty levels that allow for both instant accessibility, whilst also providing a lifetime challenge to reach mastery. Check out our review for the PC version, the Quest version plays identically.
Fitness benefits – Solid steady cardio and hand to eye coordination workout. VR Institute score of 6-8 calories per minute, 6.24 avg METs, 7.18 METs
You can literally play for hours at a time. You’ll feel sharper, have improved reaction times, and can easily burn up to 400 calories or so in a one-hour session. There are a few squats and leg strides involved but it’s primarily an arm and hand to eye coordination workout.
Surprisingly the only current VR title that explicitly sets out to be a fitness product. BoxVR features a huge variety of workouts designed by real physical activity coaches to simulate the workout you’d get from a gym boxercise class. You punch orbs with a variety of jabs, hooks, uppercuts and crosses whilst simultaneously ducking under obstacles or side-stepping them. Music in the game comes from PremiumBeat to avoid licensing issues but there’s still an excellent variety of dance, rap, rock, and pop to listen to. BoxVR is not quite as polished as Beat Saber, there are some occasional tracking issues, but the structured workouts focus on both the upper and lower body and I personally find it to be a much more complete workout than Beat Saber, if just a little less fun. This game has sold well on VR platforms and I reviewed the Quest version on release here.
Fitness benefits – Full-body cardio and strength workout that also works the legs muscles. VR Institute score of 6-8 calories per minute, 5.82 avg METs, 6.42 peak METs.
Although it scored slightly lower with VR Institute I actually consider BoxVR to be more demanding than Beat Saber, providing you put the effort in. Punching with force will really work your back and shoulders, and stabilizing yourself from throwing air punches requires a strong core so you’ll feel the burn there too. Make sure you do the leg based workouts to work the lower body and add a weighted vest if you really want to feel the burn!
Something for Everyone! Finding your own go to fitness game.
The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week and the two games above will definitely give you that. But you didn’t buy an Oculus Quest just to play two titles only so let’s also explore what other great fitness-oriented games are currently on the platform. There’s something for everyone here and I’ve selected below what I think are the best games for exercise in a variety of popular genres.
Best hand to hand fighting game: Creed
Creed by Survios is currently the best choice if punching people in VR is your bag. It’s a simple arcade title that will certainly work up a sweat. We reviewed it for PC here, and the game plays identically on Quest. It combines boxing fights and mini-training to give you a decent cardio workout, although it’s focus is on arcade fun rather than being a realistic simulation. It has multiplayer too which adds to its longevity.
Fitness benefits – High-intensity fighting and training sections. VR Institute 6-8 calories per minute 6.30 avg METs, 7.43 peak METs. With both the fights and prefight training being short but fairly intense, this game is ideal for a HIIT routine. You move around the ring using a controller so your real legs aren’t utilized.
Coming soon: Thrill of the Fight!
Although it’s not slated for release on Quest until later this year I can’t not include Ian Fitz’s Thrill of the Fight here. Like Creed its a boxing game but that’s where the similarity ends. Whilst Creed is a Punchout style arcade game, TOTF is as close as you can get right now to a realistic simulation of the pugilistic art. It also happens to be hands down the most physically challenging game in VR, and with the added freedom and wireless nature of the Quest you will practically have a range of virtual sparring partners to train with each day! Check out my article here from when it was released on the Oculus Rift for more detail, and expect a lot more coverage from us in the coming months as this is hands down the most anticipated VR fitness title coming to Quest. This game has excellent customization options and you can fight full 12 round fights!
Fitness benefits – VR Institute 8-10 calories per minute, 9.28 avg METs, 14.59 peak METs.
Check out those scores above! This game will destroy you but then rebuild you into a faster, stronger, fitter version of yourself. Just watch out for your walls and furniture as this is a true 360-degree room-scale experience! You move around the ring by, well physically moving around the ring, so space is premium. Play where you have the most room and enjoy fighting in a real size virtual boxing ring!
Best fighting with weapons game: Swords of Gargantua
Swords of Gargantua is a big sword, big enemies melee combat game that features realistic physics and weapons handling. Whilst not as intense or gory as Blade and Sorcery on PC VR Gargantua has been well received on Quest garnering solid reviews. There are no official VR Institute stats for this game yet but VR Fitness Insider reviewer Gabriel covered the game in detail here and his playtest suggests a calorie burn of about 6 per minute.
Also worth considering: Ninja Legends
This is a 360-degree wave-based slasher that involves you taking on dozens of opponents simultaneously with a variety of weapons. It’s fairly new and neither ourselves or VR Institute have covered it yet, but from what I’ve seen online it’s perceived as a fairly active and intense title. I saw a Reddit post with someone burning over 360 calories in under 45 minutes which suggests the game is fairly intense so it’s a title I’m eager to try. Expect a full review of this game on our site soon.
Best bow shooter: Elven Assassin
Bow fighting mechanics are tremendously satisfying in VR spawning a host of archery titles on PC. Now the Quest has its own archery wave shooter with the brand new port from PC of Elven Assassin. This game has you defending your castle from an Orc army and features both a single-player campaign and coop multiplayer. Orcs hurl axes at you so you’ll find your legs getting a decent workout as you duck under projectiles whilst simultaneously firing off your own arrows in retaliation. Not rated by VR Institute yet its probably a low-medium intensity game that will leave your firing arm sore the next day. Quest Youtuber BMF has just dropped a timely review of the game so check his video above for more detail if you’re interested.
Also, consider Superhot. Superhot needs little introduction, it’s one of the most well known and beloved games available in VR. Fight red glass enemies with anything to hand, the hook being that time only moves when you do. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Neo in the Matrix this is the game for you! It’s a low-intensity game, but a must-buy for any VR fan as it is cool as heck!
Best Shoot Em Up: Space Pirate Trainer
Shooting aliens has been a staple of gaming since the early 80’s and it remains as popular as ever today. Space Pirate Trainer is a wave-based shooter that has you battling hordes of alien fighter ships armed with a variety of handheld laser guns and shields. It’s fast, frenetic and involves lots of dodging and ducking as well as firing your blasters. The Quest comes with a free taster demo of the game so you can see if you like it, and the full game is modestly priced too. An easy pickup and play title that’s great to come back to when the mood takes you.
Fitness Benefits: This is low to medium intensity cardio, but the pace of the game feels fun and frantic. VR Institute 5 calories per minute 4.97 peak METs 4.91 average METs.
Also consider: Robo Recall
If you like Space Pirate Trainer you’ll likely enjoy Robo Recall as well. It’s more expensive and the graphics did not port quite so well from PC to the humble Quest but the game-play remains identical to its PC counterpart. Shoot robots and rip them limb from limb, and then use those limbs to beat other robots. It’s as fun as it sounds and a true 360-degree workout.
Vadar Immortal deserves an honorable mention here too. The lightsaber dojo is no joke. It features waves of enemies to dispatch and they literally come at you in every direction. I believe it has 40 levels and you’ll certainly get a sweat on working through them all!
Best Ball Sports: Racket NX
Racket NX is an incredible demonstration of the power of VR and the wireless Quest specifically to create a sporting experience that is both simultaneously beautiful and novel, and also only possible within the medium of virtual reality. It’s a visually striking, sonically gorgeous game that has you striking an electronic ball at walls inside an enclosed circular dome. The developers describe it as racquetball meets breakout inside a giant pinball machine. All you need to know is it’s super slick, futuristic and trance-inducing, and a great way to spend an hour burning off some steam. I’ve been playing this a lot lately. We reviewed the PC version a while ago here, but whilst the fitness aspect is the same with the Quest, the freedom you get from not being wired transforms this into an essential experience if you like ball sports games in VR
Fitness Benefits: Relaxing and hypnotic cyber squash game will give you steady-state cardio and also improve your reaction times and coordination. VR Institute 4.5 calories per min 4.36 peak METs, 4.03 avg METs.
Also consider: Sports Scramble and Racket Fury
Also worth considering if you enjoy ball sports is Sports Scramble, a fun and eccentric mash up sports compilation featuring tennis, baseball, and bowling. I reviewed the game recently and certainly recommend it, especially tennis. For ping pong lovers Racket Fury is also well worth a look.
Best Dance Game: Dance Central
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to start an exercise program is with simple dancing. You can work the whole body and also improve your coordination, flexibility, and sense of rhythm. In fact, studies show that learning dance routines are good for the mind and can even help fight against dementia as learning new dance patterns is a form of problem-solving that stimulates the brain and helps strengthen neural connections.
If this sounds good to you then you’ll likely love Dance Central, where you get to dance choreographed moves to a variety of songs, from 70’s classics to contemporary pop. There are 32 songs to choose from. There’s even a multiplayer lounge where you can dance and chat with other VR users. VR Fitness Insider reviewer Gabriel covered the game in much more detail here.
Fitness benefits – Low to medium intensity cardio, whilst also working the mind and helping to improve mood, cognition and neural function. Not yet covered by VR Institute but approximately 6 calories per minute.
Turn any game into a fitness experience
Whilst the game listed so far were a roundup of titles you can consider specifically oriented towards fitness, the Quest catalog likely has dozens of other titles you want to play for fun, and you certainly should do that. In fact, with a little bit of creative ingenuity, you can turn pretty much any standing game into an opportunity to burn calories and get active.
As VR Fitness writer Richard Bashura writes in his recent article on the benefits of walking simulators, simply walking or jogging on the spot in time to your characters movement’s will both increase the physical challenge, enhance your feeling of immersion and game presence and even combat motion sickness if artificial locomotion can make you feel a bit queasy.
With that in mind, I can certainly recommend the following two games as being standout single player story driven games for the Quest, that you can turn into a great workout.
Best Single Player Adventure: Journey of the Gods
In terms of wanting a full-fledged RGP sword and sorcery type experience Journey of the Gods is currently the best you can get on Quest. I reviewed the game here, and found its cute retro Zelda Esque graphical and gameplay style both fun and rewarding as a video game, and also a decent workout when I decided to jog along with my character. There’s a mix of sword, shield and bow action here and the full story lasts around 6 hours. It’s well worth picking up if you’re a fan of the genre.
Also consider: Apex Construct
Apex Construct is another worthy game to add to your Quest collection. It’s a futuristic sci-fi adventure that combines bow shooting with exploration, puzzle-solving, and an intriguing storyline. I really enjoyed this one. It’s definitely light on the exercise side, but there’s a lot of ducking and crawling around, rummaging through boxes and drawers, and you could wear a weighted vest to add resistance. Your character wears armor and a heavy bow in the game so the vest can add immersion as well as give your legs and back a bit of a workout.
Rec Room One final title that is definitely worth installing (it’s free!) is Rec Room. Massively popular on both PC and Playstation VR the game was also a launch title for Quest. It’s a multiplayer social hub that features a multitude of things to do, from paintball to fighting alongside your friends on medieval quests. The player base can be quite young, but it’s a great game to play with your friends and family if you have more than one headset.
I hope you found this list helpful, and we’ll be sure to add to it when new Quest experiences become available. Considering the headset only launched at the end of May this year I think there is already a stack of excellent titles to choose from, and this will only increase over time!