When VR first started, the immediate hope was that not only would immersion increase with videogames but so would physical interactivity as well. The magical part about VR is no longer about watching something unfold on screen but rather being inside the screen having it essentially happen to you instead. Naturally then, VR sports became one of the first genres to emerge and show just how incredible and innovative VR can be. Although really only four years into what VR is eventually going to become, we already have so many different sports titles to choose from. Boxing, football, baseball, made-up sports, the variety is truly endless. Here are the 10 best VR sports games out now.
10. The Climb
The Climb is a simple experience. All you do is climb mountains and explore caves while going for a high score and competing with other players for the best times. Something like this wouldn’t be much to talk about if it were on a flat screen and p0layed with a controller. Thankfully, putting you in the very shoes of the climber turns this into an absolutely extraordinary experience. First off, the graphics are gorgeous and the vistas you’re going to experience are nothing short of breathtaking. The very act of climbing in this game becomes an amazing workout for your arms and shoulders as well as you carefully maneuver from grip to grip while glancing periodically at the terrifying fate that awaits below if you miss your mark. Released in 2016, it still remains one of the truly remarkable achievements in VR, and plenty of non-sports games are using the mechanics introduced in the climb to bolster their gameplay.
The Climb is available for $29.99 on Oculus.
9. VR Sports Challenge
This game throws a bunch of different sports at you and asks you to participate in every phase of the games. As a football player, you’ll be throwing the ball as well as catch it. As a Hockey player, you’ll be hitting slapshots, playing goalie, and also engaging in fights. Basketball has you shooting and playing in some nicely detailed actual game situations. In baseball, you’ll be swinging away for home runs in a fully animated ballpark as well. Each game provides a nice workout and a fairly immersive experience with my favorite being the hockey experience.
VR Sports Challenge is $19.99 on Oculus.
8. Echo Arena
The great part of VR is you’re not bound by the limits of reality. It allows sports that aren’t possible to play as of yet to become a reality. Among the best of the bunch is Echo Arena, a dazzling visual experience that puts you on a team in space where gravity is no object and the point of the game is to throw disks into a goal. A space-age version of Quidditch. You can punch other players to stun them, defend yourself from being stunned and bounce off surfaces to propel yourself through the air, experiencing a fully zero-G experience with other real players is something that has yet to be equaled. Echo Arena has received several updates since release and is one of the more popular VR games out there.
Echo Arena is free on Oculus.
7. Racket: NX
Racket NX takes place in a unique environment of a dome made of hexagons. The idea of the game is to hit the ball into0 the highlighted areas of the surrounding walls. If you hit the ball into the hexagons, it will come right back to you, but if you hit it hard enough, you change the path of where the ball travels and that might be into the highlighted area. If you nail that spot enough times, it disappears much like one of those bubble breaker games would work. Just like those games, if you break them all, it’s on to the next level. It works like an old school game and its’ simple approach lends itself to the intense experience contained within. The experience is something like racketball combined with Candy Crush and that bizarre combination leads you to losing yourself within the black walls and the glowing hexagons that comprise Racket: NX. Multiplayer is available as well and it’s a fun way to keep the experience fresh after you’ve beaten it. Cross-buy is available as well between Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift, so you can play with friends on either platform.
6. The Golf Club VR
Just like Golf was a hot ticket in the world of Wii when it first came out, so again rises the Golf game in the world of VR. While there are a few different choices to choose from, The Golf Club VR delivers the most accurate portrayal of what it’s like to hit the greens. The Golf Club stays away from depictions of real courses and instead has procedurally generated and user courses created, many of which include tons of actual courses as well. The mechanics are about as accurate as I’ve seen in VR to date. The graphics are also gorgeous to look at as well with some nice sound effects and ambiance adding to the overall experience. The Golf Club VR also provides a pretty solid core workout as well from all twisting your body does while swinging the clubs.
The Golf Club is available for $9.99 on Steam.
5. First Person Tennis- The Real Tennis Simulator
Controllers in VR have a very convenient shape to them that happens to be almost identical to your basic tennis racket. So, naturally, tennis games have become a fixture in the VR world. The best among these games is without a doubt First Person Tennis- The Real Tennis Simulator. There are a few modes available for either an arcade experience or a full-on simulation. Simulation as you might expect is crushingly difficult and gives you as close to a realistic tennis experience that you can find. Arcade mode is laxer and requires less precision. There is a single-player mode as well as a multiplayer one, allowing you to experience a VR tennis match with some great graphics to boot. First Person Tennis- The Real Tennis Simulator is best played with at least a 5×5 play space as your movement in real life will be directly reflected in-game.
4. Sports Scramble
Sports Scramble gives you baseball, tennis, and bowling and tells you to throw everything you know about those sports out the window because here, things are about to get weird. See, what makes Sports Scramble unique is that there is an option to play each sport with the balls used in other sports. For example, if scramble mode is on during baseball, you may find yourself pitching a football to a batter or bowling off a ramp to try and throw a strike. During tennis, your racket might turn into a fishing rod at one point while you try to hit a ping pong ball over a net. During bowling, your ball might become a fish. It’s completely nuts and hilarious and creative little title that offers hours upon hours of fun. Making this package all the better is the option to play both single-player and with friends in multiplayer mode. There are difficulty options too which can either give you an over the top, arcade experience, or get rid of the scramble rules all together to play some solid simulations of your favorite sports. In addition to this, the arm workout you get from the baseball and tennis modes is pretty significant and if you have the space available, your legs get a pretty great workout as well. It is a little bit pricey for the content, but if you’re a fan of any of the sports involved, it’s a can’t miss experience.
Though it’s three years old, Sparc shows more than any game just what’s possible in VR by creating its’ own sport. Shades of Tron aside, Sparc introduces you to a brand new sport where you need to throw or smash a ball with a shield at your opponent’s goal. They can swat the ball back at you to try and score themselves and there is no boundary here. You can throw the ball off the ceiling, the floor, it doesn’t matter if you hit your opponent with the ball or the don’t block it, you get points and you go back and forth until one player loses, then the next player jumps in for a try. It’s such a simple concept that plays out so beautifully in VR and really introduces you to the future of gaming and potentially how sports are played in a big way. The visuals are crisp and the online community is always full of players to play against. It also works as a tremendous workout and a few games in, you’ll be feeling it in your entire body.
2. 2MD: VR Football Evolution
If there is one sport I was uncertain would be able to make the jump from flat screen to VR, it was football. Football is such a complex sport that it seemed like it would just have too many moving parts to successfully translate to VR headsets. Luckily, Truant Pixel has gotten rid of the potentially complicated parts of football and given us what is at its’ core a quarterback simulator in the form of 2MD: VR Football Evolution. As revolutionary as this game can be, it’s very much an old school experience. You pick a team and then navigate the gauntlet of other teams that stand in your way until you beat them all. This is easier said than done though and despite the relatively basic graphics, a lot of depth goes into the gameplay. For example, before you put your helmet on, you can create your own plays. Each hand is capable of having 8 plays designed on it so that gives you 16 plays available to call during any time. You can switch these whenever you’d like as well as reversing the play at the line of scrimmage and calling audibles. During the games, defenses will throw different blitzes at you, and the challenge will ramp up from having to score once in two minutes to having to score multiple times in the same time frame. There is a practice mode where you can adjust your height and throwing motion, which helps create the best football experience in VR to date. The throwing is about as accurate as you can get in terms of throwing a football. Whether you are trying to rip a quick slant or throw a 50-yard bomb, the game tracks your arm direction, power, and any throw you’ve seen an NFL quarterback back, you can now make. 2MD: VR Football Evolution is best experienced with a 5×5 play space. Having this space available lets you navigate the pocket like an actual quarterback would.
2MD: VR Football Evolution is available on Steam for $12.99, though it’s free if you already own 2MD: VR Football.
1. The Thrill of the Fight
Boxing has long been a sport that’s been near impossible to nail in videogame form. The impact on controllers just never really resonated and while there were a few popular boxing games throughout the years, nothing ever really became a sensation. The Thrill of the Fight arrived and changed that, delivering one of the most high intensity and immersive experiences in all of VR. What makes The Thrill of the Fight such a….thrill (see what I did there?) is the accuracy of your movements reflecting on your VR avatar. This is the complete boxing experience and by far the most realistic one available in VR. You can train with bags, track your punching power and speed, fight for the title, and spar with other fighters as well. Your fights can range from easy to excruciatingly difficulty depending on what difficulty you play on in addition to who you’re fighting. Other boxers coming against you may be wild thrashers or intensely defensive, parrying your every move and asking you to think one step ahead to find an opening. The Thrill of the Fight also works a complete workout as there is simply no other game in VR that will make you sweat like it does. The amount of ducking, dodging and punching you’ll be doing will give you not only the best workout in VR, but one of the more intense ones of your life. You absolutely need a 5×5 space to play properly though as there are no options for locomotion.