While debate rages online about exactly what the metaverse is, we wanted to share what we’re playing right now, to help get you started. The level of immersion you get from being in VR is unmatched, it really does create new experiences and future technologies that might be part of the metaverse (such as AR and/or NFT’s) are not yet fully realised.
You could argue that the Meta Quest’s digital store front is a sort of early metaverse itself where every app icon is a doorway to a new universe.
There’s estimated to be around 171 million VR users worldwide as of right now – and that number is expected to keep on growing each year. Since Facebook announced it’s rebrand to Meta, more and more people are embracing working, living and playing in this new reality.
Since moving to remote working here at our game design studio, GLITCHERS, VR has become an anchor for our team – a way of working together in the same virtual space, and a way of unwinding at the end of the week over a few party games. Phone calls and Zoom meetings are just too formal. Sometimes you need to be face to face to have that real human connection.
So maybe you’ve got a headset and want to see what it’s all about? Here is our top list of games to get you started with VR and understand just what can be possible in the future metaverse.
Get Together with Friends & Colleagues in VR
Virtual reality is all about the human connection. So whilst the following games in this list can be played solo, for the best experience get your whole crew together and get playing:
Price: £22.99 +
Number of Players: 1-5
Beat Saber is one of the most well-known VR games and is played by slicing blocks in the air to the rhythm of popular music. Each beat is represented by a coloured cube and players stand in one spot with ‘swords’ of matching colours. The goal is to get players active in a fun and visually impressive way.
Beat Saber is a good example of not just what is possible, but also what is popular in VR. But that’s not all, it’s also an example of very clever monetisation over a long period of time. As well as the base price, every month Beat Saber releases new trending music which is available at an additional price. Since the game is music based, if you want to slice along to your favourite tune, you’ll have to grab it while it’s on sale.
Number of Players: 1 – 5
Walkabout Mini Golf takes a tried and tested concept of and supercharges it into the metaverse in an impressive way! At its core, it’s virtual reality mini-golf with 8 unique 18-hole courses available in the base game. Different environments affect gameplay, such as wind, giving a realistic play sensation – but that’s not all, whilst you’re hanging out on the course there are special collectable balls to be found hidden all over the world.
Players can play either single player, or multiplayer up to 5 cross-play players in a room.
We love Walkabout Mini-Golf as it is a novel multiplayer VR experience that does a lot with a little. Low fidelity but quirky, stylised landscapes that render easily on all devices regardless of connectivity. The cross-play enables groups across different platforms to get together, and it seamlessly simulates a real-world fun activity into the VR space.
If someone loses connectivity because their headset died or they walked into a wall, the game cleverly manages to get you back into game sessions where you left off, neat!
Number of Players: 1 – 4
Cook Out is a classic cooking game along the lines of Overcooked, but it’s in VR and set in a fairytale world where you mostly make sandwiches. As players progress through hectic levels, they’ll also need to fight off nasty customers who are set on making trouble. It’s a fast paced party cooking game with a very fun twist and one of our regular go-to games for Thursday night social.
What Cook Out gets right is the addictive, quick to play mechanic of wildly building sandwiches with your mates then hurling them at the customers against the clock. It’s hilarious good fun and you’re guaranteed to get covered in ketchup.
Number of Players: 1 – 12
Half + Half is very special – it’s a safe space for friends and strangers to connect with one another – the idea being that the game is virtual but the connections you form there are real. It was created by a game dev company who were all based remotely who wanted to connect and show each other prototypes in a VR space. Now there are a number of virtual spaces in Half + Half, including swimming, hide and seek, and hand gliding. The best part? All non-competitive and relaxing.
The first time I entered Half + Half, I stood confused in the lobby over where to go first and someone came over and gave me a hug. It was strangely emotional.
Half + Half is incredibly simple – basic landscapes and mechanics – but all revolves around the human and social connection. This makes it a standout game and remedy for the pandemic, whilst also having excellent precautions against trolls (no voice chat unless friends, and characters disappear when you get too close). A lot is achieved with a little in this ‘game’, and it pushes the boundaries of what is possible.
Number of Players: 1 – 4
ForeVR Darts is an online, VR social dart playing game that relies on physics mechanics to play the real life game darts. There are three dart halls available and a jukebox which plays thousands of songs, and many different game modes to play solo, with friends, or with strangers. ForeVR Darts is a follow-up game to the hugely successful ForeVR Bowling which simulates bowling.
Unlike other VR games listed in this article, ForeVR Darts has a pass-to-play mechanic meaning multiple people can play via one VR headset. It also relies on hand-motion tracking to play, rather than a headset, allowing for a much more natural feeling that is easy for non-VR enthusiasts to get to grips with.
Solve the Puzzles, Escape the Room
One of our favorite genres of VR games is the puzzle category. Across the board, puzzle and room escape games are some of the most innovative and interesting places to explore in VR. The downside? They’re usually single player – but don’t let that stop you from checking these titles out:
Number of Players: 1
Down the Rabbit Hole is a modern retelling of Alice in Wonderland, where you fall down the rabbit hole in search of your lost pet. As you descend further and further you encounter challenges, puzzles, characters, and a big plot centring around The Queen of Hearts leading to a big finale at the bottom of the rabbit hole.
Down the Rabbit Hole is an example of an experience that you can only have in the Metaverse. That is unless you’re in the habit of climbing down enormous rabbit holes in real life? We’re not.
It’s a narrative driven puzzle game where players have multiple perspectives on a particular puzzle – mainly acting as Alice as she climbs down an enormous physical rabbit hole and is able to look up and down and all around into the various ‘scenes’. It’s very tactile, physical, and has a lot of unique but low fidelity and stylised scenes to explore, quite literally by poking your head into them and looking around.
Number of Players: 1
Bend and twist reality in this award winning VR game. You play as a tiny fisherman pupped alone in a tiny lighthouse who wakes up and builds an even tinier fisherman puppet in an even smaller tiny lighthouse, who wakes up and builds an even tinier fisherman… You get the picture. Break the laws of physics and climb to the top of your lighthouse to broadcast the light and save the ship that is stuck out in the storm.
A fisherman’s tale is a mind-blowing puzzle game that pushes the boundaries of what is possible within VR. The company is appropriately named “Vertigo” and that’s exactly the feeling this game gives. It’s a heart-breaking story told through a short puzzle game where you play a low-fidelity puppet in a tiny lighthouse world.
Number of Players: 1
Floor Plan 2 is a comedy puzzle game revolving around you, on your first day at work, at a bizarre company. Your boss sends you on an errand to retrieve a lost treasure which will turn the company’s fortunes around – it’s somewhere in the building. But you quickly realise that each floor you step out of the elevator onto is a gateway into another world where nobody speaks your language.
Floor Plan 2 is a parody of office life told through multiple escape rooms which players must return to over and over again. But the real beauty of Floor Plan 2 is how silly and light-hearted the game is. If you enjoy your VR charming and short, you’ll love Floor Plan 2.
No Console? No problem. Try these Web-based VR games
Web based VR is accessing virtual reality or augmented reality via devices from mobile, to browser, to VR headsets on the web via the WebXR API. It allows web applications to present content in VR by using the device’s point of view.
A web-based VR game is less prohibitive than a console game, as it can be played without downloading any software. This allows many of the developers working in this space already to do some fantastically creative projects, such as:
Players: 1 – 2
Konterball is a simple, tennis based mini-game to play solo against the AI or against a friend. There’s not much more to explain beyond this, but then again why improve upon perfection?
Access Mars takes the real surface of Mars as mapped by Curiosity Rover and puts it into VR for a solo player to walk around and explore. It was initially created as a tool for scientists but they have since made it open access to everyone.
Go forth and explore, spaceman!
Bear 71 is a live rendered VR web documentary that explores the disconnect between humans and animals. The viewer follows one bear through a map of abstract symbols in space.
Players: 1 ++
Dance Tonite is a collaboration between LCD Sound System and their fans that is playable across all VR devices – depending on what device you have, you’ll receive a different role in the game. With Daydream View or other handheld VR headsets, you are on stage watching the experience unfold around you.
With room-scale VR such as the HTC VIVE or Oculus Rift (which enable your physical movements to be reflected in your virtual environment), you are a performer. And without VR, you are in the audience getting a bird’s eye view perspective.
The space has multiple rooms each with a curated dance by fans in collaboration with the Data Arts Team, a specialized team within Google exploring the ongoing dialog between artists and emerging technologies.
We love VR, and honestly? We think you should too – once you’ve found your corner of the metaverse to hang out in, the possibilities are endless.