By Tobias van Schneider Published October 10, 2016
The Top10 Starter Pack for HTC Vive owners.
As you might already noticed, I got a lot into VR the last few weeks. Following up on my recent post on "Setting up my VR machine" I like to recommend you a couple games and apps that are perfect if you just started out with your VR headset.
I'm mainly focusing on games & apps for the HTC Vive, but since most of them run via Steam, there is a high chance that they work on Oculus Rift as well.
PS: Also, I'm focusing on starter experiences, not specifically high end games which will take you a bit longer to get into.
The reason why I start this list with "Don't let go" is the perfect reason to why I think VR is so special. "Don't let go" has the simplest graphics, and simply looking at the 2D screens will probably make you laugh and think why the hell would he recommend such a game.
But what you will notice pretty quickly with your new VR headset is that graphics aren't really that important to get a full immersive experience. In "Don't let go" you'll be asked to place one finger on each of your CONTROL keys on your keyboard. So while you're holding down the two keys on your keyboard, you will see exactly the same happening in VR. What I like about this experience so much, is that it's the perfect example where your mind gets tricked so easily, simply by mirroring your actions in real life and virtual reality.
The goal is to simply not let go holding down the two keys, but as you can imagine, things are about to happen to you. This game is a short 5min experience and perfect for demoing your VR headset to your friends.
Probably one of the best experiences currently available on the HTC Vive is Tilt Brush by Google. With Tilt Brush you will be able to draw in space. While your environment becomes your canvas, your controller turns into a brush and you will soon forget about everything around you.
Tilt Brush is very amateur friendly and requires no skills in drawing, which makes it even more addicting. But digging a little deeper into the config file, you will soon find out that you're able to load 3D objects into your environment which allow you to draw on or around them. Think manikins for fashion designers, or furniture base models for interior designers.
As an example, last night I created my first character completely in VR/Tilt Brush in 30min.
Destinations is an app on Steam that lets you explore real and imaginary places. You can explore some of the best photogrammetric experiences created by other developers or join public lobbies to play with strangers or team up with your friends.
I think Destinations is a great example of the potential for Virtual Reality. Essentially, everyone can have and create their own destination and invite friends to join them.
The "Workshop" feature within Destination allows you to subscribe to other peoples Destination and even create your own. These destinations can be anything, from your real apartment, your office or even the surface of Mars. It's pretty much up to you.
Imagine standing on a street, next to you an open door to an elevator. You enter the elevator, press the button to the top floor, the door opens and all you see is a plank straight out of the elevator into nothing. Would you dare to walk on it?
Richie's Plank Experience is a perfect first time VR experience and great to showcase to your friends since it's a fairly short experience as well.
Think of Guitar Hero but for VR. You're holding two shields, one blue and one red one while standing in an open space. Now, blue and red orbs are coming straight at you and all you need to do is raise your shields and hit them with the right colored hand.
It's a fairly simple game, and simply looking at others playing it doesn't do full justice. It's extremely addicting and I catch myself sometimes just dancing away for a couple songs. Besides that, it's a pretty good workout.
Now we're already going into the more aesthetic side of things. Irrational Exuberance is just simply mind blowing and beautiful. It's a short experience, perfect to show off to some friends and family as well. The game starts with you opening your eyes finding yourself on an asteroid deep inside space. Around you nothing but comets passing by and giant stars.
Irrational Exuberance is just a tiny example of what's possible with VR and makes you curious for more. Overall, it's probably a short 10min experience.
Nothing better to test someones balance by putting them on a virtual rollercoaster. NoLimits 2 is a full game, but all you need is the demo which is free to download on Steam. One of the first things I usually do when I have friends over is to put them in standing position, and then onto the rollercoaster demo. (always make sure to have 1 or 2 people standing next by for physical support if needed)
It's so interesting to me to see how people react so different to such a simple experience. Some manage it pretty good, some lose balance immediately, and some can't even take on the VR headset for more than a minute. It's a simple experience, but yet one of the most powerful to demo what a virtual reality experience does to your mind & body.
The Lab is another app perfect for introducing new users to Virtual Reality. The Lab can be downloaded on Steam and is essentially similar to Destinations. It's one game that includes many more games and experiences. The Lab gives you a hand full of experiences ranging from mini games to simple educational experiences (such as putting you straight into our solar system).
It's one of my favorite experiences to show off to friends and let them wander through The Lab themselves.
I'd say from the ones above, we're now getting a little more into real games that might need a little more expertise with your VR setup. Onwoard is probably one of the best multi-player FPS shooters I've played in VR yet. The graphics are very simple and almost compare to Counterstrike on the PC. But what matters more is how painfully real it is.
You simply join the game with a couple strangers, pick a team and start the mission. Since your HTC Vive has an integrated microphone, you can all easily communicate with each other to discuss strategies. I've played this game a couple times now and the feeling is so intense that I can only do it for an hour maximum.
From what I know, Onward is developed by just one developer and clearly has many bugs and is in it's early stages. But even knowing that, Onward shows great potential to how the future of First Person Shooter games will look like in the future.
Raw Data is the only game on this list that is definitely not a starter experience, but one of my favorites so far to play on the HTC Vive. Raw Data is probably the most advanced and polished first person shooter I've played yet. It has beautiful graphics, even more complex controls than Onward and is a hell lot of fun to play.
Raw Data has a steep price point compared to many other games I've found on VR so far, but it's also one of the ones that feels most polished and you can really see that it was designed from ground up with VR in mind.
But let me warn you, it might be a bit complicated and hard to get into this game and is definitely more than a starter experience, but I still wanted to put it into this list because it's definitely one of those games that you should have tried if you go the HTC Vive.
Not a game, but simply your computers Desktop in Virtual Reality. It's one of those must have apps to allow you to use everything on your computer on your VR headset.
Virtual Desktop essentially allows you to play all regular games in VR, but of course, some of them are better than others. On top of it, Virtual Desktop allows you to watch any streaming service (YouTube, Netflix etc.) in virtual reality. It's just one of those apps you should definitely have.
I hope you enjoyed this article. I'll make sure to write another one with some more advanced experiences in the future (similar to Raw Data) but if you're new to VR, the apps & games above are the perfect way to get started.
Have fun in VR, Tobias
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!