After decades of anticipation, the age of virtual reality is finally upon us. The first major headset to hit the market is the Oculus Rift, which launches on March 28. At least, that’s when the devices will arrive for people who got their pre-orders in early. Stock is low and demand is high, so if you haven’t pulled the trigger yet, you’ll have to wait a few months for your unit to arrive.
But even if you’re not one of the lucky few getting their hands on the Rift at launch, you can still take a look at what games are coming. So check out our picks for the most promising launch titles and get ready for VR gaming to kick into gear.
Hope you don’t have a totally reasonable phobia about being trapped in orbit high above the Earth on a destroyed space station, because that’s the kind of first-person experience ADR1FT delivers. Oh, and there’s a hole in your suit, so you’re also running out of oxygen. The goal of this game is to keep your oxygen levels up as explore the stations and try to get to safety. This game looks like an intense ride.
2. Lucky’s Tale
Who says all VR games should take place from a first-person perspective? This colorful 3D platformer recalls the days when titles like Mario 64 and Jak and Daxter ruled the gaming landscape. But instead of playing from an on-the-ground viewpoint, you look down on the action from above.
3. Project CARS
Project CARS was one of the best racing games of 2015, which makes it a perfect game to check out for the Oculus Rift’s launch. This game strives to create a realistic racing simulation, so it should give you a good idea of what it’s like to be in the driver’s seat of the fastest cars in the world. You drive real cars on real tracks, and your goal is to leave the competition in the dust.
4. EVE: Valkyrie
EVE: Valkyrie puts you in the pilot seat of a battle-ready space ship and drops you into an all-out war. Your job is to take down as many enemy ships as you can while keeping yours in one piece. If you’re not feeling up for a fight, don’t worry: You can also fly around leisurely in Scout Mode to get a handle on the rather complex controls as you take in the scenery.
5. Elite Dangerous
Elite Dangerous is like EVE: Valkyrie, but with a much broader scope. In this massively multiplayer online game, you’re trying to make a living in outer space however you see fit. Naturally, you’ll occasionally need to blast through enemy ships as they try to blow you up. This game has been out for a while on PC and has racked up many impressive reviews. Better yet, if you already own a version of the game, you’ll get the Oculus one for free.
6. Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games
This game is based on the popular Cartoon Network show Adventure time, which has seen its fair share of licensed games on other platforms. Like Lucky’s Tale, it’s a 3D platformer that gives players a third-person perspective as their character runs and jumps through a colorful world. But in this one you have the stretchy magical dog named Jake helping you out.
7. AirMech: Command
This game deftly mixes dual-stick shooting with real-time strategy. Playing in VR puts you above the action so you can get a wide-angle view of the battlefield. The result makes it seem like you’re playing a table-top game with all of the pieces moving on their own. It looks pretty great.
If there’s one thing the world could use more of, it’s car combat games. The makers of Blazerush have heard the calling and are here to deliver. Once again, you view the game world — in this case the race track — from above, making it look kind of like you’re playing with toy cars. The cool thing about these cars is that they can unload round after round of ammunition on their opponents.
9. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
This adventure game launched a while ago on PC and PS4 to very positive reviews. It’s a story-driven game that puts you in the shoes of a detective looking for a boy who’s gone missing in Red Creek Valley, a gorgeous setting whose inhabitants have seen better days. It doesn’t take long before bizarre things start happening. To say more would begin to spoil the many surprises that lie in store for players of this four-hour adventure. It’s best to go in knowing as little as possible.
In this 13-hour game, you play as an adventurer exploring a labyrinth that’s filled with enemies and puzzles. Interestingly, the camera angle is in a fixed location in each room, so you look on the action like a fly on the wall, turning your head to keep your character onscreen. If you’re looking to spend hours at a time in VR, Chronos might be a good bet.