Virtual Reality

The 10 best launch games for the HTC Vive

The 10 best launch games for t...
Our top 10 recommendations for HTC Vive launch games in Steam
Our top 10 recommendations for HTC Vive launch games in Steam
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Our top 10 recommendations for HTC Vive launch games in Steam
1/11
Our top 10 recommendations for HTC Vive launch games in Steam
Vanishing Realms
2/11
Vanishing Realms
Hover Junkers
3/11
Hover Junkers
Job Simulator
4/11
Job Simulator
Final Approach
5/11
Final Approach
The Gallery - Episode 1
6/11
The Gallery - Episode 1
Selfie Tennis
7/11
Selfie Tennis
Fantastic Contraption
8/11
Fantastic Contraption
Tilt Brush
9/11
Tilt Brush
theBlu
10/11
theBlu
11/11

It's funny that, just a couple months ago, we were unsure how deep the HTC Vive's game library would be at launch. While its launch game collection isn't necessarily deeper than the Oculus Rift's, it's arguably better – soaring to higher heights with the Vive's room-scale magic. After playing the hell out of the Vive since last week, we have 10 picks for the best Vive games to download on Day One.

Vanishing Realms

Vanishing Realms
Vanishing Realms

If you have a Vive, we recommend putting Vanishing Realms at the top of your buy list. Imagine The Legend of Zelda, only instead of controlling Link as a character on a screen, you play his role inside a fully realized 3D world, using your own body to walk, pick up objects and duel with sword-wielding skeletons.

Being a room-scale game, you walk around your physical space, but there's also wider world-scale movement via teleporting. Hold down a button, aim your controller and zap! – you're there.

The battles in Vanishing Realms are one of the most exhilarating experiences in VR today, as you physically swing the controller (sword) to parry attacks and counter with your own well-placed hits. Along the way you'll also unlock a bow and arrow, shield and a badass magic wand that will have you channeling your inner Gandalf.

Vanishing Realms is in Early Access on Steam, so it's an incomplete game. The part that's available now, though, gave us almost two hours' worth of gameplay. We look forward to seeing this become a full-length epic, but what's finished now is well worth the US$20 price of admission.

Vanishing Realms on Steam ($19.99)

Job Simulator

Job Simulator
Job Simulator

One of the three games bundled with the Vive at launch, Owlchemy Labs' Job Simulator is a hilarious simulation/sandbox game that's a great introduction to motion controller-based VR.

Set in the future, when humans are little more than curiosities to our robot overlords, you run through the robots' constructed simulations of what today's human jobs were like. Only the robots don't quite get it, so you have things like copying machines that clone physical objects and microwaves that can turn a piece of bread with a tomato and triangle of cheese on top into a perfect slice of pizza.

It's all very tongue-in-cheek, with the satirical, deadpan comedy serving as the perfect backdrop for the action of the game. Like Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series, Job Simulator combines set tasks with open-ended sandbox freedom. The gameplay may sound mundane, but there's something immensely satisfying about picking up a coffee mug and chucking it into the cubicle next to you. The game is both a showcase piece for tracked controllers and a playground for your inner id.

These first two games show the range of experiences you can have with the Vive's room-scale. Vanishing Realms gives you huge worlds to explore through teleporting, while Job Simulator makes hanging out in a fixed room about as fun as possible.

Job Simulator on Steam ($39.99)

Hover Junkers

Hover Junkers
Hover Junkers

We've already run detailed pre-launch impressions of Hover Junkers, so we'll invite you to hit that up for more on one of the best Vive games at launch.

StressLevelZero's multiplayer shooter uses a moving platform technique to give you wider world-level locomotion, in addition to room-scale movement – which, in this case, means walking around the deck of your makeshift, post-apocalyptic hovercraft.

Hover Junkers on Steam ($34.99)

The Gallery Episode 1: Call of the Starseed

The Gallery - Episode 1
The Gallery - Episode 1

The Gallery takes the classic adventure game genre, and brings it to room-scale VR. Along similar lines as Vanishing Realms, you not only walk around your physical space, but also move around the larger world by teleporting.

The popularity of adventure games fizzled out in the last decade or two, as attention spans shortened and the Internet made solving their puzzles just a few clicks away. But the genre could find a resurgence in VR, as slower-paced, atmospheric and story-driven titles can hold modern minds' interest better here than they would on 2D screens.

The Gallery - Episode 1 on Steam ($29.99)

The Lab

Valve's only self-made game at the Vive's launch, The Lab is a free series of VR mini-games for the Vive.

This is one of the best apps to use when showcasing the Vive for friends and family, as it introduces the basic concepts of room-scale VR, Chaperone boundaries, tracked controllers and teleporting.

The Lab on Steam (free)

Final Approach

Final Approach
Final Approach

Final Approach is the kind of game that doesn't sound very exciting, but once you try it you'll want to keep playing. It has you tracing flight paths for the little planes and helicopters flying around you (you're basically a flight control giant hovering over the airports, cities and aircraft carriers below you), trying to keep them all running as expected and avoid crashing them into each other.

There's something delightful about towering over your miniature world, walking around via room-scale VR, using your hands like a conductor to orchestrate the goings on of the teeny little aircrafts buzzing around you. It's a powerful feeling.

Final Approach on Steam (currently discounted to $29.99)

Selfie Tennis

Selfie Tennis
Selfie Tennis

Think Wii Sports' tennis, only much better because it uses the Vive's far superior controller tracking and room-scale VR. Oh, and instead of playing against a real or computer opponent, you're playing against yourself.

The game makes this work by teleporting you from one side of the net to the other, in the general area where the ball is heading. Since you're playing both sides, your goal isn't to win the match but to keep the back-and-forth volleys going as long as possible.

Oh, and you can cruelly abuse the cartoony tennis ball head characters hanging around the court. The game is more fun than you might imagine (and not a bad way to get a light workout).

Selfie Tennis on Steam ($19.99)

Fantastic Contraption

Fantastic Contraption
Fantastic Contraption

Also bundled with early Vive orders, Fantastic Contraption is a quirky engineering game where you build wacky vehicles to try to return a jelly ball to its home base (which is, naturally, a jelly wall).

The game works well with room-scale, as you walk around all sides of your contraption, placing wheels, resizing wooden axels and trying to get the right structure and balance to deliver the ball to the right spot in increasingly difficult maps.

Fantastic Contraption on Steam ($39.99)

Tilt Brush

Tilt Brush
Tilt Brush

The last of the three bundled games at launch, Tilt Brush is the Vive's paint app.

Drawing in a 3D space with a wide variety of traditional and psychedelic substances and patterns makes Tilt Brush one of the trippiest experiences you can have on the Vive (or, for that matter, anywhere else).

Tilt Brush on Steam ($29.99)

theBlu

theBlu
theBlu

If you attended a public demo of the Vive anywhere in the last year, there's a good chance you tried a short demo of theBlu; the demo had you walking around the deck of an underwater shipwreck as you encounter a blue whale who takes a mild interest in you. It's ultimately a game of scenic underwater eye candy.

The whale encounter is one of three settings/experiences in theBlu at launch, which requires a higher-end graphics card than the Vive itself does. We're using the Vive-minimum Nvidia GTX 970 card on our PC, and theBlu ran a little choppy in places (you'll see why when you see some of the incredible scenes in this one), so you'll only want to pay for this one if you have the recommended GTX 980 or better.

theBlu on Steam ($9.99)

For more on the best first-gen VR headset, you can read our full review of the HTC Vive.

5 comments
Milton
nice start, but I think it's going to take a lot higher level game to get me on board. Perhaps they should reach out to the creators of Chivalry to get some seriously fun FPV melee combat going.
Kristianna Thomas
Milton, I totally agree. These games are good for low level gamers, but they are not up to par for more serious gamers. I play WOW, Star Wars the Old Republic, and I don't see them on board yet. Steam is going full steam ahead, but there are way to many that have not jumped on the band wagon to make up for the void in the gaming universe. When more get on board (the love train) then we will see some real change in the universe, and then the price will come tumbling down for the gear and pc upgrades.
KarolisPolikša
I've been playing with VIVE for past few days. Its amassing piece of tech! But it really lacks the content as good as VALVE The Lab or The Gallery (haven't tried Hover Junkers yet). Space pirate trainer is really fun game, but also its too simple to get me playing it for hours. Oculus took a lot of good games under their brand and its really hurts VR. And I'm pretty sure VIVE is head above the Oculus experience. And I hope VALVE have prepared something big as Portal into VIVE. And I have a feeling they are working on it. It would make a lot of sense...
DurasnoPeach
I am not a gamer and am looking for educational type content for my Vive (sea and space locations, museums, etc.) Does anyone know where I can find a listing of ALL VIVE CONTENT?
DanielMarshall
I can't help but agree - My Vive arrived the same day Overwatch came out. The Vive is set up, but just sitting there until something good comes out. Overwatch is too much fun though, I'm expecting burnout or something soon.