PC VR, The Future is Here!

I’ve been somewhat of a (PC) VR fanboy for the past year or four and I can’t help but share that with everyone. I can’t get you up to speed with EVERYTHING ever released since 2015 which marked the debut of modern VR but here’s some basic information to get you started, starting from the currently relevant hardware manufacturers (in the PC space which is my primary interest, PSVR is cool for what it is but could have been so much more if they didn’t retrofit the lacking Move technology for it)! Anyway, here goes.

Valve with their Index stuff, lighthouse base stations (impeccable room scale/controller tracking), high quality HMD (what you stick your head in), and superb controllers with touch and force sensing. You may mix and match the components of other companies utilizing the lighthouse system.

Oculus with their Rift line of products, initially the Rift which used external cameras for the tracking and now the Rift S and stand-alone Quest which use multiple cameras mounted on the HMD for tracking and, before Index came along, the best VR controllers yet (which have proven very forward compatible).

HTC with the Vive line ranging from the basic to the Pro Eye. Their older stuff use Valve’s lighthouse system (v1.0, compatible with 2.0) but basic wand controllers. The newer Cosmos and Focus are VERY Rift S/Quest esque but so far unable to provide equally high quality tracking.

Various companies as part of Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality initiative offer products similar to the Rift S, all using the same HMD mounted 2-camera tracking and Microsoft’s own controller. Again, not as capable in tracking yet potentially cheaper or with a better HMD, it all varies.

Pimax which aims to offer super high resolution and high field of view HMDs, as well as now working on their own Index-like controllers. They can use Valve’s lighthouse tracking solution also.

Many more companies offer products for specific niches, like super high resolution HMD with XTAL or all kinds of location based VR solutions, or advancements in specific fields like light fields, hand or body tracking, body suits with force feedback, or essentially whatever else you can think of.

Games and software are on a variety of stores like Valve’s Steam which (generally) any PC VR hardware can use via SteamVR/OpenVR, HTC’s Viveport which is becoming platform-agnostic itself, and the Oculus Store which only (officially) works for Oculus hardware (there are fan made ways though, like Revive).

Here are some of the VR focused (or at least heavily dabbling in VR) websites and channels I check:


General gaming media sadly seem to only post about VR in a clickbaity or very surface level manner, often ignoring major breakthroughs, news, products and publicizing (or advertising) the worst of it, similar to how some random newspaper’s ignorant tech column’s gaming talk can easily make you cringe.

Here are some random (ish) videos showing off a glimpse of the gameplay possibilities in virtual reality.

The last explains basic methods of locomotion in 3D space in VR though it’s quite old and misses some.

Personally when I’m asked about the hardware I tell people that if they have the money to burn Index is the best and a premium product (there were kinks with the Index controllers but Valve has been quick to replace them for those affected as far as I know), if they can afford half that or less then the Oculus Rift S or the Oculus Quest (now that it too can connect to PC, though it’s not as comfortable, its portability and stand alone aspects can push you toward it) offer the best price/performance/quality ratio, and if they’re strapped for cash then a Windows Mixed Reality kit makes some hefty compromises in the range of the hand tracking but is still good enough for most games and you can often find formerly premium products like the Samsung Odyssey heavily discounted depending on your region. Folks still need to ensure any of this will work for them first given aspects like pupilary distance they all handle differently of course.

I myself have an Oculus Rift (not S) with 3 trackers for 360 degree somewhat room scale VR (mostly just standing, my play area is small) and don’t yet see a reason to upgrade, it’s not obsolete until we can get vastly better controllers, resolution and new features like eye tracking for an equally modest price if you ask me. The only older hardware I find truly obsolete are the Vive wand controllers as they weren’t the most well thought out design in terms of inputs, but people with a Vive can upgrade to the Index controllers (which are quite costly) without replacing the rest of their gear so they’re basically all set too.

Moving past all this, the game I’m currently playing the most is The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. It’s not a game without flaws but it gets so many things right. It’s neither a tech demo, nor a lousy excuse for a physics sandbox like other recently hyped releases and shows some actual game design know-how. Outside of a few mistakes that the developers have been quick to start addressing, it’s been a great immersive sim-esque experience that shows game design knowledge accumulated over the past decades of 3D gaming can apply in VR despite the different interface as it alone doesn’t make for good, fun games.

Feel free to look up these other great games I tend to recommend to new or not so new users. Some of them can be seen in videos in the original post but most you’ll have to search on Steam or Oculus Store. Of course it’s impossible to convey the feel of VR in footage, some cool mixed reality clips do try though.

Budget Cuts is a stealth puzzle adventure with nicely integrated teleport mechanics and a new sequel.

Apex Construct is a sci fi action adventure game with archery systems at its core.

Stormland is an open world shooter, more limited than it seems at first but still fun as hell.

The Thrill of the Fight is a boxing sim, if less fancy than the gamey Creed and its Rocky license.

Pistol Whip is the new kid on the rhythm game block, I love it like it’s a funky musical Virtua Cop-like.

In Death is an archery based rogue-lite I spent many hours in early on despite the limited scope.

SUPERHOT VR is a puzzle action shooter with cool slow motion mechanics. Be like Neo!

Racket Fury is a very polished table tennis game, the realism was surreal at first despite the sci fi.

Catch & Release is a fishing game. Who doesn’t like fishing? I want Twilight Princess fishing in VR now.

Moss is a third person action adventure, you lead a sword wielding mouse as if in a diorama of a fairy tale.

Space Junkies is a PVP zero gravity arena FPS, like Quake in space, great for some instant action.

Ultrawings is a flight game, not quite a sim, maybe a bit like pilot wings, goals and stuff to get through.

Windlands 2 is an action adventure with not-web-swinging and archery, it’s also co-op capable.

Vox Machinae is a PVP mech combat game with awesome cockpits, there are some co-op elements too.

Raw Data is probably the best of the arena/wave shooters with different classes, progression & co-op.

Onward is my favorite “standard” FPS, PVP focused, some co-op & the best feel for weapons/gadgets.

Lone Echo is a must play astronaut adventure, the free PVP Echo VR and $10 Combat DLC rock too.

Red Matter is another sci fi adventure with a different spin than the above and great interactions.

Blade & Sorcery has the best physics based melee combat but doesn’t yet have progression etc.

There are many great early access games as above, I really like where Vengeful Rites is going as a VR RPG action adventure for example, sword wielding, spell casting, the works, I also really like VTOL VR which is a fairly ugly and clearly indie combat flight simulator that has superb interactive cockpits and there’s also the free-for-now A Township Tale alpha to try for some online rpging/surviving/crafting.

There are also ports of non-VR games or games that are both for VR and for regular play, which are done very well, as long as you like the base games. Titles like Skyrim VR, Elite Dangerous, DiRT Rally, No Man’s Sky, PayDay 2, IL-2 Surmovik: Battle of Stalingrad and others were converted very well. Some like Fallout 4 VR weren’t as successful however so caution is necessary. Others have been converted by fan modifications, MotherVR is a great mod for Alien Isolation, without hand tracking, while the same creator is working on ReclaimerVR, a mod for Halo: The Master Chief Collection that will include hand tracking this time! There are also mods for classic FPS like Doom (up to 3) and a ton more stuff including fan games like Project Stardust (knock on wood for none of them to get C&D, hehe).

All that before even getting to apps like VorpX which convert almost any non VR game to VR, either in cinema modes, with or without stereoscopic 3D, or with true headtracking capabilities (but retaining their non VR control schemes). It’s not quite my thing, if there are no hand interactions I don’t see much point in VR with the exception of vehicular cockpit based games. I’ve not invested in VorpX for that reason and prefer fan mods that enhance games more thoroughly as proper VR adaptations. EmuVR is the exception and only for its lightgun support. There’s also 3dSen VR which weirdly converts NES games to both 3D and VR but again it’s not for me. The point is, there are basically no limits to what people do with VR.

I’ve been obsessed with VR for the past couple of years as well. I’ve played some great PC games as well as Gamecube, Wii and N64 games in Full VR, using the Dolphin VR emulator. I’ve also used a separate program called VorpX to play many non-VR games in VR like:

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Half-Life 2

I’ve also been using Virtual Desktop found in the Oculus and Vive store along with a program called ReShade to play many older games in VR/3D using various emulators like: Wii U, PS2, PlayStation, Saturn and N64. I’ve palyed all of the Panzer Dragoon games in 3D using my Oculus headset. Here is my setup guide for ReShade:

And some of the best Oculus games I’ve played from the Oculus store:

Windlands 2
Rez Infinite
Lone Echo
The Gallery Series
The Mage’s Tale
Twilight Path
Super Hot VR
Vanishing Realms
Eclipse: Edge of Light
Doctor Who the Edge of Time
Vader Immortal Episodes 1, 2 and 3

But best of all, I’ve been religiously playing Wii, Gamecube, and N64 games in full VR using an emulator called Dolphin VR. Here is my setup guide:

Here is an example showing Skies of Arcadia:

Can’t wait, gonna be so good.

You can reserve it on steam right now to get 10% off!

Apparently the game being announced caused a considerable increase in sales of the Valve Index . It seems like this game is already a system seller, something VR in general is in need off. I still only have a PS VR but Sony’s headset is in need of an upgrade on the PS5 if it wants to stay in the competition.