The best free VR games you can play on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

Whether you’re new to VR or a grizzled veteran of the virtual battlefield, it’s always nice to set aside your wallet for a little while and take a walk on the wild side of VR titles, where everyone wins and the money doesn’t matter.

With that in mind, we’ve created a list of some of the best free VR games on the market. These titles aren’t necessarily going to fit into your VR hall of fame, but they are more than fun to download, enjoy for the experiences they offer, and then set aside until you’re either introducing someone new to VR, or just want a chance to escape to another world for a little while.

These games are generally great for newcomers because they offer a simple, fun way to get your toes wet in the VR world and give you a taste of what VR has to offer without breaking the bank. Plus, there’s more than a few free gems out there that might find a permanent home on your hard drive.

Waltz of the Wizard

Available on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Anyone that’s had a VR headset for a while has probably given Waltz of the Wizard a run through a time or two. It’s a short VR experience that’s probably best described as Job Simulator for a professional wizard.

Despite being a free VR game, there’s quite a bit to do in Waltz of the Wizard. And, like Job Simulator, it falls into that beautiful genre of VR games that allow you to do pretty much anything your little wizard heart desires. Once you load into the world, you’ll be presented with a host of wizarding tools set out on a table before you, all of which can be picked up, played with, and tossed aside as soon as boredom strikes.

The main meat of the game revolves around combining a selection of ingredients in a large pot in front of you to create various spells, all under the carefully sarcastic tutelage of a familiar-looking talking skull. With the right combination of ingredients, you’ll be able to grow to the size of a giant, create an orchestra of spinning objects, turn various items into your personal Mickey Mouse-style servants, and experience an interesting twist on the curse of Midas that’ll give you a taste of some of the visual magic of VR.

The deeper part of the game revolves around a series of small but atmospheric events you can trigger using a magical xylophone and various clues you find while experimenting with your spells and wizarding tools. All of which are mildly entertaining, and that give enough variance to the game to make it more than worthwhile to keep around to impress people strapping on a headset for the first time.

Google Earth VR

Available on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Another popular choice in the VR community, Google Earth VR is the answer to the question, “What would it be like to go there?” Imagine a program that uses the power of Google Earth to walk you down the streets of your childhood home, gaze at the vistas of Moscow, or stand on the tip of the Eifel Tower for the sheer joy of exploration.

Google Earth VR gives you these opportunities and many, many, more. It’s the ultimate exploration fantasy, and although it can’t perfectly capture the grand scope of going in person, it’s bloody close, and it feels freaking amazing.

Google Earth VR gives you a chance to fly over the Grand Canyon, swoop through the streets of San Francisco, and perch on the edge of Stonehenge. It’s an opportunity that only VR can offer.

It’s important to note that, although a lot of areas are depicted in 2D, a surprisingly large number of towns, cities, and landmarks are 3D rendered with high-resolution photos wrapped perfectly to their frames, which gives you the sensation of actually walking down the streets of Dublin with surprising clarity. This is VR game that, if you haven’t already downloaded, you need to right now; it’s worth every second.

Deadly Hunter VR

Available on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Tower defense games and VR seem like a match made in heaven, especially when they encourage you to snatch up a bow and a pile full of bombs to get your hands dirty Orcs Must Die-style. Deadly Hunter VR does just that, although the Orcs you’re facing down in this particular ball of virtual reality goodness are far from the loveable idiots we’re used to slicing, dicing, and covering in tar.

Despite being a free title, there’s a heck of a lot of content in this tower defense game. As you progress, you’ll find yourself upgrading your traps, designing lethal death corridors, and sniping the heads off of orcs with surprising speed and efficiency, all while competing against other players on the leaderboards for the best possible score.

It’s a lot of fun, and with multiple levels and over ten different enemy types, a quality archery system that’s easy to figure out and exciting to master, and over four hours of fun to be had, it’s honestly hard to believe that this game is free. Fortunately it is, so there’s almost no reason not to at least give it a shot, if you're like the hundreds of other players that have given this game a rave review, you'll have found one of the true hidden gems of the free VR genre. The only downside is that there aren’t more games like it to fill up my hard drive.  

Farlands

Available on the Oculus Rift

If you’ve ever wanted to be the star of an alien Pixar film crossed with Spore and Animal Crossing, Farlands has you covered. Unfortunately, this VR game is only offered for the Oculus Rift, but because it’s also free, many if not all sins are forgiven.

Farlands places you in the shoes of a researcher sent to a far-off planet where you must scan, befriend, and culture a wide variety of gorgeously animated creatures. You’ll be able to feed, play with, and in general interact with a number of alien creatures that are as diverse as they are interesting.

Although not necessarily the kind of experience that will keep you interested for long, Farlands offers a massive amount of content in the sheer number of creatures you can find and care for. It encourages you to constantly return to visit new creatures, rank up, and unlock new things to scan and interact with, making it a great game for newcomers to the genre, and also fitting into a narrow category of VR games that are decidedly kid friendly.

Organ Quarter (Pre-Alpha Demo)

Available on the HTC Vive

In contrast to Farlands, Organ Quarter’s Pre-Alpha Demo is far from kid friendly, but exactly the kind of game you should play in a well-lit room with friends nearby to pass you a change of pants. Organ Quarter’s Pre-Alpha Demo is a surprisingly good indie VR game that shows off how truly scary VR can be when it isn’t bombarding you with cheap jumpscares.

Think of Organ Quarter as a VR version of Silent Hill that ripped apart Cry of Fear, Penumbra, and Resident Evil: Biohazard to get at all the best gooey gameplay elements. The graphics are a downgrade from most triple A horror titles, but you’re in a world that really doesn’t like you, with limited ammo and supplies, and a crazy bastard that felt the need to create relatively complex puzzles and horrifying monsters to keep you from sleeping well at night. What’s not to love?

The demo itself is only a few hours long, but if you’re a fan of horror games it’s more than worth a download, especially considering the full version of the game is due to release sometime in the next few months.

Accounting

Available on the HTC Vive

Speaking of games that are far from kid friendly, it’s time to talk about Accounting, possibly one of the most humorous free VR games ever, vomited out of the mind of Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland. As you would expect, the humor falls pretty much in line with Roiland’s television hit, and as a result falls pretty much in line with the kid friendly stylings you might expect from say, a Velociraptor on acid.

Accounting’s gameplay is fairly on rails, following directions, realizing the directions are worthless, exploring on your own, and then realizing the directions are now tired of you ignoring them so they’re now actually useful.

From there it devolves pretty quickly from an interesting VR experience, to an absolutely hilarious VR experience, to a disturbingly hilarious VR experiences. It’s really something you have to see to understand. Expect long rants that don’t mean much, an extremely reactive and intuitive world, and having to face the moral consequences of your actions, even if you have no other choice.

The only thing that’s absolutely certain about this experience is that if you loved Rick and Morty, you’re going to absolutely love Accounting. Even if it takes you less than an hour to finish.

Again, not kid friendly, and not something to play with your mother, but still a great VR game, just in case that wasn’t clear.  

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