The HTC Vive is the brainchild of a collaboration between HTC, consumer electronics company, and Valve, the company behind the game distribution platform Steam, and (occasional) game developers. The point is, the Vive is very much designed around Steam. This offers the Vive a wide selection of games and experiences to choice from. However, a good amount of these experiences are little more than tech demos for the Vive's features. That's why I'm here to let you know about the truly stellar ones, at least in this writer's opinion.
The Vive has a metric ton of first-person survival shooters, but the best bang for your buck is definitely Space Pirate Trainer. Did you ever see the Matrix? How about Star Wars? Did you ever dream about shooting down wave after wave of merciless droids? If not, you're probably a robot yourself. However, for all my human readers, Space Pirate Trainer is a dream come true. But enough gushing, let's get down to what makes this game special. Firstly, it offers a wide variety of play styles, and I'm not just talking about the variety of blasters available. As of writing, you can duke it out with shields, guns, grenade launchers, and even a laser sword-- Lightsaber. It's a lightsaber! Woo! And since you can wield any of these weapons in either hand, any combination is possible, from going all John Wick on some bots to turtling down beneath two shields. One of my personal favorite combinations is dual-wielding two laser swords. Because what's cooler than being a Space Pirate? Being a Space NINJA. Also, the visuals are gorgeous, the music really gets your blood pumping, and the global leaderboard keeps you coming back to beat your old high score. To be completely honest, I could write a whole article just on this game, but I've got four more to get through, so I'll have to save it for another day.
Let's not beat around the bush here. Windlands is Spiderman in VR. And it's freaking awesome. Yes, this game is available outside of VR, but using the Vive's hand controllers to catapult yourself across the landscape is an experience like no other. In Windlands, you have, more or less, complete freedom to explore the floating ruins of an ancient civilization with your two grappling-hook-hand-things. While the VR experience is unarguably more enjoyable, movement is a little difficult at first with the Vive's touchpad. Still, I prefer it to the teleportation movement system utilized in most Vive games right now. Anyway, the real hook (pun intended) of the game is the use of your grappling tools to launch from tree to tree. The feeling of swinging through the canopy and building up momentum is unmatched. Just as a warning though, this game may cause vertigo in some people, as you do move pretty quickly.
Admittedly, Richie's Plank Experience is a much more casual experience than the other games on this list. However, there is no better way to introduce someone to VR. It's the perfect mix between interactivity, beautiful scenery, and realistic movement, showcasing everything that makes VR special. Once you tire of seeing your friends refuse to walk off of a virtual plank, Richie's Plank Experience even offers some secondary game modes, such as a skywriting mode or a firefighting mode in which you can explore the detailed city, putting out fires. And at only eight dollars, it's a relatively cheap introduction into the world of Virtual Reality.
Sometimes, you want to go on an epic quest, full of twists and stunning locales. And sometimes, you just wanna screw around with cool guns. H3 is for the second camp. Although the premise basically amounts to "VR firing range", H3 offers a deceptively long lifespan. There's too many guns to count, different areas with which to use said guns, and a variety of challenges to hone your skills with said guns. The use of these weapons is very detailed and complex, and therein lies some of H3's problems. It can be a bit difficult to discover all the functions, and I've spent 15 minutes just trying to figure out how to shoot some guns. But if you're open to a little trial and error, H3 is a polished game that can provide for a surprisingly cathartic experience.
Okay, so maybe this one is a bit of a tech demo. But! It's an extremely well-done tech demo. Basically, you mix a bunch of ingredients into a cauldron, and each combination provides you with a different effect, from growing into a towering giant to chucking fireballs. The environment isn't a bore either, with interesting items to interact with, like a magical xylophone portal or an enchanted suit of armor with whom you can toss back and forth a chattering human skull. There's also plenty of secrets, for the more inquisitive warlocks. While probably the most short-lived on this list, it's also free, unlike many other games available on Steam with a similar, and sometimes lesser, level of depth.