Virtual Reality might be one of gaming’s most immersive ways to play but it remains a niche platform.
That’s mostly attributable to a high price barrier. Though efforts from Sony such as PlayStation VR and Facebook’s Oculus Quest have helped, the price still helps explain why AAA publishers are reluctant to invest in fully-fledged original experiences. As a result, much of the time, VR is incorporated as an optional experience within existing non-VR titles instead.
On the other side, developers have also adapted VR games to more conventional platforms, providing them a larger audience. Whether it’s launching with both options, porting to VR-less platforms, or patching in a desktop mode, the inclusion of both methods can make great experiences more widely accessible.
With some developers seeking to unify both audiences, here are some of the best examples we’ve seen yet for great non-VR games with must-play VR support.
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CCP Games have seen huge success with EVE Online. Released in 2003, EVE became renowned for its vast scale, seeing players compete for virtual supremacy and bringing some fascinating stories with it. Looking to branch out their universe, CCP then released VR title Eve: Valkyrie back in 2016, a multiplayer dogfighter with heavy emphasis on PvP missions. Over a year later, Valkyrie’s Warzone update was released, bringing a desktop mode that removed previous VR requirements. It’s campaign was sadly short-lived but bringing some enjoyable gameplay, it’s an exhilarating experience worth revisiting for quick space thrills.
Detached (PC / PC VR)
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Several studios have tried recreating the intensity of floating through outer space via virtual reality and back in 2017, Anshar Studios’ Detached was among them. Featuring PvP multiplayer as well as a separate campaign, it’s an incredibly lonely experience that saw you separated from your ship, left to explore an abandoned space station to survive. Its zero gravity antics proved nauseating in places and, trying to broaden its user base, Anshar developed a non-VR version in 2018, easing the experience but losing that immersion. With benefits to both formats, Detached proved an enjoyable title that’s worth looking into.
Five Nights At Freddy’s: Help Wanted (Switch Non-VR, PC / PC VR, PS4 / PSVR, and Quest)
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When Five Nights At Freddy’s launched in 2014, few expected it to become the hit sensation we see today. Originally developed by Scott Cawthon, this horror series saw you playing an overnight security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, trying to survive against a group of deadly animatronic characters. Spawning six main sequels, FNAF expanded into VR last year with Help Wanted, featuring 50 minigames based off its previous entries. It saw positive reception and quickly became a best-selling VR title but, not wanting to leave any fans out, developers released a non-VR release six months later, landing on PS4, PC and Switch.
The Invisible Hours (PC / PC VR and PS4 / PSVR)
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Tequila Works made a name for themselves most recently with Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son but back in 2017, they were hard at work releasing The Invisible Hours. Invited to a mysterious mansion by Nikola Telsa, each guest holds a murky past, many of whom are looking to make amends. Playing as disgraced detective Gustaf Gustav, we find Tesla has been murdered by another guest and it’s up to you to discover the truth. Receiving strong reviews, Tequila Works soon developed a non-VR version, releasing a free patch six months later and it proved just as satisfying.
The Persistence (PC / PC VR and PS4 / PSVR)
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The Persistence recently became a multiplatform release but two years ago, developers Firesprite made waves on PSVR with their former exclusive. Finding your spaceship stranded in deep space and overrun by demonic creatures, you played the crew’s sole survivor, Zimri Elder, trying to make it through this horrific onslaught. Incorporating FPS and roguelike mechanics, death is a minor obstacle, finding Zimri cloned back to life each time and no two playthroughs are identical, changing the spaceship layout on each run. Now withVR optional on PC/PS4, it’s a great choice for horror fans.
Tetris Effect (PS4 / PSVR, PC / PC VR, and Quest)
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Tetris should require no introduction to most. With differently shaped blocks known as Tetrominos falling downward, you aim to clear lines by filling them up, earning points for speed. Since arriving in 1984, Tetris has seen many different releases, but news of a VR version surprised many in 2018. Helmed by Rez producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, TetrisEffect retained the classic gameplay formula but split stages into three cinematic sections, activated by clearing a set number of lines. Bringing us stunning visuals and an excellent soundtrack, it launched with support for both VR and non-VR and comes highly recommended.
VRChat (PC / PC VR and Quest)
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It’s been three years since VRChat first launched but even now this free-to-play title retains a significant following. Featuring gameplay reminiscent of Second Life, VRChat is a user-driven experience, allowing players to create their own worlds, avatars and custom content. It may be surprising considering the name but VRChat isn’t limited to virtual reality, including a desktop mode so anyone can join, albeit with control limitations. Not every world caters to desktop users but ultimately, this experience comes down to you. Whether you’re looking to socialize, play some games or something else, there’s plenty of fun to be found.