In the festive spirit, I’m throwing this one out to everyone, though I’ve got my own ideas below. This is VR’s first Christmas. Over the next week we’ll be travelling back to family homesteads or welcoming others into our own. For many of us, it’s going to be the first chance to show off VR to our loved ones. We’ll frantically clear desks and shift tables to make room for room-scale, and load our rigs with the latest apps to proudly put on display.
But there’s a question. What are the best apps to show everyone this holiday season? What are the games and experiences that will ensure anyone that puts on an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR won’t soon forget it? I decided to come up with a little list, but I’d love to see what submissions everyone else has in the comments below. If you have an app that you think strikes a particular chord with VR first-timers, share it below. You might just make someone’s Christmas.
For The Uninitiated – Perfect (Rift, Vive, PS VR)
Perfect is actually the app that got me thinking about this article. nDreams latest release is not a game for anyone that actually bought a VR headset, but it is a great way to show them off to people with no prior knowledge of the tech, or even its foundations in gaming. It requires minimal input from the player, providing a fitting platform for those incredible few moments that you first see VR with your own eyes. Your granddad won’t soon forget it.
For The Family Gathering – The Playroom VR (PS VR)
If you want a VR game that will get the whole family playing together look no further than The Playroom VR, Sony Japan’s brilliant free mini-game collection that’s specifically designed to showcase its headset. Several of the games included here are sure to win over the crowds, incluing the excellent Monster Escape, which has players on a 2D screen running away from a beast controlled by the headset wearer. It’s VR at its most social.
For The Bedtime Story – Gnomes and Goblins (Vive)
Nothing beats an atmospheric, festive story, especially on Christmas Eve. If you want to send people off to sleep with a little extra magic this year, let them try Iron Man director Jon Favreau and Wevr’s memorable preview of its upcoming Gnomes and Goblins series, which has you befriend an adorable little critter that simply wants to eat. Though brief, its has the perfect mix of story and atmosphere to make for the perfect Christmas tale.
For The Action Fan – Superhot VR (Rift)
If you’ve got anyone in the household getting the latest Call of Duty for Christmas this year, then you simply have to show them Superhot VR [Review: 9/10]. It’s arguably the best FPS for VR yet, effortlessly capturing the intense rush of being the hero in your own action movie with the perfect blend of style and vulnerability. Time moves only when you do, and Superhot VR uses this to give you several Matrix-worthy moments that players won’t soon forget.
For The Art Lovers – Tilt Brush (Vive)
If you know someone that would be better suited making things in virtual reality than they would simply interacting with it, then Tilt Brush is the perfect app for them. Google’s painting app is beautifully intuitive. Using Vive’s wands, anyone can get the basic concept of Tilt Brush in just a few seconds, and set to work making their own pieces of art. If you don’t have a Vive, then we also recommend Medium and Quill on Oculus Rift with Touch.
For The Distraction – Minecraft (Rift, Gear VR)
Many children have spent their fair share of time in Minecraft by this point. But they’ve never seen it like they have inside VR, where the iconic blocks take on a 3D form and the world comes to life. You’ll need to make sure no little ones are getting over excited with your $599 Rift of course, but showing kids their favorite game inside the magic of VR is sure to make them a believer, and maybe an owner by this time next year.
For the Rollercoaster Riders – EVE: Valkyrie (Rift, Vive, PS VR)
EVE: Valkyrie has long been a poster child for the Oculus Rift, if not VR gaming as a whole, and it’s easy to see why. This is still the best VR experience to put you in the cockpit of a spaceship, and that will make it essential viewing for many people this holiday season. Put people in the free roam maps so they don’t have to worry about the pressures of multiplayer and they’re sure to have a blast.
Grand Prize Winner – Google Earth VR (Vive)
Without fail, everyone I show Google Earth VR comes out absolutely astonished. Ask people where their favorite place in the world is, don’t tell them a word about the app, and then get them to put a Vive on to find themselves towering above that location. It drops jaws every time, and people easily get to grips with the controls. If there’s one app you make sure you show people this Christmas, make it Google Earth VR.