The biggest misconception about virtual reality so far has been the idea that it would be isolating. Putting on a headset certainly does give off the impression of a one-person experience, but more and more we’re starting to find that the desire to share what we’re feeling means that virtual reality brings players closer to the group rather than pulling them apart. Get your couches and blankets ready for the audience; these VR games will have everyone hooked.
Right now, this game is just a demo. But it’s a solid demo. The first time we booted up Panoptic at Blue Door VR, we just planned on playing for a few minutes to test it out. We ended up playing “just one more round” over and over for an hour. In this PC versus VR game you can play either as a giant monolith-like eye, shooting lasers down on little unsuspecting figures, or as one of the figures. The goal for the VR player, the monolith, is to find and incinerate the PC player. The goal for the PC player is to hide among all the other identical people, disguising their movements long enough to make it to a target. As soon as you’ve played one role, you’ll want to try the other. As soon as you’ve done that, you’ll want to go again. The game sets a frantic energy in the room, with everyone rooting for each other to make it through, and is incredibly fun to play at a gathering. Just make sure to set one ground rule for the monolith; don’t abuse the glitch that lets you stick your head into the buildings!
Space Pirate Trainer
Space Pirate Trainer was an instant classic from first release. It looks great, the music is bright and energetic without being cloying, and because of its standard first-person-shooter format it’s easy for new players to pick up and enjoy. We’ve always had a great time jumping in to blast robots from a neon spaceport. The latest updates, though, have made it even better. SPT now has a “party mode” which takes the clutter off the start screen and a quick tutorial that gives players visual guides to using their weapons and shields. The cherry on top? New weapons and a power-up system. Make sure your players are wearing good jumping shoes (or have them go barefoot) and start a high-score board to amp up the excitement. You’ll be cheering in no time.
Trust me on this one: you want to be playing Vivecraft with your friends. This Minecraft mod is impossible to resist. This is a great game for the group that wants to sit back and relax, chatting and taking turns on the VR headset. There are moments of excitement and surprise when you fight monsters or encounter animals, but for the most part this is a low-key experience in much the same way the original PC game is. The familiarity of this more well-known game is a great way to bring guests together, as they experience the worlds of Minecraft in a new way.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
This game gets everyone- and I do mean everyone- involved. One player, wearing a VR headset, is presented with a bomb to disarm that only they can see. The audience is given bomb dismantling guides (available for free as PDFs), and like the classic action movie trope, have to talk the VR player through disarming the bomb. It tests your ability to cooperate and communicate, pressuring you in the best way to act as a team.
Tilt Brush isn’t strictly a game, but it does capture your imagination and attention. When you need a break from the dodging, shooting, and explosions of other VR experiences, it’s deeply satisfying to jump into this art program from Google. You’ll find out who the unexpected master painter in your midst is pretty quickly, but it’s just as fun for those of us who want to draw a smiley face in every different brush. With a big group, it can also be a great tool for a unique game of picturades.