The Entire VR Industry in One Little Email
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Single-player games can immersive and rewarding, but when the campaign is done and all the AI foes have been slain, you need to know when you finally hit that ‘multiplayer’ button that can play with actual human beings. Here we take a look at multiplayers games that will let you play together—be it on PC VR headsets through Steam or Oculus, or on PlayStation VR.
VR’s overall playerbase—even across the major headsets—is still a pretty small community in contrast to console/PC gaming. So while the multiplayer lobbies won’t be busting at the seams like you’re used to in flatscreen games, you’re still bound to find a group of casuals, die-hards, and try-hards populating the servers.
Here’s what we think are the best cross-compatible games for Rift, Vive, Index, or Windows MR players on PC, and for console players on PSVR. You’ll find a longer explanation below our top 5 list detailing more about PSVR cross-play (spoiler: there’s only a few).
5 – Sparc
CCP’s 1v1 sports game Sparc was their last virtual reality title before shuttering their VR studios late last year. While CCP has basically called it quits on VR for now, there’s still plenty of reasons to pick up Sparc if you’re looking to connect up with a buddy.
Sparc is by all measures a great game, but it’s even greater that you can play mano-a-mano against any one of your VR headset owning goons you call friends. Sparc suffers from the same issue as many cross-platform VR games though, i.e. no support for friends lists outside of the platform you’re on, but you can always host a game and hope for matchmaking serendipity—the silver lining to a smaller user base means you’ll probably be able to match up with your friend easily.
4 – Catan VR
Catan VR (2018) brings the best-selling board game Settlers of Catan to pretty much every VR headset out there, with dedicated community of players on PC VR headsets, PSVR, Oculus Go and Gear VR. You’re certain to meet Catan-lovers from all over the world, so who knows how your game will improve or what friends you’ll make along the way.
Although online play is the main focus of Catan VR, there’s also a single-player mode with ‘Catan AI Personalities’, which were designed with guidance from Catan creator Klaus Teuber.
3 – Space Junkies
Space Junkies (2019) is a team shooter from Ubisoft’s Montpellier studio that puts you into zero-g for some pretty familiar Unreal Tournament-style action. Although Ubisoft pulled the plug on development only a few months after the sci-fi arcade-style shooter was released, there’s still a sizable chunk of meat on the bones here, making it one of VR’s most finely-polished and fun team shooters out there.
Full cross-play adds some disparity in input; PSVR players could technically have a leg up on the competition due to DualShock 4 allowing for quicker target acquisition, although you may just find dual-wielding with motion controllers way easier and ultimately more satisfying.
2 – Star Trek: Bridge Crew
You don’t have to be a Trekkie (or Trekker) to see why sitting at the bridge of a star ship, cooperatively taking down hostile aliens is a really engrossing way to lose an entire afternoon/evening. With its 4-player multiplayer, you can go through the game’s half-dozen campaign missions, or alternatively experience an infinite number of procedurally-generated missions in the company of other PC VR and PSVR-owners.
Created by Ubisoft’s Red Storm Entertainment, Star Trek: Bridge Crew is worth it if only to say you’ve been where no man’s gone before.
1 – Rec Room
Social apps are a fun way to talk and interact with people in VR, but if you don’t have something fun to do while you’re actually there, the novelty ultimately wears off. Anti Gravity’s Rec Room is a great way to experience fun activities like paintball or dodge ball, but the real meat of the game likes in their co-op ‘Quests’ and PvP battle royale game Rec Royale. Of course all of this is served up in a lovable cartoony environment while you have a chat with people from all over the world, or just your best buddies if you so choose. Did we mention it was free. Yeah, we can’t believe it either.
Rec Room isn’t only a great game, but it allows all players regardless of platforms to meet up, create friends and sally forth to take on all activities without the issues we mentioned above.
Healthy Playerbases, Cross-compatibility Issues
Let’s face it: there aren’t many other cross-play multiplayer titles that currently work on all three major headsets. It’s a fact we’ve been living with since the headsets launched in 2016, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better due to two very real roadblocks outside of the friends list issue a large portion of cross-platform games suffer from. While platform exclusives wall out a large percentage of would-be users, the ugly truth is studios simply aren’t going head-first into VR multiplayer games like they once were. Time after time, VR games that primarily feature multiplayer support have fallen to the wayside because of low hourly active user numbers, and perfectly fun games like Werewolves Within and Eagle Flight stand as testament to this.
If you buy a game and the servers aren’t populated with players, you probably won’t wait around too long for a match; it creates a vicious cycle that tends to spell the death of a game if a hardcore playerbase isn’t built-in due to things like active Discord servers or subreddits to keep people engaged outside of the matchmaking screen.
Thankfully for SteamVR headsets owners, Steam is a great resource for guaranteed cross-play on multiplayer titles; many games available through Steam offer VR support for Rift, Vive, Valve Index, and Windows VR pretty much on a de facto basis. Conversely, with a SteamVR headset and ReVive at your disposal, many Oculus Rift multiplayer titles are technically cross-play capable if you’re looking to hack your way in. It’s a pretty strange way of vaulting over the friends list roadblock, but entirely feasible if you’re motivated.
Update (January, 20th 2020): We’ve done a long-due overhaul of the list reflecting the latest developments in the games, and their cross-play abilities. We’ll be periodically updating this list as new games come out.
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