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The scariest VR horror games to date

Virtual reality (VR) horror takes away the one degree of separation that lets you feel safe.
You’re no longer watching jump-scares happen to characters on the other side of a TV screen.You are hunted, isolated and alone, and you can’t look away; all you can do is run or die.But, not all VR horror is created equal. Out of the hundreds of games available on marketplaces like Steam, you’ll find indie and 4K graphics, psychological dread versus straight-up gore, and, if you know where to look, some spine-chilling gems amid more average fare.Look through our picks for the best horror VR games around, and decide for yourself just what level of claustrophobic terror you think you can handle.

Dreadhalls
Oculus Rift / HTC Vive / Gear VR, $10A great low-budget starting point for gauging your tolerance for VR horror, Dreadhalls doesn’t give you the crutch of a weapon to defend yourself. For each new game you must navigate randomly generated dungeons, never knowing which monsters or traps will pop up to thwart you. Worst of all, you’re armed with nothing but a lantern that burns out if you waste too much time hiding. (For more low-budget haunted house jump scares, try Affected: The Manor)

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
Playstation VR (PSVR), $15While the original, non-VR Until Dawn had a compelling story that played cleverly off of horror movie tropes, the VR edition is much more straightforward: what if you were attacked by a horde killer clowns on a roller coaster? You’ll have to learn to watch your peripheral vision as more and more terrifying monsters pop up in later levels. A great starting place for PS VR owners to get used to shooting mechanics and toughen up for the scarier games down the list.(Also consider a more narrative-driven VR game from Until Dawn’s developers: The Inpatient)

The Forest VR
Rift / Vive, $20You’re trapped in a mysterious, endless wilderness. You’ve built a shelter to defend yourself, scavenged food, crafted tools – and now that night as fallen, you know the monsters will be coming soon.No, I’m not talking about Minecraft. But Forest VR, an open-world survival horror game with single-player and multiplayer support, shows how terrifying a game like Minecraft can be given realistic graphics. The tension as you defend yourself against mutant cannibals will keep bringing you back for more. 

The Persistence
PSVR, $30This first person shooter, rogue-like. sci-fi/horror game fully expects players to die again and again. Each time you do, you’ll be 3D-printed back into existence with upgraded skills; unfortunately, the world itself will have been rearranged too, with new monsters ready to slay you all over again. It’s essentially Dead Space in VR, except that it’s better to stealth around your creepy mutant enemies than try to cut their limbs off; at least until you’ve survived long enough in this tense, claustrophobic setting to craft better weapons. (For another creepy shooter you’ll play and replay to find every ending, try Duck Season). 

The Brookhaven Experiment and/or Arizona Sunshine
Brookhaven: Oculus / PSVR / Vive, $20; Arizona: Oculus / PSVR / Vive, $40Two zombie shooter games, two very different approaches. You should pick whichever sounds more appealing.The Brookhaven Experiment plops players into the middle of a horde of zombies and has them mow them down in waves, frantically trying to conserve enough ammunition and upgrade weapons to survive to the end. You can’t move, so you’ll have to spin around in place to spot them as they silently approach through the dark.In Arizona Sunshine you’ll run around mowing down waves of zombies while dual-wielding weapons in the full light of day. While it really isn’t that scary, you do have mobility, actual campaign missions, co-op horde more and more that add to its replay-ability.

Wilson’s Heart
Oculus, $40This list has a lot of jumpscares, guns and zombies. But, for true Silent Hill-esque psychological terror and trickery, your only option is Wilson’s Heart. Cast in black and white, this game places you in the unfortunate shoes of a man trapped in a disturbing hospital, his heart literally missing, hoping to understand his predicament and find a way out. (For mobile VR users and X-Files fans, consider Dark Days.)

Resident Evil VII VR
PSVR, $30An easy choice for the best VR horror experience you can buy. Others might scare you more in small chunks, but this first-person game, originally made for consoles, clocks in at dozens of hours of content, with incredible graphics and a surprisingly compelling story outside of the usual zombies and mutations.(For a more action-heavy console-to-VR port that still has plenty of creepiness, try blowing up demons in Doom VFR.)

Bonus entry: Alien Isolation
Rift/ Vive, $40In VR space, everyone will hear you scream. This harrowing cat-and-mouse marathon between Ellen Ripley’s daughter and the Xenomorphs from Aliens doesn’t actually have a VR port. However, if you own the PC version of Alien: Isolation, you can use this mod to update the game files and make it VR-compatible. With motion control support recently added, you’ll truly feel like you’ve been fully inserted into the nightmare. And as with RE7, you’ll get dozens of hours of playtime out of this game (if you can last that long!).
Upcoming: Face Your Fears 2

The original Oculus-exclusive Face Your Fears forced you to do what it says on the tin, placing you in horrifying situations and then futilely asking you to bravely face them without flinching. Trust us, you will flinch.While the first game had you confront snakes, spiders, demon children and other monstrous scenarios, the upcoming sequel, due to launch on the Oculus Quest next spring, will probably up the fear factor, along with the graphics.
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The best multiplayer VR games

Virtual reality (VR) can sometimes make us feel isolated, cut off from your friends and familiar surroundings with only AI companions and enemies for company. That can make the experience more powerful and immersive – but also lonely. But, don’t despair and yank off that headset just yet! VR has a ton of multiplayer games available across most headsets, many with cross-platform support, so you’ll be able to play and chat with fellow VR enthusiasts around the world.Even family and friends who don’t own their own headsets can sometimes get in on the fun!Here are our current favorites for local and online multiplayer across a variety of genres.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Gear VR / Oculus Rift / Playstation VR / HTC Vive, $15The perfect game to play with your non-gamer family and friends, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is all about frantic communication and teamwork. One person isolated in a VR bubble must disarm a bomb; that person describes the bomb’s circuitry, and his or her teammates must find the solution and describe it back before time runs out.Each level gets more and more tricky, with things like confusing homonym passwords, mazes and Morse code, until your friendships will either dissolve into hatred or become stronger through shared struggle.

The Playroom VR
PSVR, FreeImagine Mario Party, but if every mini game was an asynchronous Bowser mini game, with one super-powered enemy fighting four plucky heroes. This free bundled PlayStation VR game basically makes the VR headset wearer Bowser, facing off against – or sometimes joining up with – everyone else staring at the TV sans headsets.In some games you’re a big cat hunting robot mice, or a massive sea creature throwing projectiles at fleeing bots. In another mini game everyone teams up to hunt down and vacuum up ghosts, Luigi’s Mansion-style. Whoever’s wearing the headset, though, everyone in the room will be cracking up together.

Rec Room
Rift / PSVR / Vive, FreeCurrently the most popular social VR app, Rec Room combines casual social hangout rooms with a variety of mini games – laser tag, dodge-ball, paintball, charades, etc. – and 3D creation tools for making your own games or social rooms. At its best Rec Room will let you meet and make new friends; at its worst, like any online forum, you’ll run into jerks and creeps. So, get the mute and block buttons ready, keep your kids and teenagers off of it unless you’re ready to constantly supervise, and consider more curated experiences like Facebook Spaces if you only want to hang out with friends you already know.

Tabletop Simulator
Rift / Vive, $20As someone who lives across the country from his old board gaming get-togethers, Tabletop Simulator in VR provides a pleasant way to hang out and compete with friends (or strangers) thousands of miles away.It officially only ships with 15 straightforward games, like chess and poker, but since the game released in 2014, community members have created thousands of digital versions of more modern favorites, like Settlers of Catan, Spirit Island Deluxe, Star Wars Armada, Gloomhaven, Betrayal on Haunted Hill, Secret Hitler, Munchkin and truly so many more.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Rift / PSVR / Vive, $20Ubisoft’s four-player cooperative VR game set in the Original Star Trek universe (or Next Generation if you buy the latest DLC) really gets to the heart of Star Trek’s mantra: working together to overcome any obstacle.Star Trek: Bridge Crew isn’t for the socially awkward, as you’ll need to communicate clearly and quickly with your three fellow Trekkies to beat back the Klingons and Borg or save the Kobayashi Maru crew. Ubisoft’s cross-play means you can play with friends on other types of headsets than yours, but even without VR-owning friends you’ll hopefully find a solid crew of strangers to boldly go together.

Echo Arena (+ Echo Combat)
Oculus, $10A free spin-off of the amazing Oculus-exclusive space adventure Lone Echo, Echo Arena throws players into zero-G with only rocket boosters and their fists, and tasks them with throwing a disc into the opposing goal. You’ll love coming up with tactics to outsmart or outmaneuver opponents – or just charging forward for a no-gravity boxing match with your Touch controls.Last month, developer Ready at Dawn will also released Echo Combat, which will ditch punching and frisbees for lasers and a payload to drag into the opposing base. It’s basically Ender’s Game brought into VR and looks amazing. Plus, anyone interested in starting up an eSports career should try building up their Echo skills, because Oculus will host tournaments in 2019.

Onward
Rift / Vive, $25Some people prefer ultra-precise realism in their tactical shooters to cartoonish or sci-fi action. For those people, 5v5 Mii-Sim tactical shooter Onward is truly the best option available. Whether you’re in a multiplayer match or a co-op skirmish against bots, constant communication with your squad is vital to success. With a dedicated fan base, you’ll never have to wait long to hop into a match. 

DiRT Rally
Rift / PSVR / Vive, $40Picking just one racing VR game is nearly impossible, and mostly up to personal preference. Assetto Corvo may be the most realistic-feeling sim for true car enthusiasts. Wipeout Omega Collection is a great F-Zero-esque choice for PS VR users, iRacing provides the best head-to-head online multiplayer for skilled racers, and the Tron-like endless racing arcade game Distance is a fast-paced good time.But DiRT Rally arguably takes the cake for overall most enjoyable experience, with the most exciting race courses and user experience. You can race directly against opponents in rally cross mode or compete against leader boards and friends’ times. 

Other great games to check out:
Altspace VR (Social)Cloudlands: VR Minigolf (Sports)Creed: Rise to Glory (Sports)Elite: Dangerous (Space simulator)Minecraft VR (Survival/ exploration)Pavlov VR (Shooter)Payday 2 VR (Heist shooter)Sports Bar VR (Social/minigames)Raw Data (sci-fi shooter)Robo Recall (sci-fi shooter)
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VR films: the future of cinema?

It’s safe to say that Hollywood has begun to embrace virtual reality (VR).
Big-name directors have all rushed to try their hands at this new film-making format. Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow created an anti-poaching VR doc The Protectors in 2017, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu actually won an Oscar for his VR installation Carne y Arena. Ridley Scott and Robert Rodriguez are also heading up their own projects.Other directors have invested in VR companies. Steven Spielberg was one of many investors who backed Dreamscape Immersive, a free-roam, shared-experience VR theater. Unfortunately, not every VR film venture has achieved success. IMAX launched several VR theaters in major US cities in 2017 and began developing high-end VR cameras with Google; a year later, IMAX has shuttered two VR theaters and Google halted its camera partnership to focus on augmented reality (AR) instead. Disney’s VR startup, Jaunt XR, also chose to pivot to AR and was forced to lay off employees. Facebook also shut down its VR filmmaking wing Oculus Story Studio, though the Story Studio team then chose to found their own studio, Fable. Overall, the story of VR films thus far has been one of hype, optimism, and, sometimes, financial roadblocks.VR has an undeniable future in the film industry. But will VR follow the path of 3D films – an explosive rise followed by a slow loss of relevance – or will it become the go-to film format in the years to come?

VR directing: a whole new medium
Last year, I attended a VR filmmaking talk at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Doug Liman – director of The Bourne Identity – talked about the thrills and challenges of shooting his VR TV series, Invisible. There were a fair number of challenges.Liman said they had to re-envision cinematography, determining which Hollywood camera techniques – like zooms or jump cuts – could work without disorienting or nauseating the viewer. He continued on that, because there’s no “behind” a VR camera, he had to direct his actors from a distance, and that unlike in 2D he couldn’t edit footage to hide one actor’s bad take. They even tried to segment the film sets, so that if the audience’s eyes wandered from the main action, they would only look at a select few locations. That’s why so many famous directors have chosen VR for their latest projects: it’s an opportunity to be the first to discover a new cinematic technique in a new film-making medium.

Costs and demand
Of course, another reason VR attracts big-name directors is that filming high-quality VR movies can come with a significant price tag. Beyond the usual costs of making a movie – hiring production staff and actors, post-production effects, etc. – buying specialized 360-degree cameras and hiring staff to stitch together video can cost upwards of “$10,000 per finished minute” of footage, according to the Hollywood Reporter.With that much money going to tech costs, it’s more difficult for filmmakers to afford the talented actors that could bring VR further into the mainstream.Whether or not that number is completely accurate, it remains true that VR films tend to be shorter and more expensive to make than traditional films. This makes it harder to charge consumers for them; people will pay $20 to watch a two-hour movie, but will they pay $5 for a 10-minute experience? VR films also lack the reliable continued revenue streams that 2D films rely on to make a profit. Hollywood studios first release films in theaters, after which they rake in money from Blu-Ray sales, and then from licensing their films to subscription services like Netflix or HBO. Subscription services for VR content are relatively scarce thus far, and can tend to focus on VR games instead. And as mentioned above, VR theaters are still a new and limited enterprise.Still, VR filmmakers believe the medium can only grow once they can offer buyers longer content. This year, for example, Vive Studios produced a 70-minute VR film called 7 Miracles that depicted Jesus Christ through the lens of the Gospel of John. 

How VR films could grow and change
Of course, no one at present should actually be sitting 70 minutes straight inside of a headset. Oculus recommends you take a “10 to 15 minute break for every 30 minutes” of VR. But, outside of bringing back movie intermissions, how will filmmakers make VR films experiences that people will buy and enjoy for hours at a time?The natural improvement of VR technology will certainly help. As future headsets improve in graphical quality, frame rates and physical comfort, longer VR sessions will be less prone to eye strain and nausea.Plus, obviously, the more people who choose to buy VR headsets, the more likely that the VR platform will be profitable enough that filmmakers see it as an attractive option. But filmmakers will also need to decide why their long film needs to be in virtual reality. VR has been called an “empathy machine”, helping us fully immerse ourselves in the world of the film; but will viewers want to sit passively in their worlds, or will they want to actively change and influence that world?Some VR films, such as Oculus’s upcoming episodic Star Wars series Vader Immortal, bill themselves as being “interactive”, where the viewer’s choices influence the path of the story – like a choose-your-own-adventure novel or Telltale video game. Some traditional filmmakers might balk at the idea of viewers controlling their stories, wanting to instead stick to one 360-degree narrative. But creating a VR film that users will want to watch and re-watch may be the best way to convince consumers to buy them.Regardless of how VR films grow, however, VR will likely have a powerful influence on Hollywood films for years to come. 

Steven Spielberg wore a VR headset to try and envision his Ready Player One world. And Variety reported that Disney employs a VR software called Cardinal that automatically generates VR storyboards out of scripts, helping directors to envision their world during the pre-production stage. It’s difficult to predict how VR films and technology will grow in the next few years, and how VR companies will find a way to profit off of them and pay back their investors. But we’re fairly confident that the technology will have a significant impact on cinema’s future.
Supported content on TechRadar means the article has been created in partnership with a developer, publisher, manufacturer or other relevant party. When you see this disclosure note in an article, it means that the article idea has been approved by another company – a developer, hardware maker, or publisher – but that otherwise the content is planned, written, and published by TechRadar without any further approval. This is distinct from sponsored content on TechRadar, which is created entirely by a third party, and not the TechRadar editorial team.

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