You’ve beaten Half-Life: Alyx, now what? More great VR games to try
If you’re one of the million or so people that bought a VR headset to experience Valve’s long-awaited return to the Half-Life franchise then you’re probably wondering, “what do I play next?”
Good question. There’s a good mix of high profile and indie games worth your time if you enjoyed Alyx and I’ll be making some recommendations on where to go next once you’re ready to venture beyond City-17.
For more VR content, check out Newegg's VR Central.
Vertigo: Remastered - Zulubo Studios ($25)
This is closer to the Portal side of the Valve spectrum with its sharp humor, exploration, and puzzle-solving sprinkled with a dash of combat. You find yourself sucked into a parallel universe and a sprawling underground research lab. You find the corridors and offices of the Planck Interdimensional Quantum Reactor are overrun with homicidal security robots and all manner of hostile aliens.
You’ll have to make your way through the facility ala Half-Life and reach the surface if you ever want to get back home. Everything from the UI to the gameplay is tight and you’ll want to scour over every level so you don’t miss a gag or hidden bit of quantum juice (used for upgrades).
Zach Tsiakalis-Brown, a Valve alum and just 20-years-old, is the head of Zulubo Studios and shows incredible promise already in his body of work. He even produced the very excellent soundtrack for the game. Brown announced last summer that Vertigo 2 is in the works and slated for 2020. You can play a demo of the sequel here.
Boneworks - Stress Level Zero ($30)
This needs almost no introduction as you’ve likely heard of the highly acclaimed sci-fi action shooter. If not, here’s the run-down. You step into the shoes of a security administrator for the shadowy Monogon corporation. You’ll dive into their virtual operating system to uncover a dark secret hidden within. There are also lots of guns in there, for some reason.
While it’s a bit light on story the gunplay is bar-none one of the most impressive demonstrations of how far VR has come. Once the muscle memory kicks in you’ll be dual-wielding Glocks and blasting through enemies like a virtual John Wick. References to Half-Life are made throughout, complete with crowbars and robotic headcrabs.
The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners - Skydance Interactive ($40)
While not a sci-fi game this is one of the current must-have titles if you’re a headset owner. There are plenty of zombie games in VR but no other manages to blend survival, crafting, fighting, and exploration as well as Saints and Sinners.
You play as “the tourist” in a flooded, zombie-infested New Orleans. Two factions are locked in a bloody conflict over “the reserve,” a hidden cache of weapons and supplies. You start with next to nothing and as you complete quests and explore the city, you’ll gradually work your way up the food chain to become the ultimate survivor.
No other game quite nails the feeling of jamming a kitchen knife through a walker’s rotting face. With a decent length campaign and a fantastic arcade mode, you owe it to yourself to have this in your library.
Red Matter - Vertical Robot ($30)
Red Matter follows the tried-and-true “explore the abandoned lab” trope of gaming to the hilt. While feeling familiar it does an amazing job of guiding players through exploration and puzzles. As you dive into the top-secret research facility you descend deeper and deeper into a reality-bending conspiracy.
The dystopian retro-futuristic cold war setting will delight any fans of Papers, Please, or Metro: 2033. The mosaics and propaganda posters celebrating the fictional Volgravia feel authentic and don’t approach parody. The developers clearly took the time to do their homework and make their world feel real.
While the controls feel a bit tanky it’s well worth your time and money.
Into the Radius - CM Games ($30)
Similar to Red Matter, Into the Radius plays into the dystopian themes of post-Soviet Europe. Directly inspired by the legendary sci-fi movie Stalker, as well as the games spun off from the film, Into the Radius takes players to a familiar world but one still full of surprises.
You wake up with no memory and a disembodied voice guiding you deeper into the mysterious Pechorsk radius. An asteroid strike has warped the fabric of reality around the zone, leaving behind strange anomalies and other-worldly creatures.
You’ll scavenge for supplies and artifacts to upgrade your equipment as you explore fascinating and unnerving landscapes. While the core gameplay loop is relatively simple there are hours of exploration and combat to be had. You’ll also have to contend with hardcore survival elements like using maps to navigate and keeping yourself fed and rested. A great game for any survival sim fans.
Downward Spiral: Horus Station - 3rd Eye Studios ($20)
A masterpiece of minimal storytelling, Downward Spiral could have been released today yet came out nearly two years ago. It hardly shows its age as visuals are crisp, controls are intuitive, and combat and exploration are engaging.
You wake up on a space station with no memories except strange visions of alien ruins on a strange planet. You seem to be the only one alive as a mysterious accident has wiped out the crew. The station’s security system is malfunctioning and will shoot on sight so it isn’t a matter of floating from room to room to try and figure out what happened.
The zero-gravity locomotion feels great and you won’t experience motion sickness even if you’re a VR newbie.
Sairento - Mixed Realms Pte ($30)
If you ever dreamt of being a badass cyborg ninja in a cyberpunk Tokyo then Sairento is a must-have. Boasting some of the best VR combat available, you’ll dual wield and slow-mo dodge through beautiful levels and face off against a variety of enemies.
No other game quite feels this good. As you sail through the air in slow motion, bullets flying past you, you can’t help but break out into a big, stupid grin as you come down on an enemy, katana in hand, and say “open wide!” as you slice their head off. Absolute action bliss.
Gunheart – Drifter ($20)
This somehow manages to be more Doom than the actual Doom VR game. Combining the deadpan humor of Rick and Morty with the action chops of some of the best shooters out there, Gunheart serves up a metric ton of fun.
Your brain has been implanted into the body of a robotic bounty hunter and you’ll do the dirty work of yet another shadowy corporation. In this case, it’s taking care of a pest problem at the edge of the galaxy. Tons of weapons, environments, and verticality, Gunheart is a fantastic sci-fi shooter. The game even has co-op so bring a couple of friends on the hunt.
Alien: Isolation - Creative Assembly ($40)
While not an official VR game, the mod for the very excellent Alien: Isolation is well worth your time. Thanks to the amazing job by Creative Assembly in rendering the world of Alien, Isolation feels like a completely new game in virtual reality. And with a lengthy campaign, DLC, and challenge modes, this is the perfect use for your headset.
You play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of the film series’ protagonist, as she searches for her missing mother. This brings her to Sevastopol station where the flight recorder of her mother’s lost ship, the Nostromo, has been recovered. Seeking answers, Amanda instead finds the deadly xenomorph stalking the halls and airshafts of the space station.
If your spine tingled at any of Alyx’s creepy set pieces, then you’re going to love this. Get the mod here.
Raw Data – Survios ($40)
Raw Data is more of an arcade-focused experience but with some of the best combat in VR. It ticks all the boxes: cyberpunk dystopia, robots, evil corporations, etc. and manages to still be engaging. Sharp writing and voiceovers make this one worth your time. Choose from a few different characters, all with different weapons and perks, and dismantle some robots and drones in style.
Lone Echo - Ready at Dawn ($40)
This is an Oculus exclusive so unless you’ve got a Rift or Rift-S then you’re out of luck. In Lone Echo you’ll step into the circuits of Jack, an AI with a synthetic body, to help Captain Olivia Rhodes solve a mystery set in a mining operation above the rings of Saturn. You’ll float through zero-g, use a suite of futuristic tools, and drink in the AAA visuals this game has to offer.
It’s worth mentioning their spin-off of the game, Echo Arena, is free to play and it’s addictive VR PvP fun.
That should tide you over until even more great games make their way into your headset. For more VR content, check out Newegg's VR Central.