As the years advance, virtual reality technology is evolving at a rapid pace and paving the way for the best VR space games. From the humble beginnings with home consoles such as the Virtual Boy, with it’s red line graphics failing to fulfil consumer expectations, developers have now created experiences with unparalleled immersion. There are games so flawless in execution, players have often forgotten that they are in-game, as they trip over their beloved pets and straight into their TVs.
Fear of destruction aside, the complete immersion that the best VR headsets such as the Oculus Quest 2 can now offer, particularly when powered by a powerful gaming PC, lends itself perfectly to exploring the unexplorable. If you need to upgrade your rig, check out our guide on how to build a PC for VR.
Console lovers are also benefiting from the backwards compatibility of the current PSVR with a plethora of the best PSVR space games available on the hardware (and we’re expecting a PSVR 2 in the not too distant future). While the likes of Jeff Bezos finds the stars within reach, for the majority of us VR is the closest we will ever get to the great beyond.
So, for those looking to expand their horizons beyond the horizon, from shooters to platformers, puzzles, rhythm, and racing, we have collected together the ten best VR space games for you to enjoy. And if you’re looking to pick up a new VR headset, check out our VR headset deals hub for the best offers.
1. No Man’s Sky
(Image credit: Hello Games)
- Release date: August 8, 2016
- Developer: Hello Games
While you may be questioning the inclusion of some of the games in this list which is ostentatiously supposed to contain only space-themed experiences, No Man’s Sky is so unashamed in its complete consistency to the genre that all other eccentricities can be overlooked and accepted. In this survival game you explore planets, encounter new life forms, and collect materials to repair, rebuild, and discover the path back home, or roam the outer wilds endlessly. It is all up to you. Simply, No Man’s Sky is the game you imagine when picturing interplanetary travel, which puts it high up on our best VR space games list.
While players were outraged at No Man’s Sky’s initial outing and all the features promised and silently left out, Hello Games has more than made up for their release day foibles by consistently and competently updating their galactic adventure. They achieved their original promises of multi-player, unique world-building, and character designs, and extended their reach far beyond, dramatically expanding the universe and all you observe within it.
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(Image credit: Drool)
- Release date: October 10, 2016
- Developer: Drool
When it comes to rail-based, neon-paletted, violence rhythm games in VR, people often let their minds drift to Beat Saber. While smashing through blocks with lightsabers is undoubtedly a fun time, Thumper preceded its release, and questionably defined the genre. Focused more on the journey than specifically on the songs, failing the rhythm elements does not give you a game over, instead you relive the moment in a never-ending cycle.
Everything about Thumper is designed to draw you in, and immerse you in an endless landscape of color and sound. Blending the line between traditional platformer and rhythm with its end of stage boss fights, the immersion of VR transports you to another place entirely. It may not be the best known VR experience, but it could be argued to be one of the most hypnotic as hours turn into seconds when trapped in this world. A world where you’re a beetle… and you kill aliens with perfect timing.
3. Doom VFR
(Image credit: id Software)
- Release date: December 1, 2017
- Developer: id Software
It is not easy to port huge AAA releases into VR. When releasing any game for virtual reality, let alone one of the best VR space games, you must take into account the motion sickness of the player. Ensuring they are not moving about endlessly in game, swinging their view wildly, and giving the sensation that there is no ground below them.
Doom was initially developed with fast-paced action in mind, getting up close and personal with demons, tearing them limb from limb to get your health back, before moving on to do it all again. While this style of gameplay is completely incompatible with VR, the all new Doom VFR just works. Giving you spots in which you can battle, it plants you firmly on Martian soil while giving you the gut-ripping action you so readily want. Not only is this one of the best VR space games, it’s simply one of the best games out there. Rip and tear.
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4. WipEout Omega Collection
(Image credit: Creative Vault Studios)
- Release date: June 6, 2017
- Developer: XDev, Clever Beans, Creative Vault Studios
WipEout has been the go-to series for space-themed racers since its humble beginnings on PlayStation 1 back in 1995. While Nintendo’s F-Zero series entered development purgatory after 2004, WipEout held strong, now with more than ten titles to the franchise’s name. While currently exclusive to PlayStation VR, the WipEout Omega Collection contains two remastered versions of Wipeout titles and their DLC; 2008’s WipEout HD was initially released for PlayStation 3, and WipEout 2048 was formerly confined to the PlayStation Vita and widely considered one of the best games in the gravity-defying series.
VR gives the titles a whole new feel as you are enveloped by the futuristic landscape and captivated by the techno beats soundtrack. WipEout Omega Collection blends the vanilla and kart-racing genres as you use weapons to take out the competition, in what can be deceptively difficult high-stakes races. Also, your ship can fly and that is pretty cool.
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5. Astro Bot Rescue Mission
(Image credit: Team ASOBI)
- Release date: October 2, 2018
- Developer: Japan Studio (Team ASOBI)
As predictably as day follows night, and the sun sets in the west, so does Astro Bot Rescue Mission inevitably find its way onto every single list outlining the best VR space games. There is a reason for that though. It’s honestly just that good.
When thinking of gaming genres that lend themselves to the virtual reality space, third-person platformers are certainly not the first which come to mind. However, Astro Bot Rescue Mission works by not putting you in the position of the titular celestial robot, but instead as its omnipresent, omnipotent, human companion, ever watching over its adorable antics.
Astro Bot knows when you are looking at him. He looks at you and cheers you on. It takes you through underwater worlds and lush jungles, and the whole time acts as though it is beyond ecstatic to have you by its side. The bond you make with your mechanical mate cannot be underestimated in an experience which is, simply put, pure, immersive joy.
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6. Rez Infinite
(Image credit: Enhance Experience Inc.)
- Release date: October 13, 2016
- Developer: Enhance Games, Resonair, Monstars
At its core, Rez Infinite was released in 2001. However, like how Space Channel 5, another astral rhythm game developed by United Game Artists in that same era, has translated beautifully into the world of virtual reality, so has our darling shoot-em-up Rez. The two games entered wholly different arenas in gaming history. Space Channel 5 with its campy, light-hearted style, and Rez Infinite in its perfectly crafted, single line simplicity. They fill completely separate yet related holes.
While Tetris Effect, another VR upgrade on an old school puzzle game, receives all the love in the history books, it is Rez Infinite which earns its place on this list of best VR space games for skillfully combining rhythm, space shooter, puzzle, and action genres beautifully as you fly through the endless void taking down the bosses at the end of each level. When it comes to accepting your new life as a stickman shooting lasers and flying through tunnels, there is no comparable experience.
(Image credit: Media Molecule)
- Release date: February 14, 2020
- Developer: Media Molecule
In many ways it feels like cheating to include a game on this list of best VR space games which can be anything and everything all at once. However, Dreams is such a cultural phenomenon and an important part of gaming antiquity that it would be unfair to deny it its place in this legend. Dreams is not a game in the strictest sense, but an open creative space where players are given the tools with which to develop any creative asset they can dream of. Hence the name.
Aside from the UI, which feels as if it were developed on a separate astral plane, Dreams earns itself the title of space game as it pulls on the collective hive mind of its entire player base to create ever increasingly complex and impressive gaming experiences, much like something straight out of science fiction. If you are not the creative type, you too can become part of the collective consciousness by simply playing and giving others feedback on their designs. One of the most unique distractions in gaming’s long-drawn library.
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8. Half-Life Alyx
(Image credit: Valve)
- Release date: March 23, 2020
- Developer: Valve
If you thought Astro Bot Rescue Mission was a predictable choice, then readers you are welcome to Half-Life Alyx. On a list which also included Dreams and Thumper though, please rest assured that it would not have been included if it was not completely vital. While Half-Life Alyx was not the Half-Life game players wanted from Valve after the 2007 cliff-hanger ending to the series, it offered something new and unique to the franchise simply through the medium it chose.
As a game developed specifically with virtual reality at its core, every part of Half-Life Alyx was designed with optimizing the experience for the format. This has led to accolades from almost every gaming media outlet for the title which combines survival horror with puzzles and impressive story-telling with well-paced combat. If Astro Bot Rescue Mission forces you to buy a PlayStation VR set, then Half-Life Alyx is the game which forces you to purchase a PC compatible headset and all the components which go with it.
(Image credit: KO_OP)
- Release date: May 2, 2017
- Developer: KO_OP
After deep consideration, and a dark look into the abyss, it is GNOG which makes the final ten over the more popular co-op, cuboid-based experience Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. While the latter offers intense gameplay perfectly suited to VR, where one person is immersed in the world with the explosive cube and the other reads from a real life manual, GNOG has better overall immersion, if only due to not requiring a second player shouting instructions to you from outside the headset.
GNOG is a puzzle game which creates a name for itself within the VR space by using the tactile nature of the three-dimensional surroundings to create a unique experience. Playing with what is visible within your field of view, GNOG combines a quirky art style with a calming soundtrack and unique puzzles to craft an experience as new as it is ethereal. Not the longest game on the list by far, it is perhaps the most differentiated.
10. Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – MARS
(Image credit: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan)
- Release date: August 24, 2018
- Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
As we reach the end of this list of the best VR space games, you would be forgiven for thinking that virtual reality is the defibrillator of long dead franchises, shocking them back to life and suddenly reminding us of how much we truly missed them. You would also be forgiven for believing that a third-person, mech-based, hack and slash from 2003 developed by a company known for smothering its most beloved franchises in their sleep does not particularly lend itself to the platform. In that assumption, though, you would be wrong.
When creating the MARS (stylized M∀RS) remaster for Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner they recreated it from the ground up with VR in mind. A change to the first person perspective now places you inside the mech and wholly immerses you in life on other planets. Controls are intentionally alien, giving players the experience of being sat in a cockpit, and you must be hyper aware of your surroundings without the benefit of an outside perspective. VR is the format this game was designed to be played on, and even those who adored the original experience will find something new and enjoyable in it.
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