Playing open-world games in virtual reality is such an incredibly immersive experience that can’t be rivaled by games on a regular screen. The combination of feeling the digital world around you, while having the freedom to explore and choose your own path is quite incredible. This article is going to cover 19 of the best open world VR games you can play today that I’m sure you will love.
If you are interested in open world VR games but are unsure where to start, here are some of the best examples of games in this genre, with something to suit everyone. Some of these games have been developed from the ground up for virtual reality, while others have had VR added sometime after launch. All of these games provide loads of fun and adventure and are well worth your time. I’ll also provide information on the headsets you require and where the games can be bought.
1. Elite Dangerous
Elite Dangerous is a ground-breaking title for virtual reality gaming, as it’s one of the first major open-world games to offer full VR support with an exceptionally immersive experience in an all-encompassing universe. Initially released by Frontier Developments on PC and consoles, Elite Dangerous’ VR support has created one of the best open world VR games available.
It is the definitive multi-player space epic with a connected galaxy, evolving narrative throughout the entirety of the Milky way which is re-created in its full galactic proportions with breathtaking detail. Starting with only a small starship and a few credits, players do whatever it takes to earn the skill, knowledge, wealth, and power to survive in a futuristic cutthroat galaxy. In an age of galactic superpowers and interstellar war, every player’s story influences the unique connected gaming experience and handcrafted evolving narrative.
Elite Dangerous is available to buy on Steam and compatible with most PC VR headsets. It is also available on the Oculus store for Rift headsets, but it is not possible to play Elite Dangerous on standalone VR headsets such as the Quest 2 unless connected to a VR-ready PC by a wireless or wired connection.
Often jokingly referred to as a VR space-trucking simulator, this is a game that can consume a lot of your time, as you travel back and forth across the skies. The controls and game systems do take a little bit of time and patience to master, but you should get the hang of the basics within a few hours. As with most things, practice makes perfect and as you increase your skills, there is a wide galaxy to explore and interact with.
With some of the most stunning visuals imaginable, this game is a feast for all the senses. An excellent sense of the scale of the universe replicates how space might feel, with a feeling that you are looking at something bigger than you are able to comprehend. It is the details that truly make this game as expansive, as it is vast with its unbelievably realistic 1:1 scale open-world rendering of the Milky Way galaxy.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
When it comes to open-world games that you can truly immerse yourself in, Bethesda’s epic RPG proves an awesome fit for VR. The lush and expansive worlds of Skyrim truly enthrall the senses when experienced with a VR headset. Simply wandering through the vast landscape proves awe-inspiring, with the headset enhancing the atmosphere of this already rich adventure into a gripping cinematic experience.
Skyrim VR has an epic and majestic feel provided by the expansive mountainous landscape, lovingly crafted world, and enthralling Elder scrolls lore. It feels so amazing to feel like you are inside this famous world, wielding weapons with your own hands, throwing fireballs at enemies, and witnessing dragons up close.
The one drawback to Skyrim VR is the quality of the default version. Unfortunately, there are numerous issues with the gameplay, graphics, and the UI that significantly detract from the experience, and I would strongly recommend that you install some mods to massively improve the quality of your experience. Here is a great list of mods that you should install for Skyrim VR.
There are literally thousands of mods that you can install for Skyrim VR to improve or change almost every aspect of the gameplay and graphics. You can even install a mod called Dragonborn Speaks Naturally, enabling you to speak to non-player characters (NPCs) using your own voice to activate a specific dialogue choices.
Don’t let this put you off getting Skyrim VR, for if you are willing to spend a little time ironing out the rough edges, it will become one of the best open world VR games you can play and a truly amazing experience. Skyrim VR is available on Steam and can be played with most PC VR headsets.
3. The Forest
As the lone survivor of a passenger jet crash, you find yourself in a mysterious forest battling to stay alive against a society of cannibalistic mutants. Build, explore and survive in this terrifying first-person survival horror simulator. Explore one of the best open world VR games out there by entering a living and breathing world, where every tree and plant can be chopped down, vast networks of caves and underground lakes lie waiting to be discovered and dangerous foes are always lurking in the darkness.
Key features include:
- Survival and crafting: chop down trees, build a camp, make a fire, cook, grow food, hunt, forage, and lay traps
- Combat: Defend yourself against a clan of genetic mutant enemies, using stealth to evade them, or engaging directly with crude weapons made from sticks and stones.
- Exploration: Travel around the island to explore it, look for other survivors, find clues about why your plane crashed, and explore hidden horrors.
The Forest VR is a brilliant example of how virtual reality can improve a game with it truly feeling like there’s no escape from the world that surrounds you. It is absolutely terrifying with a headset on. Having played this game both on PC and in VR, I found it so much more tense and immersive in virtual reality and found parts so tense and scary that my heart was racing and I could barely keep playing.
The only slight issue is rather clunky controls, but these truly don’t spoil your sense of place in an immersive, creepy world. The lighting looks excellent in VR, especially at night which truly makes the game far scarier and more atmospheric. Forests feel dense and unknowable, and the way the shadows flicker in the firelight is extremely creepy. The Forest VR is an amazing open world VR game and it is available to purchase on Steam for most PC VR headsets.
4. Green Hell VR
A fresh version of the successful PC title, Green Hell VR has been redeveloped for virtual reality and is available on Steam for most PC VR headsets or on the Oculus Store for Quest 2 and Rift headsets. Delve into the jungle in this open world VR game with realistic crafting, beautiful landscapes, and multiple dangers lurking in the thick bushes of the Amazon Jungle.
You will need to learn and take note of real-life survival techniques in order to survive the harsh circumstances. Follow the story of Jake Higgins, a famous anthropologist who is thrown deep into the emerald and impenetrable Amazon Rainforest.
VR makes crafting even more realistic as you need to find the right elements and put them together in a specific way to make tools, spears, and shelter – all by hand. Hunt wild animals to secure the next meal and defend yourself with a bow and arrow, working on your aim and leveling up your skill.
As one of the most complex and authentic VR survival games, the game faithfully recreates the dangerous conditions of the Amazon Jungle. Alone and stranded, you will never feel safe. To survive, you must face your weaknesses. Maintaining hunger, thirst, fatigue, and mental health is going to be an integral part of your journey.
Wild animal attacks and tropical diseases could strike you down at any time and out of nowhere if you are not prepared. Since you won’t get any help from the outside world, you need to craft your tools and weapons, learn how to build shelters, and heal nasty wounds.
Subnautica is a single-player open world VR game that combines adventure and exploration, where you descend into the depths of an alien underwater world filled with wonder and peril. Craft equipment, build bases, pilot submarines, and out-smart wildlife to explore lush coral reefs, volcanoes, and more – all whilst trying to survive.
Underwater gameplay has proven difficult to create realistically but Subnautica has delivered plenty of immersion in the unending ocean of planet 4546B available in Subnautica’s VR mode. This open world VR game’s underwater gameplay works brilliantly, with your headset feeling like a diving helmet as you venture deeper into the water.
Your goal is to collect resources to allow you to survive while you find a way off-planet. You’ll build bases and vehicles to make this easier, and to protect yourself from the more aggressive wildlife. Plus, whilst you’re out scavenging, you may come across snippets of the game’s narrative, explaining the history of the planet, and what became of your crewmates after your starship crashed under mysterious circumstances.
- Building your ideal underwater base
- Farming aquatic plants for the useful drops they provide
- Breeding edible fish inside an aquarium
- Finding creature eggs and hatching them
- You can build a submersible and a huge submarine, and heavily customize both
6. No Man’s Sky
The VR version of No Man’s Sky by Hello Games was one of the most anticipated open world games when it was first released, and despite a rocky launch, it has gone from strength, adding an incredible amount of content and polish over the last few years.
Inspired by the adventure and imagination that we love from classic science fiction, No Man’s Sky presents you with a galaxy to explore, filled with unique planets and lifeforms, and constant danger and action. Each and every star is the light of a distant sun, each orbited planet filled with life, and you can go to any of them you choose.
Fly smoothly from deep space to planetary surfaces, with no loading screens, and no limits. In this infinite procedurally generated universe, you’ll discover places and creatures that no other players have seen before – and perhaps never will again. An epic voyage to the center of a shared universe awaits, allowing you to explore, trade, fight and survive alone or with friends.
No Man’s Sky’s rags-to-riches development story reached a new high with the game’s VR support, giving players a new perspective into their galactic systems. With the vast diversity of NMS’ biology paired with vivid visuals and engaging gameplay, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to try this open world VR game.
This famous space exploration game can be purchased from Steam and played on most PC VR headsets and is also available for PSVR. You’re taken right into the heart of the new worlds you discover or can sit and truly appreciate the massiveness of space from your ship’s cockpit. Since the galaxy is so enormous, you’ll never run out of new things to see and find as you hunt for resources to improve your ship and travel even greater distances.
Multiplayer, capital ship, and fleet management, base building, and more are all part of No Man’s Sky’s recent expansions. VR is the ideal way to explore the game, whether it’s for the first time or after hundreds of hours of the original.
7. Microsoft Flight Simulator
Even without a VR headset, the stunning views and meticulously detailed aircraft of this epic flight simulator are simply incredible to experience. Adding a compatible VR headset makes you feel like you are actually present in the cockpit of a plane, and with the whole world to explore, you have more freedom than any other open world VR game. Microsoft Flight Simulator is available on the Steam store and is compatible with PC VR headsets.
With the first-person viewpoint offered by your VR headset, you can examine all the buttons and switches up close to gain an extra level of immersion as you take off and land at airports around the world. Fly through the clouds and admire the landscapes below in a virtual reality experience unlike any other.
If that sounds a bit overwhelming to you, then you’ll be glad that the game lets you tailor how much of your plane’s controls are automatically or manually controlled. If you want something more relaxing, you can just let the game take care of the hard stuff for you and enjoy flying around. If you want to feel like an actual pilot, then you can take off the training wheel and adjust to your heart’s content.
Microsoft Flight Simulator was built from the ground up to achieve three key goals: realism, accuracy, and authenticity of flight. I’m happy to say that I think it has achieved all three as when playing it, I’ve found it offers one of the deepest and most immersive virtual flight experiences to date.
The only downside to Microsoft Flight Simulator is that you will need a fairly powerful computer to run it smoothly in VR. Even on a high-end machine, you may find that you have to turn down some of the graphics options to balance the visuals with the performance.
8. Digital Combat Simulator
Digital Combat Simulator is a combat flight simulator developed by Eagle Dynamics that provides a huge number of aircraft and environments to fly in, and a level of detail that is mindblowing. The base game is free to download from the DCS website (recommended), but you can also get it on Steam, and it is compatible with most PC VR headsets.
Players learn how to operate aircraft using realistic procedures, meticulously modeled from real-world data with detailed cockpits, interactive buttons, and switches which bring an entirely new level of immersion to VR play.
This extends even to digital manuals documenting the history, systems, and operation of each aircraft in extensive detail, creating a virtual experience that is as realistic as possible. The game also has extensive support for joysticks and HOTAS input devices ranging from gamepads to 1:1 replica cockpits, if you find yourself developing into a true enthusiast.
Base Game includes:
- 2 free aircraft Sukhoi Su-25T “Frogfoot” and the North American TF-51D “Mustang”
- Mission editor
- Full network play
- More than 156 AI weapon systems
- 50n air defense systems
- 19 ships and 84 AI aircraft
A wide range of combat operations means you’ll never get bored of conducting combat air patrols, dogfighting above real-world destinations, providing close air support, and operating airlifts. Dozens of military airplanes and helicopters are available, spanning eras from WW1 through the Cold War into the early 21st Century.
Some air forces have even begun to use DCS in lieu of a professional flight simulator because of its very high fidelity. If it’s good enough for sections of the United States Air Force, then it’s good enough for us! Personally, I’m a helicopter simulator enthusiast, and I’ve put hundreds of hours into improving my skills in flying the UH1H-Huey and SA342 Gazelle. I’m unlikely to ever get a chance to fly these aircraft in real life, but thanks to this open world VR game, I think I’ve got close enough.
9. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
Face all the horrors that the living and the dead can offer in this new VR first-person shooter adventure game. Travel through the ruins of walker-infested New Orleans as you fight and scavenge to survive each day and unravel a city-wide mystery within the iconic quarters.
You’re not alone in this new, broken world. On your journey, you’ll encounter desperate survivors and factions trying to make it day by day whilst being ravaged by violence, disease, famine, and the walkers. Whether you work together or fend for yourself, your choices will have meaning and consequences for both you and the world around you.
With violence, disease, and famines as constant threats, you must learn to cleverly navigate, deciding whether to sneak around ruined streets or risk your life to protect those in need. Be a survivalist in scavenging for items such as weapons and food to help your journey.
Anything you can fit in your backpack can be broken down into its base components to build even greater tools later. Embracing the freedom to decide how to make it through each day is exhilarating not to mention fighting against the walkers for survival. Not only is New Orleans at war against the dead but the factions, The Tower and The Reclaimed also battle it out for control in a world turned upside down.
You decide the kind of person you want to be. As you make your way through New Orleans, who you decide to help and hurt, and just how you decide to do it matters. In the end, it’ll be your actions that decide if you’re a saint or a sinner. This open world VR game is available to purchase on the Oculus store for Rift and Quest headsets, and also on the Steam store for PC VR headsets.
10. Zenith: The Last City
The world of Zenith is a lush fantasy world dripping with detail and crawling with monsters that have been empowered by a dark and mysterious god. It is available to purchase from the Oculus store for Quest and Rift headsets, and from Steam for most PC VR headsets. Through VR, you’ll feel like you’re actually in this thrilling anime-inspired adventure.
Experience action-packed combat as you battle monsters that know how to dodge your blows and respond with ferocity. Forge alliances in guilds, join epic raids, and take part in world events in this open world VR game as you blaze a path to become the most powerful agent Zenith has ever known.
- Explore an ever-expanding massive open world through flying, climbing, ziplining, and even swimming
- Discover a deep combat system that takes both time and practice to master – shoot, swing, and cast your way to glory
- Synthesize powerful items using the spoils of battle and enhance them to become a legendary Agent
- Play together and conquer Zenith’s greatest challenges, including epic boss battles, public events, and dungeons
The aspect I find most exciting is the two major classes in the game: the Blade Master and Essence Mage. Each class also has three sub-classes – damage, tank, and support – which have their own abilities and intended roles. As a Blade Master, you swing your swords to slice enemies, and as an Essence Mage, you use gauntlet-like weapons to shoot enemies from a distance. These have been specifically designed for VR with combat in mind, and I find it is extremely immersive and feels surprisingly real.
11. Minecraft VR
For having been around as long as it has, Minecraft is still more alive than ever. Do all the things you know and love – but from a fresh perspective. With a VR headset on, coming face-to-face with monstrous mobs takes on a new meaning; creeping into dark caves inspires even greater trepidation thanks to 3D audio, and the light of a gorgeous sunrise seems to envelop you more completely.
Modifications for VR Play:
- The Virtual Living Room – Full immersion VR can be intense, so this option allows you to step out of the world and play this open world VR game on a screen in a simulated lounge. It’s a great way to give yourself a bit of a break without stopping playing
- VR Turning – moving round fast can feel disorientating in VR with your body not doing what your eyes are seeing. This allows you to turn in snappy increments rather than a single arc. It feels quite surprising at first, but it quickly feels normal and is easier on the brain.
- Enhanced VR controls – tiny, clever tweaks to the way you jump, walk, and run make VR feel as smooth as possible. You can use your head to steer where your character goes, and the cursor now sticks to blocks as you dig at them – so you can take in the sights while you mine
Minecraft can be played on most PC VR headsets, but the steps to get playing depend on what headset you have and what store you purchase Minecraft from. This is a good article that outlines the steps to take to play Minecraft in VR.
12. Into The Radius VR
This epic open world VR game is a realistic drive into an intense post-apocalyptic world. Explore the Pechorsk zone filled with surreal landscapes and dangerous anomalies. Defend yourself with realistic firearms, recover strange artifacts, scavenge for loot, and uncover the mysteries of this unforgiving dystopian environment.
Find yourself in the middle of the blighted zone, cut off from the outside world. Your guns and wits are all you have left. Fight deadly enemies, dodge dangerous anomalies and collect wonderous artifacts on your way to the Radius center to find your way out.
- Miles and miles of forests, swamps, and crumbling industrial ruins
- Filled with strange lethal anomalies and hostile forces that threaten anyone foolish or daring enough to risk their lives
- Orienteer with your realistic map to plan your mission route
- Classic Soviet firearms with realistic interaction with different ammo types and weapon attachments
- Realistic bullet physics cause ricochets and bullets can penetrate different kinds of material
- Take care of your weapon – if they take damage or their condition deteriorates, they will begin to jam
- The only means of survival is to stalk around with your detector, hunt for artifacts, and complete missions assigned to you by the UNPSC
- Stealth, silence, and preparation are your assets in the Radius Zone as you learn to navigate the environment whilst being aware of the threats around you
- Pack the right gear for your journey and plan ahead
Into The Radius VR is available on Steam and on the Oculus store and can be played on PC VR headsets and also on standalone headsets such as the Quest 2.
13. Google Earth VR
Google Earth VR puts the whole world within your reach. Explore the world from totally new perspectives as you stroll the streets of Tokyo, soar over the Grand Canyon, or teleport across the globe. Now, at 196.9 million square miles, the world is pretty big, so developers have made it easy to find great places to visit. Earth VR comes with cinematic tours and hand-picked destinations that send you to the Amazon River, the Manhattan skyline, the Grand Canyon, the Swiss Alps and many, many more.
Instead of using your cursor or finger to drag your way around a street or through a field like you would with basic Google Earth, the VR mode allows you to actually move around the space. You can duck down in your VR headset to get closer to the ground or lift your controllers up to soar through the air above buildings and hills. Even better, the mechanics are straightforward too so you shouldn’t have to spend forever figuring out how the tech works.
- Global Map Access
- 360-degree views of locations around the globe
- Quick access to global landmarks
- Walk or fly through a space
- Access locations with google assistant
Growing increasingly impressive over the years, Google Earth VR is available on the Oculus Store for Rift headsets and on Steam for most PC VR headsets, and is totally free to use. There is currently no native support for standalone Quest 2. With great controls, ease of usage and plenty of unique experiences, this open world VR game is one you really need to try.
14. The Solus Project
The Solus Project is a first-person open world VR game, in which the player controls an astronaut on a mission to save mankind. After your spacecraft crashes on an uncharted, alien planet Gliese-6143-C, you must survive on the planet and face factors such as hunger level, thirst, body temperature, and weather conditions.
As the lone survivor of a crew looking for a colony, explore the planet full of temples and other fascinating places as you learn the secrets of a mysterious alien civilization that might hold the key to the fight to save mankind from extinction.
Plants grow and rot, weather changes from scorching heat to chilling storms, and the wind and humidity are unforgiving. Craft items, explore vast areas, monitor your health, sleep regularly, and more.
This single-player space adventure survival game was developed for the Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift and is available for purchase on the Steam store. The Solus Project is everything you could hope for. A brilliantly crafted space survival adventure, full of mystery and intrigue that’s not overburdened with too many survival mechanics.
There are ten large, entirely handcrafted levels to explore as you puzzle your way through five islands and 5 massive tombs/caves. You’re free to explore the alien planet at risk of your own peril as you fight to survive the extreme climate, while also being dragged into a world of discovery and adventure.
You’ll find yourself pulled in by the story and enthralled by the atmosphere. The length of the gameplay will depend on how much you want to wander around on your own, but I found that I could spend hours and hours in this universe.
15. A Township Tale
A Township Tale is all about finding an abandoned town and working together with friends to fix it up and create a fictional community. Explore a forgotten world filled with adventure, danger, and ancient secrets as you turn the abandoned town into a sanctuary in this wild, untamed land and journey across a vast medieval world filled with mysteries.
Become blacksmiths, warriors, miners, and woodcutters as you build your town and gear and prepare for your next adventure. A terrible past threatens the future when a slumbering evil is fated to make its return.
It is available from the Township Tale website for most PC VR headsets, and also from the Oculus store for Meta Quest 2. A Township Tale is very open-ended with no explicit story or quest structure. Starting with the very basics in the introduction, it is ultimately up to you and your friends to figure out the rest. Every time you find a new item, or area, or learn how to make something new, it feels like the world is expanding before your eyes.
The avatar system has great customization thanks to a wide range of options, including the ability to pick the color of pretty much anything you can customize on your character. While there are also lands to explore and enemies to slay, A Township Tale’s crafting professions really steal the spotlight. Gathering resources to build things is usually the motivating force behind what you decide to do in the game.
VRChat is a hugely popular social VR game, but it is also one of the most freeform open world VR games I have ever played. You have complete freedom to explore thousands of user-made worlds, meet loads of interesting people, pick or design an interesting avatar, and take part in a wide range of activities. Whilst you do need to load into each individual world, slightly breaking the immersion, the sheer number of things you can do is mindblowing.
VRChat is also completely free to play, and you can do almost everything in the game without spending any money, although there is an optional VRChat Plus subscription which gives you some minor upgrades and helps support the developers.
VRChat is one of the most popular VR games, and you will find many thousands of people playing t any one time. It is available on Steam and the Oculus store and can be played on the vast majority of PC VR headsets, as well as Quest and Quest 2. This free VR game is one you really should try as it has become a real juggernaut within the VR entertainment space.
17. Horizon Worlds
Horizon Worlds is one of Meta’s big pushes toward creating a Metaverse, and it is slowly becoming an impressive social VR space and an excellent open world VR game. Whether you want to hang out with friends, attend live events such as concerts, comedy, or sports events, or take part in a wide range of fun games, all of these are options in Horizon Worlds.
There is a significant community of content creators who are making new things to do and see every day, slowly turning Horizon Worlds into a fun place to spend time in. Whilst Meta has a lot of detractors, I’ve been fairly impressed so far with Horizon Worlds and can see the positive direction of travel.
This is another free option to spend time in, so if you have a compatible VR headset, there’s no excuse not to dive in and give this one a go.
This sandbox open world VR game has finally emerged from early access, and it is a ton of fun. You play the game as an omnipotent god, creating a world tile by tile and helping your people to thrive and develop, completely in control of their destiny. Over time, you’ll have to deal with heretics and remind your people of your power in whatever way you see fit.
This is the type of game that works so so well in VR, with controls that feel natural and satisfying to use, and a highly immersive environment. The graphics are basic and functional, but there is a nice art style that compensates for their relative simplicity. The good news is that this game can be played on Quest 2 as well as PC VR headsets, and you can buy it from either the Oculus store or Steam.
19. Rec Room
Rec Room is another social VR game that gives you complete freedom to explore, take part in a wide variety of activities, visit thousands of user-made rooms, and socialize with thousands of other people. It combines many aspects of the best open world VR games and presents them in a user-friendly package, and it’s totally free to play.
Rec Room is often compared to VRChat, and though they are superficially similar, there are big differences between them, and it is likely that you will prefer one or the other. Rec Room is much more family-friendly and is more focused on taking part in games and activities, rather than just socializing, but there are a lot of crossovers.
Rec Room has great creator tools that are integrated into the game, making it easy for you to learn to create your own rooms. Whilst there is a bit of a learning curve to go through, it’s really satisfying to slowly learn to create something unique. Rec Room is available on Steam for PC VR headsets, the Oculus Store for Rift and Quest headsets, and also for PSVR.
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