Most VR games tend to keep their gameplay slow and methodical because anything fast-paced can cause motion sickness. But that doesn’t mean your VR game library should only contain the equivalent of arthouse films. You want action, adventure, and excitement! These VR action games deliver these in bucketloads.
Blade & Sorcery: Nomad
Medieval duels backed by a realistic physics engine
One of the most popular PC VR games, Blade & Sorcery is a giant sandbox where you fight foes with swords, bows and arrows, or magical attacks. Its popularity stems from the realistic physics engine, which lets you parry or deflect attacks and ensures your weapons don’t just teleport through foes.
Now it is available untethered on the Quest 2 with Blade & Sorcery: Nomad, so your duels to the death can become fully roomscale. Plus, it adds a new procedurally generated Dungeons mode in which you traverse through different environments, vanquishing foes, collecting loot, and leveling up your skills. Plus, this port will allow you to use mods, which creative gamers have used to add foes from Star Wars, Marvel, and other popular brands.
Nick described B&S combat as a “balanced mix of ‘video gamey’ and semi-realistic that feels just right. The Goldilocks of VR weapon handling, if you will,” in his review. He praised the game for its variety of weapons and mostly bug-free gameplay. It’s impressive that developer Warpfrog managed to make the game work with the Quest’s limited hardware at all, and it’s been a blast to play so far. — Michael Hicks
Epic 1v1 arena duels in bullet-time offer an amazing workout
Blaston gameplay is simple but very addicting. You step into an arena with guns floating all around you and your opponent in his own space in front of you. When the match starts, you’ll fire at your opponent to whittle down their health bar, while dodging or shielding against their own wave of bullets. Each gun’s bullets shoot at different speeds and sizes, and some weapons let you curve bullets or throw projectiles at them, so you’ll want to be strategic with shots so they have no room or time to dodge.
Since Blaston launched, the devs have added a ton of new features and modes. You have the original ranked mode where every victory or defeat matters, a Western-themed Quick Draw challenge, a new Arctic Blast mode with deadly icy weapons and a new arctic-themed map. The new Knockout! tournament mode lets you strive for a giant trophy after out-dueling your friends. A short single-player campaign against CPU opponents will help you master your technique against easier foes. And the Ozo Lounge lets you hang out and talk strategy with your fellow Blaston players.
It’s a ton of content for an affordably-priced game, and just a few matches will get you sweating! Coolest of all, it recently added a passthrough mode, so your surroundings are sketched into the void around you as you duel. That way, you can remain conscious of any nearby furniture, people, or pets that you might slam into, making it easier to immerse yourself in the duel. — Michael Hicks
In Death: Unchained
This roguelite is a heavenly romp through the gates of Hell
When it launched on the PC as, In Death, in 2018, many players proclaimed it their favorite VR game. Unfortunately, developer Sólfar Studios couldn’t keep it updated and later transferred the rights to Superbright, which now runs the Oculus Quest version of the title. The subtitle of In Death: Unchained is a duality in itself, referring both to the freeing nature of untethered VR that’s brought about on the Quest platform and the never-ending quest in the game to top the leaderboards with ever-improving skills.
Like most roguelites, In Death: Unchained features a procedurally generated world that’s never quite the same round after round. Set in three main areas of a godless afterlife, players will find themselves fighting through levels with a bow as their main weapon and the ability to fight melee if the need arises. The bow isn’t just used to kill enemies, though; it’s also an excellent means of traversal, thanks to a special arrow that works as a teleportation device. Skilled players will use this movement in tandem with free-moving joystick controls to outsmart enemies and bosses alike, all with gorgeous visuals and compelling boss fights.
In Death: Unchained, unlike its predecessor, has been updated and even overhauled several times now to change things up and keep the action fresh for veteran players. The move to seasonal content has also proven quite successful for the game and its players. In fact, it was among the first batch of games that was heavily updated to support the Oculus Quest 2’s significantly enhanced processing power, a testament to Superbright’s dedication to the game. —Nick Sutrich
An intense melee dueling arena where skillful technique trumps speed
Step into the ring against AI or human opponents and use your brain as much as your arms to strike down foes in a game that has some of the best combat and multiplayer we’ve seen on the Quest. In Ironlights, you challenge your enemies as a variety of classes, each of which uses a different weapon combination. To prevent you from just wildly swiping at enemies as fast as possible, your weapon breaks every time you use it, so you have to strategically strike without leaving yourself vulnerable.
In our Ironlights review, we praised the game for its balanced classes and stressful combat. You’ll start with single-player matches against AI to master your techniques, but the difficulty level spikes once you start playing multiplayer. People are much harder to trick, while AI is more prone to falling for feints. Still, we appreciate that the game lets you fight AI opponents to stay fresh while you wait for PvP duels, the true meat-and-potatoes of the game.
As someone who grew up trying to master different fictional lightsaber fighting techniques, Ironlights gives me the one-on-one dueling that I wish Vader Immortal had. I’m sure I look ridiculous swiping and posing while trying to outsmart my arena rival, but successful hits and blocks make me feel like a medieval swordsman, which is really what matters.
Before buying, make sure that you have plenty of space to move around the virtual arena. If you stand in one place, certain classes can exploit this and attack with longer-range weapons, making it hard for you to counter-attack. Our other recommendation is to get active on the Ironlights Discord server, where players like to put together tournaments and compare techniques. —Michael Hicks
Pixel Ripped 1995
A nostalgia-filled love letter to SNES games for ’90s kids
Whatever your childhood-era video game console or favorite arcade was — I’m an N64 and Nickel City child myself — you’ll probably remember long weekends spent gaming non-stop until a parent made you turn off the console or you ran out of tokens. Pixel Ripped 1995 (and Pixel Ripped 1989, available as DLC) hearken back to those childhoods in the best possible way.
You play a young boy trying to squeeze out as much gaming time as possible, while NPCs like your disapproving mother get in the way. Similarly, 1989 has you, an elementary-age girl, playing games in class while keeping your teacher distracted. Most levels start with you playing a game-within-a-game, with gameplay modeled after famous classics like Super Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog, and others. But you’ll have to let go of your controller to interact with your surroundings. Then, without spoiling too much, you’ll often find that the game world has begun to blend with the real world.
At about five hours, the campaign doesn’t spend too long with any one “game.” And while the in-game graphics look sufficiently 90s, the NPCs’ faces can look a bit wooden. However, the overall experience is genuinely fun and nostalgia-inducing, and the developers added incentives to replay levels like hidden golden cartridges, a hardcore mode, unlockable collectibles, and alternative routes. —Michael Hicks
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge + Last Call
Nothing ever happens on the Outer Rim of the known galaxy, right?
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge is an action-adventure game on the planet Batuu, right within the very same Blackspire Outpost featured at Disney theme parks. While the theme parks let patrons walk the halls of a mythical Star Wars location, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge takes a more story-based approach to the namesake. You play the role of a droid repair technician who ended up on the wrong end of a Gauvian Death Gang leader’s gun; shooting your way out, you find yourself caught up in matters of galactic importance.
While the game takes place between the events of Star Wars movies Episodes 8 and 9, the stories themselves span the annals of time, including the original trilogy and the High Republic era some 400 years prior. To get the most out of the game, you must download the Last Call DLC, which adds new stories where you play as a Jedi Knight and bounty hunter, along with a proper endgame to the main storyline.
Compared to Vader Immortal — another pick on this list — Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge and Last Call make for a more scattered game, but also a more varied one. Different Tales switch up the gameplay and story for some variety, while the main blaster-based combat is enjoyable and surprisingly challenging at times. Add in the DLC, and you meet a ton of characters, including some fan favorites from other SW properties, that make you feel part of the world. Star Wars fans certainly shouldn’t skip this one. —Nick Sutrich
Spider-Man heads to the arcades
Swarm is what happens when you imagine an old-school high-score arcade shooter brought into VR. You’re launched into an arena teeming with aliens that spawn from random portals across the map. However, it’s not a static shooting gallery; this is a very, very active game. Armed with grappling hooks and pistols, you must pull yourself every which way to avoid attacks and position yourself to strike back — performing aerial acrobatics that only make sense with room-scale VR technology.
Each level lasts only as long as you — or the enemies — can survive. Other levels offer movement challenges that test your ability to accurately grapple as fast as you can without falling to your doom. Power-ups and new weapons are found and earned during play, and you’ll soon find yourself in a zen-like state of grappling, pulling, shooting, and dodging. Can you defeat the swarm and save the Earth? —Nick Sutrich
Until You Fall
Either you’ll fall, or your arms will fall off
Until You Fall is a unique take on the hack-and-slash roguelite genre. Taking thematic elements from high-fantasy epics like Lord of the Rings and injecting it with a thick serum of Tron-like neon highlights, Until You Fall will have your jaw on the floor with its stylistic beauty, up until the moment the first enemy makes you drop to the floor. Then, as the name implies, you’ll battle your way through enemy after enemy until you fall. Then, you respawn back in the hub to upgrade your character and do it all over again.
Until You Fall utilizes seriously realistic physics modeling that makes you feel like you’re actually swinging the weapons you wield. There’s something trippy about feeling like you’re fighting with a giant neon-drenched ax, and Until You Fall nails that feeling with every single swing and block. Enemies will ruthlessly attack you in groups, and the end of each section brings the choice of one randomized power-up to reward you with.
Players will make their way through dozens of levels, separated by three tiers of difficulty, color, and enemy types, battling bosses at the end and collecting Aether. This ethereal currency is used to make those weapons even more brutal, giving you the edge in battle — once you muster up enough patience, that is. The question is, which part of you will fall first, your mind or your body? Until You Fall will challenge both. —Nick Sutrich
Vader Immortal: Episodes I–III
The Force will be with you, always
So many games over the years have tried to recreate the feeling of being a Jedi, with Kyle Katarn and the Jedi Knight series bringing us closest and motion controls in games like Star Wars Kinect moving us further away. Finally, Vader Immortal raises the bar, giving tons of Star Wars fans the experience they’ve been craving.
If you haven’t already experienced Vader Immortal, you’re lucky that you’ll get to play through all three episodes at once, then dive right into the lightsaber dojos and refine your lightsaber technique. Altogether, the cost and story length is about the same as many other Quest 2 games — a relatively high price for a relatively short campaign. The only thing that made Episodes I and II initially underwhelming for some gamers was their short duration.
Each episode changes your level of Force skill as you develop from a novice into a legitimate threat to Darth Vader. Because of that, each game encourages you to use different skills to defeat enemies; Episode 1 relies more on your lightsaber, while III gives you more power to fling enemies around and adds blasters. After you finish the story, you’ll want to spend hours in the dojo perfecting your Jedi skills.
Keep in mind that you won’t be jumping around and fighting like the flashy Jedi of the prequels. You’re mostly rooted to a single spot while enemies approach you, which helps avoid motion sickness but can also feel somewhat limiting. We’re also waiting on a Quest 2 graphics update; the Quest 2 has more trouble with deep black colors than the original Quest, so some dark areas in Vader Immortal now look grayer than they should. Otherwise, this is one of the best Oculus Quest 2 games for single-player combat. —Michael Hicks