How to Get Started on Steam VR (Free)

Which of these five has been your favorite so far?

  • Bigscreen

  • Rec Room

  • The Lab

  • VR Chat

  • Google Earth VR


Results are only viewable after voting.

letschat6

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You just got your PCVR headset. Now what? There is an overwhelming amount of content that headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift open up the doors to. While Oculus Rift has its own store that is considered a “walled garden,” -- other headsets are unable to access it without third party software -- SteamVR is another way to access applications and games. When VR software is purchased on Steam, it allows futureproofing, or the ability to retain access to your games and applications should you choose another brand of HMD (head mounted display).

There are thousands upon thousands of things available on SteamVR. You may be low on funds after purchasing your expensive VR headset, so you may be wondering what free experiences and games you should start with. In this article, I will list my top five free games and experiences that you should try first in no particular order.

Google Earth VR


Google Earth VR is incredible. You start out standing in a random location, and you are then taken to a tour that will show you the controls and functions of the application. Once that is complete, you are free to explore!

The controls vary depending on what headset you are using, but in the case of Oculus Rift, simply hit the Y button to open the menu. Then, you can choose one of Google's recommended places, or search for your own, such as your childhood home or somewhere you went on vacation years ago.

Once you find a place, simply hold your left controller (which has an orb attached) to your face, and you will see a street view version of that place. I've spent several hours simply exploring and learning about new areas around the world.

Rec Room


Rec Room is quite a popular social experience. It consists of players not only in VR, but also people playing on PC. Additionally, Against Gravity, the creators of Rec Room, recently announced that they plan on bringing the game to iPhone users. Other mobile devices are yet to be announced.

In Rec Room, you start out in your Dorm Room, where you can draw on a whiteboard, customize your character, and access the Rec Center -- the social hub of the game. You can also play games such as paintball and laser tag, or go on Quests, which have adventures like Golden Trophy, where you use various weapons and team up with other players to defeat goblins that spawn around each room. Rec Room is truly an experience you won't want to miss.

VR Chat


You may have heard of VR Chat before, another social experience on SteamVR. It's just as, if not more, popular than Rec Room. However, there are a lot of major differences between the two. First of all, avatars on VR Chat can be created by players themselves and uploaded. This results in a lot of hilarity as people often choose silly avatars.

There are also a lot of player-created environments to hang out in. With the recent release of the Oculus Quest, VR Chat has expanded to that player base, as well. Players on the Quest can only access certain worlds and only see certain avatars that are optimized for it.
A lot of memes are recreated in this game, so this makes for great fun and lots of laughs. Definitely don't skip this one!

The Lab


The Lab is an oldie but goodie. It was created by Valve (the makers of Steam) to showcase the capabilities of virtual reality. When you first launch it, you start on a large mountainous area. A little robot dog runs excitedly around you. You can pet it or throw a stick for it to fetch.

Once you've had enough of that, you can return to the main area to explore. There are plenty of games you can play around the room, or even little toys to tinker with like a balloon gun.

Longbow is one of my favorite games. You play as a little stick figure guy and use your bow to shoot other little stick figures trying to take over your castle.

Slingshot is another great one. You use a slingshot to shoot little orbs (that have sarcastic commentary as you fling them) at different boxes around the room. The Lab is another fantastic way to use your new VR headset.

Bigscreen


The final contender on this list is Bigscreen, which just had a huge revamp in 2019. Bigscreen is partially a social app where you can just hang out in the lobby, but its main function is to view movies and games on a huge screen. Players can create rooms with many different environments and display their computer screen in the room. All you need to do this is the audio driver you can simply download in the settings.

Additionally, the developers have had movie nights in the past where you could buy tickets and view them at certain showtimes just like a real movie theater. The developers have said they plan to do this a lot more later in 2019, including 3D movies. This could prove to be lots of fun and save you some gas on driving to the theater. Check out Bigscreen as soon as you can.

I hope this list has proven to be helpful to newcomers to PCVR. I remember when I got my first headset and had no clue where to begin. Welcome to the vast community of VR players and I hope you have a blast!
 
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