2019 was an amazing year for VR users in terms of both hardware and notable releases. The launch of new headsets like Oculus Quest, Valve Index, and Vive Cosmos provided more ways to experience virtual reality heavy hitters such as Beat Saber, Boneworks, and Superhot VR. 2020 is shaping up to be just as exciting as some of the best upcoming games are expected to release later this year, including Valve’s highly-anticipated Half-Life: Alyx.
Here, we’ll be highlighting the best VR experiences you can look forward to getting lost in throughout 2020 and beyond. Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list in the future with new entries. Lastly, if you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
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Release Date: March 2020 – Platform: Valve Index | HTC Vive | Oculus Rift/Quest | WMR
Arguably the biggest VR title of 2020, Half-Life: Alyx is scheduled to release this March with support for all PC-compatible VR headsets, most notably the Valve Index, where owners can pick up a copy of the game for free. Considering it’s the first new Half-Life game in over a decade, we’re anxious to see what Valve has in store.
Described as a “full-length VR experience,” Half-Life: Alyx takes place between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2. The game sees you taking on the role of Alyx Vance as she and her father lead a resistance against an alien race called The Combine. Rumors suggest it will be about the same length as HL2 and feature elements from previous games in the series including the ability to manipulate gravity.
Lone Echo II
Release Date: Early 2020 – Platform: Oculus Rift/Quest
Following closely behind Half-Life: Alyx in regards to hype, Lone Echo II is another sci-fi VR experience that’s currently on everyone’s radar. Although the first entry didn’t exactly set the world on fire back in 2017, it’s been largely credited for raising the bar for VR visuals and gameplay. Now in 2020, the market is a lot more crowded with games that are similar to Lone Echo, so we’re hoping developer Ready at Dawn has brought their A-game for the sequel.
The decision to postpone Lone Echo II back in 2019 was already a show of good faith and commitment to quality that’ll likely result in a more polished experience; and that’s definitely an edge Ready at Dawn is going to want to have when going toe-to-toe against a new Half-Life game. The sequel’s story will be a continuation of the original’s and chronicle the latest adventures of Captain Olivia Rhodes and her robot protector Jack.
The Room VR: A Dark Matter
Release Date: Early 2020 – Platform: Valve Index | Oculus Rift/Quest | PSVR
Fireproof Games’ popular puzzle series The Room will make its way to virtual reality when The Room VR: A Dark Matter releases early this year. Designed for VR from the ground up, the game tells the story of a renowned Archaeologist whose disappearance sparks a police investigation led by the player.
The Room VR will see you exploring new locations jam-packed with cryptic clues to uncover using new gadgets and tools. Everything we’ve seen so far leads us to believe it’ll be a more fantasy-driven endeavor than previous games but given the series’ extensive catalog, we’re just happy to see Fireproof exploring new territory.
Pixel Ripped 1995
Release Date: Spring 2020 – Platform: Valve Index | Oculus Rift/Quest | HTC Vive | WMR | PSVR
After the success of Pixel Ripped 1989, Brazilian game studio ARVORE is back for more retro nostalgia with a sequel set six years later. Pixel Ripped 1995 continues the series’ formula by having players revisit gaming eras of yesteryear while telling an original story centered on a 9-year old kid from New Jersey named David.
Enlisted by a hero named Dot, David sets out to become the best gamer 1995 has ever seen while dealing with all kinds of real-world struggles one can expect at age 9. Considering how masterfully the original game blended VR with retro-inspired gameplay, Pixel Ripped 1995 won’t have a hard time convincing players to strap in for an adventure spanning 16-bit and 32-bit gaming.
Release Date: July 2020 – Platform: Valve Index | Oculus Rift | HTC Vive | PSVR
Firmament is a new steampunk-inspired adventure game from developer Cyan, best known for classics like Myst, Riven, and Obduction. Self-described as a “monumental voyage through diverse and curious realms,” the VR game sees you exploring a mysterious landscape brimming with puzzles to solve and lore to soak up.
Along your journey, you’ll be joined by a mechanical companion made of clock parts who acts as a key to opening new gateways to other worlds. The above teaser trailer from 2018 does a great job of setting you up for the game’s ethereal tone and mysterious narrative. With a track record like Cyan has, we’re expecting Firmament will deliver a satisfying and immersive experience worthy of VR.
Release Date: Late 2020 – Platform: Valve Index | Oculus Rift/Quest | WMR | PSVR
LOW-FI made its debut on Kickstarter where it quickly met and surpassed indie developer IRIS’s goal in a matter of only four days after the campaign had launched. Described as a “non-linear open-world sandbox,” the game drops you in a crime-ridden metropolis in need of a tough but fair police officer who’s not afraid to break a few laws or completely ignore them altogether.
As a new transfer, you’ll patrol city-block 303 and get to know its many inhabitants while solving cases and advancing the game’s story. Alternatively, you have the option of diving headfirst into the city’s criminal underworld where accepting bribes and killing anyone who gets in your way is common practice. LOW-FI is currently expected to release by the end of 2020 for PC and PlayStation VR.
The Walking Dead: Onslaught
Release Date: TBA – Platform: Valve Index | Oculus Rift/Quest | HTC Vive | PSVR
Set within The Walking Dead universe, Onslaught offers a brand new story for players looking to experience the real-world horrors that come with living in a zombie-infested world. The game uses real-motion melee and ranged combat for a more visceral experience tailored specifically for VR.
Combat sees you slicing, impaling, and basically dismembering Walkers in just about any way you can imagine. Although recent games based on TWD property haven’t been so great, Onslaught is being developed by Survios, the developers behind successful VR first-person shooter Raw Data.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond
Release Date: TBA – Platform: Oculus Rift/Quest
Now that we know Respawn’s mysterious VR title is actually a Medal of Honor game, we’re eager to see how the developer has gone about adapting the first-person shooter franchise for virtual reality. The developer has already proven their prowess in the shooter space, with both Titanfall games and the battle royale phenomenon Apex Legends being well-received.
In Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, players will be able to experience World War II from the perspective of an OSS agent working for the Allied forces. Assigned to complete a tour of duty across the European continent, you’ll visit historically accurate environments and wield authentic weaponry from the time. The game will feature both single and online multiplayer as well as gameplay that combines action with puzzle-solving.
After the Fall
Release Date: TBA – Platform: Valve Index | Oculus Rift/Quest | WMR | PSVR
Vertigo Games, the developer behind Arizona Sunshine and Skyworld, appears to be gearing up to release another VR first-person shooter. Set in an alternative, post-apocalyptic 1980s Los Angeles during the dawn of a new ice age, After the Fall has you fighting for survival as you try to endure freezing cold temperatures amidst a zombie-alien invasion.
The game will reportedly feature weapon and armor crafting as well as the ability to upgrade and modify any gear you pick up along the way. In addition to a story campaign that’s playable in both single-player and online co-op with up to four friends, After the Fall includes a breadth of post-game content consisting of dynamic world events, side missions, and enemy encounters.
Sniper Elite VR
Release Date: TBA – Platform: HTC Vive | Oculus Rift/Quest | PSVR
Sniper Elite creator Rebellion has partnered with developer Just Add Water to design a VR stealth-action game set in Sicily, Italy during WW2. The game casts you as a soldier for the Italian Resistance whose been sent on a dangerous mission to destroy Nazi-controlled U-boats. To better suit the immersive nature of virtual reality, it will feature a first-person POV along with a new X-ray kill cam tailored for VR.
Additionally, players will be able to hone their sniping skills with an arsenal of authentic WW2-era weapons at their disposal. Like previous entries, Sniper Elite VR will feature sprawling environments that offer limitless opportunities to utilize different tactics and strategies.
Phantom: Covert Ops
Release Date: TBA – Platform: Oculus Rift/Quest
One of many VR titles to receive a delay in 2019, British developer nDreams’ stealth-action title Phantom: Covert Ops is now expected to release sometime this year. In it, you control an elite operative assigned to infiltrate enemy-occupied wetlands and eliminate a target threatening all-out war. The twist here is that you’re limited to working within the confines of your character’s kayak which is manually controlled by the player.
Thankfully, the rest of your gear isn’t as painfully low tech and includes a silenced pistol, a scoped rifle, and C4 in the event things take a turn for the worst (which they probably will). The game is flexible and supports both lethal and pacifist playstyles, allowing you to go in guns blazing or methodically slip past enemies undetected. Although being restricted to your kayak is somewhat of a letdown, Covert Ops still shows a lot of promise as a VR title.
Release Date: TBA – Platform: Valve Index | Oculus Rift/Quest | HTC Vive | WMR
Vertigo 2 picks up right where the first game left off, offering an atmospheric and story-driven VR experience tailored for high-end headsets. Much like the original, the first-person shooter sees you exploring a massive underground facility belonging to Planck Interdimensional Energy Solutions, the industry leader in providing energy derived from black hole-powered quantum reactors.
Your mission is to reach the reactor’s core while dealing with a myriad of challenges including parallel dimensions colliding, aliens from other universes appearing, and deadly androids that have been programmed to exterminate anything that breathes. The sequel looks to be just as weird as the original but if you try to keep an open mind, chances are you’ll end up enamored by the game’s absurdity.
Solaris: Offworld Combat
Release Date: TBA – Platform: Oculus Rift/Quest | PSVR
Sticking to what they do best, Firewall Zero Hour developer First Contact Entertainment has plans to release another online VR multiplayer shooter in 2020 titled Solaris: Offworld Combat. Much like the studio’s previous game, Solaris will feature fast-paced 4v4 battles set in futuristic-looking arenas.
Having learned from their mistakes while designing FZH, First Contact is planning to add dedicated servers this time around which will ensure matches are more stable. So far, the game looks amazing enough to raise the bar for competitive VR shooters.
Release Date: TBA – Platform: Oculus Rift/Quest | HTC Vive | WMR
Population: One is an upcoming battle royale game tailored for VR headsets that can also be played normally on a PC. To this point, indie developer BigBox is including cross-play support for all platforms. The game sees up to 24 players exploring a massive, one square kilometer-sized map that can be traversed by climbing, jumping, running, and flying via jetpacks.
While there are already a couple of notable VR titles in the battle royale space, namely Rec Room’s Rec Royale game mode and Stand Out: VR Battle Royale, both aren’t currently available for the Oculus Quest. It’s possible this will give Population: One a slight edge when it does end up releasing as the Quest continues to rise in popularity and wireless headsets slowly but surely become the standard for VR gaming.