Samsung’s Gear VR is a bit of an oddball in the mobile VR space. It isn’t another Google Cardboard clone, but a distinct platform co-developed with the folks from Oculus. The Gear VR only works with Samsung phones and then again only with select Galaxy S flagship units.

That also means the Gear doesn’t get its VR games, apps, and experiences from the regular old Android store only. No, it has it’s own Oculus store much in the same vein as its big brother the Rift. Here you will find games that are either exclusive to the Gear VR or have special versions for the Gear that can only be found there.

Personally, at the time I wrote this I was using a Galaxy S6 with its Gear VR version, and many of the games I list here are in fact my personal favorites. However, I have tried to highlight a variety of games, not just ones that I like to play myself. These are the titles that I think stand out for various reasons. At the very least they should ensure that your Gear VR doesn’t gather dust.


EVE: Gunjack

EVE Gunjack

On the big-brother Oculus Rift system EVE: Valkyrie leads the charge in gorgeous space combat sims. Valkyrie has been a flagship premium VR title, but it’s bloated corpus would never fit into the mobile VR platforms of today. So instead, they decided to create a spinoff so that mobile VR users could also get a taste of that EVE VR magic.

Let’s first get it out of the way that Gunjack is one of the best-looking VR games on any mobile VR platform. Obviously, Valkyrie looks better in screenshots, but with the action going on it’s not always so obvious that you aren’t strapped to a full-fat VR PC.

In order to deal with the more limited control options provided by the Gear VR, the developers didn’t bother to make a pilot simulator. Instead, this is a turret-shooter set in the EVE universe. You’re a gunjack, or something. The point is that you sit in your chair and you shoot at stuff from your turret – the perfect type of game for a situation where you basically look at things and then tap a single button to shoot at them.

Based on the incredible Unreal Engine 4, Gunjack is a killer-application for those who want to show off their Gear VR and experience the best the platform currently has to offer.

Download From Oculus Store


Minecraft: Gear VR Edition

Minecraft

What can I say? It’s freaking Minecraft. The game that just won’t become any less popular has found its way onto just about every platform – PC, console, phones, tablets, and now even mobile VR. Ever since Microsoft bought the developer and all the rights to the game I’ve been worried that they would want to keep it to themselves, but that seems to have been an unfounded concern. We did get to drool over an amazing Minecraft AR edition using the Microsoft Hololens. That headsets costs $3000, though, so it’s a good thing we can experience the game in the third dimension on the much more affordable Gear.

If you’ve somehow never heard of this game, you do two things: mine and craft. Why? Well, the idea is to survive as long as possible, making better and better stuff from your mining activities.

The Gear VR version of Minecraft requires a gamepad, so if you don’t have one you should hold off on buying the game.
The game looks pretty much as you’d expect, and multiplayer in VR is pretty freaking great. The creepy parts of Minecraft are, however, much creepier than playing on anything else. So if you find regular old MC a little too tense then this is not for you. The rest of us can enjoy enough for everyone.

Download From Oculus Store


Hitman Go: VR Edition

Hitman Go

I sometimes really wonder how it is that creators come up with some of their ideas. The Hitman series is a set of hardcore games beloved by fans. In these games you play the titular Hitman and you have to complete a series of missions, usually involving the creative disposal of an assassination target.

Taking this premise into account, I have to wonder how they came up with something like Hitman GO? To be blunt – it’s a board game. Our, er, “hero” is reduced from a walking, talking figure to a stiff little plastic man. We move him along a path on the board, avoiding the guards and various other hazards so that we can get the drop on his unsuspecting mark. The game is oddly compelling. I have spent quite a few hours on my phone playing the standard, non-VR version of Hitman Go. Even games like Deus Ex and Tomb Raider have received the “GO” treatment.

In VR the game is essentially the same, but the addition of VR really makes the beautiful game board look like a real, solid object. This is one of the most immersive VR games I’ve seen on the Gear VR. It just goes to show that you don’t need to blow us away graphically for a VR games to impress us.

Download From Oculus Store


Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

What is this game, even? The modern age of video games sure has let developers go down all sorts of creative detours. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes puts you in a room with a ticking bomb. So that’s not great? That’s not the whole story however, you need at least one other player who is outside of the room, giving you instructions on how to defuse the bomb. The instructions come from the bomb’s manual, but the expert can’t see the bomb and the other player can’t see the manual. So between the two of you there needs to be a lot of rapid communication or everyone is going bye-bye.

While this game did not start out as a VR title, thank goodness they did it. Putting the victim in the room with the bomb using VR is an inspired move. It’s also a great way to involve your friends with VR and have a fun party game after all. The manual is downloaded from the internet, so you only need one gear and one copy of the game to play. There’s almost unlimited play potential as well, since the bomb is regenerated every time.

It’s a smart idea that is a lot of fun once you get into it. It’s one of the more expensive Gear VR titles, but one which should be on the virtual shelf of every Gear owner.

Download From Oculus Store


End Space

End Space

While the creators of Gunjack decided that it wasn’t really feasible to do a proper space flight sim for the Gear VR, the creators of End Space never got the memo. You’d expect that a game which aims to ape the sophistication of a AAA space fighter sim would require a gamepad. Turns out End Space will let you use a gamepad, a gear controller, or just the integrated touchpad on the side of the HMD.

It even has an in-universe explanation. In End Space the weapons of your system are “neurally linked” to your eyes. In other words, you shoot where you look. There is a bit of story to the game as well, placing you under the command of an organization known as the United Liberation Front. Of course, there have to be bad guys too and these come in the form of the Tartarus Liberation Front.

Yeah, it’s all B-movie Sci-Fi plot, but that’s not why we are here. End Space is an insane attempt at bringing truly AAA VR to a mobile platform. For the most part it doesn’t quite make it, but even when these guys fall short they still blow every other mobile VR experience out of the water.

Download From Oculus Store


Oculus Arcade

Oculus Arcade

Like most people my age, I spent a large portion of my youth pumping my allowance into arcade machines in street cafes. These days arcades have been dying for quite some time. Although, ironically, VR arcades are making a comeback. So it’s sort of fitting that you can use your Gear VR to relive some of those arcade days.

Oculus Arcade puts you in front of an array of arcade cabinets. The virtual space is replete with 80s neon and there are more than a few games to choose from. There are titles from SEGA, Bandai Namco, and Midway. The arcade machines are beautifully recreated, given the limitations of phone hardware. As you might expect, a gamepad is an absolute requirement to play. It would have been cool to use a physical arcade stick, but at least the virtual cabinet controls respond to your gamepad button presses.

While Oculus Arcade is free to try, if you want to unlock unlimited play on any one game you need to pay for the privilege. Still, most people are only going to be interested in one or two of these titles for extended play, so it’s not so bad.

Download From Oculus Store


Drop Dead

Drop Dead

Zombies man, they used to be cool. Now they are so overused that even kid’s games use them. I mean, the zombies in Plants vs Zombies are cool and all, but they are hardly scary. George Romero probably turns in his grave every time someone further dilutes what used to be quite a terrifying fictional creature.

So obviously I wasn’t too enthused about a zombie game for the Gear VR. Especially since Resident Evil 7 VR basically has made all future VR games with zombies or other undead creatures essentially obsolete. To my surprise, however, Drop Dead turned out to be quite a cool game.

Graphically it’s not aiming for a realistic look, which is probably to make the best of the mobile hardware that the game must run on. However, that’s not a bad thing at all. It has consistent art direction and an appealing comic-book style that holds the whole thing together visually. The lack of photorealism does nothing to change the fact that this game looks exactly as good as it needs to look.

Drop Dead has a story involving mad scientists and such, but at its heart it is a rail-shooter, much in the vein of one of my favorite arcade games – House of the Dead. The production value on Drop Dead is also pretty high for the asking price. Decent voice acting and some entertaining set pieces make it a real blast to play.

Download From Oculus Store


Ocean Rift

Ocean Rift

Fine, I’m cheating by putting Ocean Rift on this list because, as you can tell, it’s not actually a game. Rather, it’s a “VR Experience” where you get immersed with no stakes and no actual skill required. In a world where people (incorrectly) think of Telltale games and titles like Everyone’s Gone to Rapture as “games”, I think I can be forgiven just this once.

Ocean Rift is a VR underwater safari. It’s about exploring the depths, new habitats, and interesting animals. On the Gear VR there is the Ocean Rift DEMO and a paid full version. Ocean Rift makes for an astounding demonstration of what mobile VR can do when in the hands of the right people. The full version provides twelve environments and plenty to do.

Control-wise you can use the touchpad or a controller, but try the demo first if you only have the touchpad. Some people find moving around with the touchpad to be too frustrating, so if you don’t want to splurge on a controller then this might not be for you.

In the end, Ocean Rift is a jaw-dropping app for the Gear VR and everyone should at least try the free demo.

Download From Oculus Store


Dreadhalls

Dreadhalls

I have to be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of horror in VR. I can barely stick around long enough to play scary games on a flat screen, so it should be no surprise that I don’t flock to horror games that make you feel like you’re actually there. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a well-crafted game, even one that tries to scare the pants off you after convincing you to soil yourself.

Dreadhalls is a combination of a few different game genres. It’s a roguelike, which means you aren’t expected to get to the end on your single life. You’ll have to die over and over to figure things out. It also means that the levels are never the same twice; procedurally-generated so you never know what’s around the next corner. The very definition of terror. This goes well with its other main inspiration, which is survival horror, named for irony considering that you spend most of your time dying.

In any case, in Dreadhalls you must survive the horrors found in the eponymous halls and make it out alive. You’ll need a gamepad to do it too, so don’t blow your five bucks if you don’t have one yet. If you like being terrified, for some reason, this is the best way to do it on your Gear VR. Just don’t ask me to join you.

Download From Oculus Store


VR Karts Sprint

VRKarts Sprint

Do you like Mario Kart? Who doesn’t like Mario Kart? The classic Nintendo game has a hallowed place on my 3DS, so that my significant other and I can duke it out whenever the mood takes us. Mario Kart has inspired lots and lots of clones that ape the same basic formula. You and a bunch of other racers nail around a track using powerups to get in each other’s way. First one over the line wins.

It’s a simple recipe, but it’s been proven time and again. VR Karts Sprint doesn’t have the charm or imagination of a Mario Kart game, but it is a great Gear VR take on the genre. After all, who knows when Nintendo will actually port Mario Kart to VR. Outside of arcades, that is, where a version already exists.

The game requires a controller and is best played with friends. Having enough friends with Gears AND controller can be tough, but at least the game doesn’t cost very much.

Download From Oculus Store


Punching Above Its Weight

Looking at all the quality titles that have been developed for the Gear VR since it first came out, I have to admit I underestimated Samsung’s little wonder. It’s turned into a truly viable VR platform and so far represents the best that mobile VR can offer. These are just a small sample of the games and experiences that are out there to try. If you’ve got a Gear VR, hopefully this list will help you jumpstart your library, but I’m as excited as anyone to see who comes up with the next big thing for Samsung’s headset.