So you’ve got a VR headset — a $400 Rift, perhaps — and are keen to find the latest, coolest experiences to play on it. You’re not alone — we are too! To find them we attended VRLO in London, where virtual reality companies come together to demo their latest products, and wow us with the newest innovations.
It wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t share the cool things we tried there, so here are the five coolest experiences we saw. We’ve concentrated on those you can try out today, but one coming soon was so mind-blowing, it just had to be included.
When done right, virtual reality documentaries are engrossing and engaging. Finding Haka is the perfect example, transporting you to New Zealand to see a young rugby player learn the famous Haka ritual, and learn about its history. We won’t give anything away about the story, as it’s best watched without hints; but do look out for some great editing, impressive use of camera angles, and some effects that we’d not seen in a 360-degree documentary before.
Finding Haka is the work of SurroundVision and filmed for Sky Sports. It’s Sky’s first full-length VR movie, and was apparently a real labor-of-love for the production crew — and is available to watch through the Sky VR app for iOS and Android. It’s not just for rugby fans either! It’s powerful and exciting stuff.
Described as an “audio-reactive experience,” Fantasynth sees you glide through a world that comes alive with bright neon colors, jets of flame, and geometric shapes. Set to the trance track Chez Nous by N’to, it’s worth listening to wearing a great pair of headphones, and if you have one, a bass rumble backpack. We particularly loved the reflections on the ground, giving the world a metallic, futuristic look. We’re not the only ones either, it was listed as an official selection at the SIGGRAPH 2017 conference, where the world’s best computer graphics and interactive visual techniques are showcased.
You’d best to sit down while watching, as the movement can make you a little dizzy. We watched on an Oculus Rift, and it can be downloaded through Steam VR, and the Oculus Store.
Ever played the PlayStation classic Rez? It’s one of our favorite PlayStation VR releases, and Horizon VR’s is directly influenced by it. The scrolling audio experience uses the Google Daydream controller to guide you around a futuristic and often surreal world, interacting with elements and passing goals to change the music playing in real-time. We loved it, especially the stage which used Bonobo’s Outliers as the theme.
Horizons is available through the Google Play Store, and is playable only on the Google Daydream headset and a compatible Pixel phone.
Whether you liked the live-action Ghost In The Shell film or not, you have to try the VR experience, created by Rewind — which organized VRLO — and Here Be Dragons studios, alongside Paramount, Oculus, and Dreamworks. It’s a scrolling video experience set around the famous building dive scene in the movie, and it’s nothing short of spectacular. From the stunning design of the camouflaged figure-hugging body suit, to the neon brilliance of the city, it’s a visual feast.
We tried it out on the Oculus Rift, and the Touch controllers can be used to slow the action down, giving you a chance to check out every detail. It’s rendered in real-time on the Rift, and looks incredible. The video is also available for the Gear VR, and even on Facebook as a 360-degree video, though it’s best seen on the Oculus Rift.
You’re going to have to wait a short while for this one, but believe us, it’s worth it. Created by Rewind for the BBC, you become an astronaut tasked with repairing a piece of the International Space Station, and must spacewalk to complete your mission. It’s built for the HTC Vive, and uses the controllers to great effect. It’s even possible to play in a haptic feedback chair, and to monitor your heart rate in real-time.
It’s genuinely one of the most dizzying, exciting, awe-inspiring, and downright frightening VR experiences we’ve had in a long while. Like all the best VR experiences, there are moments you’ll remember in “the real world,” such as opening the hatch and pulling yourself out into space, only to see the Earth far below you.
We’re not the only ones gushing over it either. Home: A VR Spacewalk has won numerous awards, including a Silver Lion at Cannes, a BIMA digital award nomination, and an invitation to be part of BAFTA’s VR Committee Summer Showcase.
Although you can watch a video summarizing the experience, it’s nothing compared with actually doing it. Rewind is still putting the final touches to the build, and is waiting for a final release date, but we’ve been assured it’s coming out in the near future.