It stands to reason that a game designed to be enjoyed in virtual reality would require some form of virtual reality headset, right? Well, the answer is yes and no.
Most games do indeed require you to invest in an augmented reality headset of your choice. These headsets are your keys to the virtual world, and without them, you’re simply locked out of the game.
However, there are a few VR-centric games out there that don’t rely solely on headsets, allowing you to enjoy them as a flat gaming experience. These inclusive games are the ones we’re going to focus on today.
How to Tell if A Game has Both VR and Flat Play Options
You’ll come across two categories when shopping around for VR games: VR and VR Only.
Typically speaking, VR Only titles are designed for use with VR headsets exclusively, and you will not be able to hack your way into them using normal screens.
Then there are the titles labeled as VR games. These kinds of games are usually more flexible, giving you the choice to play flat or to fully immerse yourself in their worlds via a headset.
- The Playroom VR
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazards
- Half-Life: Alyx
- Star Trek Bridge Crew
- Skyrim VR
- Fallout VR
- Doom VR
VR Games You Can Play Without a Headset and How to Do It?
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best titles you can enjoy in both VR and as a flat game.
In this game, players enjoy a collection of VR mini-games. It’s sort of like a super futuristic PlayStation reimagining of Nintendo’s Mario Party franchise.
The Playroom VR supports local multiplayer, and players without a headset can join in the fun by using the PS VR social screen. It’s actually designed for this very purpose, which is fantastic and an intelligent move on PlayStation’s part, but unfortunately, this kind of game is something of a unicorn.
Developed by Sony, Bound is an incredibly abstract yet gorgeous game that follows a dancer through a fractured, ever-morphing fairy tale world.
It also offers you the choice of playing in VR or flat, so those that don’t have a headset can still embark on this epic, beautiful quest.
The seventh incarnation of this stone-cold classic horror survival game is all you’d expect it to be: enthralling, eerie, and downright terrifying.
Much like Bound, Resident Evil 7: Biohazards is a flat game with PS VR compatibility, so you can play it with or without a headset.
Half-life: Alyx is another survival game, although with a completely different aesthetic to Resident Evil. This is actually a VR-Only title, but players have been using mods to make it flat-compatible.
Y’all know what Star Trek’s about. This game can be flat or VR.
Now let’s discuss some games that are available as separate VR/Flat entities…
Skyrim blew the open-world gaming format wide open with its expansive, player-defined experience, and now the VR edition of this game takes you even deeper into the Fatherland.
While you cannot play the VR Skyrim flat, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is the exact same game designed for flat gaming.
The same is true of the post-apocalyptic, open-world extravaganza, Fallout. You can buy a standalone flat version here and enjoy it on your monitor.
The hellish hallways of Doom can be enjoyed flat or in VR depending on the game you choose. The non VR version can be bought here.
- Open Steam — Library — Tools.
- Download and install the VR driver.
- Select Steam VR in the Steam window or via right-clicking the Steam icon in your taskbar.
- The Steam VR window will appear with a dialogue box saying there’s no headset connected. Ignore that, and click “Enable/Disable tVR” in the VR window.
- In the tVR window, use the dropdown menu to turn on tVR.
- Restart Steam. There will be no “missing headset” errors this time around, and there will be a “VR Output” window, which is where you’ll see the game.
- Now you can edit the parameters of your VR. We recommend starting in an “empty room” rather than the VR “home”.
- Click alt + enter to enter full screen.
- Open the Steam VR window and stop the Steam VR driver.
- Open “Tracker Manager”.
- Click “Open toggle device support window”.
- A list of supported devices will appear. Pick your chosen control. If it’s a wireless device such as the Switch Joy Con controllers, you’ll need to pair them up with your PC.
- In the Steam VR driver menu, select “Virtual Tracking” from the “Hand Tracking” dropdown menu.
- Click “Tracker manager”.
- Assign your controls to each tracker.
- Now you can fire up the Steam VR driver again and set up your VR room.
- First you’ll need a Kinect to PC adapter, then you’ll have to install the appropriate Kinect drivers.
- Open the Steam driver menu and select “Kinect Skeleton” from the dropdown menus for both head and hand tracking.
- Click “Startdriver4VR”
- Once the visual of your room appears, click “Kinect device settings”
- Now test the Kinect tracking by standing in the middle of your play area and moving.
- Set up your VR room, and stand in your play area while it calibrates, and that’s that.
Is There a Way to Trick Your PC into Thinking You Have a VR Headset?
It takes quite a lot of effort, and it won’t work on most VR games, but there is a fairly ingenious way in which you can (sort of) fool your PC into accepting the absence of a headset. This is done by replacing all the controlling aspects of a headset, such as head tracking, with other means.
If you want to give it a try, here’s what you do…
Download VR driver for Steam
Hook up Some Controllers
Set the Tracking
Alternatively, you can set up full-body tracking with a Kinect.
There you have it, folks. You can enjoy a number of VR-related games without even buying a headset, but if you want to fully join in with the fun, we recommend an Oculus headset. Enjoy!