Within the PC gaming space, you’d be hard-pressed to avoid the flurry of free-to-play titles, from Fortnite and Genshin Impact, down to Riot Games’ duo of Valorant and the perennial League of Legends. And, of course, Epic Games’ weekly freebie bonanza guarantees at least one free game, no strings attached, every seven days. That’s only scratching the surface of what’s out there, though. You could conceivably game for years without spending a penny, all while landing premium AAA gaming experiences spanning numerous genres.
VR may not have the same spread of options as PC, but that doesn’t mean the platform doesn’t have its fair share of fantastic games that won’t cost more than your time. As for why VR owners would be reluctant to spend on VR games, everyone loves free stuff, right? Additionally, VR headsets are expensive (not to speak on the gaming rig required for anything resembling decent performance), and forking out yet more money on games can be a tough pill to swallow, especially if you are still figuring out if the tech is your cup of tea.
With enough options out there to warrant penning a guide such as this one, there’s a daunting aspect to sifting through VR games to find the best ones. Our guide aims to hone in on the very best free VR games to save you some time and, of course, some coin.
When you have finished having a look you might be interested in some of our other VR articles:
How We Picked
We’ve handpicked five of what we consider the best free VR games out can play right now, as long as you have a compatible headset and some time to spare. These span several genres and recognizable franchises, with a few choice oddities thrown in for those that want something a little different. Read on to find out a little about each and why they are worth your time. A ‘Things to Consider’ section near the tail end of the guide also has some top pointers to help you pick out the best free VR games.
It’s worth noting that our guide to the best free VR games is by no means exhaustive or definitive. For the sake of brevity, we’ve had to narrow it down, but there are plenty of other excellent VR games at this all too attractive price point. If we missed out on your favorite, or there’s a game that deserves a spot on our list, then, by all means, let us know in the comments section at the end.
Best Free VR Games
Wave-based survival horror shooter
Polished visuals and responsive gunplay
Terrifying, immersive atmosphere
Good headset compatibility
Short 30-45 mins session to complete
Propagation is a fast-paced wave-based survival horror shooter that has you pump lead through an endless horde of zombies. As these things so often go, a virus is behind all this, and for some reason, you’re left fighting for your life in an abandoned subway station.
Pinned down, you’ve got no other option than to turn to your trusty pistol and shotgun duo to mow through a good variety of enemies, including giant spiders, zombie crawlers, and more, all while vying to hit the highest score possible. There are four difficulty levels to choose from: normal, hard, nightmare, and impossible for the reckless out there. Propagation also looks excellent, with polished visuals, and plays equally well, with responsive, satisfying gunplay.
Propagation excels in the atmosphere department. The horde of advancing zombies and monstrous aberrations, the bleak, post-apocalyptic setting, and the clever use of lighting make for a genuinely terrifying experience, especially when wearing a VR headset, which ups the sense of immersion to a new horrifying level. And one that even seasoned horror buffs will appreciate. It isn’t for the faint of heart; you’ve been warned.
Though Propagation is designed as an arcade-style shooter with re-playability in mind, especially striving for a high score with each attempt, each playthrough or session lasts at most 45 minutes. As it stands, only a single map/level is playable, and there are only two weapons available. More content is reportedly on the way, and a new co-op DLC launched earlier this year. Although it, sadly, isn’t free. Those looking for variety are likely to get their fill and move on reasonably rapidly from Propagation.
Propagation is available for free on Steam and is compatible with Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
Portal 2 mod designed for VR
Bite-sized mini-story set in the Portal universe
10 new puzzles to solve
360-degree room-scale experience
Requires Portal 2 to play
Only compatible with Valve Index and HTC Vive
Portal Stories: VR is a community-made mod based on the acclaimed Portal Stories: Mel modification, which recounts the story of Mel as they discover a new personality core and come head to head with a new threat in the Aperture facility.
Portal Stories: VR is essentially a bite-sized mini-story set in the portal universe that offers players ten new puzzles to sink their teeth into and solve. It’s ripe with Portal 2’s unique atmosphere, humor, and visuals. All brought to life in an immersive 360-degree room-scale experience. If Valve ever needed proof of how wonderful Portal would be in VR, this is the game. It’s worth noting that those expecting the same expansive portal-based gameplay and physics as the base PC game might be disappointed.
Because Portal Stories: VR is essentially a mod, it does come with some notable requirements, not least that you’ll need to own the base Portal 2 game to play. Portal 2, sadly, isn’t free, but the investment is minimal as the game costs no more than a few dollars/pounds and even less during a sale. In any case, Portal 2 is a game any self-respecting PC gaming fan should experience at least once and is a prime entry in Valve’s rich back catalog.
Portal Stories: VR has limited headset compatibility, and you’ll need either a Valve Index or HTC Vive headset to play with those owning one of the range of Oculus headsets, unfortunately out in the cold.
Based on Spider-Man: Far From Home movie
VR swinging through Manhattan
Good headset compatibility
Lackluster controls and visuals
Released as a companion to the 2019 Spider-Man: Far From Home movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home Virtual Reality has you swing and web your way across New York as Spider-Man, which is, for us, an experience tailored-made for VR.
And, it doesn’t disappoint; the game captures the pure adrenaline-pumping, vertiginous thrill of it all thanks to the immersion of VR. You can pick from one of four Spider-Man suits, then jump in to navigate and scale the city’s countless buildings and towers in time trials, all while confronting a new enemy intent on causing no end of havoc in combat trials. There’s both a short story mode and a free roam mode for those that fancy carving their own path through the city.
While swinging between the skyscrapers of Manhattan at breakneck speeds is a unique experience in VR, Spider-Man: Far From Home Virtual Reality suffers from lackluster controls that may leave those hungry for pinpoint accuracy disappointed.
Similarly, the visuals leave a lot to be desired and lack polish, notably the blocky, detail-less buildings, and the map isn’t large enough to warrant repeated play sessions, other than for the immersive thrill of jumping off a building and avoiding the ground with a well-timed web sling at the last moment. If it were not free, we’d be wary about forking out money for such a limited experience.
Spider-Man: Far From Home Virtual Reality is available for free via Steam and is playable on a good range of headsets, including Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
Loads of mini VR experiences
Set in a 31st century amusement park in the stars
Suitable for all skill levels
Good headset compatibility
Milkyway Funland transports you to an amusement park amid the stars in the 31st century, brought to life in virtual reality. With a VR headset on, you’ll be able to experience a collection of fast and fun rides and mini-games styled on arcade and carnival staples.
The mini-games include obstacle courses, a roller coaster ride fraught with dangers to avoid, a rhythm-based game a la Beat Saber, arcade shooters, pinball, and whack-a-mole, to name a few. The spread of games in Milkyway Funland is suitable for all skill levels and offers a light, fun way to experience VR that’s as suitable to first-timers as more seasoned players.
Despite a fun collection of mini-games that are well put together and genuinely fun in VR, Milkyway Funland comes with one major issue; paywalled content, or, in other words, pay-to-play content.
Firing up the game grants you a set number of ‘Free Tickets’ to experience the rides. Once you’ve used up these tickets, you’ll have one of two choices: either spend real-world money on in-game purchases to secure new tickets or earn them by playing a set selection of lackluster mini-games. Unsurprisingly, the better games found in Milkyway Funland require tickets to play, which detracts from the overall experience.
You can pick up Milkyway Funland for free (sort of) on Steam. The game is playable on a decent range of VR headsets, including the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
1950s-set spy-detective game
Gather evidence and clues to unearth communist spies
Decent headset compatibility
Occasional sketchy performance
The Red Stare delivers a clever and intriguing sleuthing experience with some welcome Rear Window vibes that lends itself well to VR’s immersive qualities. The music, polished visuals, and 1950’s New York setting come to life through the lens of a VR headset, and it’s difficult not to feel part of those tense, curious early days of the Cold War. For those in the mood for a good detective game, then The Red Stare makes the very best of the VR tech, all for free.
In The Red Stare, you jump in as a spy tasked by their handler to discover which of your neighbors is a communist spy. You’ll gather intel from phone calls and a fax machine, sift through case files to uncover clues, and snap pictures to secure evidence, all to prove your suspicions right.
By tracking the neighbors’ movements and appearances, infiltrating their apartments to find vital items, and making deductions from gathered clues, you’ll play a crucial role in ousting the Reds from New York.
The only problem with The Red Stare is occasional sketchy performance, notably stuttering issues even on respectably specced PCs that meet the minimum system requirements. These don’t represent the full experience, thankfully, but a point worth keeping in mind for those using older rigs to play VR games and for players especially prone to motion sickness. Stuttering is by far the most common culprit behind most instances of nausea when playing in VR.
You can download The Red Stare on Steam for free, and it’s compatible with Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift headsets.
Things To Consider
There are roughly a dozen mainstream VR headsets out there, such as the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Quest 2, and HP Reverb G2, to name a handful. Unfortunately, this broad spread of headsets means inconsistent compatibility for games. Unlike consoles where every game works out of the box or even PC gaming where only specifications limit playability, games aren’t necessarily compatible with all headsets.
To that end, we recommend checking that your headset is indeed supported before spending time downloading a game and, if you’re on a metered internet connection, precious data. In each section above, we’ve highlighted headset and platform compatibility to simplify things on your end.
Similarly, all of our picks are PC VR games, so if you are using a mobile VR headset such as the Samsung Gear VR that rely on a smart phone to power the VR experience, these games won’t work, although mobile versions do sometimes exist.
If you’re tempted by mods or VR versions of existing games, it’s worth considering if the base game is required, too, as in Portal Stories: VR above.
Micro-Transactions and In-Game Purchases
For better or worse, free games on PC and console generally conceal a well-oiled edifice of micro-transactions, in-game cosmetic purchases (skins, avatars, playable characters, etc.), gacha mechanics, or good old loot boxes. These are an intrinsic part of the model. After all, developers and publishers need to recoup the cost of development and make money somehow.
Fortunately, VR remains largely unaffected for the time being, and free games that ask for your money once you’ve started playing are few and far between. As VR’s popularity increases, we’ll likely see big-name publishers responsible for some of the most predatory micro-transaction systems on PC and console shift some of their focus to the platform, at which point expect the same glut of casino-style mechanics and deceptively alluring in-game purchases.
But, we should make the most of it for the time being: the overwhelming majority of free VR games are genuinely free and grant you access to the whole experience. Long may it last, but it probably won’t.
Delivering a thrilling blend of first-person zombie horde shooting and genuinely terrifying horror, Propagation is one of the best examples of how free VR games can provide a stellar experience. It’s definitely on the short side, but each playthrough has enough to entice VR fans for a taste at the very least.
A community-made mod for the acclaimed Portal 2, Portal Stories: VR brings all the charm and humor of the series to VR with a compelling mix of puzzles in a 360-degree room-scale experience. You do need a copy of Portal 2 to play, though.
Spider-Man: Far From Home Virtual Reality allows you to swing from and scale the urban jungle of New York as everyone’s favorite web-swinging superhero. It’s an intense, vertiginous experience that, while simple, is a must-play, especially as it’s 100% free.
A collection of light, enjoyable mini-games, Milkyway Funland offers fun for all skill levels, all in immersive VR. The paywalled content is a letdown, but there’s enough free content to keep players occupied for a while.
A sleuthing game set in the early days of the Cold War, The Red Stare has you hunting down communist spies in a compelling, era-appropriate setting that translates beautifully to immersive VR.
We’ll now end our guide to the best free VR games. We hope our recommendations satisfy that frugal gaming itch. The comments section is open, so feel free to drop in with any questions, concerns, or even suggestions of your own.