Single-player missions can be engrossing experiences on their own in VR, but when the campaign’s done and all the AI foes have been slain, you need to know that when you finally hit that ‘multiplayer’ button that the developers have targeted the largest number of players possible to help ensure a healthy online playerbase. Here we discuss games that will let you play together—be it on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and sometimes PlayStation VR too.
VR’s overall playerbase—even across all three major headsets—is still a pretty small community in contrast to the online spaces of established console/PC gaming. So while the multiplayer lobbies won’t be busting at the seams like you’re used to in flatscreen media, you’re still bound to find a group of casuals, die-hards, and try-hards populating the servers. We’ll be going through the best cross-compatible games for Rift and Vive, and PSVR. You’ll find a longer explanation below our top 5 list detailing more about PSVR cross-play (spoiler: there’s only a few).
Best Cross-Play Multiplayer
5 – Arizona Sunshine (Rift, Vive – PSVR separate)
Arizona Sunshine is a first-person zombie shooter that lets play through a heart-pumping campaign in two-player co-op, or up to 4 players in ‘horde mode’. For an insanely fun game though, cross-play is awfully fickle to sort at first. Multiplayer is easiest when you’re dealing with the Steam version of the game, as VOIP isn’t available between different versions including the Rift-only version obtained from the Oculus Store. You can however link up with your buddy by using a third party VOIP app like Mumble or Team Speak failing that. Unfortunately the PSVR version is a lonely island, and doesn’t offer cross-play with Rift or Vive.
4 – Rec Room (Rift, Vive)
Social apps are a fun way to talk and interact with people in VR, but if you don’t have something fun to do while you’re actually there, the novelty ultimately wears off. Anti Gravity’s Rec Room is a great way to experience simple games like paintball or dodge ball, not to mention their ‘Quests’ which let you battle with medieval weaponry against monsters through a cartoony Middle Ages redressing of a high school—all while you have a chat with people from all over the world, or just your best buddies. Did we mention it was free. Yeah, we can’t believe it either.
3 – Star Trek: Bridge Crew (Rift, Vive, PSVR)
You don’t have to be a Trekkie (or Trekker) to see why sitting at the bridge of a star ship, cooperatively taking down hostile aliens is a really engrossing way to lose an entire afternoon/evening. With its 4-player multiplayer, you can go through the game’s half-dozen campaign missions, or alternatively experience an infinite number of procedurally-generated missions in the company of other Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PSVR-owners. Created by Ubisoft’s Red Storm Entertainment, Star Trek: Bridge Crew [9/10] is worth it if only to say you’ve been where no man’s gone before. Get in while the community is still buzzing.
2 – Raw Data (Rift, Vive)
Raw Data is a first-person combat game from Survios currently in Early Access. This cross-compatible game is one of the most fast-paced and exciting romps out for HTC Vive and Oculus Touch right now. Far from being a simple shooting gallery, Raw Data gives you an impressive range of abilities and physical agency, making you feel like you’re in real danger. And if you can master the controls, you’ll feel like a superhuman badass too. Support for PSVR will launch in September.
1 – EVE: Valkyrie (Rift, Vive, PSVR)
CCP Games’ arcade-style dogfighter Eve Valkyrie (2016) isn’t bogged down by the complexity of space sims like Elite Dangerous (2014), and focuses more on dropping you directly into the twisty-turny space battles you popularized in science fiction series like Star Wars. CCP is constantly updating ever since its official release on HTC Vive in 2016, and has really fleshed out in the months thereafter with the addition of Carrier Assault, Wormholes, and a recent planet-based updated called Ground Rush.
Although technically supporting motion controllers, either a HOTAS or gamepad is a more natural fit for Valkyrie, and proves to be one of the easiest games to jump into for quick, but intense dogfighting sessions. We should also mention there‘s a bit of a problem when it comes to forming cross-platform squads: you can’t. Many people erroneously thought it was possible when CCP said in their info sheet on squads that “a pilot will have the option to invite up to four friends to be a part of [the squad]. The available squad members will be populated from a players Oculus Home, PlayStation Network and Steam friends list.” What CCP failed to mention was there is no way to add a person from a different friends list. If you own an Rift or Vive however, and purchase on Steam, you’re in the clear squad-wise.
Healthy Playerbases, Cross-compatibility Issues
Besides EVE: Valkyrie and Star Trek: Bridge Crew, there are only two other cross-play multiplayer titles that currently work on all three major headsets, and they’re from Ubisoft; Werewolves Within and Eagle Flight. Speaking from anecdotal evidence, both Werewolves and Eagle Flight have had difficulties maintaining consistent player numbers. This doesn’t mean they aren’t fun in their own right, but they’ve been sorely neglected by Ubisoft as Werewolves Within’s latest update was in January 2017 and Eagle Flight’s last update was before it was even released. No additional content, maps, re-balancing, or responses to player feedback have been made; it’s no wonder people got tired and moved on to greener digital pastures.
Conversely, Vive and Rift however are somewhat conjoined twins in all of this VR business. With an HTC Vive and ReVive at your disposal, hypothetically speaking all Oculus Rift multiplayer titles are defacto cross-play capable. And since most, if not all, SteamVR titles allow for Oculus Touch emulation, Rift owners only need a third tracking sensor to replicate the Vive’s impressive tracking volume and make use of room-scale games originally designed for the Vive. So cross-play between Rift and Vive is basically a non-issue if you put your money and mind to the problem. With Echo Arena on the horizon, ReVive and native Rift users are poised to dethrone the lowest ranking.
With new players though comes the possibility of a rediscovery of older games that have sat on the shelf for months, so there’s no telling what multiplayer games will take off when prices drop like the recent Oculus Rift + Touch sale and freshly evangelized VR nuts rush into old favorites.
We’ll be updating this article as the VR landscape changes in the coming months.