The 10 best VR experiences right now
Virtual reality is an innovative medium that’s altering how we consume entertainment and information.
When faced with a millennial generation that’s unpredictable in the way they spend their time and money, VR seems to be meeting an increased demand for ‘experience’ over ‘material’.
This desire to achieve greater levels of immersion and proximity is where exiting new narrative possibilities are being explored in virtual experiences. The ripples of this trend are definitely being felt in the animation space as well – more studios than ever are experimenting with productions for VR and AR.
All you need to do to visit imagined worlds, the edges of our galaxy or the depths of our oceans is pop on a headset, so let’s find out some of the best VR experiences you can watch right now!
Home: A VR Spacewalk
Inspired by real NASA training simulations and commissioned by the BBC, Home lets you fulfil your childhood dreams of being an astronaut.
This experience is incredible because it doesn’t rely on fantastical themes or exaggerated visuals. It’s just stunning looking around at the Earth and the ISS knowing that this is what it really looks like and it’s really floating up there somewhere right now. For some reason, the silence is especially great at getting you into the immersive experience.
There’s a little drama to keep things spicy during your stint 250 miles above earth, nothing as bad as Gravity though, don’t panic.
Face your fears
Ready to get spooky? Face Your Fears is a series for those who like a hefty dose of horror in their lives.
VR is the natural choice for scary experiences – the whole medium aims to maximise immersion and proximity, so scary stuff has an even more heightened effect for the brave soul in the headset.
Each experience here focuses on a common phobia: you’ve got creepy clowns, vertigo, spiders, plane crashes, crows and snakes, to name a few.
I can’t decide whether this is an inspired phobia-therapy tool or just a fun experience for thrill seekers who love to get spooked.
Our favourite is the Stranger Things one, where you get to meet the Demogorgon and hang out in a couple of familiar locations from the Netflix show. Have fun trying to rip the VR headset off your face whilst screaming the house down.
VR is great because it lets you experience things you’d have no way of seeing otherwise. Sure you could throw on a scuba suit and go diving to see the creatures and vivid environments in Ocean Rift, but can you go BACK IN TIME?!
Not only does this experience give you a host of undersea animals to find and learn about, you can do the same for aquatic dinosaurs!
Although exploring these underwater worlds in VR is a lot of fun, with the sharks it can turn your gentle swim into an unintentional horror, so keep your wits about you.
Virry is the virtual safari to beat right now. Filmed with 360-degree 4K cameras at Lewa Conservancy in Kenya, this experience gets you right up to the nose with lions, hyenas, monkeys, rhinos and more.
It puts you squarely in the thick of it: giving you a proximity that you just can’t get from conventional nature documentaries. Something about slapping on a decent pair of headphones and getting sniffed by a hyena is especially immersive.
You can even jump right into a live stream from 360-degree cameras that are set up around the reserve and recording right now.
Space is a rich vein for VR producers. It’s a fascinating environment that the average person has no way of ever experiencing. Isn’t it brilliant that we can now get an idea of what it’s like without even leaving the sofa?
With a calming voiceover which drops astrophysical facts throughout, there’s plenty to learn here. That being said, the main aim of Spheres is to present a visually stunning cosmic show, a spectacle which it definitely delivers on.
Our favourite bit is the sequence where you fall into a black hole, which manages to be at once enthralling and profoundly unsettling.
Within is a platform where you can jump into experimental short films, performances, music videos, documentaries and surreal artistic works that take place in the 360-degree VR space.
It’s a different kind of immersion that you’ll face from these experiences: a broadening of horizons and an exposure to rarely seen perspectives that you can’t quite get from traditional 2D video.
The films on Within offer you a taste of what VR’s unique strengths are, and are instrumental in driving forward the entertainment and informative medium.
Ghost in the Shell VR Experience
Sci-fi fans, you’re in for a treat. Okay, so we haven’t exactly got the full haptic suit from Ready Player One yet, and we can’t jack you into the matrix, but this experience does a damn good job at making you feel a part of Ghost in the Shell‘s gritty future world.
Released to promote the live action movie that came out in 2017, this VR journey lets you live through the famous rooftop drop scene.
We love the roller coaster-like feeling of tipping over the edge, but if you have even a little vertigo, you might wanna swerve this one.
These are interactive music videos that let you influence the audio and visual aspects of your soundscapey journey by using a motion controller.
Visuals range from kaleidoscopic rainbow tunnels to vibrant alien worlds and, my personal favourite, a Bonobo track which whisks you through a vaporwave sand dune.
Music lovers and those who appreciate the psychedelic will get a kick out of these experiences for sure.
Wannabe detectives, it’s time to step up. A young girl has disappeared from a playground and it’s up to you to piece together clues and reveal what happened.
Gone is an experience created by the production company behind The Walking Dead. It tells an intriguing and slightly distressing story in a fresh and innovative way – showing off the new narrative possibilities of the VR platform.
If you live in or near a built up area, chances are that you don’t get an eyeful of the starry night sky in too often. This is a great shame really: it’s one of the most sublime and beautiful sights on offer to us.
It was this sentiment that motivated the team behind Star Chart to give everyone the chance to have a peek at all of the major constellations and planets in our night sky.
Want to get an even better view? Star Chart can take you to every planet and you can even drink in the Apollo 11 moon landing and Mars Curiosity rover experiences.
Check out our rundown of the 10 best VR games out now, or find out if we think VR is really the future.