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).
5 – Arizona Sunshine (Rift, Vive – PSVR separate)
Arizona Sunshine is a first-person zombie shooter that lets you 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 – Sprint Vector (Rift & Vive – PSVR Separate)
In Survios‘ Mario Kart-style foot racing game Sprint Vector you’ll run faster, jump higher, and race until you grow to despise everyone in front of you and behind you on the way to the finish line.
Before you whip out your credit card though, consider this first: cross-platform multiplayer is only currently available between the Oculus Home and Steam versions, however private matches are sourced from either platform’s friends list, making it a hassle to connect up if half of your party purchased through a different store. There’s bad news for PSVR players too—there’s zero cross-play support, putting it squarely at the bottom of our list. If cross-platform multiplayer worked flawlessly, friends lists and all, it would be a golden example of the game everyone should buy and play together regardless of the headset you own.
3 – Sparc
CCP’s 1v1 sports game Sparc was their last virtual reality title before shuttering their VR studios late last year. While CCP has basically called it quits for the medium for now, there’s still plenty of reasons to pick up Sparc if you’re looking to connect up with a buddy.
Sparc is by all measures a great game, but it’s even greater that you can play mano-a-mano against any one of your VR headset owning goons you call friends. Sparc suffers from the same issue as many cross-platform VR games though, i.e. no support for friends lists outside of the platform you’re on, but you can always host a game and hope for matchmaking serendipity—the silver lining to a smaller user base means you’ll probably be able to match up with your friend easily.
2 – Star Trek: Bridge Crew
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 is worth it if only to say you’ve been where no man’s gone before. Get in while the community is still buzzing from the latest DLC update, which brought Star Trek’s TNG-era Enterprise to the game.
1 – Rec Room
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 fun activities like paintball or dodge ball, but the real meat of the game likes in their co-op ‘Quests’ and PvP battle royale game Rec Royale. Of course all of this is served up in a lovable cartoony environment while you have a chat with people from all over the world, or just your best buddies if you so choose. Did we mention it was free. Yeah, we can’t believe it either.
Rec Room isn’t only a great game, but it allows all players regardless of platforms to meet up, create friends and sally forth to take on all activities without the issues we mentioned above.
Healthy Playerbases, Cross-compatibility Issues
Let’s face it: there aren’t many other cross-play multiplayer titles that currently work on all three major headsets. It’s a fact we’ve been living with since the headsets launched in 2016, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better due to two very real roadblocks outside of the friends list issue a large portion of cross-platform games suffer from. While platform exclusives wall out a large percentage of would-be users, the ugly truth is studios simply aren’t going head-first into VR multiplayer games like they once were. Time after time VR games that primarily feature multiplayer support have fallen to the wayside because of low hourly active user numbers, and perfectly fun games like Werewolves Within and Eagle Flight stand as testament to this.
If you buy a game and the servers aren’t populated with players, you probably won’t wait around too long for a match; it creates a vicious cycle that tends to spell the death of a game if a hardcore playerbase isn’t built-in due to things like active Discord servers or subreddits to keep people engaged outside of the matchmaking screen.
Thankfully for Vive and Rift owners, the PC platform are somewhat conjoined twins in all of this VR business. Steam offers Rift and Vive support pretty much on a de facto basis, and with ReVive at your disposal, hypothetically speaking all Oculus Rift multiplayer titles are cross-play capable if you own a Vive. It’s a pretty strange way of vaulting over the friends list roadblock, but entirely feasible if you’re motivated.
Update (December 27th, 2018): We’ve done a long-due overhaul of the list reflecting the latest developments in the games, and their cross-play abilities. We’ll be periodically updating this list as new games come out.
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