One of the core ideas behind the Metaverse is connecting people. There’s this vague idea of bringing old friends together and making new friends in Virtual Reality (VR). But that’s already happening with the vast array of multiplayer VR content currently available.
VR headsets are becoming more and more common too. Meta reported it had already sold over ten million of its all-in-one Quest headsets in November—and with it being a must-have piece of tech for Christmas 2021, that number may have increased drastically.
So here are some apps you can jump on to have a good time with your current friends or even make a few new ones.
If the current VR generation had to pick a flagship game, Beat Saber would be a strong contender. At its core, Beat Saber is a rhythm game where players slash and stab at blocks that fly towards them in time with a song. These songs can include the original compositions included with the base game or purchase popular tunes from Skrillex, Green Day, and Billie Eilish as expansions.
Beat Saber is one of those easy to learn, difficult to master games. Hitting the block counts towards your score, but you need to slash it in a very particular way to get a competitive score. It also comes with a variety of difficulty levels. All of this means it’s a great introduction to VR if you have friends over.
If you have access to more than one headset or want to compete with someone over the internet, a head-to-head mode is also available. Either way, it’s a fun game anyone can pick up pretty quickly. It’s also addictive to the point where you’ll be pushing through the difficulty levels and trying to outscore your friends in no time.
A popular rhythm game with multiplayer support
In the ancient past, before current-gen VR, table tennis was one of those things friends would play together. Unfortunately, table tennis tables take up a lot of space, and your friends aren’t always around to play.
Luckily, Eleven Table Tennis is one of the most accurate sports simulations currently available. The weight of the ball and spin you can apply all feel correct. It’s one of those games you can immerse yourself in, which is half the battle with VR. For me, it means a lot as my parents are on a different continent most of the time, so I can still flex my superiority over my very competitive dad from 4,000 miles away. There are also ranked games and leagues available, so you can see how good you are by going up against players from around the world.
For the less competitive, friendly games are an option, as is voice chat, which adds to the social aspect. I remember reading a Facebook comment in one of the Oculus groups not too long ago where the person posting described a series of games he had against what seemed like half a house party. They were passing the headset around, and the first few players took it slightly seriously, but it all eventually devolved into fun conversations and some dance-off.
So this game, while being an excellent simulation, can give you both a social and sporting fix.
Eleven Table Tennis
An accurate table tennis simulator with an active community
Both of these games are free, and both of them provide you with an opportunity to hang out with your friends, make new friends, and play a variety of entertaining mini-games.
Parents should note that Rec Room is the more family-friendly of the two apps, and while your child’s online activity should be monitored anyway, they are far more likely to run into adult-themed content while playing VR Chat.
Both games have a heavy social focus; users are free to hang out, eat virtual pizza, and chat with their pals. But the mini-games are what set these apps apart. Both feature escape rooms, player vs. player shoot ’em ups and roleplaying maps.
Some of the more unique maps I’ve played include VR Chat’s Murder Mystery map—which assigns one player as a detective, one as a murderer, and the rest as a bunch of poor saps to be slaughtered. The murderer has to kill everyone, the detective has to stop the murderer, with the twist being there is no easy way for the detective to single the murderer out from the rest of the players without spotting them in the act.
Rec Room’s take on paintball is an excellent alternative to the more violent VR shooters like Pavlov: Shack or Onward. The maps are unique, and the games get pretty intense and competitive. Like the rest of the app, paintball is also free, so it can be a great way to get into VR FPS games without cracking the piggy bank open.
Both VR Chat and Rec Room can be pretty intense, so motion sickness-friendly controls may be an idea until you get your VR legs.
A free family-friendly VR Chat game
A free VR chat game with multiple minigames
What if your household only has one headset? What if you have a skeptical relative worried about strapping a TV to their face? Well, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes allows everyone to join in some VR fun without putting the headset on.
One person dons the device, and that person has to disarm a bomb. Helping them is another person with a bomb disposal manual. You can print out the manual or get a PDF up on someone’s phone.
The bomb consists of several modules, some of which are more difficult than others. The person with the bomb describes what they’re seeing, and the person with the manual has to find the correct section and tell the headset wearer how to diffuse the thing. Much like a bomb you usually see in most works of fiction, there’s a big digital timer on the thing. Make a mistake, and it starts counting down even faster; make an additional mistake or two, and the bomb goes off.
This game is genuinely hours of fun for the whole family. Though do make sure you explain the rules thoroughly, especially with older relatives. I gave my father-in-law a quick rundown on how to play before hopping in, and he then decided to just read the manual word-for-word from the start. Without proper instructions on the specific bomb I was looking at, I sadly exploded in a fiery ball of doom.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
A multiplayer bomb diffusal game
Not every VR game needs to be intense and action-packed. You and your friends probably don’t go paintballing every time you hang out, so why go to extremes every time you meet up in VR?
Real VR Fishing allows you to relax and catch a few fish with up to three other people. There are varying difficulty levels, and the actual fishing part of the simulation can be as realistic as you want it to be. So there’s something for both the experienced angler and the novice. But, like actual fishing, it’s also a fun environment to hang out and mess around with old or new friends in.
And you can do this in all weathers. It’s currently ice fishing season in a good chunk of the Northern Hemisphere. Ice fishing is just unpleasant. Trust me, stay in the living room, pop your headset on, crack open a few beers, and have some fun with the virtual boys!
Real VR Fishing
A relaxing VR fishing game