Get your space fix with these five VR spaceship games.
Star Wars: Squadrons will have you manning the controls of various starfighters from the Rebel Alliances fleet, such as the heavily-armed X-Wing fighter with its distinctive S-foils. Or, if you think the dark side is where it’s at, you can jump into the cockpit of an Imperial TIE Fighter, which is astonishingly nimble and fast thanks to the ships powerful twin ion engines. They’re so powerful that the ship has a unique roar when the ion engines are at full throttle.
Unfortunately, this epic-looking VR dogfighting experience won’t be available until October 2nd, leaving many of us die-hard Star Wars fans foaming at the mouths in anticipation. So, we thought we’d help quell that hunger with a handful of excellent VR space shooters you can play right now.
So, without further ado, here are five VR spaceship games to hold you over until Star Wars: Squadrons; or until your friend returns from Toschi Station with those new power converters.
Project Stardust is a VR cockpit simulator that puts you in the seat of an X-Wing as you fly missions and engage in battles from iconic moments in the Star Wars universe, such as the Rebel Alliance’s assault on the first Death Star at the Battle of Yavin. Yeah, this sounds like Star Wars: Squadrons, but it actually isn’t.
This is actually a project created to research game design methods for reducing VR sickness (VRS) symptoms by testing level design principles for virtual experiences in which the user encounters high amounts of simulated rotation and velocity.
As you would guess, flying in outer space has no shortage of pitching, yawing, and rolling. At one point in the experience, you’re even speeding over the surface of the Death Star at a simulated velocity upwards of 7000mph in a zero-gravity environment.
During an interview with Dylan Stout, Software Engineer at Microsoft and Volunteer Research Engineer at the University of Utah, and creator of Project Stardust, Stout said, “We record a lot of telemetry about what the user experiences and quantify it in correlation with the VRS symptoms they experience,” adding, “The research is ongoing but preliminary findings reveal an interesting correlation between the number of reference points (or 3D objects) in a virtual scene and the amount of VR sickness symptoms experienced by users in high velocity scenarios.”
The project is an ongoing research initiative at the University of Utah’s Laboratory for Quantitative Experience Design which is a joint lab between the School of Computing and Entertainment Arts & Engineering departments. The research initiative is a team made up of myself and the director of the lab, Professor Rogelio Cardona-Rivera.
Project Stardust should work with any SteamVR compatible headset and can be played on the Quest using the Oculus Link cable or Virtual Desktop connected to a VR capable PC.
Download Project Stardust for free here.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
You’re not flying a starfighter in this game. Instead you’re part of the crew of the U.S.S. Aegis (NX-1787) as you explore an unknown sector of space in search of a new home for the nearly-extinct Vulcan population.
Gameplay of Star Trek: Bridge Crew will test your teamwork skills as you and three other players jump into different roles on the bridge of the Federation’s newest starship. You’re able to play as the captain, the tactical officer, an engineer, or the helm officer, and even though the captain always seems to get the glory; every role on the ship is important.
You can learn more about each role, here.
The VR experience lets you play with friends or with other people around the world. There’s also a solo mode that you can play on your own in case your crew is all in the Alpha Quadrant at Deep Space Nine for a Klingon themed luau.
Ubisoft, who released the game back in 2016, has since expanded the in-game universe to include classic ships such as the U.S.S. Enterprise from the original TV series and the Next Generations Galaxy Class Enterprise D. They also recently added the ability to select and android avatar.
This experience is stunning and an absolute must for any Star Trek fan, and depending on who you have in the game with you, it’s different every time.
This one is slightly different from a POV VR experience like Project Stardust, or the immersive role-playing in Star Trek: Bridge Crew. Instead, Starblazer has you building and controlling an entire fleet in VR!
Created by indie developers Starcade Arcade LLC, Starblazer is a multiplayer game where you position ships in a virtual space and directly control the path of your fleet on the battlefield through your “Cosmic Controller”.
Think of it like a coach directing their team from the sidelines.
Starblazer is an action-pack real-time strategy game, meaning you’re able to watch your moves play out and see how the battle changes in your favor. One wrong move and your opponent could exploit a weakness in your defenses.
The actual game is easy to learn but offers a ton of options. There are eight different ships you can command in Starblazer and no fleet is ever the same. This helps keep the game feeling fresh and interesting. The simple “rock-paper-scissors” gameplay means the learning curve is as easy as bulls eyeing a two-meter womp rat in your T-16, while still leaving you with plenty of additional challenges.
Starblazer is available on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality for $19.99 with support for cross-play.
Endspace VR launched on the Oculus Rift in 2018, and it immediately became a favorite amongst VR gamers going so far as to be labeled “Game of the Year” by multiple critics.
This explosive first-person space shooter has you joining an elite group of special pilots for the United Trade Consortium (UTC). Your job is to jump into the cockpit of the most advanced starfighter on the market and face off against the Tartarus Liberation Front insurgents in order to protect the UTC’s secret jump-drive technology and gain control of the Tartarus sector.
What makes Endspace VR really stand out, however, are the jaw-dropping visuals. The hyper-realistic cockpit interior and explosive space battles combine to offer an absolutely stunning visual experience. It’s obvious that this game was made for VR.
Your tactical strategy requires you to track targets with your gaze and then vaporize them using your Pulse Lasers. You can also lock on to them and pound them into space dust with your Meteor Missiles. With each level, you unlock new weapons and upgrades. Climb through the ranks by taking on increasingly daring missions for the UTC.
Remember: no risks, no rewards!
Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine
Okay, so this one is slightly cheating. First off, it’s a Star Wars experience created by ILMxLAB and it’s not actually a full-fledged game. Secondly, you’re not flying a ship. As a matter of fact, your only interaction is looking at a ship and pressing a few buttons to fix it. But here’s the thing, it’s not just any ship. It’s the freakin Millennium Falcon!
As a Star Wars fanboy, Trials on Tatooine was a must-have VR experience. When it finally launched, I was completely blown away by the incredible visuals and convinced that VR and Star Wars were made for each other.
This VR experience begins with you standing near a landing pad on Tatooine as Han Solo and Chewbacca do a flyby before landing the Falcon right next to you. Watching the iconic Star Wars ship slowly descend down to the landing pad is a literal dream come true. Your head is looking straight up as the ship’s modified engines and thrusters gently drop the Falcon down on the stock YT-1300 freighter landing gear.
Once the Millennium Falcon is secure on the ground, the world’s greatest astromech droid, R2-D2, comes out from the ship to join you. That’s when you hear Han Solo’s voice through the comlink. He needs your help fixing part of the landing great by pressing some super-important buttons. But you’d better hurry, the Empire is hot on Solo’s tail and he needs to get out of there quick!
This is where Trials on Tatooine sort of shifts into somewhat of a game.
Han first instructs you to push a few specific buttons, but as the Empire finally touches down on the planet, you’re soon forced to frantically push buttons at random. Somehow, you’re blind button-mashing works and you’ve fixed the Falcon. As a little token of appreciation, R2-D2 has a lightsaber for you, which comes in real handy as you’ll soon find yourself battling an onslaught of Stormtroopers. As these “expert sharpshooters” open fire, you must use your new lightsaber to deflect lasers back at enemy troops.
Trials on Tatooine is a short VR experience but one that does an excellent job at showcasing the potential of VR and Star Wars. Plus, it’s made by ILMxLAB, so you know it’s a quality experience.
You can download Trials on Tatooine for free via Steam.
Image Credit: EA