8 Best VR Games for Varjo Aero: Top Picks from the Varjo Team
Varjo Aero delivers best-in-class visual fidelity and an immersive experience unlike any other virtual reality headset, making it a perfect gameplay companion for gamers and VR enthusiasts alike. In this blog post, we have gathered recommendations from eight Varjo team members sharing their favourite virtual reality games to play with the Varjo Aero headset. Get ready to level up your gaming experience with these must-play titles!
1. Half-Life: Alyx
"I feel like I can play it for hours and the gameplay elements don't break the feeling of immersion in VR."
— Jaakko Viitanen, Lead UX Designer
Half-Life: Alyx is a first-person VR shooter game developed and published by Valve Corporation in 2020. The game continues Valve’s Half-Life game series taking place between the events of the earlier releases Half-Life and Half-Life 2.
In the game, players embark on a thrilling journey as the protagonist Alyx Vance on a mission to destroy a vicious alien race known as the Combine. Like the previous Half-Life games in the series, the gameplay offers a mix of combat, puzzle-solving, exploration, and survival horror elements to deliver an immersive and engaging experience.
Half-Life Alyx is widely regarded as one of the best VR games ever released, with many praising its engaging storyline, intuitive controls, and immersive graphics and exceptional voice acting. It has received multiple award nominations and it won the award for “Best VR/AR” at the 2020 Game Awards.
“As a ‘Half-Life veteran’ who has played all the previous games in the series, Half-Life Alyx plays really well and is simply amazing when played on the Aero headset,” says Jaakko Viitanen, Lead UX Designer at Varjo. “I like how the game keeps the player immersed in the experience. I feel like I can play it for hours and the gameplay elements don’t break the feeling of immersion in VR. With the Aero headset the visuals are so crisp that I feel like I am in City 17.”
2. No Man’s Sky
"The game’s procedural generation is truly one of its kind and makes it a must-try experience."
— Basil Trunov, Unreal Engine Relations Engineer
No Man’s Sky is an open-world space exploration and survival game published by Hello Games in 2016. No Man’s Sky allows players to fly their spacecraft from planet to planet and explore a procedurally generated universe with billions of planets, each with their own unique environments, resources, and dangers. With support for VR and Varjo Aero, players can experience the game’s universe in a whole new way, fully immersing themselves in the vastness and wonders of the game’s galaxy.
“VR support was implemented to the game exceptionally well, making it a standout VR experience in the gaming market. It shows an example and reference not only for the game developers’ community but also for the VR industry in general,” says Basil Trunov, Unreal Engine Relations Engineer at Varjo.
“I love playing this game in VR and will highly recommend it to anyone. The game’s procedural generation is truly one of its kind and makes it a must-try experience.”
According to Basil, No Man’s Sky is also a testament to how believing in yourself, your project, and your team can lead to success. “At the launch, the game was heavily downvoted by the community, as developers had promised a lot of features and gameplay mechanics which they did not manage to deliver during the release,” Basil explains. “However, the team focused on their goal of improving the game and, after a few years, the Steam status of the game ranked significantly better.”
3. The Room VR – A Dark Matter
"The moody aesthetics and visuals of this game are incredibly beautiful and well-made."
— Ida-Emilia Kaukonen, Senior Community Manager
The Room VR – A Dark Matter is a puzzle-adventure game, continuing The Room series by Fireproof Games. The game transports players into a world of secrets and mystery puzzles where they take on the role of a detective, exploring an eerie environment filled with occult symbols, hidden clues, and strange artefacts.
Players have the option to play either standing or seated, making the game more accessible. As it is easy to play the game several hours in a row, these options come very handy.
An interesting feature in the game is the special lens, which allows you to uncover another realm with hidden clues and additional visuals within the environment as you explore it.
In some parts of the game, you can also choose to shrink yourself to explore previously inaccessible areas. This gives a whole new layer to the game as you interact with objects and study their mechanics from inside. The shrinking feature multiplies the sense of strong immersion in a way that you can only experience in virtual reality.
“For any fan of riddles, mysteries, occultism, beautiful graphics and high-immersion VR games, The Room: Dark Matter is an absolute must-play!” says Varjo’s Senior Community Manager Ida-Emilia Kaukonen. “The moody aesthetics and visuals of this game are incredibly beautiful and well-made. The level of detail in objects and textures is impressive. Especially big applause goes to the light design, as the visuals get really playful with different glow effects, beams, reflections and shadows.”
“As you can proceed at your own pace, you’ll luckily have a plenty of time to stop and admire the graphics,” Ida-Emilia adds.
"The core gameplay and handling of the ships is fantastic. "
— Samuli Jääskeläinen, Senior Software Engineer
BallisticNG is a futuristic zero-gravity combat racing game released by Neognosis in 2016. The game is inspired by classic titles like Wipeout, Rollcage, and Jet Moto and is designed to pay homage to these classic racing titles while offering a modern twist.
In the game, players race high-speed anti-gravity ships through futuristic racecourses and blast their way through the competition with deadly weapons. The game features a large range of game modes and tracks for different skill levels and supports both single-player and multiplayer options allowing players to compete against each other in a two-player split screen or online.
One of the standout features of BallisticNG is its open modding environment. This allows players to create their own tracks, ships, and game modes using the game’s built-in tools. This feature encourages creativity and provides endless possibilities for players to customize their racing experience.
“The core gameplay and handling of the ships is fantastic. When using VR, the sense of space not only makes the laps more immersive, but also makes it more natural to judge tight corners and feel where your ship fits on the track,” says Samuli Jääskeläinen, Senior Software Engineer at Varjo. “The moddable nature of the game provides great community created content on top,” Samuli adds.
5. Microsoft Flight Simulator
"Players love the ability to view scenery from a bird's eye perspective through the airplane window, just like they would in real life."
— Anna Nilsson, Head of Design and Research
Microsoft Flight Simulator is a flight simulation game published by Microsoft and one of the longest-running PC game series of all time. The first versions of the Flight Simulator program were developed by Sublogic in the late 1970s, and in 1982 they licensed an IBM PC version of it to Microsoft, which was released as Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.00. Microsoft Flight Simulator recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of revolutionizing flight simulation in the gaming industry, having welcomed over 10 million virtual pilots to its immersive virtual world over the years.
Microsoft Flight Simulator’s breathtakingly realistic flying experience takes players on a virtual journey around the world. Moreover, combining the game with a VR headset such as the Aero creates an incredibly immersive experience, allowing players to interact with the cockpit and feel as if they are truly flying through the skies.
Microsoft Flight Simulator offers players the opportunity to fly a diverse range of aircrafts and explore highly-detailed, real-world locations. Using advanced terrain mapping and satellite imagery technology, the game creates a highly realistic environment with features like live weather, traffic, and air traffic control.
“With Varjo Aero’s true-to-life visual fidelity, it feels like being inside the cockpit of a real aircraft, making the experience of flying and exploring the landscape more thrilling and authentic than ever before,” says Anna Nilsson, Varjo’s Head of Design and Research. “Players love the ability to view scenery from a bird’s eye perspective through the airplane window, just like they would in real life. It brings a new level of excitement to fly over familiar places or explore destinations you may want to visit in the real world later.”
6. Beat Saber
"Beat Saber has a unique way of combining music to movement, which makes it so much fun to play."
— Oleg Languev, Senior QA Engineer
Beat Saber by Beat Games is a rhythm-based VR game that allows players to slice through virtual blocks and dodge obstacles to the beat of music. The game was released as an early access title in 2018 for Windows and made available the following year for PlayStation 4.
Armed with two virtual laser swords, players slash through a series of cubes and other obstacles that fly toward them while keeping up with the beat of a song of their choosing.
Beat Saber offers a wide range of songs to choose from, with different difficulty levels and speeds, and players can even create and share their own custom tracks. The game’s adrenalin-boosting gameplay and highly immersive ambiance have made it a must-play hit among VR gamers.
“Beat Saber has a unique way of combining music to movement, which makes it so much fun to play,” says Oleg Languev, Senior QA Engineer at Varjo. “The game was demoed at Varjo’s stand in AWE 2022 and it was a huge hit among visitors. The game works smoothly even with weaker PCs, and with the Varjo Aero’s lightweight comfort and high-resolution displays, players can enjoy an even more immersive and engaging gameplay experience.”
7. Assetto Corsa
"This can be described as a mix of the Fast & Furious movies, and the older Need for Speed games. It ticks all the boxes."
— Rune Huse Karlstad, Business Development Manager
Assetto Corsa is a racing simulation game first released in 2014 by Kunos Simulazioni. The game aims to provide a realistic racing experience, with a focus on high-quality physics simulation and accurate car handling. The game features a variety of cars and tracks to choose from, with a selection of both real-world and fictional locations available. Players can join one of the team’s servers and explore the map with other online racers, or cruise alone and release some stress.
“As a motorsport enthusiast myself, nothing so far can beat the feeling racing through the traffic on the highway or mountain roads in Japan,” says Rune Huse Karlstad, Business Development Manager at Varjo.
Since its release, Assetto Corsa has developed a massive community of modders who have created custom content that allows players to have experiences that aren’t possible with the standard package. For example, the Shutoko Revival Project mod has recreated the network of highways that link Tokyo’s various districts, known as Shutoko, to a 1:1 scale.
To add to that, the team also incorporates its map with countless legends of the JDM scene, all created to great detail. “This can be described as a mix of the Fast & Furious movies, and the older Need for Speed games. It ticks all the boxes,” says Rune.
8. Digital Combat Simulator World
"DCS World is a captivating and highly realistic simulation game that appeals to both entry level and hardcore flight simulator enthusiasts."
— Teemu Ikonen, Principal Software Engineer
Digital Combat Simulator World (DCS World) is a digital flight simulation and battlefield game developed in collaboration by Eagle Dynamics and The Fighter Collection. DCS World is free-to-play and it offers players access two free aircraft and two free maps at its onset.
DCS World’s realistic combat flight simulator allows players to experience what it’s like to fly a range of military aircraft in high-fidelity virtual world. The game includes a variety of aircraft from different eras, including World War II-era planes and modern jets, as well as detailed maps of different regions of the world. Players can engage in a range of missions, including air-to-air combat, ground attacks, and search and rescue missions.
Due to its high level of visual fidelity and authenticity, some air forces have even opted to use DCS to complement traditional methods of professional flight simulation.
“DCS World is a captivating and highly realistic simulation game that appeals to both entry level and hardcore flight simulator enthusiasts,” says Teemu Ikonen, Principal Software Engineer at Varjo. “Combined with the Varjo Aero headset, the game’s precision and realism are truly remarkable, with detailed visuals, realistic physics and advanced avionics providing an unparalleled true-to-life experience.”