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Best Gear VR apps and games

Got your Samsung Galaxy S71 (or S6) and a Gear VR headset2? Ready to explore incredible virtual films, have amazing experiences and play captivating games? Well, hold on a second. There s lots of great apps in the Oculus store for Gear VR but also quite a bit of dross, so we ve already picked through the store to bring you best free and paid-for apps and games on offer. Before you leap in we ve got a few quick tips for you too. First, make sure your phone has plenty of charge before you get started, as VR will empty your battery faster than anything you ve seen.

Secondly, we recommend downloading a bunch of the recommended apps here on your handset before you put on the headset, most of them amount to hundreds of megabytes and are pretty short, so you ll get through them quickly. Lining up a handful of apps before you put Gear VR on is the best way to go. Open the Oculus app on your phone and get browsing – if it s not installed yet then look for it in the Samsung app store, or simply plug your phone into your Gear VR to start it installing automatically.

^ Download and install apps on your handset first, then put on the headset

Finally, we recommend you take regular breaks, every 10-15 minutes until you re comfortable with VR, because it can be disorientating at first, and some even feel nauseous. In other words, ease yourself in. Also, remember that if you get all turned around, just hold down the back button and a menu will pop up; choose Reorient to set where forward is again.

Read our full review of the Samsung Gear VR3

Best Gear VR apps

Oculus 360 photos or Flickr VR

Free

If you re new to VR and can t wait to get stuck in, or want to ease a friend or relative in slowly (before really blowing their minds later) then 360-degree photos are a great place to start. They load quickly and are generally sharper in resolution than any video or game currently available. You can be on top of the Empire State Building one minute, deep in a rainforest the next, and thrown into a fantastical 3D world after that (courtesy of some smart Photoshop work). Still images may not be the pinnacle of VR but there s a lot to like.

Rose

Free

There s just one short VR experience on offer here at present, Rosebud, but it ll charm your socks off. A whimsical little tale of boy meets flower, set to a romantic music hall number, there s not much interactivity here, you simply choose how you wish to watch the action unfold, through a clever ability to orbit around the central object. Well worth the time it takes to download this shows the huge potential in VR storytelling and proves the best things do come in small packages. One to show to anyone who thinks its all just guns and games. It’s actually a graphically cutdown version of an Oculus Rift experience (The Rose and I) that was part of the Sundance Film Festival.

VRSE

Free

A great little collection of documentary pieces shot specifically for VR. Chris Milk and Spike Jonze s piece Millions March NYC is a highlight. The selection is very american both in content and tone, with content commisioned by The New York Times, Vice and VR of Saturday Night Live performances. That aside, there’s some brilliant stuff here, conceived with VR in mind and executed with panache.

Next VR

Free

This app has some topical video content including VR sport highlights from the NBA and football games. It s a rare glimpse of just how we might watch sport in a few years time, attending games from a virtual seat. NBA highlights, shot both from behind the basket and courtside give you an incredible idea of what it must be like to attend a game in the most expensive seats in the house. Well worth checking out.

Samsung Internet Browser beta

Free

Browsing the internet in VR might seem a little pointless at first glance, but this beta browser has one big plus: you can access YouTube s burgeoning library of 360-degree videos4. Fire up the browser, choose the dedicated YouTube link on the left (Samsung knows what it s doing) and then search for 360, the first hit is Google s own curated channel of such videos. Then have a browse and enjoy up-to-date, 360-degree video content in VR.

^ Access all of YouTube’s 360-degree video library via the browser

Gone and Milk VR

Free

Samsung s Milk VR can be a bit tricky to find but it should be in the Samsung section of the store or in your library. There s quite a bit of video content here, but look up, find the search icon and look for Gone . Then you can download the Tutorial and get started on the surreal interactive experience. It s a series of short video pieces, with hotpsot you can interact with, that then provide clues to solve the mystery of a missing girl. There s also plenty more on offer in Milk VR, which is Samsung s own library of 360-degree video, including free-to-all uploads.

Best Gear VR Games

Esper

4 (free demo available) – No controller needed

Best ambience award in a game, the decor of Mad Men with the wry tone of The Incredibles. It s a puzzle game in which you take the part of an individual with rather limited telekinetic gifts. Tap your temple to grab objects and then move them around. It s a greeat design that cleverly makes the most of the limitations of Gear VR s inbuilt controls. The puzzles can be a bit fiddly at times or hard to make out exactly what fits where, but it s still great fun. There s no controller needed, you can play sitting down and there s a free demo, so what are you waiting for. Plus there’s a sequel already if you love the first.

Gunjack

On sale at 5.35 (no demo)No controller needed

Gunjack is a turret shooter, a popular genre amongst early VR games. Aim with your head and fire by tapping the touchpad on the side of the headset. From your gun turret you must fight off waves of incoming fighters, there s a range of enemies, bigger bosses and weapons power ups too. It s another game that you can play sat on the sofa, as all the action occurs within 180-degrees. There s no controller needed, although you can use one to shoot and reload, which is easier and more relaxing than holding your hand up to the Gear VR all the time. Each level only take a few minutes and this is our top choice for a quick blast. Only downside is there s no free demo, so buy it quick while it s on sale.

Land s End

5.99 (no demo)No controller needed

Lands end is a brilliant VR puzzle game, made by the clever people that brought us mobile smash Monument Valley. Set in a beautiful and tranquil archipelago, you have to solve puzzles by linking together dots, which you do by simply looking at them. It sounds pretty minimal in design and that s part of its attraction, it s also not very long, most people will get through it in an hour or so.

Despite that it s still well worth buying, with its huge quality outshining its relatively small quantity.

Dreadhalls

3.99 (free demo available) – Controller required

Two warnings, first Dreadhalls is described as an intense horror experience and that s fairly apt, certainly compared to the fairly tame company it keeps in the Oculus store; second is that you need a Bluetooth game controller to play this game. Thankfully there s a demo so you can be sure that everything is working and to your tastes before splashing any cash. The game consists of navigating a maze while assailed by terrifying foes and a psychologically testing barrage of sound effects and visual trickery. Do not play this just before bed.

Ikarus

Free – No controller needed

More a curio than a best game maybe but worth checking out. Ikarus is a free demo for something bigger that will never be. That s because it has evolved into Wayward Sky (see video), an awesome-looking, puzzle-explorer for PlayStation VR. This early concept doesn t have the graphical glitz of that title but the charm and solidity of its environments makes it worth a go.

A brightly coloured adventure with mechanical puzzles, set on a flying factory, it s a mini treat – a very mini one admittedly with only about 5 minutes of play.

References

  1. ^ Samsung Galaxy S7 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Gear VR headset (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  3. ^ Read our full review of the Samsung Gear VR (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  4. ^ library of 360-degree videos (www.youtube.com)
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