We’ve been hearing it for a couple of years now, but virtual reality really is the next big thing, honest.
It’s already helping doctors train for surgery and engineers explore the feasibility of their proposed designs. For all its world-changing, life-altering applications, it’s gaming where we’re seeing some of the biggest consumer-facing changes, however.
Thankfully, decent VR gaming is no longer limited to top-end headsets, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, that cost as much as your first car and require more space than your early attempts at parallel parking.
Instead, amidst the mass of world-exploring, dinosaur-introducing, education-providing VR experiences and 360-degree videos, the Samsung Gear VR headset is chock-full of solid gaming experiences.
From flying spaceships to solving puzzles, and shooting ducks to building worlds, the affordable, smartphone-friendly headset brings a variety of gaming opportunities to the fore.
The following, however, are the best Samsung Gear VR games available right now.
- There's a new Gear VR headset! Samsung Gear VR (2017) hands on review
- $9.99/£7.99 (around AU$13)
Eve Gunjack is a sign of where mobile-based VR gaming can go. It’s a warning shot for the console industry and a demonstration that smartphones, even in the virtual world, are capable of a whole lot more than breaking up TV ad breaks with a quick Candy Crush cram session.
Graphically impressive, this space shooter puts you in the gunner’s seat of your own interplanetary fighter and challenges you to shoot down anything that dares move while you’re around.
Built specifically for VR, its motion is disorientating at times, but never completely overpowering and always worth the brief moments of head spinning to enjoy the beautifully detailed surroundings.
This is a game for gamers, not just those looking to see what their new VR headset is capable of.
- $9.99/£7.99 (around AU$13)
C’mon, admit it, you want to be James Bond. Don’t worry, we all do. Although 007’s tux might be hanging in a non-VR wardrobe somewhere, Omega Agent lets you accessorize your Gear VR by donning the suit of another secret agent and taking to the skies strapped into your own jet pack.
Your mission is to fly around this surprisingly sprawling over the top arcade world and test yourself with all the spy training missions at your disposal.
With a mass of hidden areas and secret tasks to discover, it’s a game that’s immediately enjoyable and which offers surprising longevity thanks to hidden depths.
You will need a VR controller to enjoy the game, but, despite all the movement, it’s not overly nauseating, and you’re free to explore your own path in this fun, friendly VR environment.
- $1.99/£1.49 (around AU$2.50)
First person shooters are what VR was made for, putting you into the heart of the action. That action doesn't have to be filled with realistic blood and gore, however. Switch out the assault rifles for a cartoon-inspired bow and arrow, and there’s hours of fun to be had.
That's BalloonShooter’s niche. You automatically float through the game, with your job being to pick out enemies by tapping your touchpad to fire arrows.
With ever evolving layouts and bow-enhancing prize crates strewn across the world, there’s plenty of variety to the game.
It’s also a title that really makes use of the full 360-degree scope of the Gear VR, getting you spinning in place to shoot at missed enemies that are now firing from behind. The kids will love it, and you’ll be surprised with just how much you enjoy yourself.
- $4.99/£3.99 (around AU$6.50)
Esper is the ultimate VR puzzle game. Locked in a very ‘70s office room, you’re tasked with solving problems using the power of your mind or, more accurately, the Gear VR’s motion-tracking and touchpad abilities.
A number of challenges await, building in head-scratching difficulty as you engage with the world around you and move virtual objects through a variety of obstacles.
There’s an element of HTC Vive’s brilliant Job Simulator about it, just with more taxing brainteasers that will push your telepathic powers, and your patience, to the limit.
It’s addictive fun though, and you’ll quickly waste hours locked within this simple yet engaging virtual world. When you’re done, don’t worry, there’s already Esper 2 to keep the powers of your mind busy a good while longer.
- $6.99/£4.99 (around AU$9)
What more could Minecraft fans want than a first-person VR experience? OK, maybe a windowed view too so you can build without blowing chunks. Fortunately, Minecraft Gear VR offers that as well.
Letting you live your creations, you can get up-close and personal with your builds, with the game offering a similar level of freedom to the smartphone-friendly Pocket Edition.
There are Survival and Creative modes, and the chance to truly get to grips with the world around you as you game and gaze in equal measure.
You’ll need a dedicated controller to navigate and interact with the world, but 360-degree audio further ups the immersion levels. This is Minecraft like never before, and going back to a flat screen will be difficult.
One of the most popular mobile games has made the jump to Gear VR and to pretty good effect.
Like the handset-friendly title, in Temple Run VR you’re running from a snow monster and need to dodge gaps and fallen rocks in order avoid being eaten. The only difference here is that you’re living the experience first-hand and can even look back over your shoulder directly into the eyes of the beast.
The necessary swipe controls on the headset’s touch panel aren't the most natural, but play this standing up and you’ll quickly find yourself running on the spot, pumping your legs to escape the ensuing attack.
It’s fun, it’s frightening and it’s free. And, c’mon, who doesn’t love a free game?
- $9.99/£7.99 (around AU$13)
VR doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. That’s where this out of the box multiplayer game comes in. Just one member of the group wears the Gear VR headset, while the others are left in the real world sifting through reams of printed instructions.
Sounds fun, right? Well it is, because those printed instructions give clues as to how the person in VR needs to disarm the bomb that they’ve been staring at intently since donning the headset.
It’s not a game you’ll keep coming back to, but when you’ve got friends coming around and want to try something new, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a great option that offers something truly unique.
- $5.99/£4.49 (around AU$8)
Perhaps the prettiest Gear VR game, Land’s End is an adventure puzzle game from the masterminds behind the beautiful Monument Valley.
As you search and explore a range of beautiful landscapes that wouldn't look out of place in Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’re faced with a variety of puzzles and challenges.
These range from simplistic fun to full-on noggin-scratchers, and are always backdropped by a world that demands your attention.
It’s a relaxing, almost calming VR experience, that offers bite sized breaks from the stress of your real life. With such vast, serene landscapes you’ll just want to stand and look around. Once you’ve solved that latest fiendish task anyway.
- $2.99/£2.29 (around AU$4)
A NES classic brought to the VR present, Duck Hunter VR is a first-person shooter with a difference. Instead of taking out enemy snipers and insurgent fighters, you’re picking off defenseless ducks as they fly in front of your sights.
OK, so it’s not the most socially acceptable of games, but it is surprisingly fun and addictive as its ramps up through the difficulty levels.
A tap on the headset’s touchpad pulls the trigger and adds another dinner to your scorecard, with bonus ducks bringing a bit of a novelty factor to the game.
The limited movement means you can enjoy lengthy play sessions without almost vomiting, and you’ll want to, too. No, it’s not the most graphically impressive or varied of games, but it gets all the nostalgia points and will have you constantly striving to best your top score. Just one more game, yeah?
- $4.99/£3.99 (around AU$6.50)
Thanks to its first-person immersion abilities, VR can be a great tool for horror content. That’s why Dreadhalls will have you cowering and closing your eyes as you try to remind yourself it’s not real, it’s just VR.
You’re trapped within a dungeon, with this survival horror game forcing you to face your fears and explore your claustrophobic confines for a means of escape and survival.
It’s a game that brilliantly builds tension, and will get you genuinely nervous and fidgety as you look around, anxiously waiting for the surprise you know must be waiting.
There’s also a free demo version for those who’d rather not splash the cash until they’ve been drawn in by its terrifyingly teasing ways.