Hands-on with the 8 new games that will level-up the Oculus Rift

With a host of titles incoming, 2017 could be the year to own a Rift

We like the Oculus Rift. Scratch that, we love the Oculus Rift - even if we can’t afford one.

If you already own a Rift system, there are plenty of games, apps and experiences that’ll give you a tasty wedge of virtual reality to get your teeth into. None, though, have yet delivered that killer blow.

There’s no game, yet, that’s so synonymous with the Oculus Rift system that it will move uncertain VR dabblers to spend their cash. 2017 could be the year where that changes.

With heaps of titles pencilled to hit the system before the year is out, there’s never been a better time to think about shelling out on a Rift.

Having already sampled a good chunk of these games, these are the eight that I think you should be most excited about.

Robo Recall

Blasting wayward 'bots on the streets of a future city? It's a simple concept and one that Robo Recall executes with aplomb. 

From critters on the floor to walking, shooting humanoids, Robo Recall will have you blasting and grabbing the day away with your Touch controllers. With addictive combos, a host of weapons - including shoulder-holstered shotguns - and a wonderfully rendered urban environment, this feels like the accessible, guilt-free game that the Rift needs to hit it big.

Besides the usual blast-and-smash combat, there are some nifty mechanics - such as the ability to grab bullets and fling them back at the robots - as well as neat retro-style score overlays that give Robo Recall bags of character.

Moving by teleport takes a little getting used to but, once you've mastered the orientation, you'll be hooked.

Release date: Out now

Price: £22.99 / Free with Oculus Touch

Download Robo Recall here from Oculus

Mage’s Tale

Fancy yourself a dab-handed sorcerer? Mage's Tale will have you mixing, equipping and casting a barrage of unique spells - from fireballs to confetti lightning. In fact, there are so many possible combinations of ingredients that even the developers haven't seen all of the spells.

When you're not flinging ingredients into the potion pot and giving it a good VR stir, Mage's Tale will have you puzzle-solving your way through levels reminiscent of Tomb Raider, as frog-like enemies come at you with arrows.

While teleportation is a little clunky, the option to strafe helps a little and combat is rewarding, as you block volleys with your shield before lobbing your latest spell at the nearest enemy - all while a floating, gloating assistant reluctantly instructs you. It's not for everyone, but it's VR fantasy done right.

Release date: TBC

Price: TBC

Arktika.1

Arktika.1 flings you into a dystopian future, sticks a barrage of weapons in your Touch-wielding hands and sends you out into rebellious lands to fight off bad guys - and their drones. And, coupled with addictive reload mechanics and meaningful duck-and-cover gameplay, it takes mere moments to get hooked.

Many will find the lack of free movement frustrating, but the teleportation system is better here than most. Accepting its limits, the game allows you to jump between fixed firing positions, highlighted in blue (safe) and yellow (risky).

From these, it's a case of firing, hiding and - when a drone comes by - standing stock still. Graphics are excellent, with the abandoned airport terminal and plane carcasses properly immersive. Pulled out after 25 minutes, I was desperate to play on. That's got to be good sign.

Release date: Autumn 2017

Price: TBC

Rock Band VR

Think you've rocked out all you can? You've not played Rock Band VR. Stick on a Rift headset, grab a guitar and prepare to feel stage fright like never before.

See, the latest iteration in the strumming series puts you on a virtual stage with a big virtual crowd - and it's easily the most immersive musical gaming experience there's ever been.

Developer Harmonix has worked hard to refine the traditional button track, instead opting for a slimmer horizontal bar at the top. I played rhythm guitar and, while it feels like it requires a little less skill than previous games, the freedom to pick chord patterns without being dominated by an rolling fretboar - as well as the need to strum in time and the bonus points on offer for hitting suggested chords - takes Rock Band VR far closer to the experience of playing a guitar for real.

Plus, I never got over the weirdness of seeing my VR hands holding a VR guitar in exactly the same place as my real hands held the real, erm, fake guitar.

Release date: 23 March

Price: US$69.99

Pre-order Rock Band VR here from Oculus

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