The answer to the IF question is: Yes, you can play regular games in VR.
The answer to the HOW question is a bit more complicated. Here are several options that will get all your games going in Rift or Vive.
- How to get your Rift working with SteamVR
- Steam apps that let you play non-VR games in VR
- 3D drivers that let you play non-VR games in VR
How to get your Rift working with SteamVR
For Rift owners, the first thing you want to do is get your Rift working in SteamVR (Vive owners can ignore this process).
- Launch the Oculus app from your desktop or Start menu.
Click the gear button in the upper right corner.
- Click Settings.
- Click the switch next to Unknown Sources so that a checkmark appears.
You can now use the Rift with SteamVR and your Steam game library. Note that on your Xbox controller, pressing the Back button brings up the SteamVR menu.
Steam apps that let you play non-VR games in VR
These Steam apps essentially put a screen in front of your virtual face when you have a VR headset on.
You won't be able to experience 1:1 movement tracking and therefore won't get the full VR experience — check out some 3D drivers for a more robust VR experience.
If you don't mind playing your games in 2D on an enormous virtual screen while you're in VR, check out these apps.
BigScreen is a free app on Steam that lets you play all your games in VR and lets you sit in a penthouse atop a skyscraper.
You can choose your seat in multiple rooms (including the open-air penthouse balcony), and you can modify the screen that hovers in front of you by default.
What is displayed on the screen? A mirror of your monitor desktop, including any game you want to play. BigScreen lets you resize and reposition your screen — it isn't called BigScreen for nothing. Make a theater-sized display and hover it in thin air over the railing of the penthouse balcony.
No, you aren't inserted directly into your game, and no, there's no head tracking. This is more of a simulation that puts a big-ass screen with your game on it in front of you. The best part? Your friends can join you in the penthouse for a "local" LAN party. Now that's cool.
- Free on Steam - Download Now
Virtual Desktop is another multi-purpose app that just so happens to display your games on a big screen within VR.
There is no skyscraper penthouse to chill in with your pals, but there are a ton of 360-degree desktops to download for free from the Steam Workshop. If you're a creative type, you can even design your own environment in which you play games.
Virtual Desktop features a customizable screen that mirrors your monitor desktop. Any game you're playing is going to show up in your VR headset. You can resize the screen to your heart's content, and the customizable curve is meant to suit your personal vision.
Gaming on a regular monitor will be hard to go back to once you've experienced Virtual Desktop.
- $15 on Steam - Download Now
3D drivers that let you play non-VR games in VR
So...you want the full VR experience within games not designed for VR. You want 1:1 movement tracking when you swing a sword or point a gun. Ask and ye shall receive.
These 3D drivers put you into your regular games as though they were designed for VR. Keep in mind that both software are works in progress — they are constantly being updated and will only get better.
We've already written quite a bit about VorpX — why? We think it's great.
VorpX is a 3D driver that tracks your movement in games like Skyrim, Fallout, and Call of Duty. A full list of games is available on their website, and, frankly, it's quite impressive. You no doubt have some of the games in your Steam library already.
If you don't mind spending about $40 for a real VR experience in your existing games, have a look at VorpX.
- $40 at VorpX - Download Now
Vireio Perception is essentially a free version of VorpX (yes, it is also a 3D driver, and, yes, it tracks your movements 1:1) that currently has significantly fewer supported games.
If you're interested in turning your regular games (like Fallout 4 — ooh, baby) into a true VR experience but don't want to shell out $40, try Vireio Perception. It's free and it's a good starting point for any VR user.
- Free at Vireio - Download now
What do you play?
Have you ditched your monitor in lieu of your Rift or Vive? What's your favorite non-VR game to play in VR? How does it work? Let us know all about it in the comments section below!