It can be intimidating to enter a new social app for the first time, especially if you’re like me, which is to say, socially awkward. And VR just amps that up to a whole new level since you actually feel present and the other people there can see your movements and hear your voice. Still, that doesn’t mean you should shy away. Social VR apps offer a glimpse at the future of communication and gaming and the apps out there right now are already heaps of fun.
But which app would suit you? We all have different personalities and needs after all. No, I’m not talking about those needs. You’ll just have to make do with NaughtyAmerica, or Pornhub or something for that. The apps listed below are strictly there for some good wholesome fun (but what you do in your privately hosted room is your business of course.
So without further ado, here’s what we experienced in some of the best free social apps for VR that are currently available:
Altspace VR is arguably the biggest social game out there right now, with over 35 000 monthly visitors. But even with that they almost closed up shop just a couple of months ago. No worries, though, because this wacky little title is still going strong due to VR community support. So if you’re looking for a place to go watch a movie with people from all over the world, or to get in some virtual D&D gaming amongst many other things, then this is the title for you. Plus Altspace is bound to get even bigger and better since Microsoft recently purchased it and the studio behind it.
Altspace offers a great vibe with some activities and great events that have even involved some celebrities in the past. You can also host your own events or open/private rooms with different activities. These activities include things like virtual cards against humanity and stand-up comedy around a bonfire.
The UI in Altspace VR is very user-friendly and it’s easy to meet and communicate with other people. On that note, I found most of the people in Altspace VR very welcoming and friendly, but if you do hit snags then you can easily block others or just visit the help desk situated in the main menu area of the game. One of the few downsides I’ve come across here is that there isn’t a lot of avatar customization options and there isn’t quite enough activities to keep you going for hours just yet. Though those that are there do offer fun times if you’re playing wit the right type of people. Just make sure to keep things strictly PG as the admins are extremely strict. So this isn’t the game you go to for some adult fun or fooling around.
Rec Room is a social game where you can team up with other players to complete quests or play against in games like paintball. The title has been available on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and is also coming to PSVR with cross-platform play of course. Besides the various activities and places to visit in the game, each player also has their own private room to hang out with and the communal locker room which offers some fun stuff to do as well if you’re just looking to hang and mess around.
Rec Room is arguably the most game-like title on this list because it’s main attraction is all of the activities it offers. And boy are they fun. There’s a lot to do in this game and a lot of people to do it with as I’ve never seen the place empty upon my couple of visits. Rec Room offers some customization options for your avatar, but makes up for the lack of variation by rewarding you with more cosmetic items for completing challenges. The only downside for me really is that the game uses teleportation and no other movement options are available. However, this is one of the most polished and structured social games out there by far. So if you’re looking for a very user-friendly game with lots of fun activities and an active community then look no further than Rec Room.
If you’re looking for a wacky game where almost anything goes then VRChat is the one you go to. The game boasts full body avatars that actually move with you with lip-sync to simulate real-life emotions. This game focuses on user-generated content but does have premade areas and activities including a communal area in a medieval castle style with portals to other areas.
It’s all about customization. If you’re a developer or just interested in programming then this is one title to check out. The developers have a lot of downloadable SDKs that you can use to create your own avatar, home space and other virtual spaces to share with your VR friends. The short tutorial the game took me through was a great introduction to all of the stuff you will be able to do in the game, including shooting, baseball, and ping pong. You can also create your own events about anything you like.
As for the movement system, it’s the most interesting one of the lot. You point at where you want to go then see your avatar moving there before appearing at the point where it stopped. So if you’re looking for a unique experience with a lot of user-created content then make sure to try VRChat out and maybe even create some stuff of your own!
High Fidelity is arguably the most technical title on this list with the least amount of training wheels for new users. You start off in your own personal space – which is a few kilometers large – and a tablet that allows you to visit other users’ custom created worlds through a marketplace.
The thing here is, if VRChat is the baby dragon of customization options then this is the ancient dragon. And it’s pretty hard to slay. High Fidelity is not user-friendly at all and I don’t think that this is for someone looking for a casual, just jump in and get going experience. Plus I couldn’t find many other users to engage with for that matter. That being said, if you’re looking for a completely blank slate on which to let your creativity fly then High Fidelity is definitely the one social app you want to download. There isn’t even a uniform locomotion, so you really get a blank slate. Note that this title is still in it’s early stages of development, plus it’s not just for Vive and Rift but you can simply log in with your PC to start creating stuff.
If you’re into music and clubbing then I can already say that this is the social game for you. You have your own personal area, called a ‘Cave’ that has a wardrobe so you can customize your avatar, a dance floor and your own personal dj booth. So you can start the party right then and there. But The WaveVR offers so much more in the way of live events with actual djs as well as an extremely large communal space called the ‘Expanse’.
The WaveVR is the trip you always wanted to experience without actually doing any LSD. The avatars do have some customization options but are only floating heads and hands, where the other social VR platforms offer bodies. There’s also an in-game currency which, before you start getting mad at microtransactions, doesn’t involve any actual money. In-game currency is just lying around the massive expanse of the Expanse and all you have to do is go pick it up. So what can you buy with the money? Well stuff to make the experience even more trippy of course! From fireworks and bubbles to light shows and other effects.
Add to that the effects that come with the shows and it’s a dazzling cacophony of lights and sound all around you. Plus if you miss the live shows then you can always see the recordings afterhand. The only downside is that you won’t have any other users dancing beside you then. Also, do note that The WaveVR isn’t available in every country.