It’s that time of year again when people will be frantically cleaning and shopping in preparation for Thanksgiving and that all-important meal. But, once everyone’s eaten too much turkey and pumpkin pie, what’s the best way of keeping guests entertained?
If you are bored of slumping in front of the TV, or tired of hearing groans when you suggest Scrabble, virtual reality (VR) could be the perfect distraction.
People new to VR are blown away by the immersive nature of the medium and the breadth of content available means there really is something to keep everyone occupied.
I’ve put together a few of my favorite titles available across the main platforms. If you don’t own a VR headset, Black Friday is a great time to check out deals and make a purchase ahead of Christmas.
Best for burning off calories from Thanksgiving dinner: Beat Saber
Beat Saber is an obvious must-have for any VR headset owner. It’s one of the most intuitive VR games out there, with gameplay similar to Guitar Hero. Armed with sabers, you slice through fast-moving colored blocks to seriously intense music, scoring points as you go—a sense of rhythm and stamina are needed!
Not only is this game incredibly entertaining and addictive, but it’s also one heck of a workout once you get going—burning off a few calories is always welcome at Thanksgiving!
Oculus Quest/Rift/Rift S – $29.99
Best for connecting with those who can’t make it to the party: Bigscreen
The Bigscreen platform aims to revolutionize the way people play and hang out in the VR space—with virtual movie nights, LAN parties, PC games, and many more multiplayer activities. If you’ve got family spread across the world, but want to connect with them at this special time of year, Bigscreen is the perfect place to do just that.
Bigscreen is available on PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and WMR, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility between headsets. Recently, Bigscreen added 50+ streaming TV channels, including sports, gaming, movies, anime, news, and more to the service—all for free!
Oculus Quest/Rift/Rift S – Free
Best for entertaining the kids: Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure
This is a game for everyone. It’s designed to introduce players to VR, but also to help existing VR players show off their technology to friends and family. Angry Birds Movie 2 VR is for PlayStation VR and incorporates the system’s “social screen” feature. One player—the captain—uses the PlayStation VR headset to take command of a treasure hunting submarine. Up to three others—the crew—can play the same game simultaneously on the same TV using the connected PlayStation4 system and DUALSHOCK®4 wireless controllers. Learning the crew role is simple and hilarious, players will get hooked!
It must be mentioned that Oculus and HTC have a 13+ age rating for their headsets and PSVR is not to be used by children under 12, so just bear that in mind before you put a headset on any young family members this Thanksgiving!
PlayStation VR – $29.99
Best for wowing guests: Tilt Brush
For those new to virtual reality, Tilt Brush is a perfect place to start and show off the capabilities of the medium in a beautifully simple way. Tilt Brush lets you paint in 3D space, where the room is your canvas and the possibilities are endless. Choose from a huge variety of materials to create your masterpiece—from classic ink to fire, smoke or snow. Tilt Brush is the ultimate outlet for creativity.
Oculus (Quest, Rift, Rift S) / WMR / HTC Vive / Valve Index – $19.99
Best for keeping Grandma happy: Google Earth VR
Google Earth VR is a fascinating way to let users visit places they never thought possible or take a trip down memory lane. It can be surprisingly emotional to enable the older members of your family to explore their childhood neighborhoods. Or, they can virtually fly all over the world to see Mount Everest, The Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal—anywhere they fancy!
Oculus (Rift, Rift S) / HTC Vive / Valve Index – Free
Best for family bonding: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
This game will let you live out your Mission: Impossible dreams! Using frantic communication your team must help you defuse a virtual bomb—that only you can see—by consulting their ‘bomb-defusing manual’. This game is sure to bring all the family together as you all have to work in sync using your puzzle-solving and communication skills. The games are loud, fast-paced and intense, but a huge amount of fun as well.
Gear VR / Oculus (Rift, Go and Quest) / Playstation VR / HTC Vive – $15.00
Best for relaxing after all the excitement: Nature Trek VR
Hosting Thanksgiving can be pretty exhausting, so once all the excitement has settled down, immersing yourself in Nature Trek VR is the perfect way to relax and unwind. With nine different environments, over 20 animals and customizable features such as weather and time of day, this experience is sure to put you in a zen-like state by reconnecting you with nature.
Oculus (Rift, Go and Quest) / WMR / HTC Vive – $11.00