We've been playing with the full consumer version of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset for the best part of a week and will soon be posting our extensive review. However, before we do we wanted to share our thoughts on some of the games and experiences currently available on Steam that work wonderfully with the new device.
We've been working our way through everything that works or is native to the HTC Vive, having downloaded them on Steam. That includes games that have incorporated Vive compatibility even if they are usually played in 2D.
Here then is our list of the best we've experienced so far. We'll also update this round-up as and when we play additional titles - after all, there are 35 games or experiences that we've got installed already. It'll take us a bit longer to get to them all.
For now, here are the games and experiences we think you should consider downloading for your Vive.
Best HTC Vive games: The Gallery: Episode 1 - Call of the Starseed
An amazingly immersive adventure, The Gallery offers such a rich and detailed environment and story that it took us a while to readjust to the real world when we removed the headset. It is inspired by 80s fantasy flicks but initially reminds of games of the ilk of Myst or, more recently, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
Objects can be interacted with and carried, while puzzles must be solved as you are tasked with searching for your missing sister. Where it stands out amongst other big scale VR games is that it provides you with two floating hands with which to interact with the world, and this tricks your brain into thinking it is more tangible than it is. Even the wireframe tutorial beforehand is better than some other virtual reality experiences we've tried in the past.
If we have one complaint, it's that the first episode is quite short for a game that costs £22.99. That said, we can't wait for episode two.
Best HTC Vive games: Audioshield
A basic idea but possibly one of our favourite VR games to return to often, Audioshield is a rhythm game that uses a virtual space very well indeed. It places a blue or orange light shield in either of your hands, mapped onto the real world controllers, and you have to raise them to fend off the same coloured balls that head towards you.
That sounds simple but considering this is a rhythm game the balls come down in time to chosen music - generally fast dance beats - and often come in different whoops and swirls. You must follow the shapes with your shield or risk ruining your end score.
Song choices found inside the game are limited, but it can also be used with any song file. There are also songs of the day that change.
It's also extremely funny when you give the hardest level a try. Heaven knows what you look like to the external world.
It costs £14.99 and is essential for Vive owners we feel.
Best HTC Vive games: Space Pirate Trainer
Space Pirate Trainer is only in Early Access at the moment, which means it's still in development and is missing several key features. However, at £10.99 you can safely take a punt on it and play what's there until the developer, i-Illusions, adds the rest through regular updates.
What you get to begin with is a decent shoot-em-up in a big virtual play space. The controllers are turned into weapons that can be customised to shoot different kinds of bullets or even double as a shield, while robotic drone-like craft fly around in front of you, trying to shoot you instead.
It's not too complicated and great fun if not a little tricky to get to later stages (tip, use the shield often). It also gives an impression of the potential for using the motion controllers in games.
Best HTC Vive games: The Lab
Whenever we've talked to people who have briefly tried the HTC Vive The Lab is one of the games they've dabbled with. It is Valve's own free demo software and is therefore an essential title to download right from the bat.
It's actually a collection of mini-games, experiences and tech demos, but is also something we've happily revisited a lot during our testing.
As the developer of Portal and its sequel, Valve has used the setting and characters to present The Lab, with many of the little challenges and games themed around Aperture Science Laboratories and experiments it carries out.
We particularly like the Longbow game, where you have to fire arrows at a horde of vikings who are trying to sack your castle. One controller represents the bow, the other arrows. Soon you genuinely feel like you are stringing arrows and firing them at foes.
We also like one where you can play fetch with a mechanical dog. So cute. Its face lights up, and its tail wags. You can walk around the top of a mountain, looking at clouds float by and birds soar over your head - all while this adorable pup runs around your ankles, waiting for you to pick up a stick and throw it. We haphazardly threw the stick off the side of the mountain and were the dog would run off the cliff.
Instead, he found a path and eventually reappeared with the stick. This little demo is called Postcards, and it made us think that in the future parents could use it as a mean of letting their kids take care of a virtual pet before owning a real one. There are so many possibilities with virtual reality. Heck, you can even relive the golden era of gaming - only this time, it's all around you.
For instance, we played Xortex, and it's just like playing something inside of an arcade machine. You basically steer a ship around with the controller, then you aim the ship at invading enemies and pull the trigger to fire on them. You have to dodge these and avoid lasers that emit from the ships, so you're not only shooting but ducking and weaving and viewing your score on a giant wrap-around screen.
We recommend The Lab to anyone who wants to dip their toes into VR as soon as they get their headset, because it gives you a fully array of demos that work your brain and body and occasionally pull at your heartstrings
Best HTC Vive games: theBlu
Not quite a game but an interactive experience, theBlu is another that many have tasted during HTC Vive demos at shows. We only got to play one section during our original trials though, so it was great to find out that there's another couple of experiences available too.
The whale section, where a giant blue whale swims past you while you are stood on the deck of a submerged ship, is the experience we've tried before. It's no less impressive second or third time around though.
There is also a section based in a coral reef with migrating fish and jelly fish swimming around you. And another places you on the sea bed of a dark, deep world with stranger, luminous creatures lurking. The latter turns your right controller into a torch, so you can peer around more effectively.
At £6.99, theBlu isn't cheap considering the amount of content available, but it's definitely the best software for showing family and friends the immersive qualities of VR without them having to do too much.
Best HTC Vive games: Job Simulator
Job Simulator shipped as a free download for those who pre-ordered the HTC Vive and is still available in a freebie pack, alongside Google's Tilt Brush and Fantastic Contraption, if you order your headset soon. It'll cost you £29.99 otherwise.
That might be a bit steep, but it is very funny and offers plenty to do.
Several different work situations are available to try out, from office worker to chef, and you have to complete silly tasks using virtual cartoon hands and the items around you. It doesn't take itself too seriously and is another that people who have never experienced VR before have been able to pick up immediately.
Best HTC Vive games: #SelfieTennis
There's not really much to #SelfieTennis for its £14.99 cover price, but what it does offer is a fun and silly game you can play by yourself.
One controller spawns balls, while the other can be used as a racket and you are stood on a fantasy tennis court. As soon as you hit a ball across the net, the view switches to the other side and you realise you are playing against yourself. The idea is to keep rallies going back and forth for as long as possible.
There are other silly asides, such as the ability to take a selfie and post it onto social media from within the game, but the fun really lies in you trying to hit the ball back to yourself as much as possible.
It's actually quite calming. Until you realise that the other you is rubbish at tennis.
Best HTC Vive games: Elite Dangerous
Both Elite Dangerous and the Elite Dangerous Horizons pack are VR enabled and compatible with the HTC Vive.
We played the original game on an Oculus Rift a couple of years back and loved it then. It is just as great a VR experience now, although you will need a decent PC graphics card to play without lag or low resolutions, we found.
The normal, 2D version of both games are already brilliant, but add the ability to look around your craft and gaze into space and it further becomes the simulation game promised.
It requires a controller or, better still, flight controls, and you can't use the Vive's own wands, but we used an Xbox One controller with a wireless adapter for our PC and it handled well. Be prepared for a steep learning curve though, as this isn't a mere shoot-em-up.
Elite Dangerous currently retails for £19.99, while an Elite Dangerous: Horizons Season Pass will set you back £24.99.
We'll be adding more of our favourite HTC Vive games as soon as we've played them enough for recommendation.