10 games we want to play in Daydream VR

Google is upping the ante on Android virtual reality, and these games could be VR stars.

daydream games lead
In our dreams

Google’s Daydream platform was announced at I/O 2016, and it promises to level up mobile VR for Android users. New high-end phones from several makers will be Daydream-certified, and they’ll work with Daydream headsets and motion-sensing, touchpad-toting remotes to let you experience VR that’s well above and beyond what Cardboard offers.

Since it’s powered by Android N, we’ll likely see major existing Android games make the leap into virtual reality, while games from Samsung’s Gear VR could also find their way to the Play Store—but probably not high-end PC games like those on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. With that in mind, here’s a realistic list of 10 games we’d like to experience in Daydream VR when it releases this fall.

daydream games fotonica
Fotonica

If there’s one Android game that already nails the old-school illusion of virtual reality, it’s Fotonica. The electrifying first-person runner takes place in a glowing, wireframe world, and you’ll sprint ahead at incredible speeds as you leap between floating platforms against a stark black backdrop. It’s intense and surreal on your handheld phone screen, but it could be even better in VR.

Imagine being able to look freely as you run at that same blistering pace, taking in the dizzying sights for the split-second you have before jumping again. Granted, it might be a real stomach-churner in virtual reality—Fotonica might just be too frantic when strapped to your face. But it’s worth a shot, right? And it’s a one-button game, so the Daydream remote is a perfect match.

daydream games landsend
Land's End

No, it’s not the clothing company: Land’s End is an original VR game from ustwo, the studio behind the marvelous Monument Valley, and it shares some similar DNA. As in that perception-smashing game, you’ll wander through curious, mysterious terrain while solving environmental puzzles. However, it all takes place in first-person view, and Land’s End has a really calming nature to it.

Land’s End is currently a Gear VR exclusive, but since Daydream looks to hit a similar level of mobile VR performance, it ought to be a perfect fit for Google’s platform. And the game relies entirely on your gaze, so the remote isn’t even required—although perhaps it would be an opportunity to add in extra elements not seen on the Gear VR.

daydream games minecraft
Minecraft: Pocket Edition

Minecraft has well over 100 million users across its myriad releases, and the block-based building game’s next frontier is VR. It’s coming to Oculus Rift and even Microsoft's HoloLens AR headset, but it’s already available on Gear VR. Minecraft: Gear VR Edition is essentially just Minecraft: Pocket Edition with a new perspective, so don’t be surprised if Minecraft is ready for Daydream right around launch.

Playing Minecraft in first-person in VR is surprisingly intense; falling off a ledge can quickly make you queasy. Luckily, there’s also a breezier screened mode that lets you play on a TV inside a virtual lodge. Playing with the streamlined Daydream remote could be a bit clumsy, but what if you could buy an extra and use one in each hand? That might solve any control conundrums.

daydream games laracroftgo
Lara Croft Go

Not every VR experience has to focus on first-person gameplay: The ability to view external action from a more personal, subtly-controlled camera angle also adds immersion to games. Square Enix recently brought the sharp Hitman Go to Oculus Rift and Gear VR, but we’d love to see them put the same focus on the even-greater Lara Croft Go.

Last year’s mobile spinoff takes the Tomb Raider heroine and tosses her into an array of environmental challenges, and the game is as clever and smart as it is perfectly suited to smartphones. Still, this dazzling game could be fantastic from a virtual view: imagine the added focus granted by being completely enveloped by each puzzle world.

daydream games realracing3
Real Racing 3

A VR edition of Need for Speed: No Limits is already coming to Daydream, but the brief races and events of the mobile version might not provide for much immersion. Instead, another EA racer could be an even better spotlight for a VR driving experience: Real Racing 3

Even after three years, nothing comes close to Real Racing 3 on Android for simulation-style racing, and the game packs in a load of licensed cars and real-life tracks, not to mention both single-player and online multiplayer content. Better yet, it already has an in-car view available: add free camera movement with the headset and it should be amazing. Plus, the Daydream remote’s motion sensors make it an ideal steering wheel.

daydream games infinityblade
Infinity Blade

It’s true: none of the previous Infinity Blade games have arrived on Android, as it has stayed loyal to iOS over the years, but there’s reason to be optimistic. Epic Games has already shown that its Unreal Engine 4 will run well on Daydream, and Infinity Blade is produced by the Epic-owned Chair Entertainment. Also, it would be a superb fit for a VR experience.

The head-to-head fantasy brawler is built on swipes and taps, but instead of interacting with a screen, what if you could swat the motion controller to attack? There’s more nuance than that to the combat experience, but Infinity Blade seems like it could be smartly adapted to VR, plus it would surely be one of the most dazzling Daydream experiences.

daydream games keeptalking
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

One of the most exciting elements of virtual reality’s rise is the opportunity to use the headset-based approach to develop totally new types of games. An early example is Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, which is a staple of VR headsets with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Gear VR versions already available.

It’s an asymmetric local multiplayer experience: one person wears the headset and stares at a digital bomb, which must be disabled by following instructions read off a computer or paper printouts by nearby friends. The resulting experience is raucous and hilarious, making Keep Talking an ideal party experience. And the game is relatively simple in design, so the Daydream headset and remote should work perfectly well for it.

daydream games smashhit
Smash Hit VR

On Android, Smash Hit is a seriously fun little game about tossing metal balls at glass panes while zipping through corridors—but did you know it’s also a VR experience? Smash Hit VR for the Gear VR was put together as a quick demo, but it’s one of the most engrossing games on the platform, immersing you in stunning sights as you aim with your eyes. 

Given the expected performance similarities between Gear VR and Daydream, Smash Hit VR should be a perfect fit on Google’s platform, plus there’s a big advantage. Tapping the touchpad on the Gear VR headset to throw balls gets tiring after a few minutes, and buying a full Android gamepad can be pricey. But with Daydream, you’ll already have the remote for this superb one-button game.

daydream games theroom
The Room

Over the course of three games, The Room has built up one of the essential Android puzzle experiences, providing ample atmosphere as you explore and investigate various eerie environments. Each game is already played from a first-person view, and bringing that into virtual reality would surely make all three games all the more enrapturing.

Since most of your time is spent examining things like puzzle boxes, statues, and furniture, The Room seems like it would make a smooth transition to VR, and the impressive graphics would be all the more effective when you’re given a more natural perspective. Enhance all three games for VR and you’ve got a must-have Daydream purchase.

daydream games implosion
Implosion: Never Lose Hope

As noted with Lara Croft Go, a VR headset can enhance games that you don’t play from the eyes of the character—although Implosion: Never Lose Hope is definitely an in-your-face experience. This speedy and stylish action game is the best mobile take on the Devil May Cry-esque hack-and-slash/shooter approach, and its flashy combat and sleek mech fighters would look great in VR. 

Imagine being right up close to the action and seeing sparks fly as mutants are dismembered and explosions trigger, with the ability to move the camera perspective fluidly with a shift of your head. Some clever tweaking would probably be necessary for the Daydream remote, including bringing in motion controls, but the results could be well worth their effort.