When I first played my Quest 2, I had to stop after an hour because I was sweating and out of breath.
VR is an absolute blast and probably the most fun I’ve had “working out” since I used to play racketball with friends pre-pandemic. So much fun, in fact, that I believe it’s how we’ll all be working out in the future.
Here are my top 10 VR games to work out with.
1) Echo VR
The best way I can describe Echo VR is that it’s 4 on 4 full-contact ultimate frisbee hockey in space.
I think what I love about this game is that it’s so much fun to play. It doesn’t feel like the chore that working out is. And yet, when I’m done playing, I’m usually sweating like a pig.
I wouldn’t describe this game as intense exercise. It gets my heart rate up slightly more than walking, and I can play it for over an hour. That’s the exercise zone I want to be in, so it tops the list.
2) Pistol Whip
Pistol whip is a 3d, screen scrolling shoot’em up style arcade game set to good music. It’s a lot of fun. It also really gets your heart rate up because you need to avoid obstacles and dodge bullets quickly.
It’s definitely more intense exercise than Echo VR, but still a lot of fun. That said, after a few rounds of this, I do get the urge to go play something else.
Gorn is a game where you’re effectively a cartoon gladiator in a colosseum and have to bash a bunch of other cartoon gladiator’s heads in. It’s gory (in a cartoon violence sort-of way). The first time I played it, I found myself sweating profusely and having an absolute blast.
The exercise comes from taking violent swings at your enemies and avoiding their swings.
Beatsaber is VR’s Guitar Hero, you use lightsabers to smash blocks to the beat of the music. It’s a lot of fun and an absolute staple for anybody new to VR.
Many of you familiar with VR may be surprised that I’m choosing BeatSaber over something like Supernatural VR Fitness (a BeatSaber clone with squats). And the reason I’m doing that is that Supernatural feels like you’re working out. Whereas BeatSaber feels like you’re playing a game.
If I wanted to optimize my workout, I’d go to the gym. What I’m looking for in VR is something that gets my heart rate reasonably elevated for an hour or two that feels more like a fun game than a chore. If you’re in better shape than me, games like Beatsaber might not be enough of a workout for you. But, I was 300+ lbs when I got my VR headset. Beatsaber’s plenty for me.
This is a shoot’em up style game where time passes as you move. If you move really slowly, you should be able to defeat your enemies.
Moving slowly doesn’t sound like much of a workout. But, I find I do a lot of contorting of my body when playing this game (to dodge enemy fire). All those weird positions get me sweating. And it’s good fun.
6) Oh Shape!
This is the first game on the list where its purpose feels like working out. Despite that, it’s surprisingly fun to play now and again (and you will be sweating).
The game’s premise is that your body has to make the shape of the blocks that are flying towards you as the music plays. I also think that this is a good demo game for people new to VR. They’ll get a kick out of it for sure.
HyperDash is an absolute blast to play your first time through. It’s probably my favorite first-person shooter in VR.
The only reason it ranks low on this list is that it’s not much of a workout. I don’t find myself sweating very much compared to some of the other titles in this list.
That said, if I play long enough, I’m usually sweaty and gross. I’d rank this game as slightly less intense than walking. Some people desire that intensity level for long periods of time, so it makes the list. It’s still a better workout than your standard console game.
Other Games Receiving Votes
These games are a workout, but they didn’t make my top 7 for various reasons.
- Blade and Sorcery – This game is disturbingly violent, and very similar to Gorn (which I like better).
- Thrill of the Fight – This feels like an actual boxing match. The first time I played it, I was flat out of breath due to its intensity. If you really want to get your heart rate up, this is the game for you. I just didn’t enjoy it enough to play it all the time. That said, if you like it, this one should maybe top the list.
- Supernatural – I mentioned this one previously. It’s BeatSaber, only with trainers, squats, and an expensive monthly subscription fee. I tried it, and it felt too much like I was at the gym. Not something I really enjoyed playing.
- Synth Riders – Sort of like a dancing BeatSaber.