Since its arrival, the Samsung Gear VR has been a beacon of hope. Hope for millions that they will be able to get their hands on wallet friendly virtual reality experiences. Up until Gear VR, the phrase ‘affordable VR’ was reserved for things like Google cardboard, so it’s hardly surprising that their is a lot pinned on the success of Gear VR Apps and the, hopefully, affordable VR revolution that it heralded.
An increased field of view and smooth as butter design makes the latest offering even better value for money. If you have managed to pick one up, or you are about to, you are doubtless eager to see what it can do when put through its paces. What better way to take it for a spin than with some free apps?
Samsung BeFearless – Heights
A ‘BeFearless’ campaign launched by Samsung was headlined by the challenge set in Heights. VR technology is used more and more in the tackling of phobias, and Samsung in all their wisdom decided to bring much of that tech into the home, and Gear VR users have been grateful ever since! Using scientific data as its basis, Heights teaches users to face and hopefully overcome their fear of heights.
Every level, presented in glorious 360° video, sees a small increase in the uncomfortable stakes, gradually easing you up the mountain, so to speak.
A lot of the time, a successfully immersive experience relies on the quality of the visuals; nothing rips you out of an experience faster than corrupted graphics, edge clipping or just plain old poor visuals. Luckily, Sonar is borderline beautiful to look at.
Dropping you into the cockpit of a hi-tech (is there any other kind?) spaceship, Sonor is a space flight simulation like no other. No spoilers here, but get ready to need a hug at the end. The app received an update earlier this year to bring it to the Google Daydream.
The Expanse VR
If you are a fan of sci-fi – and who isn’t’? – then you are going to love this offering from NBC Universal Media. The Expanse VR takes the user on a journey into deep space, in a future where mankind has colonized the galaxy and make deep space its new home. A narrator takes you through the experience (think Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, except much more engaging) as you take in the sights of some seriously impressive space stations that now inhabit the milky way.
CoLab – Trial Rooms
This offering presents the player with a labyrinth simulation and is perfect if you are new to virtual reality technology as it takes you through the usage of Gear VR and its abilities. This is less a tutorial however and more of an intensive exercise in critical thinking and VR world navigation.
Players are guided through the labyrinth by a distant and disembodied voice, but don’t expect that to make things easier. Definitely worth picking up, you can take a look at Trial Rooms on YouTube.
There are few things, either virtual or actual, in this world that are cuter than wide eyed bunny rabbits. Jumping into this VR experience is like chewing sugar cubes while a unicorn licks your toes. While not interactive, you will not be able to prevent yourself falling in love with this short, 360° animated film. Join the cutest, fuzziest little rabbit in the universe has it faces up to alien ‘invaders’.
Strong stomachs are a must for Rilix Coaster, as it has the ability to make even the sturdiest of people motion sick. Isn’t that a bad thing, though? No, you amateur! Half the fun of VR experiences like this is being taken out of your comfort zone and having your senses messed with.
In the case of Riix Coaster, you will find yourself reaching out to grab something for balance – and not in a disoriented way, in a beautifully realistic way to support yourself as the coaster throws you around. The very fact that Rilix manages to do this despite the low graphics is a huge testament to the overall quality of the simulation. Highly recommended and you can get a preview of Rilix Coaster on YouTube – don’t let the slow start fool you!
High quality VR experiences have never been as affordable as the Samsung Gear VR but let’s hope that it sets a trend, and not just for this type of headset experience either. VR technology has been around a good while now, with a bit of luck it will increase in popularity and enough to the point where manufactures are able to adjust price points on high-end devices too.