The Best FREE Oculus Rift Touch Games and Apps

tl;dr: Skip straight to the list!

A Long, Long Time Ago…

Virtual BoyOver 21 years ago—circa 1995—I got my first dose of “virtual reality” by glimpsing into the lenses of a store display model Virtual Boy at Target. Featured within this curious contraption was a vividly monochromatic, red-tinted 3D world. The demo game was Wario Land, and in those fleeting seconds I recall dodging 3D spike balls that lunged out toward me before vanishing back into the abyss. Despite being critically panned and discontinued shortly thereafter, this experience on the Virtual Boy proved strangely captivating and my fascination with 3D and virtual reality continued onward.

In 1999, as a companion to my newly purchased Voodoo3 3dfx video card, I bought my first pair of 3D shutter glasses known as VRJoy. These bulky LCD glasses connected to the computer via a VGA passthrough box and then flickered repeatedly between the two lenses, in sync with the CRT monitor display. Due to low refresh rates, the flickering was prominent and prolonged use would often result in headaches and eye strain. None-the-less, the hardware enabled virtually any DirectX 6+ application to automatically transform into a 3D experience. Over a decade later upon transitioning to 3D-capable high refresh rate monitors, I picked up Nvidia’s 3D Vision shutter glasses that carried similar albeit much improved functionality.

The Oculus Rift

Oculus RiftIn the summer of 2012, the Oculus Rift was announced on Kickstarter as a virtual reality headset that would “change the way you think about gaming forever.” Although virtual reality headsets were not unheard of (with specialized and mighty expensive ones dating as far back as the 1980s and commercially viable ones arriving in the 1990s), the Rift became the first high profile attempt at bringing such hardware to the modern era with an HD display, ultra-low latency, high field of view and greater affordability. The $250,000 goal was surpassed within 24 hours, and by the time the crowdfunding campaign ended it had raised $2,437,429, becoming one of the largest crowdfunding success stories of all time.

I jumped on board, receiving the first Oculus Rift DK1 (Developer Kit #1) in 2012 and the Rift DK2 in 2014. Finally early this year the consumer version arrived at my doorstep. The evolution of this device in under five years was quite remarkable to me, and despite criticism of its unanticipated cost (USD $600) and massive shipping and production delays, the end product felt quite rewarding (especially considering what crude VR components cost just 25 years ago ;). But try as I did, the lack of any complimentary hand-based controllers made it difficult to become fully immersed. I tried the Razer Hydra controllers, which while fairly cool at the time were also somewhat of a burden to setup and had limited Rift-compatible game support. Meanwhile the Vive was released with full wireless touch controllers that made me quite envious as a Rift owner.

Oculus Touch

Oculus TouchA full 1.5 years ago, Oculus announced its plans to develop hand-wearable motion controllers to better embrace the nature of virtual reality. This week, eight months after HTC released its own VR headset with accompanying motion controllers, Oculus finally delivered. Along with the controllers, the package includes a second sensor which helps accommodate room-scale VR. An optional third sensor (and even a fourth) can be purchased to expand on these tracking capabilities. Whereas the Vive has a built-in camera that shows an overlay when you get close to your room’s physical perimeter, the Rift instead projects a 3D wireframe barrier (“Guardian”) when you get close to a physical barrier, which I find equally effective.

Setting up the Touch controllers was very streamlined and enjoyable. After plugging in the second sensor and launching the Oculus app, the wizard immediately walks the user through the entire collaboration process step-by-step, complete with videos and interactive elements. The first part of the interactive setup involves positioning and rotating the sensors to their optimal position. The second part has the user walk around the perimeter of their room to calculate the usable play area and where the Guardian walls should appear if they get too close. After successful configuration, you are taken through an introductory tutorial to familiarize yourself with the controllers and their capabilities.

The Best FREE Touch-Ready Oculus Rift Apps and Games

Impressively, 54 Touch-enabled games were announced when the Oculus Touch launched December 6th. Most of them are commercial with prices ranging from $9.99 through $49.99. Some titles have been around awhile (like The Climb) but have been updated to support Oculus Touch. Even those who played through a previously released title with their Xbox controller will find it to be an entirely new and more immersive experience with the hand controls. Right now, Oculus has a $89.99 promotional pack of six Touch-ready games including Space Pirate Trainer, I Expect You To Die, Kingspray Graffiti, SUPERHOT VR and The Climb. Purchasing this pack or any game on the Oculus Store will also currently get you Ripcoil for free, so the six game pack comes at a savings of $49.95 and contains plenty of experiences for infinite entertainment.

But this post isn’t about commercial experiences. It’s about the best free Touch-ready games I’ve experienced during my first couple weeks of Touch ownership. With that said, let’s get to it!


Oculus First Contact

Oculus First Contact

Much in the same way that Super Mario Bros. introduced millions to the Nintendo Entertainment System and its game controllers, and Tuscany became the first de facto VR experience on the original Rift developer kit, Oculus First Contact is the initial experience that all users of the Touch will be greeted to. Immediately after setting up and collaborating your Rift sensors and controllers, a Touch Tutorial app will launch to help familiarize you with the touch controllers. After this brief tutorial finishes, you will be taken into the First Contact world where you’ll grow to love interacting with an adorable little robot reminiscent of Wall-E. This app gently introduces you to a variety of increasingly fun and immersive uses of touch controls in a very amusing manner.

Oculus First Contact ships with Oculus Touch and can be found under the Tutorials section of your Game Library. (“Touch Tutorial Complete” will first launch the introductory controller tutorial, whereas “Oculus First Contact” will take you straight to the robot environment.)


Bullet Train

Bullet Train

One of the most visually impressive demos I experienced on the DK2 version of the Rift was Epic’s Showdown. It was more of a tech demo to show off Unreal’s power but also was my go-to demo when showing guests the Rift due to its immersive qualities. There was no user input and it only ran for a couple of minutes so was perfect for entertaining others and letting them understand what VR is all about. The successor to this for Oculus Touch is Bullet Train, which morphs you into a secret agent tasked with taking out the enemies using a variety of guns and special powers (i.e., time manipulation, teleportation and bullet deflection). The game begins with you on a moving train, not unlike the beginning of Half-Life 2 but infinitely more engrossing (imagine my glee being able to pick up garbage and throw it down the aisle, or grip onto the ceiling handles). A brief tutorial familiarizes you with the controls and within a minute or two you are thrust into an action-packed gun fight with the enemies. The demo lasts about seven minutes and is the precursor to Robo Recall, a full VR game that Epic will be releasing in 2017.

Bullet Train is available for free on the Oculus Store.


Dead and Buried

Dead and Buried

While the single-player Touch experiences are certainly delightful, a whole new level of entertainment is unleashed when you are suddenly pitted against other real world players. Dead and Buried is free from Oculus upon activating your Touch. The game is a tongue-in-cheek and humorous homage to old Westerns and gunslingers.  As with other Touch games, an initial tutorial will familiarize you with the basic gun controls including how to draw and reload your pistols. A variety of online game modes exist including both cooperative and competitive battles. A fan favorite is the Quick Draw mode, which is an old test of who has the fastest hands of the west!

Dead and Buried is a free game by Oculus with the purchase/activation of your Touch controls, and can be downloaded from the Oculus Store.


VR Sports Challenge

VR Sports Challenge

A sports player in real life I am not. However, with VR Sports Challenge I have gotten as close as I would ever probably care to get in facing up against powerhouse pro-athletes in a variety of sports including Football, Hockey, Basketball and more. This game completely changes the manner of play in ways unlike anything seen before. The Touch controllers are used to dribble balls, pass footballs to players, slug opponents and slam dunk! All from a first person perspective, it has proven to be great fun even as a non-sports person in general. The more you play, the more fans you acquire to unlock additional features and content.

VR Sports Challenge is currently free with Touch pre-orders (you’ll receive an activation code via email), and is available for download from the Oculus Store.


NVIDIA® VR Funhouse

NVIDIA VR Funhouse

One of my simple pleasures after buying a new video card is to check out the manufacturer’s technology demos that showcase some of the card’s capabilities. NVIDIA has always had impressive real-time demos in this regard (as has ATI/AMD). VR Funhouse is just that, a tech demo build around Oculus Touch for NVIDIA card-owners that showcases a variety of visually fascinating technologies. But it’s not just a tech demo, it’s a very enjoyable experience that takes you to carnival games of yore. There are approximately seven different games to play, each showcasing a unique feature of the NVIDIA chipset (physics, fluids, particles and more). Recently the app got a winter facelift with some additional content. More interestingly, the game also supports modding through Unreal Engine 4 so developers and content creators can put together their very own amusements.

NVIDIA® VR Funhouse is available on the Oculus Store as well as Steam. If downloading through Steam, you’ll need to enable Unknown Sources in your Oculus Settings (under “General“) as you must do to play any non-Oculus Store products. Although this app recommends a 1080 or higher, you can get by on a 980-series card at low settings, but you won’t have much success if using an AMD card since this was built for the NVIDIA chipset.


Rec Room

Rec Room

Certainly one of the most popular (and, at times, extremely hilarious) free multiplayer experiences on the Touch is that of Rec Room. This is a virtual reality experience reminiscent of hanging with friends and strangers at public gyms and clubs. The 3D avatars are legless torsos with the hands and head tied to your actual Rift and Touch controls. This allows you to virtually high five, wave at and dance with fellow VR users–including those on competing headsets–throughout a fairly large gym-like complex. There are a lot of social games that can be played, both formally and informally, including disc golf, paintball, dodgeball, charades and more. That said, it seems many users gather in the lobby itself without going into any formal game, which itself has different activities and items of interest. You can unlock additional items for your avatar and other features as you progress. Note that voice chat, by default, seems to be auto-enabled so if you don’t want everything you say to transmit automatically you may wish to change this via the in-game settings (i.e., look on your wrist).

Rec Room is available on the Oculus Store as well as Steam. Just like VR Funhouse, if downloading through Steam make sure that “Unknown Sources” is enabled in your Oculus Settings.


Many more free Touch-enabled Rift games are available, with others being developed as we speak. I also highly recommend the following:

  • Toy Box – A sandbox play area where you can interact with many classic toys and objects.
  • Medium – A creative 3D sculpting and modeling application.
  • The Lab – A collection of Valve’s room-scalee VR experiments.
  • Google Earth VR – Although officially still only supporting the Vive, you can get this running quite well with FakeVive.

We have come a long way since the virtual reality days of Nick Arcade in the 1990s!

The Deceitful “Bait-and-Switch” Tactics of Auto Dealership Prize Giveaways

Jokers WildI receive unsolicited prize giveaways in the mail all the time, mostly from regional auto dealerships trying to promote their inventory and overstock. The tactics used to entice the recipient into reading and reacting to the send-out can be both entertaining and aggressive. The goal of these mailings is naturally to maximize consumer response and get as many people as possible through the doors to sell them vehicles. For this reason, everybody wins!

Some dealership promotions come enclosed in very important looking “NextDay Verified Fast-Tracked Mail” envelopes designed to mimic actual overnight services while still being sent regular media mail (complete with handwritten jargon about there being crucial documents inside.) Others come with a generic key that must be checked against a lock box at the dealership.  Almost all of them include some variant of a scratch-off or pull-tab ticket with some fantastic prizes on the table.

Although they are all the same in the end (the “prize” you get to claim is rarely ever worth the trip), I have found some to be far more deceptive and misleading than others. As such, I’ll classify these mailers into two categories…

The ‘Honestly Hopeless’ Prize Giveaways

Two Dollar BillIf you receive a flyer for any sort of event within 25-100 miles of your address and it includes any gambling-inspired game for you to “play-to-win”, rest assured you will be a “winner” every time. The majority of marketing flyers that I receive, as sensational as they are, have still been honest in their identification of what you’ve won, the fine-print and the abysmal yet accurate odds of winning any of the non-trivial prizes.

By that, I mean that at least 99,997 of 100,000 send-outs will contain the same identical winning ticket and its value is typically not worth the money in gas to claim. Assuming they send out 100,000 flyers and are true to their word, only three of those 100,000 stand to win anything beyond a couple dollars in cash or a restrictive gift card.

In these more honest flyers, you scratch off the play area or otherwise reveal that you have a winning ticket, such as by matching three like symbols in a row. Comparing the ticket results to the prize legend will inevitably reveal that you have won $2 or something of similar monetary value. To claim it, you must visit the dealership during the aforementioned promotion.

NextDay PromotionHere is a rundown of what happened the last time I went to claim my $2 prize from these sort of giveaways, and what you should expect:

  1. I arrive at the dealership to a hoard of salespeople roaming about. Immediately I walk past the crowd and into the tent.
  2. I show a staff member my winning ticket and advise them I am there to collect the prize (all $2 of it).
  3. The salesperson says he will go get the cash but it could take awhile and suggests I look around the lot while waiting. I respectfully decline and tell him I’ll just wait right there.
  4. Minutes pass and eventually he comes back with a crisp $2 bill. I thank him and start to leave.
  5. But before you go, ” he remarks, “we are having a $500 giveaway tomorrow and it is free to enter, interested?”
  6. Hmm, OK?” – Now I’m on the hook. He tells me he just needs to take down my information so I can be reached if I win.
  7. I am now put through a fairly rigorous survey that asks everything about my current vehicle, what kinds of vehicles I may be interested in, what my financial abilities are for loans, how much I could afford a month and so on.
  8. After repeatedly insisting that I am unwilling to put anything toward a new vehicle at this time, despite how low of a figure he goes down to and how much he talks about them having the perfect vehicle for me, he finally concedes and ends the survey.
  9. I leave (and no, I did not win the prize).

All told, it took around 15 minutes to claim my $2 prize and over a half hour until I was finally out of there after entering the large cash giveaway (which, like most free things a person signs up for, probably also resulted in more marketing materials coming my way). If you live less than a mile away from one of these dealerships and don’t stick around past receiving your small monetary prize, and have some time to kill, you can almost break even.

The ‘Deceptively Hopeful’ Prize Giveaways

Some promotional flyers I receive are much more misleading about the alleged prize won. With these types of marketing materials, all indications are that you have won a significant prize and that you are one out of 100,000 to get so lucky. I will give a detailed rundown of a recent flyer that I received and acted upon.

JOKERS WILD MATCH TO WIN! 2 CHANCES TO WIN! 2 GAMES PER CARD! OVER $2,500,000 IN AVAILABLE PRIZES!

Jokers WildThis flyer came with a pull-tab game not unlike those you’d see in the corner of a tavern. As you can see, this prize giveaway is so extreme that it has to be “QR CODE PROTECTED,” whatever that actually means (it’s a 40 character string that I suspect is identical on everyone’s card). The prize legend seems pretty straight-forward, as depicted below.

The prize legend for the Jokers Wild game.

The prize, odds of winning and verifiable retail value are listed for each of the four rows.

  • YELLOW: $50,000 Cash – 1:100,000 ($50,000 Retail Value)
  • GREEN: 55″ 4K TV – 1:100,000 ($1,500 Retail Value)
  • PURPLE: Apple iPad Pro – 1:100,000 ($1,000 Retail Value)
  • BLUE: $25 Gift Card – 99,997:100,000 ($25 Retail Value)

Simple math confirms that everybody is a winner. There is a 99.997% chance of winning the $25 gift card, which means that this is the prize all but three people of 100,000 will win. It is identical to the $2 odds in the previously described giveaway. The remaining three, with a 0.001% chance each, will supposedly win either the cash prize, iPad or 4K television.

With that in mind, imagine my delight when I pull the tabs and see this:

Jokers Wild

Four green jokers in one game! Yes! Surely this means I won the 4K TV, right?! It seemed pretty apparent from the legend that this was the case, at least.

Jokers WildSo excited was I about this win (OK, there might be a hint of sarcasm there), that I got in touch with a friend to share the great news. “Well what do you know? I got the same matching green jokers in game 1! In fact, our cards are identical for both games.

How could this be,” I thought. Only one person in 100,000 was supposed to win the 4K television, and the odds of that happening were astronomically low. I skimmed over the the fine print. Did it require us to purchase a car before claiming the prize? “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE CHANCES OF WINNING.” Apparently not.

I dialed up the number on the front and entered my confirmation code as it instructed me to do. Rather than getting any confirmation about my prize, the automated machine instead began asking a series of questions relating to the purchase of a new vehicle, special loan rates etc. I hung up. There was one other line in the small-print that caught my attention: “Bring invitation to event location to compare your confirmation code to prize board to determine your prize.

Unfortunately, it would be nearly a 100 mile round trip, completely out of my way from anything, to get my prize. Still, the 4K TV would more than make up for the loss of gas and time (again, maybe a trace of sarcasm here). So, after printing off some relevant state statute codes on prize giveaways, off I went.

Here is a rundown of what happened when I went to claim my 4K television that the prize legend suggested I had won.

  1. I arrive at the dealership, park and walk in. For an event that professed “overwhelming response” and imposed a strict “1 vehicle per family” rule in their marketing, they sure had a lot of cars for sale, and not many visitors.
  2. I go up to the counter and tell the employee or manager that the legend indicates I won a 4K TV with the green jokers and would like to claim the prize.
  3. He says “give me a minute and we’ll see what you’ve won.” So I wait patiently, while pointing out once again that all indications from the flyer is that four green jokers would win a television.
  4. Before confirming my prize for me, I was told to take a seat at a table and wait. Eventually he came over and began giving me the same sort of survey that all the others give about my current vehicle, what I’m looking for, etc. I again advised him I was not looking for any vehicle nor would I be purchasing one, but I was there to claim the prize.
  5. Following is an excerpt of our conversations about my anticipated prize:

    ME: Looking at the legend, you can see four greens equals win–55″ HD TV right?

    DEALER: Well, all green can win this, can win this, can win this… All the color codes, sometimes they’re all yellow, sometimes they’re all purple, sometimes they’re all green… You can win any of these prizes, not just that.

    ME: I mean, do you see the misleading part here then?

    DEALER: …I can kind of understand that, but I see these every day and they’re all like that. They can tell you you’ve won the world–if you ever get one of these again, there’s only one way to determine what you win…

    ME: You know there’s legislature against misleading giveaways–

    DEALER: Well, this was sent to the state attorney’s office before it was sent to you, and they had to OK it.

  6. After more than five more minutes of back-and-forth, he asked if I was looking to buy a new car. After telling him “no,” we finally get up and go to the “prize board” to compare the code.
  7. My code shockingly did not match any of the big listed prizes, including that for the TV. Instead it fell under the “All Other Numbers” section for the $25 gift card.
  8. After more standing around waiting for him to walk to the opposite end of the building, eventually he brought back my $25 Restaurant.com gift card. (These $25 gift cards actually cost $10 to purchase and have some pretty rigid use-cases.)

So that’s it. By adding the clause that the actual prize is determined by the prize board, and despite heavily suggesting that four greens equate to the 4K TV, it seems dealerships are able to scrape by the legal standards required to send these out. If you are curious about where dealerships purchase these sort of flyers, check out store.cheapautomailers.com for one example, which sells a massive variety of scratch-off, pull-tab and other “game winning” flyers for dealerships in bulk for pennies a piece (with 10,000 minimum in most cases).

One should question, however, how unscrupulous a company might be when they rely on sensationalism and deception to get people through their doors in the first place (and when they justify said actions merely because the state attorney cleared them). If the flyer was this misleading, I would believe that any deals brokered with the same company would be equally suspect.  Others feel the same way, based on the steady stream of 1-star ratings this company received in the days and weeks immediately following this “promotion,” totaling nearly half of all reviews received since their inception and dropping their overall rating substantially.

Jokers Wild

Curiously, even if the number from the flyer did match, this prize board suggests that you would still only have “a chance to win” the listed prizes.