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The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017, if your new year resolution is to Travel
Time to start packing your bags: 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel. The dollar is enjoying historic highs — meaning your money goes much further in many destinations around the globe — and according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2017.
1. Mazatlan, Mexico
Why: The current exchange rate ($1 = 20.69 Mexican pesos) makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations.
For the frugal traveler who wants to enjoy more culture than they might in the Riviera Maya, my top pick is Mazatlan. As the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, Mazatlan is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes. Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are extremely inexpensive and authentic since most aren't part of the huge chains. El Cid Marina has awesome pools that are perfect for families, great food and huge rooms. (Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.)
You can also enjoy superb dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you'd pay in the United States.
Side note: Sinaloa (the state where Mazatlan resides) grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so Mazatlan produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. You see this reflected in top restaurants all the way down to street markets.
2. South Africa
Why: In South Africa, the exchange rate is in our favor, but so is the fact that it's a developed tourist destination with a solid infrastructure. In spending a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day — a major win.
Hotels are cheaper, too: Take a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, and you are out about $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room at a similar luxury property costs $266. Remember, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite: Consider going in low season (our summer) when hotels and safari lodges are even less expensive.
Airbnb and private villa rentals are also reliable and cheap options in the major cities. Travelers should also consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings, since flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly.
The best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced varietals for less than the cost of a can of soda. For more information on travel in South Africa, watch "Michaela's Map: First Timers' Guide to Southern Africa."
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why: The best way to get a deal in the Caribbean is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent fights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren't euro-based.
Puerto Rico fits the bill, and I'm a big fan of San Juan, which I think is seriously underrated as an easy and affordable getaway, especially for visitors from the East Coast of the U.S. Old San Juan oozes charm, and if you stay within the old city's two-square-mile radius you won't need a car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it's not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there's no money lost on currency exchange. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.
Why: Europe is on everyone's list of value-added trips this year and for good reason — the exchange rate is more favorable for American travelers than it has been in years. But the destinations I most dream about and long to return to are in South America, a destination that has long given travelers great value for money.
In Chile, I love Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city. For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world, I love the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy (and cheap!) to rent a car and explore this area. There is a surprising German heritage, so you'll see signs for "kuchen" (cake). With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
This area sees very few American visitors and everything is CHEAP. It's one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it's so special that I can't.
Why: With the U.S. dollar strong against the euro right now and the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, it’s the perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Crete. Crete is a foodie dream come true.
A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right! With truly stunning natural beauty (like Balos beach) and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time.
Why: For many, Morocco is the ultimate dream trip, and yet cost tends to keep most from visiting. But what you might not know is that it's one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. R
eaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines. And this past Black Friday, flights from New York were a mere $400 roundtrip.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is especially great, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there's something to fit everyone's budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.
Why: Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It's a perfect place to take a budget romantic vacation. Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their low rates, as well as Belize's excellent local wines.
Some affordable resorts to check out are George Hardie's Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Meals are also crazy cheap, but delicious. Two can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.
Why: Affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights make Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone's wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night.
Don't miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths.
You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming "pho" noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.
9. Costa Rica
Why: Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and to be able to see this on a shoestring is an incredible opportunity.
There's a ton of national parks to explore, for instance, that only cost a few dollars to enter. Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won't cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are two of the best. Public transport is also super cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
In addition, budget accommodation in Costa Rica — even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a "plato tipico" (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3.
Why: Portugal is a pocket of affordable travel in contrast to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads (where you can also avoid tolls).
A bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine can be found for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its "California Highway 1 meets Tuscany" landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget, especially now that the dollar is strong against the euro.
Why: Although Ecuador is not quite as inexpensive as Peru to the south, it’s an easy and affordable destination to travel to, especially if you stay a bit off the beaten path. It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and accommodation is pretty cheap.
Shop at your local market and you can get a week’s worth of groceries for $10. And Ecuador has lots of variety; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s a lot to see. The bus systems are good and domestic flights cheap and plentiful. F
ind a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.
Why: Barcelona is ranked right up there with cities like Paris and London as one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Have a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market.
And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it's also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.
13. Where: Guatemala
Why: Often bypassed in favor of nearby Costa Rica, Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it's a bit more "off the path" in the region, it's also easy on the budget and a nice place to splurge.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you'd pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country's unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
Lush Atitlan is a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan's villages.
14. Bonaire & Curaçao
Why: In the deep Southern Caribbean, Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone's Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Vacation villas that let you live like a local are plentiful and affordable on both islands, but chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao (great if you're using points).
Bonaire gets its very first chain hotel at the end of 2016 when a Marriott Courtyard opens.
15. Las Vegas
Why: If you can avoid the slots, there are lots of free things to do in Vegas: The Flamingo's flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park are just a few.
You can also find many places for cheap eats if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.
Why: Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. What does this mean for international travelers? Your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and food cost just pennies. Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are more affordable than other Asian destinations.
Before visiting, I suggest doing your homework to support luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a large role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a conversation with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.
Why: If you're looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. You can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night. (Airbnb is a great way to go).
However, if you want to splurge a bit but not go overboard, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are quite low relative to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.
Why: The weakened euro has made any trip to Europe more affordable, but this is especially true in Greece. The struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100, like 360 Degrees, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks (Mythos or Ouzo?), appetizers (Saganaki, anyone?) and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you'd pay in the States. Heck, you can pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are insanely cheap, too.
Why: This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent.
With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced.
There's also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do.
20. San Luis Potosí, México
Picture a perfect class III white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Top this all off with a plate of homemade tacos and a local beer for $2, and you've got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Still very much under the radar to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. Since Election Day, the dollar has been especially strong in Mexico, offering an even better excuse to travel south of the border.
21. Quebec City, Canada
Why: Take advantage of the weak Canadian dollar and travel north for a 25% discount on prices.
Enjoy a slice of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town and enjoy night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.
22. Buenos Aires
Why: One of the world's most intoxicating cities, Buenos Aires has only grown in popularity, but it's still relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities. There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food.
Taxis are relatively cheap (around $5-8 a ride), but you should also walk for miles in all of the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo (try Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight). Must-try cheap eat in Buenos Aires: anything dulce de leche. It is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato.
Tip: Bring a ton of American cash and you'll get better deals in many places. For example, I bought my custom leather jacket at a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery) and was able to buy it for much less than using my credit card because I brought American dollars.
On Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.
Why: While Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, many people have been flocking to the vibrant country, and I can see why: The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the high costs. Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida.
The real gem is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. Even the newest Marriott Port-au-Prince will only set you back $130 to under $200 a night for larger rooms.
One of my favorites is Wahoo Bay Beach, which has epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person. Lobster, conch and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.
24. Santa Catalina Island, California
Why: Santa Catalina Island is one of my new favorite places. It is way more than a weekend SoCal jaunt. Hotels are quaint and average under the $200 per night mark. The Avalon Hotel is a charming choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit stop to get the full story of the island's fascinating history, including its Hollywood connection. Food and shopping choices are extensive.
And you don’t need a rental car. Getting to the island is easy: Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. I prefer Long Beach because flights there are often lower priced than neighboring LAX.
Why: With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel and budget in Indonesia.
There are stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving in Raja Ampat, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals. In Raja Ampat, we found a homestay that included breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus it was right on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night. For more, see Food Fun Travel's "Bali Food Guide."
Why: The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel, and if you haven't been before, I recommend starting with Bulgaria.
From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it's an adventure playground that every budget can afford. In Bulgaria's wine country you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5 (check out Villa Melnik winery), take a hike through Bulgaria's famous sandstone pyramids and then sleep in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.
27. Cusco, Peru
Why: Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, but you should make sure to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city. Not only is the city absolutely stunning and oozing with culture, most accommodations range from $20 to $100 a night. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
Eating out in Cusco can be extremely cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but street food here is the real winner. I'm personally addicted to ceviche and can't find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco's San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
On my last trip, I had steak and ceviche nearly every day and never spent more than $15 for two including a drink and soup.
Why: Meagen Collins: This ancient European country is starting to grab the attention of travelers from all over the world. Georgia has so much to offer — beautiful scenery, unique culture and tradition everywhere you look, and the food will leave you drooling for more.
Add to that the fact this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine (winemaking here goes back 8,000 years) and you have the ultimate new travel destination.
In Georgia, you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30 — total. But get there fast: Word is getting around about this little gem and it won’t be tourist-free for long.
Why: This country is one of Africa's best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean. (Check out Villa Sands or Terraço das Quitandas.)
There's great scuba diving, too, and you can easily feel like a millionaire here for nothing! For more ideas, see Big World Small Pocket's "17 Incredible Budget Travel Destinations Still On My List (That Should Be On Yours Too!)."
30. Dallas, Texas
Why: Dallas is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. (The city was voted the most affordable destination in the U.S. last year by Priceline and continues to remain a great value.) Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
The high-rise Omni Dallas has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, putting you in the center of the action. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer. Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark.
Did you know that there's a Justice League India team in DC comics universe. Who want to see a Justice League India movie? Unlike the painting of this Justice League team, it will be filled with Indian Superheroes
13 VR Games That Will BLOW YOUR MIND
Augmented Reality might be experiencing a sudden and somewhat unexpected surge in popularity off the back of the global sensation that is Pokemon: GO!, but in truth the REAL hype train that's actually going places is Virtual Reality, aka VR. This is the next big thing, and not just in a popular title way like Pokemon, but more in an era-defining technology like the introduction of smartphones or the major console generations in gaming.
Yes, VR is the next big thing. There's little disputing this, it's not like smartwatches that were foisted on an unwilling public by over-enthusiastic tech firms. Nope, VR started off softly, softly as independent, ambitious development projects by people just testing the waters and trying to push boundaries. Not much was available at first, but the huge surge in consumer interest in turn caught manufacturer interest BIG TIME; here was a large and feverish consumer base eager to get its hands, heads, and eyeballs on and into the virtual reality space. Cue much understandable bandwagon jumping.
It started with a few outlying projects such as Google Cardboard and the fledgling baby steps of Oculus Rift, but once that latter device started generating more and more buzz the big industry players really sat up and paid attention. By now, we're looking at every major electronics manufacturer having a hand in the VR game; Samsung has the Gear VR, the Oculus Rift is now owned by Facebook, LG has the LG 360 VR, Sony has the PlayStation VR, Razer has the OSVR, and HTC has the Vive.
There's also a plethora of lesser known OEMs creating their own hardware and all vying for your attention, while Google is reportedly working on its own, possibly Nexus branded, VR headset, and also developing Google Daydream as an Android-based VR platform for other OEMs to make use of (mirroring its smartphone business model). Arguably the two most successful devices to hit the market so far have been the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.
It is still undoubtedly early days for VR, however, and some believe the medium is unlikely to hit any kind of maturity level to make it a "must-have" item (just like smartphones or major consoles such as the Xbox One and PS4) until at least 2020. But the momentum it has gained already clearly indicates it is here to stay, it is the future, and there's enough enthusiasm already that following the hardware manufacturer scramble to put out devices, there is now a developer scramble to create supporting software. A big chunk of the selection of games and applications available for VR devices released to date are in alpha or beta development stages, and many are available for free to try out ahead of their full launch. Others are using early-access models where you must buy the game at a reduced cost from its expected RRP on full release. Many more are also mere tech demo, proof-of-concept prototypes, and while a bunch of these are free this still doesn't stop some publishers charging you for the privilege. Still, paid or free, the point is there's already a bunch of cool software out there to feast your virtual eyes on.
So without further ado, here is KYM's list of VR games and fun applications you should probably try if you have a VR device. We will strive to keep this list fresh and updated as things develop over time.
This one's a bit different - in Hover Junkers you take the role of a scrap scavenger in a kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland. It's a multiplayer arena game and the idea is that the game observes the shape of your defined play area in your room, as picked up by the HTC Vive and designated during your setup process. This play area is your Hover Junker ship which is piloted around the game world, where you'll fight it out with other players using your pistols - during set up you can fortify your ship with physical objects that you need to duck behind for cover during your shoot-outs!Here's the blurb from Steam, where the game is priced at £26.99:
"Engage in multiplayer VR gunfights that capture real gun play like no FPS you've played before. Pilot and fortify Hover Junkers as you physically walk, duck, dodge and aim in cross ship combat."
The Thrill Of The Fight
As the name referencing the classic anthem "Eye Of The Tiger" suggests, The Thrill Of The Fight is a boxing simulator which allows you to get into the ring and slug it out against an opponent. At present it's an early-phase tech-demo with a training session and a single competitor to fight against. Also, right now you can punch and dodge, but not block like your opponent can. As with all indie development projects nothing is concrete, but we've seen talk of a bigger campaign/career mode, with the developer, "fyian", posting on Reddit. They said, "I'm hoping to add in somewhere around 16 opponents total, all with their own unique personalities and attacks."They also added that a blocking mechanic for the player is under consideration. There seems to be a lot of demand for multiplayer but fyian has stated that they think this would be difficult to implement. TTOTF is available as a demo download from the official site but can be found on Stea; it is currently compatible with the HTC Vive. fyian has mentioned that on a commercial release game may be priced at around $7.99.
Spell FighterSpell Fighter is another indie tech-demo developed by Kubold which places you in the role of a kind of quasi-medieval fantasy "witch hunter" type character, think Van Helsing or Solomon Kane. You start off in a village, but exploring will quickly reveal some gribbly zombies and skeletons to deal with. You can defend yourself with a variety of spells, swords, spears, bows, and guns, and also summoning minions. However, the real meat of the game is in venturing out further to find the source of the monster invasion!The game is available for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and can be installed via Steam.
Raw DataRaw Data is one of the more polished VR gaming experiences we've seen so far. Developed by Servios, it's available as an early-access title on Steam for the HTC Vive. The game's main mode is a co-operative mission where you can team up with another player to defend a location from increasingly tough swarms of killer robots. There's a wide range of weapons on top of your starting pistol and katana sword combination (oh yes), including shotguns, machine guns, and even a bow with explosive arrows. The game also features a competetive "duel" multiplayer mode.
Lightblade VROk, it's called Lightblade VR because it's not an official LucasArts/LucasFilm Star Wars product, but to all intents and purposes Lightblade VR is a Lightsabre simulator. We'll clear something else up straight away too - it doesn't include duelling with enemies or other players, unfortunately - what it does offer though is a spot of Jedi training against one of those little laser shooting drones, just like Luke Skywalker in the first movie. The aim is to deflect the incoming blasts, and you can select a number of difficulty modes from Rookie to Legend. Or if you'd rather you can just piss about waving one or two Lightsabres around, which is really all we're interested in, right? You can even change the colour of each Lightsabre individually. Neat.And yes, it's another Vive game on Steam!
Note that an official Lightsabre game is in development: Trials On Tatooine.
Waltz Of The WizardWaltz Of The Wizard is another sandbox game that may appeal to any Harry Potter fans out there. You play a Wizard at home in his tower. Here you're able to concoct potions, discover and cast spells to alter yourself or the world around you, and explore and interact with both your tower and...other dimensions! This game is free on Steam!
Vanishing Realms is a somewhat cartoony action RPG in the vein of titles such as D&D, Zelda, and Diablo, but being unique for its VR control system. Go dungeon crawling in a 3D fantasy realm to fight skeletons and other monsters with swords, spells, and bows. Available on Steam for the HTC Vive as an early access title for £14.99 (visit the page for video).
Out Of Ammo
Out Of Ammo is a game developed by Dean Hall's (creator of DayZ) new studio RocketWerkz. It's still in development, but the game offers an interesting take on the Tower Defence genre where you are hovering over your base and able to assign soldiers, weapons, and resources to defend it. When things get manic, be prepared to lock-and-load, jumping into the first-person view of one of your soldier minions armed with assault rifles, sniper rifles, and machine gun emplacements. Compatible with the HTC Vive and priced at £14.99 on Steam."Four unique environments to try your skill on
- Construct defenses such as sandbags and watchtowers-Issue orders to your soldiers-Five different kinds of units each with special abilities-Possess any units directly to control their engagement-Call in artillery, airstrikes, and sniper targets-Fixed Machine guns, Grenades, and more"
Elite: DangerousNot so much a "VR game" per-se as it is an established mainstream title that was smartly developed with emerging VR in mind and has now been tweaked to allow compatibility with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Elite: Dangerous' persistent multiplayer universe of intergalactic trading, war, bounty hunting, and piracy is not for the feint-hearted, but who can resist the lure of piloting their own spaceship in glorious, immersive, VR 3D? And with graphics this good as well!
theBlu: Encounter by Wevr is one of those VR "experiences" which lets you see what it's like getting up close and personal with various types of sea life without the inconvenience of travel, breathing equipment, or getting wet. Whales, fish, jellyfish, and sea anemones are all present for you to ogle, or prod with your virtual fingers (yes they do react).
Universe Sandbox² Pretty much what it says on the tin - Universe Sandbox lets you mess around with the building blocks of astrophysics in the depths of space; create planets, suns, or whole galaxies, form nebulas, build beautiful starmaps and cosmic spacescapes. Or, if youre feeling destructive, smash everything together into supernovas, create the next Big Bang, or chuck it all into a black hole! The game is available via early access on Steam for $24.99/£18.99.
The ClimbYou might have noticed that many of the games in this list are available on the HTC Vive, while a few of them are on the Oculus Rift AND the HTC Vive; it's fair to say the Vive seems to have pretty much taken over as the dominant VR platform for now. However, there are some games out there that were developed for the Oculus Rift first, and which don't appear to have switched to the Vive just yet. The Climb is one such title, and as the name suggests it is a VR climbing simulator, allowing you to scale some impressive cliffs and natural structures in an immersive environment without the worry of actual death! The graphics on this game look amazing, and it's currently only available for the Oculus Rift via the Oculus store; be warned that the devs describe the experience as "intense" and also it's not cheap as VR games go, with a full-retail level price tag of £39.99. That said, it does appear to be a very thoroughly and profressionall developed title. Frankly, we'd be surprised if this game didn't get wider VR device support (including the Gear VR and Vive) at some point.
Zombie Training Simulator
The descriptively titled Zombie Training Simulator is, as expected, a simulator in which you train to fight zombies. Yes. The game has some very fun cartoony graphics similar in to Plants Vs Zombies. Players can choose from a range of different course types, including survival and various trick shooting events such as time trials. You'll start off next to a bench full of weapons, including shotguns, pistols, machine guns, assault rifles, and explosives, which unlock as you kill more and more zombies in the various modes. You can also take advantage of environmental hazards such as gas canisters or petrol cans, and even throw slabs of meat to distract the ravenous hordes temporarily. The zombies themselves are a sort of cardboard cut-out variety to emphasise the "training simulator" aspect (as well as presumably saving on animation time and system resources!). Available on Steam for £14.99 and compatible with the HTC Vive.
Bonus: Tilt Brush VRNot really a game, but it is fun to mess around with. Google's VR proof-of-concept Tilt Brush is a 3D VR painting and creativity suite that literally lets you create virtual 3D sculptures or paintings in a virtual space. Because it's a VR app you can paint and sculpt with all kinds of materials artists might only dream of being able to use - lava, light, rocky earth, fabrics, fire, even snow. Creations can also be set up to be location based, effectively turning your living room into a virtual gallery for your art as VR "installations" viewable when the headset is worn. You can also export your art in more traditonal still images or animated gifs for people who don't have VR.
What I'm about to share with you is what happens to man with no interactions, nothing to share, nowhere to go and nothing to do. After such time, the human mind molds to its surroundings to the point where it doesn't even know it's alone anymore. This is a brief yet never ending look on the inside of a desolate life to some but to one man, a carousel of very much unwanted attention.
Steven came into work when the sun was down and left when it was down. He didn't have a front desk man to check in with, no assistants to issue orders to and certainly no passerby to wish him a good day. All he knew was there would be a new body to examine and store, compliments to the delivery people who made the transfer prior to his shift. These bodies had no family, no friends or loved ones to claim them, maybe that's why he felt so intertwined with them.
This morning started like any other, he came into the office well before sunrise and drank his coffee while looking over the new body laying before him. This now dead body belonged to "Harold Stein". Harold was struck by a car while escaping a mental institution not far from the morgue. Steven wondered if he let the car hit him, giving him freedom from the white walled prison that entrapped him. Pondering the case, he knew he would have dove into that car. The dead man's head was split open in the back, requiring Steven to sow it back up, something he had done time to time. Most people did puzzles or excersised, whatever floated their boat to blow steam off, sowing people back together is what relieved Steven's stress. After the last stitch, he layed him on his back and pushed the slab back into the wall and closed the latch, almost sad it was over. Steven went to put another batch of coffee on when he heard a knock from behind him. He was so used to silence, he dropped the coffee pot and watched it shatter to pieces, steaming coffee forming a river leading to where Harold was stowed. Slowly, he turned around and looked around the entire room, giving every place he would hide a chance to reveal a burglar. Then the knock came again and Steven knew exactly the area it was coming from, Harold's new home, the third slab up on the right wall. Even though he knew there was no other staff working he looked behind him real quick before reaching out slowly to the metal coffin. The closer his hand got the louder the knock sounded out while the overhead light started to flicker madly. As soon as he grasped the handle the light stopped flickering and the knocking came to a halt. Steven's heartbeat slowed down, his breath came to a normal pace as he turned around to fetch his coffee. He lifted it up to take a sip and turned around to see Harold the dead corpse standing in his face. The coffee cup made it's descent to the hardwood floor and shattered into pieces as all the lights now started flickering. Steven back pedaled a few steps then turned around and sprinted out the building. It wasn't real, it was just the morgue playing tricks, these sort of facts raced through his mind while he lay there that night, light years from sleep. The following morning he rose and reported to work, the traumatizing event from the previous night well behind him. The parking spot was the same, the coffee set up the same, the noiseless chatter was even the same. One thing was utterly different, Steven knew this when he looked up at the working slab in the middle of the room and saw Harold, out of the wall and back to where he was originally first seen. Perhaps the shift before him brought Harold back out to examine the stitch job Steven had done. The weary eyed mortician sat at the desk and looked for any signs of the prior shift doing this and then heard a faint raspy voice.
Harold: "Getting stocked into the wall like some market meat is getting kinda old Steven."
Shear panic streamed across Steven's face, lips fumbling to form a sentence but failing to do so. He got up slowly and tried to calm his breathing, figuring this was all due to a lack of sleep. Quickly, he jotted down on a piece of paper that he was feeling I'll and sent himself home. In his dreams that night he found himself trapped in the wall, body stuck to the slab. He was pulled out and saw Harold standing over him, scalpel in hand as his eyes glazed over at the split opening in Steven's head. Waking up with a sharp gasp, sweat formed on his forehead, though he felt shaking cold. Drama was never something Steven wanted to be a part of, he knew he had to continue with his work or at least try to. Pulling up to his usual parking spot he noticed the lights were already on, something he usually did himself. Not five seconds went by before he heard that same raspy voice call out to him.
Harold: "Before you slam me back into the wall, just hear me out, please."
Steven gave in to it, he gave into the possibility that this might actually be real.
Steven: "Say what you have to say, I'm listening."
Although he said he was listening he had to convince himself to let the words spill through his ears and let his brain process what it meant.
Harold: "Alright, look Steven. I'm not sure how else to tell you this but the only reason you can see me, and hear me is because you are dead, just like I am."
Steven: "That's nonsense, you're just a figment of my sleepless nights, you are just something my subconscious has put together to give me a scare."
Harold: "Oh how I wish that was true Steve. Have you not ever wondered why you don't see any other staff members? You know that you never once have been in the break room, you have never taken a break besides stopping to make coffee."
Steven: "What do the breaks and the break room have anything to do with this?"
Harold: "Look for yourself, tell me what does that staff list plaque say in that dreadful room?"
Steven stumbled over to the hanging plaque and stripped it off the wall, buckled to the ground and let the picture fall from his grasp, only tears to defend his sudden actions. He was dead. Steven was the man Harold hit on his way out from his prison escape. At that second he disappeared and was sent into a world of nothingness.
The required personell hovered around the coffee and crackers and waited further word in quiet anticipation, for this such thing did not happen often. The building manager came in and set his things down, letting out a long sigh as he looked around the room.
Manager:" Good morning everybody, I just wanted to let you all know we will bringing on another day shift mortician, Gary can't carry the load all on his own. I will be starting the hiri-"
Doug:"What do you mean hire another day shift mortician? We also have Steven, that guy works his ass off, don't take his hours away!"
Manager:"Whose Steven? The only day shift worker is Gary at the moment Doug."
Doug:"Are you mad? His name is right here on the plaque with the rest of us."
Doug picked the plaque up and dropped it after realizing there was no Steven on there, or on any other plaque in the building. A sharp gasp escaped his chest as he backed into the wall behind him, slouching to the floor with his hands on his face. Steven didnt exist on the plaques, the photos in Doug's phone, or in anyones memories. There was no Steven. There never was. Only inside of his co-workers mind. Trapped forever.