Seeking out thrills via VR roller coaster rides? Check out our guide to the tech, games, apps, and real life examples of VR roller coasters.
Without a doubt, the roller coaster is the king of gravity defying thrills. With gut-wrenching twists, loops, turns, supernatural speeds as guaranteed as your ability to walk away energized and unharmed — what’s not to love?
However, there’s only one (usually expensive) price-point to enter a theme park and enjoy the real life thrill of a roller coaster. But there’s also numerous ways to enjoy these adrenaline inducing rides through virtual reality tech – so why not meet in the middle?
And so, being the tech-obsessed creatures us humans have become, the “virtual reality roller coaster” is now a major trend. However you interpret those four words, chance are your imagination is spot on.
First, we’ll introduce you to some of the most exciting VR roller coaster apps. For those who are unfamiliar with virtual reality tech, we’ll also share the top VR headsets on the market.
So buckle up, secure your belongings, and hold on for dear life, we’re about to take a wild ride through the digital world of VR roller coasters.
What is it? Six Flags’ classic The New Revolution coaster updated for the VR age. Each rider straps on an Oculus powered Gear VR headset that display the space fighter cockpit view of an epic battle between aliens drones and your fellow riders. It’s promised as a low latency experience, meaning your own physical movements and the movement of the coaster are translated as near as real time to what you see inside the VR headset.
What you need? Nothing special required. Just a visit to one of the following theme parks.
Where is this VR roller coaster?
What is it? This Minecraft-like VR sandbox game places you as some benevolent, roller coaster building deity. Here, you can build your VR roller coaster, ride it, and then blow it up with blocks of TNT. Or turn to throwing its smiley-faced denizens over the horizon with a flick of your wrist. We won’t judge.
Where is this VR roller coaster? Wherever you game. It’s a digital game that goes wherever you log on to play.
What do you need? A powerful PC with dedicated video graphics card; an HTC Vive VR headset; a means to install the sensors in your play space.
What is it? Award-winning VR ride app Coastiality powers this digitally animated element to the Alpenexpress roller coaster at Germany’s Europa-Park theme park. Based on the park’s own-produced animated films, this VR minecart ride features Ed Euromaus and company. Definitely the best VR roller coaster for the kids.
What do you need? Nothing really by way of equipment, just the means to get there — it’s a real ride, in real Germany.
Where is this VR roller coaster? Europa-Park, Rust, Germany.
What is it? A steel-tracked roller coaster that used to be known as Air, Galactica is UK theme park Alton Towers’ latest multimedia extravaganza. Also using Gear VR headsets, the ride presents a whistle stop ride through space under the guise of space tourism. There’s even a plot to the experience this best VR roller coaster and dedicated website posing the ride as some kind of futuristic travel agency.
What do you need? Means and motive. It’s a real roller coaster, in the middle of the English countryside.
Where is this VR roller coaster? Alton Towers, Staffordshire, UK.
What is it? Universally panned when it launched, it’s widely accepted that this theme park manager and roller coaster building game is a buggy mess. However, awful can be charming, and some find the nausea it induces worth bearing to experience its unique VR roller coaster horror show up close.
What do you need? A PlayStation 4; PlayStation VR setup; an open mind.
Where is this VR roller coaster? Wherever you have your PS4 setup.
What is it? If space whales and starry night skies are your thing, then this VR roller coaster app should suit you nicely. Featuring a “dreamy atmosphere,” an immersive and unconventional ride seems assured.
What do you need? A flagship Samsung GALAXY smartphone; Samsung Gear VR headset.
Where is this VR roller coaster? Everywhere. Running on a smartphone inside a portable, untethered VR headset means this best VR roller coaster experience can go wherever you go.
What is it? A tool used by the pros to develop actual roller coasters in the real world. In addition to building up a park for yourself, No Limits 2 also allows you to ride your VR roller coaster creations or load up existing roller coasters and experience them first hand.
What do you need? A somewhat powerful PC with dedicated video graphics card (minimum requirements here); an Oculus Rift VR headset.
Where is this VR roller coaster? As with Chunks above, it’s a digital game title. Wherever your gaming space is, is where this best VR roller coaster is at.
What is it? Available on Gear VR, iOS and in the Google Play Store, this apps features an aggregation of 360 degree video captures of real world and digitally augmented (such as the Alpenexpress, above), allowing you to experience them from the convenience of your own smartphone.
What do you need? A smartphone; compatible VR headset (or Gear VR setup)
Where is this VR roller coaster? Wherever your smartphone goes.
For a front row seat to some of these VR roller coasters, you’ll need specific VR headsets and other tools. Some are simple and cheap, others require more time and monetary investment.
Which VR experience is right for you? Find out below!
What is it? The VR headset developed with the backing of PC gaming darling Valve. The Vive’s main means of operation natively incorporates full body motion in a 3D space, with an array of tracking technologies embedded in the headset giving your physical gaming space digital boundaries in what you see inside the headset.
Because of this, one of its nifty party tricks is the Chaperone safety system, which can feed the view in front of the user into the headset.
To set up, some DIY-ing is required to install (outlet powered) sensors on opposite sides of your gaming space.
What is it? The VR headset to start it all. The Rift originally appeared as a (successful) Kickstarter campaign in 2012, years before any of the others included in this list appeared.
Requiring a beefy PC to run well, the VR roller coaster experienced here will be more immersive too. This is because of positional head tracking, a decent OLED screen for each eye with a wide field of view and a high refresh rate.
Simple installation and setup of the few necessary parts make it the ideal ‘simple’ high-end VR headset.
What is it? Google’s smartphone operating system features a couple of different (but really, the same) means to experience VR.
Firstly there’s Google Cardboard. The search giant’s cheap and cheerful entry into VR came with the launch of an actual cardboard VR headset. Pairing this with your Android phone and loading up specific, Cardboard certified apps and you have easy on-the-go VR.
Then came Daydream. A relaunch of sorts of the company’s VR efforts, this new platform features a soft felt headset with wireless controller. Unlike Cardboard, only few new Android phones support Daydream.Check price on Amazon:
What is it? The first official games console foray into virtual reality. Sony’s PlayStation VR carries similar advantages to smartphone VR experiences — for the most part it is a simple case of plug and play to set the system up.
What’s great about the PSVR though is that game developers are actually making full games for it, rather than short tech demos, so your enjoyment of the device will likely go way beyond the VR roller coaster. Case in point, the thrilling survival horror game Resident Evil 7.
What is it? Samsung’s stab at the virtual reality game. Developed with the support of Oculus the Gear VR stands as a more curated approach to the VR experiences. In addition to a headset developed by the smartphone maker itself, you get a slick storefront to find VR roller coaster apps and games in the Oculus app.
Getting started with it is as simple as placing a compatible Samsung GALAXY smartphone into the Gear VR headset.Check price on Amazon:
What is it? VR is not currently an acknowledged part of Apples ecosystem, but that hasn’t stopped enterprising app developers from creating the apps anyway. Making use of the iPhone’s inbuilt sensors for orientation, when strapped in to a compatible VR headset, it’s almost as functional as Google’s Cardboard.
Have we overlooked any of your favorite VR roller coasters? Let us know in the comment section below!