True tech fans have been dreaming of virtual reality since its introduction to film in 1939. Hollywood has been exploring the concept ever since, leading up to 2009’s Avatar, in which human minds remotely controlled avatars, but attempts at the real thing continue to be out of reach to all but a few scientists. Until now, that is. Google has developed a variety of games that coordinate with a DIY virtual-reality headset consisting mainly of cardboard. Now, even the least technically inclined can virtually experience apps, games and worlds downloaded to nothing more than their Android device.
Google’s entry into virtual reality is better known as Cardboard, and any Android user can strap their smartphone into a DIY cardboard shell to immerse themselves into a 3D world. Once you’ve built your cardboard viewer, you are ready to try out the best free Cardboard apps and games:
The introductory Cardboard app of the same name puts beginners right into their smartphones for their first VR experiences. Not only does the app introduce users to the Cardboard viewer, but it includes a variety of demos, including Earth, which allows users to fly wherever they choose on Google Earth, as well as Tour Guide, a local guide through a visit to Versailles, and even Windy Day, an interactive animated short that leads users to follow a story – and a hat.
Titans of Space
Follow a short guided tour of our planetary system – and even a few stars – via virtual reality – complete with a dynamic soundtrack and optional narration. All Titans of Space destination objects are sized to scale at 1:1,000,000, although the distances between objects have been shortened. Multiple options are available to control the pace and depth of the planetary tour. It’s certainly out of this world!
The app immerses users in a 3D and 360-degree narrative experience set in the world of the Divergent Series: Insurgent. Users take on the role of a captive subjected to a series of mental simulations to determine the full extent of the divergence. Users must demonstrate the key to uncovering the truth as they confront their fears and outwit the sims.
If you’ve always dreamed of catching musical legend Sir Paul McCartney in concert, the app puts you one step closer to the dream come true. Users experience McCartney performing “Live and Let Die,” in a 360-degree, stereo 3D and immersive audio virtual experience.
The North Face: Climb
Have you always imagined the thrill of rock climbing and base jumping? Experience the climb right alongside premier outdoor athletes inside this 360-degree, 3D VR film. North Face climbers take their turns at iconic American outdoor locations including Moab, Utah, and California’s Yosemite National Park. The virtual reality adventure will give user’s a new prospective of the natural wonders.
Thrill seekers will thoroughly enjoy the Roller Coaster app, which helps them to virtually ride a deserted roller coaster around a tropical island. Not only does the app guide experienced riders on a virtually magnificent adventure, but it is also an excellent way for those who fear roller coasters to virtually tackle their apprehensions.
Lamper Cardboard: First Flight
Optimized specifically for Google Cardboard, the classic virtual reality runner game determines which players can fly further as a small bug in a huge world. The addictive game leads players to fight their way to safety in a multitude of treacherous tunnels through the eyes of a firefly bug, Lamper, after its kingdom was attacked.
The fast-paced third-person rail shooter Vanguard V, designed specifically for virtual reality, takes players on a journey from Earth’s low orbit to its core. The virtual-reality action game epitomizes the best aspects of flight and adventure, driven by music, story and innovative design. In the quest to conquer a parasite menace while flying in low orbit, re-entering the atmosphere, skimming the waters of the ocean, and diving into the tunnel to the center of the planet.
Experience a tale of true horror in this immersive 360-degree story, designed for virtual reality. When embarking on the Sisters story, a ghostly presence wants you gone, and terror unfolds all around you. Players can not only look around a spooky, digitally-painted environment that knows and responds, but virtual reality head tracking makes them feel like they are truly there.
Zombie Shooter VR
A never-ending series of labyrinths within a post-apocalyptic subway beckons as players struggle with hordes of blood-thirsty zombies and mutants. Zombie Shooter players are amazed by the frightful graphics as they wander through the virtual world of the walking dead.
Have you tried out Google Cardboard? What is your favorite app?