VorpX lets you play non-VR games in VR

VorpX — it sounds like the name of an alien entity that wants to wrap itself around your head and not let go. Well, it's close. It officially works with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift to deliver 2D games into your VR headset, and thanks to SteamVR integration, it seems to also work with Windows Mixed Reality (WMR).

Though it's not perfect, VorpX causes a good bit of excitement when you realize you can experience in 3D a lot more of the games in your library. Here's what's involved in getting it set up, as well as a list of some of the games that work best with VorpX.

What is VorpX?

VorpX is essentially a 3D driver for DirectX 9, 10, 11, and OpenGL that gives you the ability to play many standard, modern games — games not specifically designed for VR — on your Rift and Vive. It was designed by rabid gamers for rabid gamers and is geared toward anyone who loves the idea of full immersion.

Not only is VorpX for games, it also has a desktop viewer that allows you to work within your VR headset just as you would at a normal monitor, plus it has a 3D movie theater that works with VLC and MPC-HC.

Support for Oculus Touch and Vive motion controllers was also added; if you're using WMR, the controllers will look like Vive wands. While your standard 2D games can't really be used at room-scale with full motion control, the controllers can be completely mapped in a way that makes using them advantageous over a keyboard and mouse.

A recent couple of updates brought a VR optimizer that takes some of the guesswork out of getting settings right, support was added for the desktop viewer in Rift Core 2.0, and bug fixes and performance woes were largely scrubbed out. It's easier than ever to get VorpX working with your VR headset, but do you really need it?

Why do you need VorpX?

Have you ever played a game so much during the day that at night you dreamed about it? Remember the adrenaline as you rushed for cover behind a ruined wall, bullets whizzing by? Remember the awe as you looked up at the mountains as a dragon came swooping down? I'm not trying to answer questions with more questions. The truth is that VorpX can do a lot for someone who's unimpressed (or played out) by the lineup of exclusive VR games available.

That thrill you felt from being inserted into your favorite game can be achieved on-demand. With VorpX, many games can be experienced in stereoscopic 3D — a natural feeling of depth — and all games compatible with VorpX feature full head tracking. You're going to leave this world and join the world of your choice. Think you love games now? Just wait...

Is using VorpX with VR better than playing with a monitor?

The answer to this question depends on what type of gamer you are. If you have a heart condition, playing DOOM at full volume with a VR headset on might not be the best idea. Then again, playing DOOM on a monitor when you have a heart condition might not be a great idea, either.

If you're into competitive gaming that requires reactions measured in milliseconds, you'll want to stick with a monitor that has high a refresh rate and a high response time.

Playing games in the first-person view with VorpX takes a bit of getting used to. When I first tested an early build of VorpX a couple of years ago, it was a much heavier experience. There was a bit of dizziness due to the discord between eyes and ears, but it seemed to abate as I played. The current build of VorpX is a much smoother experience, and the built-in optimizer does a far better job of tweaking settings to make a 2D game seem like a 3D game.

The answer, then, is really based on you as a gamer. Competitive gamer? Stick with a monitor. Casual VR gamer? VorpX is definitely worth a try even if you revert back to your monitor for marathon gaming sessions.

How do you get VorpX?

VorpX is available for download now. It requires a one-time payment of about $40, and of course, it requires ownership of the games you'd like to play. Note that VorpX does not come with any games, but is a way to play your non-VR games in the Rift or Vive.

See at VorpX

How do you set up VorpX?

There are some hoops to jump through before you're playing. First, you purchase VorpX for about $40 and download the VorpX client. When you run the client you'll receive a registration key. You email the key to VorpX, they email you back a license key.

It's undoubtedly a clunky process, but once you get your license key, you're essentially good to go. If you have problems with registration and installation, check out the VorpX forums. The devs are responsive, and the community helps out when the devs are away.

Note: Make a backup of your installer and keep it somewhere safe. I reformatted a PC's drive and had to go through the steps again to get VorpX downloaded, installed, and registered.

VorpX should pick up compatible games automatically. In my case, I love playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim SE in VR using a WMR headset. With VorpX installed, all I have to do is launch the game with VorpX and SteamVR running in the background. Everything else is handled automatically.

The VorpX client has a built-in guide accessed from your desktop. If it doesn't help with your issue, check the VorpX technical support forum. It really is the best place to find a bit of help, especially for any games you're trying to get running that don't yet have official support.

Does VorpX work with Windows Mixed Reality?

WMR HP HMD (Image credit: Windows Central)

Though there's no mention on the VorpX website of official WMR support, I've had success as long as I use SteamVR. It recognizes the WMR headset and motion controllers, and when VorpX starts, it assumes WMR is an HTC Vive.

In-game, if you're using the WMR motion controllers, they'll show up as Vive wands, but that's not a big deal since they share most of the same buttons. You might have an extra tweak here and there to get everything running properly, but for the most part it's a painless experience.

See WMR at Microsoft Store

What games can you play with VorpX?

The list of games supported by VorpX for stereoscopic 3D continues to grow, and there are plenty of high profile titles to enjoy. A full list of more than 200 games can be found at the VorpX website, but here are some popular titles:

Is VorpX worth my money?

Whether or not you invest in VorpX is really up to you. Consider this, though: if you've already spent the money on a VR setup and a gaming PC, investing in a tool to get the most out of it might not be a bad idea. This isn't a sales pitch, and I'm not in cahoots with VorpX; I've just had a good bit of fun with it.

VorpX continues to receive updates on a regular basis. The developers listen to their community and respond with fixes, which also seems to signify that they themselves use their product to enjoy non-VR games in VR. While recent updates have certainly taken some of the guesswork out of getting 2D games just right for VR, be prepared to still make small changes based on what you like. This isn't a plug-and-play tool, but it's come a long way since it made its debut.

See at VorpX

Good impressions

As you can probably already tell, I think a lot of VR users will be able to get something out of VorpX. The VR games market has come a long way, but some are no doubt looking for something extra.

Do you already have VorpX? Any other 3D drivers that work great with Vive, Rift, and WMR? Drop us a line in the comments section!

Updated March 1, 2018: We refreshed this list to ensure you're still getting the latest information about VorpX and the wonders it can do for your game library.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.