SideQuest, App Lab, and sideloaded games for Oculus Quest 2
You could spend hundreds of hours playing through the best Oculus Quest 2 games without looking for new ones, but you shouldn’t sleep on the best App Lab games, and best sideloaded titles for the Quest 2. They often provide unique experiences from indie developers, many of which are free or dirt cheap. In contrast, others are mods of classic PC games that’ll likely never make the Oculus Store officially. Oculus App Lab opened up a whole new world of experiences for Quest owners, but these games often cost money to play. We gathered a ton of free titles to check out with that in mind, so you can always keep something new on deck without making a monetary commitment. Be sure also to check out how to sideload games on the Oculus Quest so you can get SideQuest set up.
★ Featured favorite:
In Gorilla Tag, there’s no crazy locomotion method for you to adjust to; just use your hands to grab the ground and fling your monkey body around an arena where the only purpose is not to get caught. Several different game modes, arenas, skins, and moves will keep the action fresh, and you’ll quickly remember why playing tag as a kid was so much darn fun! Gorilla Tag for Quest has crossplay with the PC VR version, and you can either play in public or private rooms for the best experience. What are you waiting for? Reject humanity. Become gorilla.
Grab and go!:
To the Top
Climb, skate, fly, and fall as a robotic cheetah with jets in your paws in this beautiful, geometric sandbox full of obstacles, challenging puzzles, and hidden treasures. There are 35 maps, with Mirror’s Edge-esque time trials encouraging you to improve your movement mechanics and find new, faster paths through levels. The developer is reportedly building an App Lab version, so you can wait to buy it if you don’t want to deal with sideloading, but it’s absolutely worth the price.
Just the clip:
H.A.X. is a unique first-person shooter where your clip is more than just something you shove into the bottom end of a gun. Sure, it provides bullets as you’d expect, but it also doubles as a katana, a hatchet that you can throw, and so much more. Right now, H.A.X. is in early access, and you can install a free demo directly from the SideQuest app store.
If physics was a competitive sport:
Sport Mode is an interestingly named title where you’ll be climbing, running, jumping, and generally parkouring around a creatively-built arena to take out crash test dummies in the most creative ways. Yes, that’s a player levitating a dummy in the air with a pack of balloons in the image above. It’s really a trip to experience full-body physics like this. The precursor to Sport Mode, Physics Playground, was an experiment from developer Virtuaport to see how far it could push physics calculation on the Quest hardware. Turns out, achieving something close to Boneworks-level physics isn’t impossible on free-roam VR.
Can you cut it?:
Battle Talent is a combat simulator for folks who want to imagine how it would actually feel to fight fantastical creatures like goblins and skeletons. Roguelite-style level generation means you’ll never play the same arena twice, and the enemies, room events, and loot that await you are unique every single time. Advanced physics, an array of moves that are only limited by your imagination, and fantastical weapons and magic await players as they fight through the depths of Battle Talent.
Don’t put it down:
There’s no doubting how much fun archery can be in VR, but what if shooting arrows wasn’t just for hitting things? What if the arrows pulled you through the air, enabling you to move in ways that feel supernatural? That’s the aim of Hibow, an archery battle royale title that puts players in an arena and promises to keep you looking everywhere and never stop moving.
Take to the skies:
Warplanes: WW1 Fighters
There’s a distinct dearth of flight simulators on the Oculus Quest platform — no one really knows why — but Warplanes: WW1 Fighters aims to fill that gap with classic dogfighting action. Players can fly the skies over several actual WW1 fronts, dueling each other with realistic physics and rather impressive visuals. You can even use your Oculus Touch controllers like a proper joystick in a plane, making it feel that much more realistic to sit in the open cockpit of an early 1900’s fighter plane.
Arcade enthusiasts rejoice! Operation Serpens joins Crisis VRigade as a seminal example of how classic arcade shooters made the leap to VR. Each level in Operation Serpens is a slightly different style and sometimes even a different theme altogether. You’ll take the role of an elite agent tasked with destroying the evil Snakes Organization, but beware: it’s not just bad guys with guns you’ll have to worry about. Part Time Crisis, part House of the Dead, and all fun, this wave shooter will have you coming back to beat your high score over and over again.
A counter strike:
Aim XR aims to be the ultimate Counter-Strike replacement for your Oculus Quest. Featuring full-body physics — with the ability to just use hands, if full-body freaks you out — as well as realistic weapon handling, design, and movement, Aim XR is the embodiment of a modern tactical shooter in VR. 5v5 multiplayer matches with a surprisingly large number of modes can be played with humans, bots, or any combination thereof, ensuring each round is filled with action and strategy.
Meet your Doom:
The original release of Doom 3 was met with mixed reactions, mainly because it changed up the formula so much from the original. Thankfully, that gameplay works perfectly in VR, and now you can play it on your Quest and Quest 2 with this free mod from Dr. Beef, creator of the very best VR ports of classic PC first-person shooters. Grab the game on Steam first, then download the mod and follow the instructions to get it on your Quest!
Shoot to the beat:
Rhythm N’ Bullets
Take a classic shoot-em-up (shmup) from the golden days of the arcade, combine it with a rhythm shooter, and you’ll get Rhythm N’ Bullets. Take your ship in hand (literally) and whip it around to shoot the enemies in wave after wave of arcade action. Just remember to keep to the beat. Otherwise, you’ll find the levels are nigh impossible to beat.
Ski the alps in this freeing VR skiing simulator that’ll have your legs feeling wobbly and your arms tired in no time. It’s not just your arms that’ll be doing the work, though — it’s your entire body, as you’ll be leaning to and fro to pass through checkpoints, avoid trees, and trick off slopes on the way down the mountain. Don’t worry about getting bored, though, as music-based randomization keeps tracks fresh and interesting, as well as your heart pumping every time you descend.
Save your quarters:
Your favorite trigger-happy, quarter-guzzling arcade shooter has been transported to your living room thanks to App Lab or SideQuest. In solo or co-op with a friend, you’ll take on groups of terrorists on various maps. Be careful when you stand up from cover as barrages of bullets fly, and be careful not to blind fire and hit hostages instead! This is a challenging, replayable title that drives you to improve your reflexes and strategy, making it one of the best App Lab games.
Improved graphics, same zany action:
Crisis VRigade 2
The first game used a cartoonish graphics engine, but the developers upped the visual quality in the sequel while keeping the same physical SWAT-shooter gameplay. New difficulty modes, bosses, weapons, and customization options make this game a complete experience. Duck and dodge your way through levels and save the day!
Turn-based action RPG:
Explore The Stack, a procedurally generated, cyberpunk dungeon full of random environments and enemies as a fighter, mage, or thief. The further you climb in-world, the tougher the enemies, so you must level up your stats RPG-style, then dive into battle. You’ll get a decent workout dodging and defeating foes in first-person, then switch to third-person to navigate the world. It’s a promising indie RPG that’s still regularly adding new content.
Relive ’90s classics in VR:
This truly awesome mod lets you play Doom and Doom II in VR (assuming you’ve bought them on Steam), plus other games running on the same engine, including Wolfenstein, Heretic, Hexen, Strife, and a bunch of various fan-made mods that are free and included. It’s time to get violent and shoot 8-bit baddies, only with 6DoF motion tracking added.
Half-Life: Alyx will never come to the Quest 2 (officially), so enjoy the next best thing and dive into Gordon Freeman’s HEV Suit in this VR mod of Half-Life 1. Purchase the original game and install the mod via SideQuest, and you’ll be crowbarring headcrabs, shooting enemies, and dodging attacks using 6DoF support. Fair warning: running around in old VR worlds can cause serious nausea if you don’t have strong VR legs.
Revisit a classic:
Another free mod of a classic ’90s shooter, this SideQuest app brings the single-player campaign to Quest, complete with 6DoF support, HD weapons and textures, and the original OST — although no multiplayer, unfortunately. A Quake 1 mod is also available for free, but we’ve picked the sequel as it offers many gameplay improvements over the original. You truly feel like you’ve been warped into id Software’s world, but dive in sparingly, as moving about too much can trigger nausea.
Living room roguelite:
Tea for God
Using Oculus’s Guardian system for mapping your living room, this prototype game procedurally generates a never-ending maze for you to explore. The non-Euclidian (physically impossible) maze goes on forever until you fail to shoot your robotic enemies. Few titles incorporate room-scale VR so well, which makes Tea for God one of the best sideloaded games for Quest 2. It incorporates hand-tracking tech to shoot finger-guns at enemies and interact with your environment.
Become a god:
Guide the human race towards prosperity and destroy heretics supporting other gods in this early-access Steam title. You place tiles of land and cast spells to shape the growth of society indirectly. Still, it would help if you occasionally used your omnipotent power to deal with troublemakers and keep humans on the right path with miracles. The one-person dev team added intriguing new features in recent updates, including modern and futuristic societies, warring kingdoms, and even UFO invasions.
Procedurally generated roguelite:
Ancient Dungeon Beta
This extremely popular beta lets you dive into a Minecraft Dungeons-esque world with a sword, throwing knives, and arrows, facing random enemies and bosses in physics-based combat while rescuing NPCs and discovering secrets. You’ll dodge or deflect attacks, take different paths with varied environments, buy items with the loot you find, and generally find ways to survive. There’s so much content to enjoy considering it’s free.
Killing the competition:
The stripped-down port of this acclaimed Counter-Strike clone offers some of the best shooting mechanics you can find on the Quest. It offers multiple modes that let you team up with friends to capture objectives and kill zombies or kill friends and strangers alike in Deathmatch. It’s the most popular SideQuest app, so you’ll never wait long to dive into some violent PvP, and it’s somehow free. The devs are working on an App Lab version if you want it in your official library.
3D architectural jigsaw puzzles:
3D model scans of real-world places like the Tatev Monastery in Armenia are split into pieces that you must reassemble into their original appearance! Reconstructing just one building will take you multiple play sessions, but the app autosaves your progress, and you can choose to play seated or room-scale based on your preferences. It plays immersive spatial audio recorded at the location you’re working on, which adds to the ambiance. Currently, this prototype app only has one puzzle to work on, but Patreon subscribers get access to new test puzzles every week.
A team of neuroscientists and psychologists built this app, which contains a series of experiences and games designed to evoke particular emotions: “Calm, Energy, Pain Relief, and Awe.” You’re asked about your emotions before and after each experience, which the designers will use to help conceptualize future activities and their effects on players. Some free, relaxing VR therapy is exactly what the doctor ordered for Quest owners stuck at home.
Attack on copyright:
Attack on Quest
Directly inspired by the popular anime series Attack on Titan, this unauthorized fangame puts you in the omnidirectional mobility gear from the show and has you kill as many titans as possible. Low-res graphics and dubious legality aside, controls are easy to pick up, movement triggers less motion sickness than you might expect, and the developer regularly adds updates to make gameplay more challenging and flight more dynamic.
(Side)load up on indie VR games
Figuring out how to download App Lab games is simple enough: you just follow their links, buy or download the game on the Oculus Store, open your Oculus app library and add the game to your headset. Once you do that, you’re good to go! We’ve collected every App Lab game available on the Oculus Quest 2 for now — with more games like To the Top and Pavlov: Shack on their way — and we’re so excited that Quest 2 owners will be able to enjoy them without having to use sideloading.
That said, you shouldn’t only pay attention to App Lab games. SideQuest has tons of content that Facebook cannot legally support, specifically mods for old PC games like Half-Life, Doom, and Quest II. Sideloading makes it possible to re-experience classic adventures in VR. We can only hope more all-time classics get the same VR treatment. Also, sideloading is useful for modding official Quest titles. For instance, you can add unlicensed songs to Beat Saber. Generally speaking, sideloading can be a tricky process, so we made a guide on how to sideload apps on the Oculus Quest 2 to make things easier.
In general, these indie games spend fewer resources on graphical fidelity and more time on fun gameplay, creating worlds that you’ll be able to spend more than a few hours in. Games like Arcaxer and Ancient Dungeon Beta are more like traditional video games in that they’re meant to be played over and over. Even if they don’t “immerse” you in the same way as official Quest Store games, the best App Lab titles and the best-sideloaded games for the Oculus Quest 2 have plenty of unique fun to offer.
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