hand tracking games for Oculus Quest
The Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 are amazing pieces of technology, but did you know you can actually use your hands instead of controllers in some games and apps? While it’s pretty amazing to see your hands in VR and use them instead of controllers, hand tracking can be a bit finicky. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best hand-tracking games for Quest, whose design best suits the somewhat janky nature of hand tracking. While there are a good number of games on the Oculus Store to download, SideQuest provides even more hand-tracking experiences to play with — and they’re all free, too! Make sure you install SideQuest on your Oculus Quest or Quest 2 before downloading those.
Note: For the best results, always play in a well-lit room for optimal hand tracking performance. The brighter, the better. We cannot stress that enough.
★ Featured favorite:
The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets
The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets is a charming game for all ages, heights, and skill levels. Follow the narration of your grandfather through half a dozen imaginary worlds to find the stolen pets and discover a wonderful tale of lost childhood memories in the process. Hand tracking is a perfect fit for this laid-back title.
Tetris in the fourth dimension:
Tetrominoes get a three-dimensional enhancement in Cubism, a puzzler that has you placing funky-shaped pieces inside a larger puzzle. The trick here is that, like playing Jenga, you’ll be utilizing your primary digits to grab these pieces and put them in the right place. It’s a great way to relax while keeping your brain active and using your fingers to grab virtual puzzle pieces feels amazing. Bet you can’t complete them all!
It’s vacation time, human:
As a sequel to the veritable VR masterpiece, Job Simulator, Vacation Simulator takes all the zany action of Owlchemy Labs’ first game to a tropical paradise…or a beautiful forest, or even a snow-capped mountain. This time around, instead of trying to recreate the riveting experience of a set of monotonous jobs, you’re tasked with recreating the human vacation experience. Roast marshmallows, go for a ski, or build elaborate sandcastles, all with your very own hands!
Cast your own Hadouken:
Waltz of the Wizard: Extended Edition
Waltz of the Wizard pits you as a wizard with nearly unlimited magic power. Practice your moves in your den before heading out into the world to vanquish evildoers and monsters alike. Aside from some incredible hand-tracking capabilities, Waltz of the Wizard features an impressive new movement system that’s sure to keep your mind off typical “fake” VR movement and more on the action at hand.
What can your hands do for you?:
Hand Physics Lab
Developer Dennys Kuhnert of Holoception fame has been working on this incredible collection of hand tracking experiments since Oculus opened up the development floodgates a few months ago, and the results are nothing short of amazing. While it was once a SideQuest-only experimental release, the full version on the Oculus Store features over 80 different puzzles to solve, achievements to earn, and cats to pet in VR.
Walk the plank!:
Richie’s Plank Experience
Have you ever seen those videos where someone with a VR headset on suddenly jumps into a TV? Most assuredly, that person was playing Richie’s Plank Experience, a “game” where you walk the plank to feel that unique sense of vertigo that standing on a plank on a 30-story building can give. This one is solely for entertaining friends and family, particularly those who have never tried VR. It’s particularly well-suited for the Quest experience because you can take it anywhere. Just make sure you don’t set up your play area anywhere near a window or a TV.
The power of a god:
Quite literally designed to showcase how hand tracking could work on a full-fledged action-adventure game, Tiny Castles represents one of the more complete experiences on this list. It’s still a short game, don’t get me wrong, but its mechanics are tailor-made to make magic-wielding with hand tracking a more enjoyable experience. Plus, it’s totally free and on the official Oculus Store. What could get better or easier than that?
As a fledgling apprentice, you get free rein of the sorceress’s lab and all the amazing magic hidden within. But be warned, you may alter yourself in unintended ways with no option of turning back. Do you think you can master the spells and tasks assigned to you, or are you doomed to live the rest of your life with tentacle fingers?
Tea for God
If you’re looking for a great example of what hand tracking can add to an already unique experience, the oddly named Tea for God is a great choice. Tea for God is a never-ending procedurally-generated experience. That means the game creates its world as you play, and it’s different every single time. On top of being one of the best room-scale experiences available, Tea for God utilizes the hand tracking feature in a uniquely natural way. You can make guns by simply holding up your thumb and index finger; punch enemies when they get too close; even use your fingers to touch buttons and control environmental objects.
Failing driver’s ed … again:
Car Parking Simulator
Did you hate driver’s education when you were a teenager? Maybe you didn’t learn the skills you needed to make it in the real world? This virtual experience puts you back behind the wheel of several different types of cars in an attempt to help you learn the ropes all over again. You’ll be using your hands to grip the wheel and change gears, adding to the feeling of realism in 45 surreal challenge courses. Just as most “simulator” games have shown, this is more than just recreating a real-life experience; it’s about creating an experience unique to a virtual world.
Learn how to play your piano:
Were you once interested in learning how to play the piano, only to find that the keyboard you picked up from a garage sale was too challenging? VRtuos works by lining up your real-world piano, whether it’s a bargain-bin keyboard or a glorious grand piano, with a virtual one that teaches you the ropes. Colored notes rain down into each key you need to press, helping you not only press the right notes but to hold them as long as you’re supposed to. Five bundled songs get things started, and you can even import any MIDI file to help you learn that song you’ve always wanted to play.
When you simply don’t have a piano at home:
Virtual Piano is a similar concept to VRtuos but with one big exception: you don’t actually need a piano to play this virtual one — just a table. Virtual Piano starts by aligning the real table in front of you as if it were a piano and then overlays the appropriate keys where they would actually be if there were a piano in front of you. While it’s not quite as geared toward teaching piano as VRtuos is just yet, it’s still under development and gives you a great way to practice. The physical table helps deliver convincing tactile feedback that would otherwise be lost in the virtual world without a real piano.
Pulling worlds apart:
Interdimensional Matter is a puzzle game that appears to be simple on the surface; take the object apart, insert the “cores” into the correctly shaped slots, and put the object back together. Even a preschooler could do it, right? In this dimension, sure, but between dimensions, there’s no telling what will happen to the matter as it bends and moves in ways you won’t expect. It doesn’t feel the same without your hands, and that’s what makes this such an excellent experience!
Craft and mine all the time:
Voxel Works Quest
While the Oculus Rift has an official version of Minecraft, the Oculus Quest is without its own port of the venerable voxel survival game. Voxel Works Quest attempts to recreate the magic of Minecraft with the bonus of letting you use your actual hands to interact with the blocky world. It’s still got a long way to go before it has all the features of Microsoft’s incredibly deep title, but it’s darn fun to play, given the new level of interaction present.
Giving beast mode a new name:
VRWorkout is designed to be a way to get exercise rather than playing a game that happens to accelerate your heart rate. It’s better designed for hand-only interaction than games like Beat Saber or Pistol Whip, which rely on ultra-precise controller aiming and movement. It’s actively being developed and has seen several updates since its debut in late December, and the developer has been very responsive with feature requests and additions.
Make happy trees:
Mr. Scribbles is a unique drawing game that aims to create a completely natural way of interacting with virtual elements. Utilizing a set of gestures and hand movements, virtual artists can create lines and shapes out of thin air. These shapes can then be manipulated in several ways, including resizing, changing the color or material, and just about anything your mind can concoct. You can even create little planets, set them to spin, and toss objects into their orbits. It’s still early in the prototype stage, but the potential here is massive, and the development is very active.
A god-game on a smaller scale:
Sun Shard: Hand Tracking Demo – Might of the Gods
Gamers familiar with the Black & White series will know that god games can be incredibly rewarding to play. While Sun Shard doesn’t encompass all the qualities of a full-fledged god game, it does put you in the shoes of a rather large deity whose goal is to defend a totem against an invading hoard. Grab, smack, pummel, and shoot magic at your enemies as they head wave-after-wave into your sanctuary and try to dismantle the totem that gives you power.
Rock, paper, scissors:
It’s rock, paper, scissors in VR. There’s little in the way of extras here, and, at the present moment, you can only play against a computer-controlled opponent. It looks like the developer will be adding several new features and a possible multiplayer mode but, until then, it’s a fun distraction for a few minutes.
An aptly-named experience:
Hand tracking demos
While the title is a bit ambiguous, it perfectly describes the experience you’ll find inside. The developer took the Oculus trains demo and added hand tracking to it, including some neat modifications that’ll make you feel like you’re 6 years old and playing with trains again. The developer has taken to Reddit and unveiled plans to continually update this app with additional demos, including concepts like Rocket Punches, Rubber Stretchy Arms, Finger Guns, and Hand grenades.
Hand tracking 101
After a year-long beta run on the original Oculus Quest, hand tracking was launched as part of the main feature set of the Quest family just before the Oculus Quest 2 came out. Since then, we’ve seen several developers implement hand tracking into their games. Even most of the best Quest 2 games don’t support it. Part of the reason it’s not found in more games is that hand tracking accuracy can be a bit suspect. The Oculus Quest 2 features better hand tracking than the original Oculus Quest, thanks to its ability to run the cameras at double the refresh rate in supported games.
If you’re just looking to experiment with hand tracking and get a feel for how it works, stick to the free section above. While the vast majority of games require you to sideload them via the SideQuest app on your smartphone, Tiny Castles can be installed directly from the Oculus Store with no additional changes to your Oculus Quest.
Cubism and The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets are our top picks for best hand-tracking experiences as far as more full-fledged games go. Both of these games feature laid-back gameplay that fits perfectly with the hand tracking experience, which means you’re not likely to get frustrated when the Quest inevitably loses track of your hands for a split second. As always, make sure you play all of these games in a bright room, as the Quest’s cameras will need to be able to see your hands to track them best.
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