The best free games and apps for Oculus Quest
The Oculus Quest has been a difficult piece of tech to get your hands on over the last few months. It seems that even with almost a dozen in-stock notification alerts set, I’d been chasing the elusive virtual reality headset from Facebook for nearly half a year. Luckily, a few weeks ago I managed to snag one of the 64 gig versions from Newegg and I’ve barely taken it off ever since it arrived.
Fully mobile, wireless VR is incredible, but with so much to choose from it can be hard to know where to spend your money in the Quest store. I’d argue that you should save a few bucks and enjoy a few mindblowing free experiences to start. Free may not always seem like a good deal in the gaming world, but if your wallet is still a little empty from purchasing the Quest headset, here are four of the best free apps and games that will show you what makes VR so exciting.
Before I get into the apps, a quick word about the preloaded demos. Depending on when your headset was manufactured, there are a number of game demos that come preinstalled on your headset, like Superhot and Beatsaber. Don’t turn your nose up at demos! They help acclimate you to using your headset, and if you’re like me, take up an entire Saturday before you go looking for more.
#1. Rec Room
Combine the best parts of hanging out in World of Warcraft’s towns back in the day with Minecraft-style room building, and add a ton of minigames you can play online with friends, and you’ve got Rec Room. The best part is, let’s say you’re the only one you know with an Oculus Quest but you have friends with a PSVR and an HTC Vive.
Rec Room has crossplay with PC VR headsets and PS4’s PSVR, so you can all hang out together, check out each other’s custom-built rooms, and play a few games of laser tag. This game alone ate up many hours of my precious weekend and I still feel like I haven’t done it all. The developers at Resolution Games are adding content all the time, so you will keep coming back to this one to beat the social-distancing blues.
Listen, I know this is a fishing game, but please don’t close that tab! Just hear me out. I am profoundly indoorsy, and if I were to choose an activity to do out among Mother Nature’s splendor, at the bottom of the list would be fishing. So, it may seem surprising that Bait! is on my list, but to me, it really isn’t a fishing game at its core. It’s meditation.
There is something super calming about standing on the shore of a pond, watching the fish swim around, casting a smooth line, and not letting the fish get away once I have it hooked. It’s bright, upbeat, and low enough stakes that even when it has moments that feel a bit microtransaction-y, I easily forgive it and allow myself to zone back out. The world is a high-stress place right now, but Bait! is a fun escape for when you just want to relax.
#3. Streaming Services
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but with many of the biggest streaming services letting you watch whatever you want in the privacy of your headset, I found myself watching almost as much Netflix as I was playing games. I’ve missed the movie theater experience with the lockdowns, but with a decent pair of headphones and my Quest, I got pretty close to the big screen effect.
Watching The Witcher’s awesome episode two action sequence (you know the one if you’ve seen it) as if it were on a movie theater-sized screen was awesome, and didn’t interrupt the rest of my household watching their 10th episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta in a row. Youtube and Oculus both have specific apps for immersive VR video experiences, from 360-degree concerts to undersea diving adventures, which are amazing, but I found that even mundane TV watching benefitted from the sense of scale that the headset gave me.
#4 Mission: ISS
One of the best things about virtual reality, and especially a fully wireless VR headset like the Quest, is that you experience a sense of awe at the scale of things. The first time you’re in the ISS and you look down through the observation window at Earth spinning below you, check to make sure your mouth isn’t hanging open. Mine sure was, and this experience (I wouldn’t call it a game) gives you plenty of those moments. If you’ve ever wondered what a spacewalk would look like from inside the astronaut’s helmet or wanted to hear real ISS astronauts talk you through the goings-on of a working space station, download this and let yourself be immersed.
Mission: ISS was what I used to introduce my girlfriend to the Quest, and it convinced her that it wasn’t nearly as dorky as I had made it look flailing around slack-jawed.
The Oculus Quest has a ton to offer, even without spending a single penny on games. Hopefully, this helps you dive into the world of truly wireless VR and shows you how diverse the market is becoming. Once you’ve invested a few dozen hours into these experiences, come back and we’ll have some suggestions for where to jump into the paid section of the VR pool.