Best SideQuest, App Lab, and sideloaded games for Oculus Quest 2 Android Central 2021
You could spend hundreds of hours playing through the best Oculus Quest 2 games without needing to go looking for new games. But you shouldn't sleep on the best App Lab games and best sideloaded games for the Quest 2, because they will provide unique experiences from indie developers, many of which are free or dirt cheap — while others are mods of classic PC games that'll likely never make the Oculus Store officially. Here are our favorite games and apps available via sideloading, along with information on what apps and files you'll need to make them work.
- ★ Featured Favorite: To the Top
- Wireless PC VR: Virtual Desktop
- Killing the competition: Pavlov: Shack
- Unblock mobile mining: Minecraft: Gear VR edition
- Save your quarters: Crisis VRigade
- Improved graphics, same zany action: Crisis VRigade 2
- Turn-based action RPG: Arcaxer
- Relive 90s classics in VR: QuestZDoom
- Half-Life: Gordon: Lambda1VR
- Revisit a classic: Quake2Quest
- Procedurally generated roguelite: Ancient Dungeon Beta
- Living room roguelite: Tea for God
★ Featured Favorite: 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.
Wireless PC VR: Virtual DesktopStaff Pick
Not a game in itself, this Oculus Store app was designed to let you use your PC desktop in virtual reality, but now has a far more valuable application: it lets you stream PC VR games directly to your headset, instead of having to tether yourself with an Oculus Link cable. Assuming you have a VR-ready computer, Virtual Desktop makes it so simple to play SteamVR or Rift games on the Quest 2. Basically, this is the "game" that'll help you sideload the actual best sideloaded games for the Quest 2.
Killing the competition: Pavlov: Shack
The stripped-down port of this acclaimed Counter-Strike clone offers some of the best shooting mechanics and tense multiplayer 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.
Unblock mobile mining: Minecraft: Gear VR edition
You can use Oculus Link to access the Bedrock VR edition, but for true wireless play, you must sideload the mobile Gear VR edition. This difficult process involves recreating the GearVR environment on your Quest via NoxPlayer, purchasing the Gear VR edition on Oculus Store, extracting the Minecraft APK via Packet Capture, and uploading the APK to SideQuest. Once done, however, Minecraft is a joy to play on the Quest, supporting strong frames per second and six degrees of freedom (6DoF) (though you'll need an Xbox controller).
Save your quarters: Crisis VRigade
Your favorite trigger-happy, quarter-guzzling arcade game is transported to your living room with this difficult SWAT shooter, available on 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, but also 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 has 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 more complete experience. Duck and dodge your way through levels and save the day!
Turn-based action RPG: Arcaxer
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 and duck and weave to dodge their attacks before you can take them out on your turn. 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: QuestZDoom
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: Gordon: Lambda1VR
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: Quake2Quest
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.
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 combatwhile 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!
Living room roguelite: Tea for God
Using Oculus' 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 sideloaded titles incorporate roomscale VR so well, and it incorporates hand-tracking tech to shoot finger-guns at enemies and interact with your environment.
Become a god: Deisim
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, but you must occasionally use 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.
3D architectural jigsaw puzzles: Puzzling Places
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 roomscale 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 the one puzzle to work on, but Patreon subscribers get access to new test puzzles every week.
Get touchy-feely: Hand Physics Lab
Built to take full advantage of the Quest's 2020 update with hand tracking controls, Hand Physics Lab is not so much a game as a collection of activities. You'll use your hands to manipulate objects, finger paint, build or smash things, type on a keyboard, and so on. It lacks replay value but shows what the Quest is capable of, and the kind of gameplay designs that future Quest releases may incorporate instead of Touch controls.
VR therapy: Liminal VR
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.
360º VR gun range: Shooting Arena
The gameplay premise is simple: targets will appear in all directions, which you must shoot as quickly and accurately as possible in order to hit the top of the leaderboards. It's actually addicting to try and improve your shooting skills across different levels as the difficulty ramps up, and you'll unlock new weapons and customization options as you go. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of Pistol Whip, but it'll still make you feel like John Wick after a good round.
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 is regularly adding 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, and 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 being 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 are able to 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 returned to over and over. Even if they won't "immerse" you in the same way as official Quest Store games, the best App Lab games and best sideloaded games for the Oculus Quest 2 have plenty of unique fun to offer.
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