So you’ve just got a brand new Oculus Quest, congratulations! But what are the best Oculus Quest apps to sideload?
The official Quest Store is filled with plenty of excellent games and apps but there’s also an expansive library of experimental content available by sideloading.
For those unfamiliar with sideloading, it is simply a way of getting apps onto a device by circumventing their dedicated stores. It’s a very common process on Android smartphones, for example. Want to know how to do it on Quest? Be sure to follow our guide right here.
But before we start, a word of caution:
When sideloading, you need to keep in mind that you are putting content onto your device that has not been approved by Facebook and could potentially damage your device or be malicious in nature, even if it doesn’t appear so at first.
It is also important to be aware of the Oculus Content Guidelines when sideloading content, to ensure you’re not violating anything with the content you’re placing on your device. You might want to give our report on Oculus’ Content Guidelines and sideloading a read before you jump into the thick of it.
Half-Life VR (Lambda1VR)
If you own a Quest and a PC copy of Half-Life, then you owe it to yourself to try this. Yes, it is possible to play the entirety of Valve’s celebrated first-person shooter inside your Quest. That includes swinging your crowbar like you were Gordon Freeman himself. You haven’t really experienced VR until you’ve had a headcrab jump in your face.
Better yet, Lambada1VR continues to refine its existing support. In fact, it recently added support for the excellent Blue Shift expansion. This is the best place to get your Half-Life VR fix whilst we wait for an official game.
An important note, however, is that this sideloaded app is only for the engine itself, and you will need to own a copy of Half-Life from Steam and place it in the correct folder for installation alongside the engine mod.
Unseen Diplomacy popularized the idea of infinite movement in room-scale VR with randomized rooms. But Tea For God takes that template and applies it to one of the most popular VR genres: shooters.
Though it’s a little scrappy, there’s few experiences as immersive as losing yourself in the winding corridors of this experimental FPS. It is genuinely possible to forget where you’re really standing as your sheepishly step around corners and take cover in elevators. The game was also recently updated to include very experimental (and buggy) support for controller-free hand tracking on Oculus Quest.
This Oculus Quest shooter is fairly simple in concept, yet it became the most popular game on the SideQuest platform as of January 2020. The game was rejected from receiving an official Quest release due to Facebook’s strict console-like curation policy, but it’s now available to sideload on the Quest for free via SideQuest.
It’s a fairly standard, stationary shooting gallery, except for the harder difficulties, which come with a twist — one bullet will kill you. You can read more about the game in our quick review.
To The Top
Originally released on PC VR in 2017 and then on PSVR in 2018, To The Top was hoping to release on the Oculus Quest in 2019. However, much like Crisis VRigade, To The Top was rejected from receiving an official release when going through Facebook’s strict curation and approval process.
Now, the game is available on the Quest via SideQuest — however, unlike many other SideQuest games, To The Top is a paid SideQuest release, available for $15. You can read more about the Oculus Quest version of the game here.
Yes, you can get Virtual Desktop on the official Quest Store. But the best version of the app is only available through SideQuest. Why? Because this version lets you wirelessly stream PC VR games from your desktop to your Quest. While Oculus Link offers similar functionality, the sideloaded version of Virtual Desktop gives you the same functionality but wirelessly. We need to note that you will likely have more latency and video compression when playing PC VR content on your Quest via Virtual Desktop.
In our experience, Oculus Link is a generally smoother experience with less latency, even if it is wired. However, the level of latency and compression experienced will differ depending on a multitude of things, including what router you’re using and its position in your home relative to your computer and your Quest. There are many elements that come into play here – whether you’re using a 5GHz network (which is recommended), how many walls/structures come between your Quest and your router, whether your desktop is running on WiFi or a wired connection, and even how congested your local network/router is at any moment. It will really depend, but it is worth a shot if you want something similar to Link but without the wire.
The modified version of Virtual Desktop is available on SideQuest, but you will still need to have purchased a copy of the version on the Oculus Quest store for the sideloaded version to work.
Pavlov will soon officially release for the Oculus Quest, as ‘Pavlov Shack’, but until then you can test the latest Quest builds via sideloading. Developer Dave Villz posts links to the latest Quest builds on his Twitter account, which you can download and install through SideQuest.
Much like LambadaVR, Quake2Quest is a sideloaded app that mods the Quake 2 engine, allowing you to play it on Quest. Similar to Half-Life, you’ll also need to own a version of Quake 2 to be sideloaded alongside the modded engine.
Hand Tracking Demos
Many developers have made small, proof-of-concept apps or games that use the new hand tracking SDK, allowing you to demo what using your hands, instead of a controller, in a VR game would be like. We have a whole separate list for these demos which you should definitely check out.
What are your favorite sideloaded apps on Quest? Are there any that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.
This article was originally published on January 6th, 2020 and then later edited and republished on February 17th, 2020 to include new games and updated information.