Quest 2’s $299 starting price brings in a whole new wave of VR buyers and luckily there are lots of great free VR games and VR experiences to try right out of the box.
Make no mistake: you’ll need to drop cash to get the best stuff from the Oculus store, but there is still good stuff for free on the Quest from Meta, even if you’ve likely got one or two projects picked out ahead of time to purchase already.
So we’ve rounded up a list of the 11 best free games and experiences to play and try first (plus a few bonus suggestions) on your Oculus Quest or Oculus Quest 2.
Bonus: Check Out The Charming Tutorial Experiences
Download: First Steps / First Steps for Quest 2 and First Contact
This might be a given, but for some users that have spent time in VR already they might be inclined to skip these experiences that likely come preloaded on your device. Honestly — don’t do it. Try them out. Not only are they great introductions to things like the Guardian system and roomscale wireless VR, but they’re just damn good apps in and of themselves.
The robot from First Steps has more personality than most entire VR games can cram into swaths of NPCs and the playground style retro collection of toys and gadgets is a blast in First Contact. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better intro experience so at the very least it’s great to have installed and ready to go for introducing people to the joy of VR for the first time.
Best Free Games And Experiences For Oculus Quest 2
See Quill And Oculus Animations In VR Animation Player
Recommended: Henry, Dear Angelica, and find Tales from Soda Island in the VR Animation Player
The first things you should seek out with Quest are animated short stories sprouting from the early days of Oculus. These are comfortable to watch seated and you don’t have to watch them in any particular order, but the two fundamental ones to at least try and check out first are Henry (totally family-friendly) and Dear Angelica (an absolute tear jerker).
Think of both these touching stories as stepping stones necessary for Facebook and now Meta to get to the Quest 2, and some of the impressive paid content you can buy for it. Dear Angelica, for example, was made in VR by tools and teams that have since been disbanded (Oculus Story Studio) or handed off to the original creators (Quill). Facebook shut down Story Studio while spinning out the Medium sculpting tool to Adobe. Quill’s format, meanwhile, became the VR Animation Player and lives on as a way to experience some of the fully animated stories made with the original PC-based toolset.
These stories are a highly recommended fast-loading first stops in VR before moving on to more interactive content.
Enjoy Streaming Content Of Flat Apps
Download: YouTube VR, Facebook Watch, Netflix, and More
You might not realize this if you’ve spent most of your time researching cutting edge VR content and brand-new games, but there is actually a ton of great passive content out there for VR headsets too. Not only is YouTube just a gold mine of 360 videos from horror (check out The Nun’s 360 3D video for example) and drama to animation and tourism, but also there’s regularly updated video portals like Facebook Watch for streaming as well.
And if you prefer to watch your non-VR content like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, there are native Quest apps for those too. More recently, Meta started accepting progressive Web apps to its store that you can use in multitasking, with the first official apps to support the feature including Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, and Slack. We’ve even been able to get traditional Android apps running on Quest 2 in the same way — but that process can involve extra steps like hooking up a PCand sideloading the apps.
Become a Wizard’s Apprentice in Elixir
Download: Elixir by Magnopus
Try out this piece of free software to get a sense of what controller-free hand tracking is all about. Keep in mind that hand tracking is still fairly experimental — even with impressive games like Hand Physics Lab and Unplugged — and in Elixir you’ll need to learn a very specific gesture in order to teleport successfully. It might be a little frustrating to figure out at first, but you just make the shape of a triangle with your thumb and index fingers on each hand — hands not quite touching one another — and use the shape to frame a spot on the ground. The spot will light up once selected and, to teleport, you can pinch your thumb and index finger together at the same time on each hand.
Once you’ve figured that out, Elixir is a short little experience that can play with your sense of hand ownership. You can experience, for instance, what it might be like to have a different number of fingers, or even floppy octopus digits. Do not miss out on it.
Watch Felix & Paul Studios Reality Captures
Download: Traveling While Black, Cirque Du Soleil, Felix & Paul Studios
You’ve officially dipped your toes into the waters of immersion with the above experiences. You’re probably ready to figure out more things you can do with the controllers — or maybe even multiplayer — but before you do we recommend checking out a couple more passive reality captures from Felix & Paul Studios.
The studio is equipped with some impressive camera capture technology and they’ve brought that to bear on some incredible projects, like putting you at the absolute center of a creepy Cirque Du Soleil performance. Just remember when you watch these that you can turn and rotate your head, just don’t lean around too much.
Play Hide & Seek Online In VR
Download: Half & Half
There’s a number of free social VR experiences to try on Oculus Quest including Rec Room, VRChat, AltspaceVR, and Bigscreen.
We’d recommend you try a game or two of Hide & Seek in Half & Half before you visit any world where voice-based communication is key. The software from a company called Normal hears when you say something and converts it into cute incomprehensible gibberish. So, by design, there’s not really a risk of someone saying something offensive to you while playing this game. And that makes it a stress-free way to figure out how to use the controllers, play a game, and wave to users in a virtual world populated by real people.
Explore Social Apps With Strangers Or Friends
Download: VRChat, AltSpace, Bigscreen, and Rec Room | Sign Up: Horizon Beta
Many people use their VR headset as a social device and nothing more. Luckily, you can do this free of charge. Four of the best VR apps out there cost nothing and Meta is even working on its own response with Horizon.
VRChat is like walking into a 3D-realization of Reddit. Depending on which world you join, and who is online at that time, you could have a deep, life-affirming conversation with a young child or maybe experience a swarm of hilarity marching around dressed as a small cat. World hopping is a great way to kill time and can lead to some of the most awe-inspiring experiences you’ll ever have in a headset.
AltSpace is similar, but tents to see events and educational seminars that help you feel like you’re being productive with your time. Bigscreen lets you stream your desktop to your headset and hang out with others watching anime or even going to a virtual movie theater to catch some flicks with friends.
Rec Room is like Roblox in VR and full of addictive games made by developers and players alike. It’s got a simple art style and is even crossplay with non-VR versions across PC, PS4, Xbox and mobile and is available on every major VR device. Some of the best games include Paintball and the Quest levels with swords and bows for fighting enemies. The Battle Royale mode launched on Quest 2 and that’s a super fun game mode. Horizon is shaping up to be very similar, but we’d recommend starting with Rec Room since its tools are so well-developed and it is available on so many devices.
Play Moon Rider In The Browser
Visit: MoonRider.xyz in the Built-In Web Browser
Moon Rider is a website you can enter into the Oculus Browser’s URL bar. Point the controller at the headset icon in the bottom-right hand corner of the page and pull the trigger to start playing. It is a kind of proof-of concept Web-based VR game that’s pretty much just like Beat Saber. It is completely free, though, and Moon Rider ends up featuring a much larger music selection.
Perhaps our commenters could offer some other good suggestions for worlds to visit with the Browser, but Moon Rider is pretty awesome all by itself and you should be able to pull up many other common flat-screen sites like YouTube using the software as well. Multitasking via the Web on Quest 2 can be a pretty impressive experience.
Try Out Free Demos
Download: Beat Saber Demo, Superhot VR Demo, Space Pirate Trainer Demo, The Under Presents, Supernatural, and More
That’s right, there are actual free demos to try out on Quest 2 for several of the top paid games on the platform. Curious what all the fuss is about regarding Beat Saber after trying Moon Rider above? Then try the free demo version.
Or maybe you want to shoot some robots or dodge some bullets — that’s what Space Pirate Trainer and Superhot, respectively, can offer. Then there’s The Under Presents, which is like an immersive, experimental version of theater with lots of really clever interactions. Maybe you’d even like to try your hand at VR-based fitness? Then give Meta-owned Supernatural a try.
There are lots of other demos too, so make sure and look them up in the store to try out some games before you decide to buy them.
Play With Adorable Virtual Pet Bogo
Now we’re into the real meat of the list — actual free games. Bogo is an adorable little experience that, albeit short, is a really charming time for gamers of all ages. This is basically like a distilled, streamlined version of Nintendogs or a Tamagotchi experience, ported into VR.
You’ll spend time with the little dinosaur-looking buddy playing fetch, feeding it, and generally making a new friend. The only bummer about Bogo is that it’s so short and we wanted more, so hopefully they’re working on something longer and more robust. VR is a great tool for interaction with virtual characters so something that actually feels like you’re taking care of a creature over a long period of time could be a huge hit.
Go Fishing Or Play Some Poker
Download: Bait! or PokerStars VR
Finding ways to relax and unwind is super important and VR is a great outlet for such activities. For starters, there’s Bait!, a totally free-to-play leisure fishing game. It’s very simple and colorful, but has lots of stuff to unlock and is very, very well-made. You can absolutely play without spending a penny, but dropping some cash will speed things up a bit if you’d like. After you’ve exhausted the fun there, look into trying out Real VR Fishing next which includes breath-takingly realistic environments and multiplayer.
There’s also PokerStars VR which is an excellent simulation of Poker that puts Oculus avatars to great use. There’s always plenty of people to chat with and now it even includes Blackjack and Slots too.
Defy Gravity In Sci-Fi Ultimate Frisbee
Download: Echo VR
Finally, this is the big one. Developed by Ready at Dawn (same team behind Lone Echo II and The Order 1886 on PS4 non-VR) Echo VR is like TRON meets ultimate frisbee in zero-gravity. If you’ve ever read Ender’s Game — this is basically that game. Teams float through an arena and do their best to score with a disc in a ring-shaped goal almost like in Quidditch. It’s absolutely freeing to float through the arena, pushing yourself off of objects and twisting your body to avoid opponents while chucking the disc across the level.
Facebook owns the studio behind Echo VR now so expect a commitment to supporting this game in the long-term, especially as its appeal as an esport continues to grow.
This article was originally published on October 13, 2020, but it was updated with some more details and republished in December 2020, February 2021, and November 2021.
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