In February 2021, Facebook launched App Lab, a service for easily installing experimental, non-store content on your Oculus Quest. Check out our guide on how to use App Lab for more on how to use—for now, check out our picks for the best App Lab games available at the time of writing.
Before App Lab, the only way to install non-store content on your Quest was via sideloading, a somewhat laborious method that required registering as a developer and installing apps over a wired connection. While sideloading remains a viable method, the main (and easiest) way to install non-store content on your Quest is through App Lab now.
However, unlike the Oculus Store, App Lab doesn’t have a store front or an official interface on your headset to browse everything that’s available. We’ve detailed how you can easily find and install App Lab content on your Quest already. However, to make it easier to choose what to play, we’ve summed up what we think are some of the best games available through App Lab at the time of writing.
The following list is presented in a random order and is not ranked. Many of the games listed are closer to tech demos and short experiences rather than the full, more complete games you’ll find on the store, or are still in development. That’s just the nature of App Lab content.
Check back for updates over the next few months as new App Lab content gets released.
In Deisim, you are given the power of a God, which you use to grant your subjects new materials and tiles of land so they can progress their civilization.
It’s a simple game that takes cues from classic God-games and civilization building games, but with a little less strategy and depth. As you expand your world by building new areas and granting new materials, you’ll unlock more terrain types and useful items to gift to your subjects. Over time, each city will gradually build themselves up, progressing from the stone age to the industrial revolution.
Deisim is available for $7.99.
Ancient Dungeon Beta
Ancient Dungeon is reminiscent of classic dungeon crawlers but with some roguelike twists.
Equipped with just a sword and a throwing knife, you’ll fight your way through procedurally generated dungeons and find various power-ups along the way. The visual inspiration behind the game is clear — it’s a slightly more detailed and polished version of the Minecraft aesthetic that has become so prominent since 2011. That’s not a knock on the game at all though — it pulls the style off well and runs incredibly smooth.
Ancient Dungeon is available for free through App Lab.
There’s only very few racing games available on Quest, and V-Speedway is a basic yet spirited attempt to tackle the genre.
It’s bare bones at the moment, with only a single race mode against 11 AI opponents and a separate time trial mode. That being said, the novelty of sitting in a car with a virtual steering wheel and working side-view mirror is something you can’t find elsewhere on Quest. The controls, gameplay, and graphics are all very basic, but if you’re desperate for some kind of standalone racing experience on Quest without a sci-fi or combat aesthetic, this might do it.
V-Speedyway Alpha is available for free through App Lab.
Puzzling Places Beta
This game mixes traditional puzzles piece gameplay with 3D models captured using photogrammetry.
There’s now six 3D jigsaw puzzles in the game made out of the models, which get progressively harder and range from 20 pieces up to 200. Each of the models is scanned from a real location — there’s an Armenian monastery, a Japanese castle, and many more locations to piece together.
Puzzling Places Beta is available for free through App Lab.
In Tiny Castles you play as a god who has to protect their followers from attacking enemies using a bunch of inventive attacks that use hand tracking.
The team at Facebook behind the game say it was developed first and foremost as a showcase of hand tracking rather than a full game, and so it “lacks real challenge and difficulty balancing.” That being said, if you’re looking for an app that shows you a bunch of interesting hand tracking interactions, this is the one.
Tiny Castles is available for free through App Lab.
Earlier this year, Tilt Brush went open source, opening up the floodgates for other developers to add their own spin to the popular VR art creation tool. One of the most impressive results is MultiBrush by Rendever.
It’s a free, multiplayer version of Tilt Brush that lets you and one other player join a shared room so both can use Tilt Brush in the same space as one another, working on the same piece or on different pieces in the same space. There are a few caveats still (such as the frustrating lack of multiplayer support for the undo function) but overall it’s an impressive (and free) version of Tilt Brush that supports multiplayer.
MultiBrush is available through App Lab for free.
Warplanes: WW1 Fighters
Before Warplanes was available on App Lab, we called it one of the most polished releases available on SideQuest. The statement stands true for Warplanes on App Lab — there’s a level of polish here that has yet to be matched by other App Lab releases.
Warplanes lets you take control of WWI biplanes in combat missions that make up a full game campaign. The current version of Warplanes includes a full Central Powers campaign, with 6 German planes to choose from, but there’s even more content on the way. The next version will include a Triple Entente campaign and 3 associated aircraft.
Warplanes: WW1 Fighters is available for $14.99 through App Lab.
Gorilla Tag experienced a huge surge in popularity early this year and it has quickly become the latest multiplayer VR craze.
The concept is simple — everyone plays as leg-less gorillas who can only move by propelling themselves across the ground with the grip of their arms. Expert players can use this to their advantage, quickly vaulting themselves up trees and structures like true gorillas. Combine this unique and deep locomotion system with a giant game of tag and you have Gorilla Tag.
You can read more here.
Gorilla Tag is available for free through App Lab, including cross-play with PC VR.
Guardians is a cross between a normal FPS and an RTS game, with bits of both genre sprinkled throughout.
You’ve got all your standard sci-fi FPS weapons and gunplay, along with the ability to spawn allies and place fortifications on the go in an RTS-like manner. There’s a single player campaign in development, along with multiplayer PVP and co-op PVE, with cross-play between Quest and PC VR.
Guardians is available for $14.99 through App Lab.
Arcaxer is a VR RPG that incorporates procedurally generated dungeons with a mix of both first-person and third-person action.
Described by the developers as a “VR RPG with a 3rd-person overworld,” you’ll explore using an isometric third person view and then head into first-person when engaging in combat. It’s worth noting that, like many App Lab releases, Arcaxer is still in development and not a finished game.
Arcaxer is available for $24.99 on App Lab, however there’s also a free demo version available to try out via App Lab as well.
Peco Peco is a unique VR puzzler that consists of some beautiful 3D models, which each break off into small pieces that you’ll have to put back together.
It’s a giant 3D jigsaw, similar to Puzzling Places. However, instead of models of real-life objects or places captured using photogrammetry, Peco Peco has a number of unique 3D models designed by 21 creators.
Peco Peco is available for $9.99 through App Lab.
Crisis VRigade Series
There’s two entries in the Crisis VRigade series, both offering something slightly different. The original Crisis VRigade merges voxel-style graphics with FPS gameplay reminiscent of the Time Crisis arcade games. It has the option to be played solo or in co-op mode with a friend.
The second entry, Crisis VRigade 2, keeps the Time Crisis vibe but ups the difficulty significantly and goes for a visual style that’s more modern, leaving the voxels behind. Co-op isn’t supported in the sequel however, so you’ll be playing solo through Crisis VRigade 2’s gauntlet of unforgiving FPS set pieces.
Crisis VRigade is available for $5.99 and Crisis VRigade 2 is available for $19.99, both through App Lab.
What are you favorite App Lab games? Let us know in the comments.
Are you a developer submitting your game to App Lab? Send us some details to [email protected] and we might take a look!
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