Editorial: Oculus Quest Is Winning 2019 And Looks Set For 2020 Too

The Oculus Link beta and forthcoming support for hand-tracking are poised to completely change the VR market.

Facebook’s all-in-one VR headset, Oculus Quest, went on sale in May 2019 for $400 and it is safe to say now, in November, it owned the standalone VR category by itself this year. There’s simply no other device I could recommend people put on their heads with the same ease of setup and roster of games including incredible genre-defining titles like Beat Saber, Pistol Whip, and Superhot.

Some people, sure, could seek a holiday sale and upgrade their PlayStation 4 with a PSVR to access a vast library of great games for a reasonable price — becoming one of the millions of PSVR owners out there. Some folks could even invest in the multi-thousand dollar purchase that is the super comfortable Valve Index combined with a high-powered PC to run physics-heavy games like H3VR or Boneworks in the best possible conditions.

But for first time VR buyers how could I recommend anything but Oculus Quest?

Facebook is securing almost every VR title for the system by either making it alluring enough to port the title directly, or through the wired Oculus Link beta connection launching soon. If you want to try becoming a wireless engineer to squeeze every millisecond of latency out of your local network you could even try wireless SteamVR content like No Man’s Sky VR through a SideQuest-patched version of Guy Godin’s Virtual Desktop app on Quest. We wouldn’t recommend that route, of course — there are actual wireless engineers trying to improve how this type of connection works and make it more comfortable — but wireless SteamVR content is still there for a vocal minority of people who want that kind of access to their PC VR content library.

Perhaps most important is that Facebook continues to show a willingness to constantly update, expand and reinvest in Quest’s capabilities and software library where some competitors — I’m looking at you Google and Microsoft — let their initial VR platforms languish.

Valve And SteamVR

Over the next few months Facebook’s standalone Quest VR system — already room-scale with controller tracking — will gain two modes that completely change the value proposition for the all-in-one VR headset.

Oculus Link

Oculus Link will bring over PC VR games while hand tracking can enable operation of the headset without any controllers — a feature that should make the system more accessible more often to a broader group of buyers. Next year, you could probably watch movies on a Quest, for instance, using your fingers in the open air to adjust volume and playback functions.

While Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headsets might see steep discounts over the next few months — as they have in the past — the biggest unknown of 2019 for practically anyone interested in a VR headset is one very simple question:

Does Oculus Quest run Valve’s VR game?

“Valve Flagship VR Game / Later This Year,” it said on the slide in Valve’s April presentation revealing the company’s own Index VR headset and controllers. “Play it on any SteamVR compatible system.”

We’ve contacted Valve representatives multiple times seeking an update on the game, but the only one we’ve noted over the last six months is a presentation by one of the game’s developers talking about VR door design.

It is in the best interests of a lot of people to make sure Quest works well with Valve’s VR game over the Oculus Link. But the thing about VR is that “works” and “works well” are completely different standards. “Works” can result in a splitting headache after 20 minutes while “works well” can mean a completely transcendent and fully transportive experience. Consider in that context that, as of this writing in mid-November 2019, the likelihood nobody has played Valve’s VR game on the Oculus Quest over the Oculus Link wired Beta connection.

There just aren’t that many teams worldwide making VR games of the scale and scope that VR buyers want. This makes the results of Valve’s VR game design work since 2016‘s The Lab of incredible interest to anyone with a VR Ready PC. There is value in visually stunning PC power with complex physical simulation and powerful haptics, and Valve’s VR game design work could stand as a marker showing what level of immersion Intel, AMD and NVIDIA chipsets are uniquely equipped to create for VR buyers through a PC in 2019.

Facebook told us developers may be able to opt out of support for the Oculus Link Beta — though we don’t know precisely how that will work just yet.

Closing out the 2010s

So we’re starting to prepare our VR shopping recommendations for Black Friday 2019 as well as downloading software to show our families over the coming holiday visits, and preparing speeches to give explaining what the right choice is to make if you’re interested in getting a VR headset this year.

So with the Valve-Quest connection an unknown, if I had to sum it all up right now I’d say Microsoft and Sony’s VR efforts are showing their age ahead of a new generation of game consoles which launch starting in late 2020. HTC’s moddable Cosmos is expensive, relies on battery-hungry controllers and there have been complaints about the tracking quality, though it is getting updates.

Facebook and Valve launched significant and high quality new VR products in 2019 pushing forward immersion in vastly different ways — Valve through five finger tracking and unmatched visual comfort on the wired Index paired with strong haptics on its new controllers, and Facebook through untethered standalone freedom on the Quest paired with Touch controllers.

Unless you already have a PS4 or a couple thousand dollars to invest in a VR Ready PC and Valve’s SteamVR Tracking system with Index, Oculus Quest is looking like it is going to be the main hardware I recommend this holiday season.

Of course I’m going to tell people that Index is the only headset I can use where I don’t feel any discomfort at all after taking it off, no matter the length of my play session. Also, PSVR’s install base is around 5 million by now and it arguably “won” VR’s first generation. But I also have to point to Quest’s easy setup, room-scale tracking, wireless freedom and Touch’s analog sticks as a more refined experience out of the box — all features shipping now before Quest gets hand tracking and the Oculus Link beta.

Last month Jamie Feltham wrote an editorial about the long road ahead for PSVR fans waiting for PSVR 2 and — unless there are more big plans for PSVR beyond Iron Man in February — come 2020 the differences between Quest and PSVR will only become clearer and more profound. With Apple reportedly targeting 2022 for a Quest-like headset and no indications we’ll see a PSVR 2 in 2020, the coast is clear for Facebook’s Quest to make significant progress building out a platform as the headset of choice for millions.

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GUIDE: How To Sideload Content On Oculus Quest Using SideQuest

There’s been a lot of buzz over sideloading apps onto the Oculus Quest recently. With Facebook recently clarifying the system’s content guidelines, there’s been more attention on sideloading on the Quest and a popular app that facilitates the process called SideQuest. This guide will run you through all the steps required to start sideloading content on your Oculus Quest.

how to sideload on oculus quest uploadvr

The Oculus Quest launched in May 2019 as a standalone headset. There’s no need for an external tethered console or PC – everything is managed on the device itself. As a result, Facebook decided to implement a curation policy for content that appears on the Quest through the Oculus Store. This policy operates in a similar manner to traditional consoles like an Xbox or PlayStation, but it was a relatively new idea for VR. Nonetheless, it has seen some strong results for certain developers.

With the curation policy, however, also sprung one clear, immediate question: will there be a way to run other content on the Quest that’s not curated by Facebook on the Oculus Store?

The short answer? Yes, by sideloading.


What is sideloading?

‘Sideloading’ is the term generally applied to content loaded onto some types of modern computers from sources not explicitly approved by content reviewers.  The term itself, and the definition, can sound a bit scary. While care should be taken when participating in such activity, the term also applies to everyday tech situations. For example, downloading a unverified program from a site on the Internet and installing it on Windows is technically sideloading. Proceed with caution, then, but it’s not always as scary as it sounds.

In relation to Quest, sideloading refers to the process of loading content onto the device that is not approved or verified by Oculus and does not appear on the Oculus Store. If you install anything on your Quest that is outside the curated store content, you’re sideloading.

Why, and what, would I sideload?

Good question! If the Quest has all this wonderful, curated and optimized content in the store, why would you ever put anything else, or need anything else, on your device?

Well, that really depends. For some people, you might have everything you need on the Oculus Store. However, sideloading also allows you to do some other stuff that you can’t do normally on the device, or can’t find in the Oculus Store:

  • Install pre-release builds released by a developer, before the game finished and/or released.
  • Install apps that are not available on the Oculus Store (either as they were rejected, have not yet applied for a store listing, or otherwise).
  • Use an alternate build of an approved Oculus Store application – alternate builds can offers additional content when sideloaded, which isn’t approved under the store guidelines.
  • Load custom content – certain games and apps may support custom content installation.
  • Install tools that offer new insight into how you’re using your Quest.

Previously, we published this list of the best apps to sideload on Go and many of those still work on Quest too. This is just a small list of examples. In a later guide, we’ll have a full list of the interesting apps and games to sideload on the Quest specifically, so watch out for that one.

How do I sideload?

Technically, anyone can sideload content onto their Quest by simply using ADB (Android Debug Bridge) commands from their PC, if the Quest is in developer mode. However, if you don’t know what that means (and most people probably don’t) then there’s a much easier solution: SideQuest.

SideQuest is a third-party PC, Mac and Linux application that makes sideloading content onto your Quest super easy. It has a store page featuring a bunch of popular apps available via sideloading and a couple of extra features (which we won’t go into here). While SideQuest does require a bit of initial setup the first time you use it, after that it becomes very simple – most actions are only a few clicks away, with a user-friendly interface to boot.


Initial Setup: Getting your Quest and PC ready

There’s a couple of things you’ll need to do with your Oculus account, your Quest and your computer, in order to use SideQuest. This is all just a one-time setup action – you won’t need to do this every time you want to sideload something, only the first time.

Make sure you have a USB cord to connect your Quest to your computer.

The charging cord that ships with the Quest is the small reversible USB-C connector on both ends. USB-A uses the older standard USB port that you see in most computers from the last few decades. You may want a cord that has USB-A for your computer on one end, and USB-C for your Quest on the other. Unless, of course, your PC includes a USB-C port — then you should be able to use the included USB-C charging cord to connect to your PC. This included cord is USB 2.0, so if you have a lot of data to transfer you may want to get a cord with the increased bandwidth of USB 3.0.

Register as a developer on the Oculus account associated with your Quest. 

In order to use your Quest in Developer Mode (which is required for sideloading), you’ll need to register as a developer organization first.

Visit this page and make sure you’re logged into the same Oculus account that your Quest is registered to. Enter a new organization name and tick the ‘I understand’ box to agree to the Oculus Terms of Service.

Enable Developer Mode on your Quest.

Now that you’re registered as a developer, you’ll be able to enable Developer Mode on your Quest. You can do this through the Oculus app, with the phone that is linked to your Oculus account/your Oculus Quest.

Open the Oculus app on your phone, with your Quest turned on so it can connect to the app, and then:

1. Tap ‘Settings’ in the bottom right

2. Locate your Oculus Quest listed in the Settings tab, and make sure it reads ‘Connected. (If the app can’t connect to your Quest, you may need to top on the Quest in settings to try and manually make the app connect. If it still can’t connect, make sure your Quest is turned on, and your phone has Bluetooth and WiFi turned on as well)

3. Tap on the arrow button next to your device, to reveal more options

4. Tap the ‘More Settings’ button

5. Tap on ‘Developer Mode’

6. Flick the switch to On instead of Off

7. Fully reboot your Quest – hold down the power button on the side and select ‘Power Off’ or ‘Restart’. You Quest should fully reboot in order to properly start in Developer Mode.

After rebooting, your Quest should be in Developer Mode.

Install SideQuest on your computer

Go to the SideQuest downloads page and download the install file for your operating system. Install the program like you would do with any other program for your operating system. SideQuest will also automatically install the drivers you need for your Quest to communicate with your computer, so there’s no need to worry about that, no matter which operating system you’re on (this used to be done manually, but now SideQuest takes care of it for you).

Allow USB debugging between your computer and your Quest

This should also be a one-time setup step, if done properly.

1. Open SideQuest on your computer

2. Turn on your Quest and set up a guardian

3. Plug your Quest into your computer

4. Inside your Quest, not on your computer, you should see a request to “Allow USB debugging.”

5. If you don’t want to have to press OK on this screen every time you plug your Quest into your computer, make sure the ‘Always allow from this computer’ box is ticked.

6. Press OK

Congratulations! Your Quest and PC should now be set up to easily sideload apps via SideQuest.

Some notes:

For the most part, all of the steps above should be a one-time process for the computer and Quest. If you want to use a different PC, however, you will need SideQuest and allow USB debugging for that device.

In the past, Quest firmware updates have also disabled Developer Mode. In the event your Quest receives an update and is no longer working with SideQuest, go back to the Oculus app and double check the Developer Mode switch is on and not off. If you need to turn it back, you’ll also need to restart your Quest.


Sideloading Apps and Games

The hard work is all done in the initial steps above. Once everything is set up, sideloading apps and games is very easy.

Some games and apps are available directly through SideQuest, allowing a seamless installation process. Some other games and apps are only available to download externally, not on SideQuest, but can be easily installed using SideQuest anyway.

No matter which option you’re using, once your Quest is plugged into your computer and SideQuest is open, double check that SideQuest is able to connect to your Quest. If everything is okay, the top right side of SideQuest will show a green dot with “connected” after the SideQuest version number (see below for reference):

sidequest connected

If SideQuest has a red dot and says ‘disconnect’, double check that your Quest is on, connected properly and you completed all of the setup steps properly (especially the USB debugging permission steps).

Sideloading content from the SideQuest store page

In the SideQuest app on your computer, on the left side is a bar listed as “SideQuest Official” with an apps and games tab.

You can browse through these games and apps and view descriptions and screenshots of each. If you would like to install one, just click on the listing for the app or game and press the ‘Install Latest’ button (see below).

sidequest installation page

SideQuest will then install the game or app. To check the progress of installation or ensure everything installed correctly, you can click on ‘Tasks’ button on the top right (circled in red below) and if the app was downloaded and installed correctly, you will see a bar reading “APK file installed ok!!” (also pictured below).

SideQuest installation complete

And that’s all there is to it! You’ve successfully sideloaded one of the apps from the SideQuest store.

Sideloading an .apk from an external source

Not every app or game is available on the SideQuest store for easy installation. There are plenty of apps that you might find online that can be sideloaded on the Quest that are not available on the SideQuest store.

In this case, the developer will probably link you to an APK (.apk) file. You can easily use SideQuest to sideload Quest APK files. All you need to do is click on the ‘install APK file from folder’ button (see below, circled in red).

manual install sidequest

This will allow you to locate and select the APK file you downloaded. SideQuest will then install the application or game onto your Quest, similar to how it would do so for one of the official SideQuest apps. You can check the install is successful in the ‘Tasks’ tab, as described above.

Launching sideloaded apps

Sideloaded apps will launch just like any other regular Quest app, however they won’t appear in exactly the same place.

In your Quest’s library, any sideloaded apps or games will appear in a new tab labeled ‘Unknown Sources’. You can launch your sideloaded apps from there.

But what are the best apps or games to sideload?

We’re glad you asked! Keep an eye out for another separate article that will cover the best apps and games you can sideload onto your Quest.

A word of caution…

When sideloading, you do 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 sideloading onto 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.


Hopefully this guide has helped you begin to navigate the world of sideloaded content on Oculus Quest. Keep an eye out for our list of best content to sideload onto your Quest in the next few days.

Still got some questions? Pop them down in the comments below and we’ll try to respond as best we can.

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Oculus Quest Release Dates Revealed For A Fisherman’s Tale And Vacation Simulator

We now know the release windows for upcoming Quest titles including A Fisherman’s Tale, Vacation Simulator and The Under Presents.

A Fisherman’s Tale, the mind-bending puzzle game that released earlier this year on PC VR and PSVR, was announced for Quest a few months ago at OC6. The game will launch on November 28 for the Quest, which will no doubt be a great addition for the platform given how much we loved it in our review earlier this year. The game also recently won big at the 2019 VR Awards, where it took home the coveted ‘VR Game of the Year’ award.

In other news, Vacation Simulation also has a confirmed Quest release date – you’ll be able to visit holiday locales on your Quest from December 13. Vacation Simulator is the latest title from Google-owned Owlchemy Labs, the developers of Job Simulator. The former is essentially a sequel to the latter, which released on PC VR and PSVR earlier this year.

The Under Presents, from ‘Virtual Virtual Reality’ developers Tender Claws, now appears in the ‘Coming Soon’ section on the Oculus Quest store. While we still don’t have a confirmed release date yet, appearing in the store as ‘coming soon’ has traditionally been a good sign that a release date reveal is imminent. The Under Presents is a Quest-exclusive title, funded by Oculus Studios, that is theatrically-centered and will feature a loop of “different live and recorded acts coming and going.” It was scheduled for a holiday release this year, which lines up with its new appearance in the ‘Coming Soon’ section of the Oculus Store.

Which upcoming Quest game are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments below.

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Today’s Guest On The VR Download Is The Creative Lead Of Fast Travel Games!

Episode 6 of UploadVR’s weekly podcast, The VR Download, is LIVE on YouTube today at 10:30 AM PST (17:30 UTC).

Unlike regular video podcasts, The VR Download is broadcast from a virtual reality studio! Our team are together in a virtual space, giving us many of the benefits of a studio even though we live on different continents.

Our Special Guest this week is James Hunt, the Creative Lead of Fast Travel Games. That’s the studio behind Apex Construct and The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets, which was released today! He’ll be joining us for the duration of the show, and at the end we’ll be interviewing him.

This week’s Hot Topic is Apple’s future role in the VR market, given the report of them launching a mixed reality Quest competitor in 2022.

Show Structure

The show is hosted by our Operations Manager, Kyle Riesenbeck. Kyle was formerly the host of the Rev VR Podcast, a popular VR podcast back in the Oculus development kits era.

[Section 1] The News Discussion: our thoughts on the biggest VR news of the past week, one article at a time. You’ll hear our in depth behind the scenes thoughts on what’s happening in the virtual reality industry.

[Section 2] Release of the Week: the team talks about the VR games they’ve been playing this week and try to come to a consensus as to what is the most significant.

[Section 3] The Hot Topic: an in depth discussion of one big (sometimes controversial) industry trend, topic, or idea per week.

[Section 4] Special Guest Interview: a 1-1 interview with a significant developer, executive, or personality from the VR industry.

You can watch the episode LIVE on YouTube. As always, we’ll also be making it available for audio-only listening on Apple, Google, Spotify, TuneIn/Alexa, Stitcher, and more within a couple of hours of airing.

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11 Stormland Tips To Help Get You Started Fighting The Tempest

Ready to head to the clouds and take on The Tempest? Not without our handy Stormland tips, you’re not.

Insomniac’s latest VR game offers a sprawling mass of islands to shoot your way across. But there are several elements to Stormland that make it a bit more complex than your average first-person shooter. So settle into our Stormland tips guide before you head out into the wilds and make sure you’re prepared.

11 Stormland Tips To Get You Started

Be Agile

Stormland basically makes you a cross between Iron Man and Captain America; you can perform athletic miracles like throwing yourself up cliff faces at lighting speed, but also hover in the air and throw yourself across chasms. Treat combat as a fluid, agile experience; don’t get bogged down on the floor all the time. Use verticality to your advantage. One thing you should try instead of jumping with the standard button is to grab hold of the ground and use it to fling yourself upwards. It gives you great mobility.

Don’t Start A Run On Monday

Stormland is a live game; its world resets every week and you start your mission to take down Terminus from scratch. This happens on Tuesdays at 9:00 AM EDT/6:00 AM PDT/2:00 PM GMT. From that point, wherever you are in a run, you’ll need to start from the bottom all over again. It’s a good idea, not to start a run close to that time unless you intend to see it through in one sitting. You’ll keep your resources but you’ll have wasted a lot of time.

Get Into The Habit Of Dismantling Most Guns

Stormland doesn’t have a reload function. Once a gun is out of ammo, it’s useless to you if you’re out in the field. But don’t just drop it on the ground; that’s wasteful and you risk accidentally putting an empty gun in one of your holster slots. Instead, get into the rhythm of grabbing your empty gun from the top with your free hand and then pulling it apart. Doing this nets you some alloys you can later spend on new weapons, refills and upgrades. Not much, mind you, but it’s a greener way to discard of your unwanted weapons.

…But Keep Your Rare Finds For Later

Stormland tips

That said, you shouldn’t necessarily dispose of every gun as soon as it’s empty. You can refill its ammo, but only back at a workbench (and for a cost). This is a bit of a hassle and, nine times out of ten, it’s better to just get rid of it and find a new one. But if you find an especially helpful gun, maybe one that’s a level or two up from what you have available to purchase, it might be worth keeping hold of it and seeking out a bench.

Seek Out Checkpoints Before Getting Into A Fight

Chances are, if you’re about to get into a big fight, there’s a checkpoint nearby. They’re circular platforms attached to a small tower, often located near a workbench. It’s worth dotting around the island to find one if you’re about to get into a big fight, otherwise you risk respawning on the other side of the map if you die. Not that it takes you long to return to the same point, but it saves a bit of time.

Unlock Multiplayer As Soon As Possible

Oddly enough, the multiplayer unlock is actually a side quest in Stormland, though you’ll likely end up doing it very early on. The mission is called Lost Operator and it opens up after doing one of the first main missions in the story. You can find out more about how to unlock it in our guide here. Once you have it, you can enjoy all of Stormland with a friend and, frankly, it’s much better that way.

Unlock Upgrade Nodes As Soon As Possible

In Stormland, the upgrades you attach to your body are only temporary. But unlocking additional nodes to attach more upgrades is permanent. Unlocking nodes costs the same currency as usual upgrades — a mix of alloys and Aeon Buds — so it’s best to get the heavy spending on unlocks out of the way early so you never have to think about it again. If you follow any of our Stormland tips, make it this one!

Choose Your Upgrades VERY Carefully; You’ll Have Them For A Week

stormland how to play co-op

As you probably know by now, Stormland resets itself every week. The world is remixed, objectives are refreshed and new conditions are established. You’ll also have all your upgrades stripped back and you’ll need to purchase them again. Once they’re attached, though, you can’t take them off until the next cycle. So make sure to pick ones that are the most helpful, especially given the conditions of that week’s cycle. You don’t want to spend all your slots on features you won’t use.

Harvest Everything

Stormland’s resources system features two main currencies: alloys and Aeon Buds. Alloys can be used to buy weapons and upgrades, while buds are primarily reserved for character upgrades. Harvesting each, however, is ridiculously simple. Alloys come from metal deposits growing out of the ground, crates and dismantling weapons. Buds come from crushing fruit growing on trees and finding rare flowers. You can also get scores of both from grabbing the seed-like object at the top of the heavily guarded towers in each layer of the Stormland. But, basically, you are never far from either of these two things, and you should gather them as often as possible. Use your wrist-mounted gun to avoid wasting ammo when harvesting.

Get Four Weapon Slots As Soon As Possible But Hold Five Guns

You start off the game with just two weapon slots. Pretty soon on, you can unlock a permanent third over-the-shoulder slot at a workbench. But you can also purchase a fourth slot every week from an upgrade terminal. Given Stormland’s ammo situation, it’s far better to stockpile fully-loaded weapons than it is to scrounge leftovers from dead enemies. Having four weapon slots filled leaves you with the least chance of being caught in the middle of combat without any ammo. Better yet, take a fifth weapon in your hand; you’ll still be able to climb up structures but you might need to put it down to do some two-handed interactions.

Switch Between Dual-Wielding And Two-Handed Guns Appropriately

Perhaps my favorite feature in Stormland is that any gun can be held with either one or two hands. If you choose the latter option, your weapon morphs to accommodate your free hand. This makes them more accurate and, frankly, it feels cooler. But you need to choose the right times for both two-handed and dual-wielding combat. Two-handed is for long-range, cover-based shootouts. Dual-wielding is when you’re standing right in front of an enemy and want them dead ASAP. Just make sure you’re choosing the right setup for the right situation.

Stormland is available from today on the Oculus Store. Got any more Stormland tips? Let us know some in the comments below!

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Recreate The Hubble Space Telescope Missions In VR With Shuttle Commander

A new VR title, Shuttle Commander, will let you recreate the Hubble Telescope Missions. Shuttle Commander is planned for “all major VR platforms” in 2019 but currently does not have a specific release date.

The experience will offer “accurate recreations of the space missions, the shuttle cockpit and Hubble Space Telescope” and allow you to play through various different aspects of the Hubble missions. You’ll be able to play as a member of the Shuttle crew, take part in deployment, upgrade and servicing of the telescope and land the Shuttle back on Earth. There will even be scoreboards and achievements for shuttle landings.

Shuttle Commander is developed by Immersive VR Education — the creators behind a series of educational VR projects including Apollo 11 — and the new project also allows you to “experience the discoveries of the Hubble Telescope and how it changed our understanding of the universe around us.” According to the description on their YouTube video, Shuttle Commander will be available on “all major VR platforms” this year and trailer itself also features the Oculus, Vive, SteamVR logo and PlayStation logos.

Will you be launching off into space when Shuttle Commander lifts off later this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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