Image: Demeo / Resolution Games
Mixed reality describes the smooth transition between virtual and augmented reality: There are already fascinating mixed reality apps for Quest 2 and Quest Pro that support VR and AR.
The Quest Pro makes the AR mode of the Quest 2 even more compelling by offering full-color 3D video passthrough. In this list, you’ll find the best mixed reality apps, also known as passthrough AR or augmented VR (see Digression).
Many of the apps were already available for the black-and-white passthrough of Quest 2 before the introduction of Quest Pro. Some experimental apps are only available in the Sidequest store for now and require some additional steps to install.
The motion-intensive, futuristic online duels in Blaston (review) were already among the best VR games have to offer. Two future athletes shoot each other with glowing projectiles and dodge as if in slow motion. The game relies entirely on body control and is therefore physically demanding.
In December 2021, an update revealed the potential of mixed reality. Instead of spectator stands, players can see glowing schemas of their home behind the podiums if they wish.
Blaston was one of the first games to use passthrough mode on @MetaQuestVR. We tested how this would look with color passthrough on Meta Quest Pro in Blaston.
Check out this proof of concept, which we’re looking to add in a future update of the game! pic.twitter.com/ALHmvtfjvi
— Blaston: Now Free-To-Play! (@BlastonGame) October 13, 2022
Even this simple implementation creates much more safety when swerving quickly. Thus, you don’t accidentally collide with lamps or bump into the TV. This looks even more convincing with the Quest Pro, as the above trailer from Resolution Games for a planned update shows.
You can buy Blaston here:
|Quest Store||Quest, Quest 2, Quest Pro||$19,99|
BlockVerse by Running Pixel doesn’t bring Minecraft into your home, but it is a small AR block game with similar mechanics. The twist is that you dig or blow up digital holes in your real floor. Even the subsequent jump into the pit is surprisingly believable. You can explore virtual cave systems under your apartment.
You can also build blocks, plants and more in the room itself. In addition, there is a free editor in the “VR World” as well as the survival mode “Zombieland”, in which you fend off attacking undead.
You can buy BlockVerse here:
Simple but useful: The Contour app superimposes transparent drawing stencils on the real world. This means that even users with two left hands can draw dreamlike, squiggly works of art in the real world. This works, for example, on a blackboard for a fancy menu of the day in a restaurant.
In the demo, developer “dehats” recommends PNG files with 1,000 by 1,000 pixels and large black or white borders as templates. This creates an image of about 50 by 50 centimeters. Feedback on the free Sidequest demo will be incorporated into future developments.
Contour Demo can be downloaded here:
|Sidequest||Quest 2, Quest Pro||free|
Thomas Van Bouwel’s 3D puzzler Cubism is one of the best hand-tracking experiences on the Quest 2, but it’s also playable well with controllers. You grab different colored 3D puzzle pieces and assemble them into a given shape, which appears as a transparent template.
Since an update, these objects even float in front of the real environment captured by the cameras. The passthrough integration remains simple, but replacing the plain gray background with the camera image fits the game perfectly.
This way you can always keep an eye on your surroundings and relax while drinking tea without spilling anything. The brightness and contrast of the video image can be adjusted, and you can also virtually highlight your hands.
You can buy Cubism here:
|Quest Store||Quest, Quest 2, Quest Pro||$9,99|
Custom Home Mapper
Fancy a change of scenery without expensive new furniture? CuriousVR’s Custom Home Mapper transforms multiple rooms into a pixelated retro world, a glowing fantasy temple full of columns, or a cactus garden.
First, you mark all walls and furniture with transparent rectangles, which are then swapped with digital surfaces. After numerous updates, ten short arcade games with multiplayer support currently show the potential of XR gaming.
For example, you shoot down small space gliders or life-sized swordsmen while taking cover behind beds and dressers. Ball, climbing and balance games are also included in the collection. Here, winding corridors become a miniature golf course with automatically generated obstacles.
You can buy Custom Home Mapper here:
|Itch.io||Quest, Quest 2, Quest Pro||$7,99 (staring price)|
The VR role-playing game hit Demeo (review) got a free mixed reality update for the launch of Quest Pro. Users of Quest Pro or Quest 2 place the virtual game board on a real surface at the beginning of a round and see the image of the real environment all around.
This turns the cozy living room table into a role-playing game table in pen-and-paper style, where the virtual dungeons come to life.
The original VR version of Demeo has already won numerous awards as VR Game of the Year, and Demeo studio Resolution Games is also at the forefront in the AR field: the planned AR tactical shooter Spatial Ops, for example, turns office hallways into a laser tag arena.
You can buy Demeo here:
|Quest Store||Quest, Quest 2, Quest Pro||$29,99|
In Dungeon Maker from Field of Vision, you become your own executioner: With the free app, you place deadly traps on a small course. Suddenly, a deep pit of spikes appears in the floor or an axe swings above the sofa.
The “dungeon building blocks” range from crawl tunnels to doors and keys to animated lava. Walls, furniture and edges of the playing field can be covered with easily placed and scalable stone blocks. Or you can set up a camouflage box to make traps placed behind it invisible.
On Quest 2, its somewhat crude black-and-white rendering even helps you question the existence of a deep pit in your living room less. After all, the real environment also looks a bit unfamiliar this way.
You can download Dungeon Maker here:
Figmin XR from Studio Overlay, which was first released for the Magic Leap, is very creative. The conversion for Meta’s headsets came with the launch of the Quest Pro on October 25 and enriches the house with diverse decorations.
Animated, spatially anchored 2D objects breathe life into the world, for example with dancing zombies behind the window or funny eyes on a fruit. Even more exciting, of course, is spatial drawing and modeling, which is based on the open-source painting program Tilt Brush.
A model import is available from Sketchfab, Giphy or directly from YouTube videos. Other highlights include a full-featured physics editor, a voxel editor, and various ways to find and publish user content.
You can buy Figmin XR here:
|Quest Store||Quest 2, Quest Pro||$19,99|
The marble runs in Mark Schramm’s Gravity Lab look like they were made for the passthrough update released in February. Since then, marbles have not only been rolling and flying through the virtual lab. In real rooms, too, the marbles bounce off obstacles like tables, cabinets or chairs with amazing physical accuracy and ideally roll into the target. Nine levels are available for the new mode.
Flat plates are an important tool to deflect the path of bullets after they fly out of the cannon. Curved tunnels, engines, lasers and portals also play a role. The puzzle game oldie “The Incredible Machine” sends its regards.
You can buy Gravity Lab here:
|Quest Store||Quest, Quest 2, Quest Pro||$14,99|
Hauntify mixed reality
Jumpscare as an AR game – that’s probably the best way to sum up Hauntify mixed reality. Here, ghosts chase players through several rooms, which can even be located on different floors. You can call in other ghosts by conjuring them. The goal is to collect scattered relics, attract ghosts and exorcise them.
Props let you customize the horror game to your taste. Since setting up the rooms can be a bit tricky, studio Virtual Go recommends taking a look at the description as well as a video tutorial for Hauntify mixed reality on YouTube. With FPS Enhanced Reality, the team has also been offering a shooter with a similar concept since October.
You can buy Hauntify mixed reality here:
I Expect You To Die: Home Sweet Home
The charming escape room games in the I Expect You To Die series are getting an AR spin-off – or rather, a free AR mini-mission. You can download it for free since October 25 and experience a dangerous escape scenario in your own home.
After being smuggled out of a medical lab in a crate, you must thwart sinister plans as a secret agent in home office. An X-ray view reveals hidden objects in the walls. In the delivery box and in the room, leisure agents can expect mysterious devices, electric and acid traps, or even mecha insects.
You can download I Expect You To Die: Home Sweet Home here:
|Quest Store||Quest 2, Quest Pro||free of charge|
With Pianovision by Zac Reid, you can take digital piano lessons where virtual notes meet the keys of a real MIDI keyboard. Available in Early Access, the piano software films your hands on the real keys and uses dynamic notes to show you which key to strike and when. Meanwhile, you can also connect MIDI keyboards directly to the Quest, as long as you have the right USB cable (usually USB-B to USB-C).
If you don’t have a keyboard, you can simply create a virtual one that is displayed in the image via augmented reality. In addition, Pianovision offers digital music sheets and social modes for making music together.
You can download Pianovision here:
|Quest Store (App Lab)||Quest, Quest 2, Quest Pro||free with in-app purchases|
Transcend XR’s Firefox-inspired Reality Browser brings more practicality to mixed reality, although it doesn’t yet offer as many convenience and security options as its desktop counterpart. As the name suggests, you can deploy browser windows in real space. They then float there permanently anchored.
Practical functions include placing the Twitter feed on the desk or setting up a giant YouTube screen the size of a movie theater. Virtual screens on the ceiling are also possible.
You can download Reality Browser here:
The World Beyond
Meta’s official passthrough demo is only a few minutes long. But it’s one of the cleanest, most graphically rich applications using Meta’s Presence Platform, a collection of developer tools.
These include Passthrough Usage, Spatial Anchors (permanently anchoring virtual objects in physical space), and Scene Understanding for spatial classification and occlusion.
An important part of the demo is a small huggable alien that you can interact with and pet a bit. With the multi-purpose gun you can bounce found pellets off real walls and other objects.
The most impressive thing about the demo is when you press a button to make the ceiling or walls of the real room disappear. Behind them, a tranquil forest opens up, where you’ll send your little new friend on a ball hunt.
You can download The World Beyond here:
If the tourist doesn’t come to the destination, the destination comes to the tourist, at least in “Wooorld” from the studio of the same name. Since October 25, globetrotters can get a spatial map of their dream destination on their table. If it’s a big city, skyscrapers suddenly loom into the room, which can be moved or zoomed in on by hand tracking. This way, you can explore the whole world – similar to the terrific Google Earth VR. The developers mention hundreds of detailed cities, architectural highlights and vacation spots.
Multiple players can also hover over a location online with their avatars and use notes to plan for a real visit. In addition, there are 360-degree images from Google Street View that can be integrated as backgrounds.
You can download Wooorld here:
|Quest Store||Quest 2, Quest Pro||$14,99|
Digression: mixed reality and marketing
The term mixed reality has been used for marketing in various contexts over the years. Originally, Microsoft referred to the Hololens augmented reality headset as “mixed reality” because, in their opinion, it offered a higher-quality form of augmented reality. That’s nonsense, because augmented reality doesn’t stop at a certain level of quality. More likely, the company wanted to distance itself from the term augmented reality, which has become somewhat hackneyed due to Google Glass. Magic Leap has also jumped on the mixed reality bandwagon.
Microsoft’s marketing department pushed the game a bit further and referred to Windows VR headsets as mixed reality headsets. The reasoning: The integrated tracking system orients itself in the real world. Well.
Now manufacturers are moving to call Passthrough AR or Augmented VR, which is the camera view in a VR headset, mixed reality, probably because the term is simply more resonant, more familiar, and thus more marketable.
At MIXED, we have always followed the “reality-virtuality continuum” of interface researcher Paul Milgram, who sees mixed reality as a continuum in which individual technologies such as VR, AR, or Passthrough AR exist. Ultimately, our magazine name also stands for this continuum.
Consequently, a device or software that can span this entire spectrum could be called a mixed reality device or software. Turning a blind eye, this could apply to devices like Quest Pro (where there is actually no see-through AR, only video AR).