I’m a bit of a space nerd. My first experience with VR was via an early cardboard HMD paired with my trusty Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. Being able to look around in 360° and watch 3D videos about space will do that to you. As soon as I got my Oculus Go – hooray! – I knew exactly what I had to do: get Titans of Space into it. And now, the Quest version is here. Congratulations, Drash!
I’m reviewing the Quest version, not the Go one. So I can’t speak for how it controls or which is better (although I do think having head tracking makes a difference).
Setup is easy: find Titans of Space PLUS on your store of choice and install it. The app comes with an option to purchase the full experience (which I haven’t done). You click “play”, etc. And then you’re in. Forgive me if this part isn’t VR-quest specific, but you have 2 options that determine what will be displayed, comfort mode or cockpit.
Comfort mode changes some physics settings to ease immersion, while the cockpit just gives you a HUD-less screen. Personally, I use cockpit because immersion doesn’t matter to me. I’ve been in VR for a while and don’t get sick easily. If you do, or if you’re new to VR, comfort mode is probably the way to go (and if your device doesn’t support it, the app warns about that too).
I recommend you launch any scene at least once in the cockpit – even if you usually use comfort mode. This is because the default sitting position in the cockpit is not very comfortable; I found myself having to readjust quite a few times while playing. You can change this by going to “settings” and moving forward so your back isn’t pressed against something. A bit further would be better but this really helps already.
Launch simulation… Uh oh, some problems there! The game automatically switches to comfort mode in this case but I found, much like when using my Go, that it doesn’t change the graphics settings. So you get the dreaded “inverted view” (where if you look down, up is displayed and vice versa). This is inexcusable; DO NOT do this when designing VR apps! Or at least warn people about it. Luckily there’s an easy way around this: start the app again (without launching the simulation) go back to settings and then play your scene in the cockpit!
While trying out different scenes/modes, be sure to go back to settings often so you can undo any changes you make. And don’t forget to return yourself forward before starting! There are no other adjusters.
Anyway, to the first planet!
Titans of Space is supposed to be a short experience. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes if you don’t dilly dally around trying out stuff. It’s far from perfect but, as I said in my Go review, it remains one of my favorite apps because -despite not looking very good- it does what it sets out to do very well: let you experience space in VR.
And this is no exception.
You start from Earth and go outwards to the moon, then other planets in our solar system, a black hole and a supernova. That’s it. No branching paths, no going back in time or forward, just that short trip into space – but that’s really all you need if you want to feel what it’s like to actually be there. The experience will leave you wanting more though because even with the improved content of PLUS, it feels very truncated. But I guess they can’t add much more without making people sick… If anyone from Drash reading this has any ideas for how they could add something while keeping people safe from VR sickness, let me know!
The action button (where you find the teleportation marker) pauses the simulation and brings up a menu to select your scene. All scenes have info about what you’re seeing, but there are no other options here, which is odd – why bother including this pause button if not for adjusting something? Oh well.
Hitting the back button (where you find the hand) will take you back to Earth, ending your trip – hit it again and you’ll go forward again. I’d prefer it if clicking both of these buttons at once would simply play/stop the simulation because that’s how Play handles them in other games. On Go though, they’re mapped to Google Play Music’s “next” and “previous track” buttons; maybe they couldn’t do that on the Quest because it doesn’t have a dedicated back button?
Hitting the home button pauses everything but brings up another menu, where you can adjust the simulation settings. These are quite limited though: brightness, detail level and field of view. FOV actually doesn’t work right – if you go all the way to max, it will show black bars on the left or right side of your screen! So don’t do that. The best option is probably setting FOV to what feels most comfortable in cockpit mode. I went with “original” here because my Go has a smaller screen so anything larger than that makes me feel like I’m going to fall out of my chair (probably not an issue with Quest’s much larger screen).
Titans of Space PLUS is probably the best app you can get for your Oculus Quest, and I’m happy to see it making a comeback and finally coming to VR (the original PSVR version launched back in 2016). If you’re planning on getting this headset, you should definitely get this game. Even if – like me- you already own it on Go, consider dropping $3.99 here because the improved content makes it feel worth the money (just imagine how much more complex/better it could be if they made an entire sequel for standalone headsets!).