The International Space Station is a modern marvel, so no surprise that there are a lot of movies and games around it. Mission:ISS for the Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR must be one of the coolest experiences.
Mission:ISS is one of my favorite educational experiences on the Oculus Go so far. Not only do you learn a bunch about how the ISS works, but you get to complete missions such as going on an actual spacewalk! It’s fully interactive, and I was truly impressed by what the developers from Magnopus have delivered in terms of interaction. It almost feels like you have 6 degrees of freedom! Must, must, must try!
In Mission:ISS you are an astronaut on the International Space Station, which is fully 3D modelled (unlike the other popular ISS experience on the Go, International Space Station Tour VR). You can move around by pushing yourself from the walls of holding on to hand rails, and catapulting yourself forward. I really think the developers got the most out of Oculus Go’s 3 degrees of freedom tracking - it does feel like you’ve got 6 degrees of freedom! While this experience is educational in nature, you can choose between three main game modes (Training, Mission, Explore). In Mission mode, you complete actual missions such as controlling the robotic arm to dock a payload onto the space station, or performing a spacewalk.
What’s not to like about this experience? The attention to detail is fantastic. The balance between action, interactivity and eductiona is superb. The graphics are amazing. The gameplay mechanics are one-of-a-kind. A lot of other developers can learn a ton from these people! All this results in a super high immersiveness level and makes you feel like you’re really up there on the ISS, completing missions for the name of science. Oh, and did I mentiond that it’s completely free?
The only two complaints I have are the length and the initial startup screen. I wouldn’t have minded if the whole experience would be a little longer (there are only three short missions). Also, the initial loading screen with the ISS and the Oculus Go logo floating by takes forever evey time you open the game. Not sure if they use it as a loading screen or not, but if it’s a loading screen then I suggest marking it as such, so that the players know what’s going on. However, this is me complaining on a very high level. And given that it’s free, I can’t be really demanding.
I truly believe that this is one of the top educational experiences in the Oculus Store, and think that the (current) rating of 3.8 is not representative. Combining great gameplay with eductional content is not easy, and Mission:ISS has pulled it off. Five out of five stars! Bonus: If you’re interested in some of the development challenges the team at Magnopus had, read their write up here. Interestingly, they also wrote a short post explaining some of the challenges when porting Mission:ISS from the Oculus Rift (which has 6 degrees of freedom) to the Oculus Go, check it out here.