When the Oculus Quest arrived, I was on board with the “no-wires” concept from day one. VR had always kept me at bay because I didn’t like having to set up a dedicated room to play in, with sensors plugged in and tethering myself to a PC. Turns out that a lot of people felt the same way and the Quest was a smashing success with only the limited game library holding it back.
We’re almost 2 years later now and the Quest 2 aims to improve upon the previous version while also making it more affordable, starting from $299 for the 64GB model, in a concetrated effort to get the gaming crowd to start considering VR as a true videogame platform.
VR has been on the uprise over the past years, but it’s never quite made it to mainstream gamers yet for some reason. Requiring a decent PC to run your games on has been one limitation, and people also seemed hesitant to dedicate a room to VR gaming. The Oculus Quest2 aims to remove those restraints: A single all-in-one device to get your VR fix on.
It’s these very aspects that sold me on the Quest and now the Quest2: Removing the tether to your gaming PC brings the experience into a whole new level of immersion. Whenever I played on the Valve Index, the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift, I was always very much aware of my surroundings, especially in shooters, having to pivot back a few times just to untangle myself.
This is where the Quest 2 really shines. You can simply start playing in any room of your house, by drawing a new guardian: You set the floor level and then start painting the outer walls of your playspace. This is easily done as the Quest2 can show you a real-time view of the world around you, allowing you to keep in mind any obstacles.
When you get close to the edges, the Guardian walls will become visible in the game you’re playing and when you pass through them, it will switch to the real-world view. You can even go and grab a drink from the fridge and make you way back to your play space without taking the headset off.
New to the Quest 2 is that you can also quickly enable to real-world view with two short taps on the side of the headset, I’ve used it a couple of times to check my surroundings and reposition myself or just to check if another family member is trying to sneak up on me.
Another new addition to further the pick-up-and-play level of the Quest 2 is the hand-tracking. You can navigate through the menus without the use of the controllers and simply pinch to select the game you want to play.
Not a lot of games make use of this feature yet (I would have loved to see it in Cubism, as that game seems MADE for it, but the developer told me they’re still working on it) but when they do, it will be great that we would essentially only need to carry the headset around, making the Quest a valid replacement for portable gaming (though you probably don’t want to make a fool out of yourself on public transport)
Speaking of the controllers, they are still amazing and they’ve been redesigned to take up a lot less power. Compared to the original Quest which required the batteries to be replaced quite frequently, these controllers are still at 90% charge after playing many, many hours. It’s fantastic!
Sadly, the headset does not fare as well and depending on the games you’re playing, you won’t even make it to two hours of playtime. I’ve been playing around 1-2 hours per day on the Quest and I had to plug it in to recharge each time. I haven’t found it to be too much of a hindrance, but I can see some people being tempted by the optional battery pack that you can buy from Oculus.
Another optional purchase many may consider is the Elite head strap. The included one didn’t bother me personally, in fact, it was much less of a concern than I was initially led to believe, but I am bald and I didn’t have any risk of getting my hair entangled in it.
Properly strapping on the headset can be critical to your enjoyment, so it’s essential that you take the time to find a comfortable setting for it. Sadly both of the designs do not really make it easy to put on and instantly find the sweet spot, you’ll have to customise it each time.
I did notice that the light bleed is significantly worse on the Quest 2 than its predecessor, no matter how you play with the head strap, there will always be some outside light coming in from around your nose. It can be distracting when you’re playing during daylight, or in my case, I even noticed our Christmas lights twinkling if I lifted my head during gameplay. I hope it’s something they continue investigating as it can ruin the immersion.
Which brings me to another issue tied to the above: no matter how tight or loose I make the headset stick to my face, I’ll always get what they call “Rift Rash”: a red, sometimes burning or itchy rash caused by the foam fabric.
This doesn’t affect everyone and it usually subsides quickly, but you kind of look like an idiot shortly after taking off the headset and the burning sensation during gameplay can also be a nuisance.
While we’re still on the topic of settings, it’s important to note that there is no longer an easy-to-use slider for the IPD, or the distance between your pupils. This is unique for each user and where the Quest had a slider to pinpoint the exact setting that you needed on the outside of the device, making it possible to adjust it while wearing the headset, the Quest 2 instead has 3 fixed settings that you have to adjust by manually clicking the lenses into place.
It’s a bit of a downer, as this means it’s possible your exact comfort setting may be missing and you’d have to touch the lenses each time you switch between users. The good news is that they do feel pretty sturdy. In fact, besides the heads straps, everything included has a premium feel to it, down to the packaging
I’m also happy they dropped the black model for this clean white look. Almost every VR headset out there has opted for a dark black or blue look and this new white design gives it a premium appeal much like a lot of Apple’s products. But it’s not what other people see in the real world that counts, it’s what you’re seeing in the virtual world.
Looking at the graphic output, there has been a significant upgrade to the resolution: the Quest had a 1440×1600 resolution (OLED) and the Quest 2 has upped that to 1832×1920 (LCD) per eye while also allowing up to 90Hz refresh rates in some games (though you can expect this to eat your battery a lot quicker). But what does this mean?
Well, while the move to LCD does mean that you no longer get the perfectly dark blacks you would have from an OLED display, the increased resolution is a godsen as it almost completely does away with the screen door effect that was noticeable in a lot of games.
To explain that shortly to those who don’t know what I’m talking about: because the screens displaying the image are so close to your eyes, you can see the empty spaces in between the pixels and these dark lines make everything appear as though your looking through a screen door (the ones sometimes used to keep flies out). On the Quest 2, this effect is almost never noticeable.
The lenses also bulk out a tad more than other VR headsets, which may be annoying to people with long eyelashes as even in my case, I could feel them touching the glass.
On the Audio front, I didn’t notice any difference with the Quest. You can still plug in your own headset if you want to, but in the absence of one, the built-in speakers do a pretty amazing job at simulating spatial audio, while also not being so loud that it would bother other people in the room unless you up the volume to the max setting.
Perhaps the biggest leap in why you should consider picking up a Quest though, has nothing to do with the actual device itself, rather it’s the library of games that has matured over the past few years.
There is now a fine selection of games available and you’re guaranteed to find a few games to your personal tastes, with more titles being added each month. I’m still discovering new games to play each day, but here are already a few recommendations outside of the obvious choices:
The Oculus Quest 2 runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform which has twice the CPU and GPU performance compared to its predecessor but it’s still basically mobile phone technology. As such, not all games will easily run on the device and they require a lot of optimisation.
From what I’ve been told by a few developers who’ve successfully managed to port their game to the Quest, it was no easy feat but Oculus is actively supporting gamedevs and gives them the tools (and sometimes the funding) needed to get their game running on this shiny new headgear.
If you really can’t go on living without experiencing the high-end VR games as well (*cough* Half-Life Alyx *cough*), there is still the option to purchase an Oculus Link cable and let your PC do all the computing work. After all, the Oculus Rift S will soon be discontinued and they’ll be marketing the Quest 2 to that target audience as well.
But lastly, we may need to address the elephant in the room: Facebook
When Oculus first announced that all new Quest 2 owners would have to register with a Facebook account, many people let out a sigh of frustration. It was an expected move ever since FaceBook acquired the VR company, but unlike most people, I didn’t see the harm in it.
That is, until I tried to set up my Quest 2. I didn’t have any issue with linking the device to my personal Facebook account, but during set-up it detected an already existing Oculus account on my mobile phone. It asked if I wanted to merge both accounts, I chose “no”, and… They went ahead and did it anyway.
Not such a big deal, you may think, but the Oculus account was one I used and work and that was shared among my colleagues. It had now become inseperatable from my private facebook account, event requiring me to use FB to authenticate going forward. Not fun. It required a lot of back-and-forth with Oculus and Facebook support and the issue still isn’t solved to this day. (If you can avoid having to talk to Facebook support in your lifetime, I would recommend you to do so)
It also raises the question what other prompts they ignore during set-up.
- May we track your hand gestures? -> NO -> we’ll do it anyway
- May we record your audio? -> NO -> too bad, we’ll do it anyway
It’s an important factor to keep in mind if you value your privacy and the use of your personal data. I don’t really mind if all it means is getting some targeted advertisements custom-made to my own desires, but there are some people who may take offense and avoid the ecosystem altogether since this change.
Does that stand in the way of this being a great VR device? Not really. Despite the few knockbacks listed in this article, The Oculus Quest 2 is still the headset I would recommened to most users, from new players to VR veterans.
The Quest 2 improves on its predecessor in many ways and is definitely the best VR headset you can get for the most reasonable price out there. It’s super easy to set up and has a great library of games to choose from, making it the perfect introduction into VR gaming.
*Disclaimer: we were provided with a Quest 2 for the purpose of this review by Oculus.
Oculus Quest 2299
- All-In-One VR: no extra hardware needed
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Great controllers with incredible battery life
- Guardian system is still brilliant
- Better resolution reducing the screen-door effect
- More lightbleed than the Quest
- Still causes rift rash (may not affect most people)
- Facebook login required
- only ~2h battery life