Oculus has rightfully become the biggest name in virtual reality technology. Over the years, the reigning VR brand has released several interesting headsets, each one offering up exciting virtual experiences but also held back by particular downsides: wires, low-resolution, build quality. Now, Oculus has seemingly solved all those issues in one fell swoop with the Quest 2.
The Quest 2 is a completely self-contained, wireless VR headset and still boasts higher resolution than its predecessors. Everything necessary to have an enormous range of full virtual experiences is packed in one nifty package. Put the headset on, choose a game, pick up the included controllers and play. This is a huge upgrade over the wired Rift headsets that require expensive gaming PCs to create immersive VR graphics and wires that keep gamers tethered like dogs on a leash.
The freedom that comes with the wireless Quest 2 is welcome but also requires management. The urge to run free in a virtual world doesn’t always agree with the physical obstacles around you in the real world. To solve this problem, Oculus has created a Guardian system.
Using passthrough sensors on the outside of the headset, anyone wearing the Quest 2 can look at their actual surroundings and draw a safe area. The headset remembers that plotted area and throws up a fence anytime it gets near. In case that wasn’t enough, double-tapping on the outside of the Quest 2 will quickly pause whatever VR experience that’s playing and flip to the passthrough cameras for a quick peek at actual reality.
Wireless freedom has its trade offs and that comes in the form of battery life. In testing, the Quest 2 was able to deplete a full charge in about two hours of continual use. That may not sound like much but it actually coincides perfectly with the amount of time that VR stays comfortable on the eyes. Even with the Quest 2 being more comfortable to wear than its predecessors, two hours in VR goes by very quickly and fatigue after that long is noticeable.
Since the Quest 2 leverages on what Oculus has offered before, there’s a ton of variety in terms of the software available at launch. Shooters, racing, escape rooms, even music games like Beat Saber are all ready to go immediately after the easy setup and can be downloaded from within the VR world or by visiting the Oculus app on your iPhone or Android.
There’s also an equally impressive variety of productivity apps. Virtual Desktop and BigScreen can immediately turn a tiny home office into a sprawling, spacious workspace. Gravity Sketch is an incredibly deep sculpting tool that’s also surprisingly addictive, even for newcomers.
From learning how to DJ on two VR turntables (Tribe XR) to tagging up walls in an expansive graffiti suite (KingSpray Graffiti), there’s much more on the Quest 2 than just games and all of it is worth checking out.
However, the Quest 2 requires a Facebook account, even if you already have an Oculus account. In truth, this might be the worst part of the entire ecosystem. Using exciting new hardware to prop up the fading social network is exactly the tiresome crap that’s made so many people want to abandon Facebook in the first place. In theory, it’s frustrating and slightly sinister. In practice, it was a minor hiccup that nowhere near diminished the high-level experiences the Quest 2 offers.
What might be most incredible is that Oculus has packaged this all for $299 for the ample 64gb version. A larger 256gb version is also available for $399. Either way, that’s a fraction of the cost of prior headsets, even less given the fact that it doesn’t need a heavy-duty PC. The Oculus Quest 2 and its full range of apps are available now.