Vivacious Virtual Reality with the Incredible Oculus Quest

 

As virtual reality has evolved in recent years we’ve been able to watch as what was once clunky, unwieldy VR technology has fast decreased in size and has become an essential part of many gamers’ own setups. Amidst the plethora of headsets out there it’s also been fascinating to watch how each brand has been able to position itself within an ever-expanding market. But one name above all the others has blazed a way from it’s inception to it’s current position as a market leader in VR. Oculus. Initially started back in April 2012 when Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov and Nate Mitchell announced the launch of a new VR headset, designed by Luckey himself, a VR headset aimed at the gaming market with an aim to make it easy enough to develop games in VR. After raising over $2.4 million on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, (well over the original target of $250,000 ) the team produced two headsets the Oculus VR DK1 and DK2.

In 2014 Facebook Inc bought out Oculus for $2.3 billion in cash and stock. Following their buyout, a consumer version of the headsetwas released in March 2016 which incorporated a new design with various upgrades including an infrared tracking system.

Since then we’ve seen several consumer models of VR headsets from Oculus including the tethered Rift and Rift S. The original consumer Oculus which required a PC to run it’s software. Later followed in 2017 by the ‘Oculus Go’ the first non-tethered Oculus headset which utilised a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip to power the headset.  Though positional systems weren’t used within the Go, hand controllers were included with the headset to allow for navigating your way around apps or games.

Then in 2018 we saw the launch of the Oculus Quest, another standalone headset yet with a processor boasting the power of the Snapdragon 835 chipset. Accompanied with OLED displays each with a resolution of 1600×1440 per-eye and running at 72 Hz and a host of impressive games.

It’s no secret that since the pandemic started the Quest has been sold out pretty much worldwide. Now with stocks of the headset coming in again and talk of a follow-up Quest in development it seems a good time to cover the adored VR headset and ask the question, just how well does it hold up two years after launch. The guys at Oculus were kind enough to allow us to test out the headset first hand.

So, does it still hold up? In a word, absolutely.

There’s two Quest models on offer, a 128gb and a 64gb. For this review, we were lucky enough to get a hands-on experience with the 64gb and would say it was more than adequate for gaming without ever feeling like we were pushed for space on the unit itself.

Packaged in a solid, premium looking box, the Quest package  is truly a thing of beauty containing everything you need to get started. This includes the headset itself, batteries, two touch controllers an eyeglass spacer for those who wear glasses and a power adaptor. It should also be noted that the Oculus Quest requires smartphone access for setting up an account and installing games and apps, but again that was phenomenally easy.  Charging was quick and convenient and within a short amount of time (approx just under 1 hour) we were powered up and ready to go.

To say your first time experience plugged into the Oculus is incredible would be an understatement. Everything really has been carefully considered by Oculus and getting set up in your ‘guardian’ zone is made as effortless as possible thanks to Oculus’s handy menu system which carefully guides newbies into the world of VR. Simply by virtually ‘spraying’ your guardian zone onto your floor (a safe area for you to play without the danger of knocking into furniture/ walls) you’re left safe in the knowledge you’re able to really dive into a game without the risk of accidentally breaking a lamp.

For a standalone headset the Quest also impressively never feels bulky, and with easy to adjust straps and a cushioned face padding, you’re never left feeling uncomfortable whilst gaming. True it’s an adjustment to anyone coming to VR afresh experiencing a first-person style of gaming. But adjusting to that sensation is quick enough and soon you’ll soon find yourself lost in the midst of a gaming session. The headset also comes accompanies with volume control, power control and a focus slider to allow you to manually adjust the focus to whatever you’re playing.

What first hits you is the seamless motion tracking of the Quest. That’s thanks to the four ultra-wide angle sensors situated within the inside of the headset, which precisely tracks your environment and instantly translates your movements into VR. It’s remarkable that within such a small unit size ( 8.7 x 7.6 x 4.1 inches) is a 60d untethered virtual reality headset and the immersion is phenomenal. Boosted by the fact that two OLED display lenses are keeping colours and textures crisp to view. You’re able to literally walk around virtual spaces and physically duck out of the way of gunfire, or peer around corners. It’s a unique experience for a standalone headset and left us astonished.

The build quality is also stunning with a prestigious, sturdy feel to the Quest’s casing and robust quality to the hand controllers. Comforting when you’re expecting to put into the effort into some long play times.

The Quests’s controllers are superbly intuitive with the player being able to make the smallest of gestures thanks to it’s genius design. Hits and knocks are also fed back thanks to the rumble packs of the controllers really throwing you into the gameplay experience. What’s even more exciting is the fact that earlier this year Oculus released a ‘hand controller’ option for Quest users meaning the Quest scans your hands and literally puts them into the game. It’s an insane experience and one we’d highly recommend. Being able to watch your virtual hands animate in apps such as ‘Elixir’ is nothing short of astounding and a must try.

Oculus recommends a play area of around 2 metres square but we tested the Quest out in a room under that size and still found it absolutely more than adequate for gaming. Whats more, you can also choose a stationery play area making it all the more convenient if you just want to take things easy and play a non-too physically demanding game. Since it’s launch Oculus Quest has gained a reputation for games such as Super Hot and Beat Sabre in which the untethered freedom of the headset really allows the player to lose themself without the worry of wires.

The team at Oculus were kind enough for us to try out two games which both have been hugely hyped prior to their release. ‘Five Nights at Freddys : Help Wanted’ and the first Star Wars Quest game ‘Vader Immortal’. These games proved to be perfect for allowing us to test out the Quest and really see the graphics capabilities and processor power.

‘Vader Immortal’ pits you as a smuggler coming face to face with the titular legendary villain. What’s fantastic is being able to really delve into the Star Wars universe and feel that immersion whilst being able to do all the things you would hope for, such as firing up a light sabre or using the force. Feeling more like a VR film than an actual game experience we loved VI and were blown away by how slick textures appeared on screen and how well characters were rendered.

Next up was the latest incarnation of the beloved horror franchise ‘Five Nights’. To anyone familiar to the genre,  Steel Wool Studios have done a brilliant job recreating Freddy Faz Bear’s lair in a VR setting. Gameplay remains much the same with the player taking the role of a night watchman tasked with staying five nights at Freddys. Side quests such as mechanical repairs on the performers helped give a truly unique level of depth to the game. As a keen horror gamer it has to be said playing Five Nights Help Wanted has to be one of the most unsettling experiences we’ve ever had. Even whilst playing stood in a brightly lit room, as soon as that headset goes on and the game starts you’re utterly immersed in a world of animatronic horror.

We also had a chance to check out several other gaming experiences including the zero gravity robot sport ‘Echo VR’ and ‘Rec Room’ to name a couple. Both of these gave an enticing first impression to how impressive VR multiplayer can be within the Quest. We experienced no slow-downs or issues with lags, something particularly impressive considering the amount of processing power at play.

What’s even more exciting is the fact that now the Quest can be expanded thanks to the Oculus Link and used as a headset for VR games for your desktop computer. In effect transforming this stand-alone headset into an Oculus Rift. It’s a superb addition by Oculus and one which really blows away the competition.

We absolutely loved the Quest. In a word it’s astonishing, throwing the player into a world of untethered VR with impressive processing power and seamless tracking. NEver has there seemingly been a more relevant time for VR and it’s easy to see why the Quest has been out of stock at so many retailers for the last few months. The future of VR is Oculus, and the Quest is an essential buy.

Get yours today from www.oculus.com/quest/