Feature Article

Oculus Quest Review - No PC? No Problem

The Nintendo Switch of VR.

VR gaming has largely been a difficult space to navigate from a consumer perspective. PC-based platforms require a decent rig, the room to prop up external sensors, and the willingness to deal with wires--not to mention the high cost of entry. As vast as VR worlds can be, the setup requirements have been somewhat restricting. Oculus Quest forgoes all of that by delivering a standalone VR gaming platform with the features we've come to expect from the high-end. It's not perfect, but Quest is an example of the ideal VR experience.

Quest offers a whole lot more than its cheaper, entry-level counterpart, the Oculus Go. With Quest, you get six degrees of freedom (6DOF) for positional tracking thanks to the headset's four inside-out sensors--formally called Oculus Insight. This translates to roomscale capability without external sensors. In many ways, it's an improvement over the requirements of beefier PC-based headsets which rely on base station sensors (save for the upcoming Rift S) since you're no longer tied to a dedicated space for VR. A potential drawback of inside-out tracking, however, is the headset's inability to pick up controller movements that fall outside the range of the sensors, though it hasn't been an issue in our experience thus far.

Oculus Quest headset and Touch controllers. It's all you need to get into VR.
Oculus Quest headset and Touch controllers. It's all you need to get into VR.

Another piece of tech that elevates Quest above other mobile VR platforms is the incorporation of the revised Touch controllers. These are fully-featured controllers with analog sticks, face buttons, grip buttons, and triggers--they're reminiscent of the first run of Touch controllers, but lighter and with the motion-sensing ring above the face buttons for better tracking with the Quest's sensors. You won't miss out on functionality offered in PC-based VR, and Touch remains the best solution for VR controllers at the moment with their ergonomic design and smooth buttons and triggers.

So, what's powering Quest? Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip. It's typically used in smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, and the reliance on a mobile (though relatively powerful) chip is an inherent compromise that needs to be made, and the visual limitations show with games like Apex Construct and Journey of the Gods. This isn't a slight against the quality of those games, it's been enjoyable to explore their full 3D worlds. Rather, they're examples of the general upper limit of Quest's hardware capabilities, which fall far short of mid- to high-range gaming PCs. Regardless, the Snapdragon 835 provides enough power to render an acceptable level of visual fidelity for games.

Quest will launch with Robo Recall but the game was not made available during our review period; it'd be a good test of Quest's ability to keep up with something more graphically demanding. However, there's reason to believe that it'll work just fine. Tweaking level of detail and graphical features isn't the only option to make things work. A technique called foveated rendering lowers the pixel count of screen space in your periphery, and it helps ease the hardware's workload without sacrificing necessary visual clarity. You can think of it as adaptive resolution for the areas you're not focusing on, and the drop in peripheral resolution is only noticeable if you're looking for it.

I almost think of the Oculus Quest as the Nintendo Switch of VR; it's not the most powerful piece of hardware, but its portability and ease-of-use makes it stand out against existing platforms while delivering a new way to enjoy games.

The headset projects a total resolution of 2880x1600, higher than the current mainstream HMDs, but it's worth noting that Quest's fast-switch LCD displays run at 72Hz. On paper, it's a considerable drop from the 90Hz we've come to expect from VR displays, but there haven't been any perceivable issues with the downgrade quite yet. Having played games like Thumper, Beat Saber, I Expect You To Die, and Face Your Fears 2, the loss in peak framerate won't make much of a difference. And if Space Pirate Trainer and the Superhot VR demo are anything to go by, 72Hz might just suffice in the long run. Again, a fast-paced experience like Robo Recall would be a good test to see if a max 72 FPS is enough to mitigate disorienting players.

By and large, the hardware performs admirably, and the operating system follows suit. Quest is painless to setup; every time you boot it in a new location, you simply set up your Guardian boundaries to establish a safe play area, or you can just set the ground level and continue as a seated experience. It runs Oculus OS, so your only means to access software is through the Oculus Store--Quest is a closed system.

Battery life might seem disappointing at first as Quest lasts for around three hours on a full charge. But considering that I didn't feel the desire to stay in VR for too long, I could easily go for three to four sessions before needing to juice up the headset. And if you don't mind staying tethered to play while charging, a lengthy USB-C cable comes packed in.

One aspect I find disappointing is long-term comfort. Quest's headstrap is adjustable on the sides and on top with secure velcro straps, and the whole thing pulls back and lifts upward with ease which makes the process of getting it on rather painless. But Quest needs a better facepad out of the box. The stiff padding isn't so much the issue as it is the noticeable pressure point it creates on your forehead. I've tried loosening the straps, but the headset would sag a bit. I tilted the headset downward a little, but offset the pressure to my upper cheeks and pull my undereyes downward. I wouldn't call this a deal breaker since I'm not one to stay in VR for too long, but after about 45 minutes, I needed to give a rest before bearing the discomfort again.

Journey of the Gods from Turtle Rock Studios makes its debut alongside the Oculus Quest.
Journey of the Gods from Turtle Rock Studios makes its debut alongside the Oculus Quest.

Given that most of the Quest library is comprised of games that are already out on other platforms, it may not be all that attractive for those with existing VR setups, though it's worth mentioning that several games will be cross-platform between Rift and Quest. While there'll be 40+ games at launch, we've only been able to experience a handful of them with the Oculus Quest. You're not going to get photo-realistic 3D worlds in games, so the appeal of Quest really relies on the creative use of the headset's power. Journey of the Gods and Moss, both of which will be available at launch, are such examples where imagination overcomes graphical limitations, and the hope is that more games like them are in Quest's future.

Above all else, Oculus Quest nails down convenience. It's a unique feeling to be able to slap on a headset and get a full untethered VR gaming experience with ease. I almost think of the Oculus Quest as the Nintendo Switch of VR; it's not the most powerful piece of hardware, but its portability and ease-of-use makes it stand out against existing platforms while delivering a new way to enjoy games. It's between the lesser mobile headsets and traditional powerhouses, and that's an attractive place to be.

This sentiment isn't set in stone, though. Again, I still need to experience more demanding games in both the graphical and physical sense to see if it can keep up. But our initial impressions after about 10 hours with a handful of games are promising, so there's reason to believe Quest is the platform VR gaming needs. Oculus Quest launches on May 21 with the option for 64GB storage at $400/£400 and 128GB at $500/£500. Pre-orders are now open on the official Oculus website.

The GoodThe Bad
+ Accurate inside-out tracking is a game changer- Closed system limits the types of experiences you can have
+ Full game experiences due to capable hardware, 6DOF, and Touch controllers- Not the best facepad out of the box
+ Quick and painless setup

highammichael

Michael Higham

Associate Editor at GameSpot. Southeast San Diego to the Bay. Salamat sa iyong suporta!

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Ishiban

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Stadia gets its own section now, but not the Oculus Quest? Weaksauce, Gamespot. As usual, VR gets the shaft here. I guess it's back to UploadVR and Roadtovr.

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DeathNoa

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Asking a real question here, can it run Quill?

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oasisbeyond77

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64 gigs... that's what 1 to 3 games yikes, this won't work.

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Spartan_418

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@oasisbeyond77: Less powerful hardware means the games will use smaller assets, lower resolution textures etc, so the file sizes should be fairly small

Though yeah it's weird that it doesn't support SD card expansion or anything

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pam1952

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I am a senior citizen with a question that I hope some kind soul will answer for me. I know this is a site for gamers, but as far as the Occulus Quest goes is anyone familiar enough with it to say how it would be for virtual travel?

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Arsyad05

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@pam1952: you mean travel around the world without moving out from the house, thats great, might be there in near future, but i think i saw this type of thing in youtube somewhere

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pam1952

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Edited By pam1952

@Arsyad05: Yes, that's what I was wondering! I checked the Occulus store and they do have a few of these types of programs for sale, I just wondered if the Occulus Quest is a good platform (?) for this type of thing.

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Frostblind

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I’m a PSVR owner and I’m very excited for this news. I’m not excited for the headset itself but what I see is that technology is going in the right direction in regards to VR. What I mean by that is that this is finally a mediocre VR headset that has its own sensors built and does not require any ridiculous cables attached to it to be active. 5 maybe 10 years down the road are looking really promising for advanced VR headsets that are wireless, sensors built in, strong battery life and just having the ability to play those beefier games.

To note... I am enjoying the hell out of Borderlands VR right now but I find myself playing the cheaper grade games more in VR compared to the bigger titles. I think this will sell well.

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lorddaggeroff

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Hold on, so you don't need any system that needs a CPU because that's essentially what a pc is a machine running pie all day long.

Wow Facebook ya done it again.

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Terrorantula

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Nintendo Switch of VR is the dumbest thing I've ever read.... Google Cardboard with an iPhone XR is the Nintendo Switch of VR, even then that has a higher PPI.

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DarthBuzzard

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@Terrorantula: Except Switch is competitive with consoles like PS4. Google Cardboard is nothing like Oculus Quest and isn't competitive. Doesn't matter if Google Cardboard had access to PS5 visuals and 8K resolution, it would still be terrible compared to Oculus Quest.

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Terrorantula

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@darthbuzzard: We're talking about VR, not a games console.

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DarthBuzzard

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@Terrorantula: You missed my point. A Google Cardboard with beefed up specs even 10x better than what it currently has would be terrible compared to Oculus Quest.

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waven101

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the quest should be able to make a pc to mobile conversion. when connection to the pc it works like a rift cv1 with the graphics of the pc and when on mobile it could work on its own. now that I would be interested to see

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parabol69

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Not today or ever, Zuckerberg!

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WingChopMasta

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Seeing these comments (most of them really stupid and uneducated) makes me really happy actually. It means a lot of these little kids won't bother and we can have a place not overrun by little dudes screaming around like girls. That should be added on the + side of this article, btw.

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salty101

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@WingChopMasta: Pot, meet Kettle

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WingChopMasta

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Edited By WingChopMasta

@salty101: My comment is completely justified if you looked in this comment section, like at all. but I get it, 3-word comments are easier for the people around here to read and comprehend (that means to understand). It's still, great news that a lot of you people won't be around. Stick to that Fornite babysitter, please.

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phili878

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no thanks.... write me a post card again in 10 years.

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ibonedyourmom

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Can you watch the vr porn with the Quest?

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oasisbeyond77

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@ibonedyourmom: Get a girl...

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nikolistary

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After a lot of thought, I can forgive almost everything negative with this thing.

The one thing I can't forgive is its launch lineup. This goes double for those like me who are PSVR owners. Oculus keeps pitching games like Moss, Arizona Sunshine, Beat Saber,Raw Data, Superhot, Killing Floor Incursion, etc.--which are all amazing titles--I've just played all of them on PSVR or my GearVR. So only the most virgin VR users will find this launch lineup exciting.

Further more troubling, is I am still (this goes for PSVR too to an extent) waiting for that killer AAA experience from the Quest. I want BIG, KNOWN, large studios to finally stop being such pussies and port their old games to Quest WHILE making NEW games---big 100 hour single player story campaign games---to their alleged 'hypercurated/must be great games' library in the future. I want to play Fallout 4 on my Quest while being assured Fallout 5 will be on it someday.

The Quest will be a smash hit if it does this. Make. Big. Games. No more stationary/teleporting/on rails horseshit. No more 'THIS MONTH'S MARQUEE TITLE IS ZOMBIE BOXERZ VR RATED E FOR EVERYONE'

Big. Good. AAA. Games. FFS

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ConsoleHaven

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Edited By ConsoleHaven

@nikolistary: well, 100 hour games built from the ground up for vr are a ways off. These cost 100 mil to make and expect a return. VR install base is too small to warrant the risk.

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nikolistary

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@consolehaven: I see what you're saying but I'm talking more about porting old games that we know will work.

My two big examples of this are Skyrim and Borderlands 2 on PSVR. Ancient games right? Yet Skyrim might be the highest selling PSVR game to date, and BL2VR is selling well also. These are big games from big developers with little risk as they're not making a brand new title. BUT what is valuable here is to see its analytics and now these devs are going "Huh. People have spent millions of hours playing Skyrim in VR." It would behoove AAA developers to get into this new market for two reasons, 1 to port their existing games for a quick profit, 2 to see that players actually want 100 hour games in the future. I feel like if Ubisoft ported Far Cry 2,3 and 4 those profits would fund Far Cry VR in 2023 or later. Just saying.

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ConsoleHaven

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@nikolistary: indeed. I didn’t have too much time to write, but, I would imagine game engines 10 years down the line will have VR porting functions built in so new games built for console and PC will be VR compatible with little to no additional resources.

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commander

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@nikolistary: you're asking for the impossible, my oculus rift is powered by an I5 8400 and a gtx 1070, certainly not the best of the best when it comes to pc hardware but multiple times stronger than what's on the quest.

and even the strongest pc hardware is kicked in the balls by vr. So if you want want a proper vr experience, with fallout 4 (and even 5 in the future), well, go break the bank and get yourself a pc vr headset, with a strong pc.

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aross2004

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@nikolistary: Vader Immortal says hello.

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nikolistary

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@aross2004: Big whoop. Name 1 more. Just 1.

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aross2004

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@nikolistary: Robo Recall.

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Iemander

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**** Oculus and their shit exclusivity deals in the past.

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It's pretty cool how the thing is designed to not require PC help, but you still need to have at least 4K resolution and FPS in the 100's before motion sickness stops being an issue. I'm afraid this is still a hard "no" for me.

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oasisbeyond77

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@Barighm: no 60 fps...

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doremonhg9x

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Edited By doremonhg9x

@oasisbeyond77: actually it's at least 90 FPS to not induce motion sickness at all

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gamer112696

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@Barighm: @Barighm: Those might be requirements for some people to not feel motion sickness. But under current technology I and several of my friends have never felt motion sick (PS VR, Oculus Go, and Vive Pro). And I’m sure many other people out there don’t get very motion sick either. But yes, higher frame rates should help motion sick prone people when the technology gets there.

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nintendians

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Edited By nintendians

i'm still surprise that vr controllers doesn't have all the buttons and stuff like a modern standard controller have today. heck the "switch" joy-con have all that and plus 4 (the "sr" and "sl" on the left and right joy-cons).

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DarthBuzzard

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Edited By DarthBuzzard

@nintendians: You have four face buttons, four triggers, two analog sticks, a home button. Everything is there.

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nintendians

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Edited By nintendians

@darthbuzzard: but it missing a d-pad. what if i want to navigate the menu without pointing or using the left stick to select what i wanted and press the "a" button to confirm, better yet play emulators with game that requires it in cinema mode (if modders found a way to do it), i don't want to go out buy a xinput (like xbox 360/one controller) bluetooth standard controller (that is you could sync any bluetooth compatible controller into it).

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DarthBuzzard

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Edited By DarthBuzzard

@nintendians: Some controllers have both touchpads and analog sticks. That can be your D-Pad.

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nintendians

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@darthbuzzard: i guess, but i still prefer physical over touchpads, where's i can tell where i press at.

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ConsoleHaven

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I have psvr and will probably get this.. the valve index is up my alley but not quite ready to build a PC to run it well.

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aross2004

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Edited By aross2004

Got to demo the Quest at BB, shit is on point!

Locked down my 128GB version.

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cayde

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Will briefed, nothing left to say.

But for me, the VR is VR games, not less;))

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