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I used to think that VR was not going to work. The required change to both hardware and content would be too overwhelming and VR would go the way of 3D televisions. Then I had few experiences with VR, both commercial and at home and it's changed my mind. Here's a timeline of my experience with VR.
- My first experience with VR was Google Cardboard in Oct 2015. It was free, but caused intense motion sickness.
- A few years later in June 2019, I had a great multiplayer VR experience at Sandbox VR in San Mateo.
- A couple months later in August 2019, I tried an Oculus Rift at a friends house and loved the immersive single player games. But was turned off by the minimum requirements of a high powered desktop plus externally placed sensors. The games Beat Saber and Space Pirate Trainer.
- A month later in early September 2019, I tried the Oculus Quest while visiting a friend at Facebook (Oculus Team). I was quite surprised the Oculus Quest required no computer and no externally placed sensors.
- Mid September 2019, I decide to purchase an Oculus Quest for myself for $399.
Since I purchased the Oculus Quest 64 GB, I played all the demos available, which is around 3 or 4. My first game purchase was Beat Saber, mainly because it has the most replay value and could be played by different people. I've played about 30 minutes per day for about a week, and have a pretty good opinion on the Oculus Quest.
Important to note is that I'm also a bit concerned about having a screen so close to my eyes for a long duration. I make it a point to take a break every 30 minutes. Doing so also helps with minimizing the very minor headaches. Overall, I'm quite sold by the experience and look forward to future VR games and VR gaming consoles. Here are some of the highlights of my opinions with the Oculus Quest.
No Computer, No Cables, No Sensors
Probably the best selling point of the Oculus Quest is the lack of cables and other exterior component requirements. Not only is the Oculus Quest so much easier to setup, it's also mobile! I can bring it to anybody house and immediately be connected. If they have Chromecast, I can also cast once I pair both my smartphone and the Oculus Quest to their Wifi. Additionally, the whole system only costs $399. I also don't need to worry about maintaining a separate computer connected to a TV and the mess of cables for the sensors.
The one downside is that since there are no cables or sensors, the Oculus Quest works off cameras built right on the headset. If the room is too dark, you can't play since the camera's can't detect the floor, walls, and items in your playing space.
Short 2 Hour Battery Life
It's probably a blessing in disguise to avoid overplaying at any one sitting. But since the Oculus Quest is wireless, the battery only lasts about 2 hours. So for individual gaming, it should be more than sufficient to avoid damage to the eyes. It may even be long enough for parties, as long as players alternate. But it's best to keep the Oculus fully charged. If necessary, it is possible to both charge and game at the same time. Since it's limited to the length of the USB-C cable, you're safest off playing in stationary mode if while simultaneously charging.
The Oculus Touch Controllers are battery charged by a single AA battery, one for each controller. The battery life on these lasts much longer, but it's good to have extra batteries on hand and keep an eye of the battery life in the main Oculus menu.
Terrible Casting Ability
With Android, the casting to a TV is nearly 2-3 seconds delayed. This is definitely a huge negative as its makes the Oculus Quest a poor choice for a party game console if friends can't see what the player sees. Casting is very helpful when teaching first timers to navigate the Oculus Quest menus. As of September 2019, the casting feature is marked as beta, so hopefully Facebook quickly improves the casting proficiency.
I haven't had the opportunity to fully test, but I would assume that simultaneously casting would also reduce the battery life of the Oculus Quest.
Friendly User Interface
The Oculus Quest user interface is very intuitive and the wireless controls make selections easy to understand. When you look down towards the controls, the actual control itself shows in the virtual world. I wish there were a way to more easily identify the right hand controller from left hand controller. The only bit of confusion is that depending the interface or game, different buttons may be used as the selection button. Since there isn't a physical keyboard, typing letters with the controller is slower, which is especially the case when typing in passwords.
Additionally, a nice feature is whenever you're in a new location, you have the option to draw the walls out around you to avoid crashing into items in the room. The Oculus Quest remembers your wall setup, and even recognizes when you're in a new location in need of a new wall setup. After the setup, when you reach the edge the wall in any game or menu, the wall shows up to warn you.
Simple Video Quality
Simply put, I'm not too concerned about this. The VR quality is still amazing and very immersive. The video quality of the Oculus Quest reminds me of the early days of the Nintendo Wii, of course without the virtual reality part. I expect the Oculus Quest games to be limited in graphical intensity. But for me, the balance of lower quality graphics is worth the trade-off having a cordless and mobile experience.
Don't expect any characters or environment to look like anything resembling the real world. Instead expect are more cartoon-ish game with visible blocks. That being said, this cartoon-ish world is very believable.
Limited Gaming Library
One of the original reason I avoided VR was the fear of a limited gaming library. The Oculus Quest May 2019 and there are only a very limited number of demos. The games are fairly reasonably priced, but the lower priced games have limited replay value. Even Beat Saber's official add-on purchase of music selections is very limited. Luckily, it's possible to sideload other custom songs. That being said, there are only a few other game I'd purchase at this time.
Audio with 3mm Audio Port
The audio speakers on the Oculus Quest are fairly good quality. I also like the ability to use the standard 3mm headphones instead of speakers if you want to play in a quiet environment. It doesn't come with any earbuds, but most people have plenty of those earbuds laying around. But even using the speakers, since I'm so immersed in the game, a lot of other sounds are drowned out.
Difficult to Store
The box the Oculus Quest came in is fairly high quality cardboard. Since the Oculus Quest is such a mobile gaming device, I wish Facebook made the box more re-usable. Also while storing the carrying case, the warnings say to avoid direct sunlight into the lense. All those warnings make me consider purchasing an Oculus Quest Carrying Case. Obviously a carrying case is a nice touch, but I've decided that I don't truly need it.