Oculus Quest is the best VR headset if you ignore Facebook

One of the biggest challenges when buying virtual reality hardware is how quickly things improve.

It’s something I’ve struggled with when checking controllers and headsets, and it makes me flinch when I return and read previous articles about products that were out of date within a few months.

The Vive Pro was an amazing, affordable VR headset when it hit the market for $ 1,100. However, the Valve Index was released just over a year later and contained a number of leaps forward. “Only” $ 999. This happens year after year: the new sharpness gets a little hotter, and a few months later something cheaper and better comes out.

Technology is moving at a ridiculous pace – and that’s good news for enthusiasts – but it also means that it is almost impossible to find a good time to buy a headset that doesn’t match yesterday’s news before They remove the packaging.

But then the Oculus Quest was released and I guess I’ll just come out and say: buy an Oculus Quest. This is the one you should take a risk. This is the one who finds this magical combination of hardware and software.

And Oculus continues to improve it at the same surreal speed. Except for this time, you no longer need to buy hardware to get the improvements, as all of them are managed by software updates. If you’re confused by your VR options this holiday season, don’t. Just get a quest.


The quest is currently the best of all worlds

The Oculus Quest is a standalone VR headset for $ 399 that doesn’t need to be tied to a computer or connected to a phone. It comes with two touch controllers that offer six degrees of freedom without the need for external sensors. The game list in the Oculus Store is like a best-of-collection of the connected Oculus Rift. Each game was visually downgraded to run on a standalone system. However, the frame rate and tracking are almost perfect.

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Your brain doesn’t care about losing all these polygons in port. You still feel like you are there. And with no cables or sensors to worry about, you can spin freely, crawl around on the floor, or choose other movement options that match the game. You feel free to use the Quest like you don’t with a connected headset.

“The development for (Quest) is great because there are the least design constraints between all platforms,” ​​Trevor Blom, technical director at Vertigo Games, told Polygon. “This is mainly because the quest works without tracking and without seat belts and still delivers similar or even better results than the other platforms. As developers, we have to face the challenges that the computing power of the device brings with it, in particular due to the possibilities that the device offers without tether and without tracker. “

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Optimizing an existing game to run on Quest is a brutal and extensive process. You’re talking about a system that has the challenge of tracking the movements of the player, the controller, while providing the in-game world with a high enough frame rate and low latency that it feels as if you were seeing something real, not the inside of a video game. And all of this has to do with the internals that are equivalent to a mid-range smartphone these days, albeit with a variety of modifications to make it all work.

But here’s the secret: Despite the huge visual deterioration that occurs in these games, you can watch the trailer for the original Arizona Sunshine above and the trailer for the quest version below to see the difference – the games feel accurate immediately when you play them. What is important is the illusion of being somewhere else, not the number of polygons your hardware is moving. The search makes this illusion effective.

The visual differences will disappear after a few minutes unless you look for them again. The Vertigo team even started considering changing the actual design of the game before realizing that it wasn’t. As long as the game’s basic feeling of being out in Arizona surviving against waves of zombies translated for the player, it was still the same Arizona Sunshine.

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“As long as we were able to convey this feeling, the fidelity of the graphics was no longer so important,” said Blom. “We also learned ourselves and found through game tests that we simply” felt “in the game world and simply forgot the platform differences. “

Because of this, it’s not the technology that makes it so easy to recommend the Quest product, but the joy of playing games like Beat Saber, Space Pirate Trainer, or Arizona Sunshine on a system that doesn’t tie you to external hardware and can be thrown into a backpack and taken anywhere. It is a portable, fully self-contained VR on a spatial scale, and there is currently nothing comparable on the market.

Radial-G Proteus is another port of connected headsets that had to make visual compromises, but the fast racing game feels like a roller coaster at Quest. It’s exciting to play and amazing to look at, despite the relatively simple nature of the graphics. But you are there, in this incredible environment, running for your life. There are too many good Oculus Quest games to list, but so far I’ve discussed some of the experiences that the system has really sold me.

But I’ll take a moment to find out how good the quest versions of “I expect you to die”, “The Ascension” and “Keep Talking” are and “Nobody Explodes” as well. If you are already working with VR, many of these games offer cross-buy support. So you only have to pay for a copy to play with both your Rift and your Quest if you have both platforms.

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The Quest not only offers a VR experience that is as effective as connected systems that cost a lot more and require your own gaming PC to run, it also takes just 30 seconds to put on the Quest, adjust the straps and one play new set up room no matter where you are.

You can get in and out ridiculously quickly without the system being fussy. That’s why my valve index is dusty as I play my quest daily. With Oculus, VR is now almost as easy to play as anything you do for fun. Which in turn is the whole point.

“We’re currently measuring everyone’s entertainment time,” said Facebook’s Jason Rubin in an earlier interview. “You can put on Netflix, you can play PlayStation, you can read a book, you can do one of a thousand things. It shouldn’t take half an hour or 15 minutes to set up the VR. For this reason, we thought the most important thing to do first was to get rid of these external sensors and set them up fidgety every time. “

But that was an interview that took place near the start of the quest. What Facebook and Oculus have been doing since then cemented the Quest as the only VR platform you should buy.

Quest keeps getting better

Oculus Quest should be Oculus’ portable, standalone VR offering, while the Rift S should be the power user product for those who wanted their VR games to look as good as possible. The two products worked well together and served different markets.

But then Oculus added the ability to connect your quest to your gaming PC to play games designed for the Rift S, and almost destroyed its own market for a second connected headset. Quest can do almost anything the Rift S can, but the Rift S never becomes a standalone headset.

Suddenly, the search became a much, much better deal. This feature is still in beta and can be a little nervous, but even when the feature was first launched, the impossible seemed possible. VR had gone through another generation leap in which everyone could participate through a software update and not by buying a new headset.

With Oculus Link, you can connect your Quest to your PC using a single USB-C cable to use it like a Rift SPolygon

And Oculus wasn’t made there. With the latest update, the ability to control the basic functions of Quest with bare hands has been added, without the controller having to be found, recorded, or used in any way. This feature is also in beta and may be shaky from time to time, but it works. This makes Quest even more comfortable and it costs nothing. The quest got a bit better again while Rift S players still have the system they paid for, but not much else. You can get a Rift S until January 6th if you order today, but the quests are currently sold out until February 13th.

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The progress that causes each headset to appear dated less than a year after its release doesn’t seem to hit Quest nearly as hard, as Oculus has just developed many features and added them through software without increasing the price of the system. The Quest hardware as a platform is now much more powerful, with a lot more features and a much better game selection than when it was launched, and none of these updates cost the player a penny (except for the need for a new USB-C cable) for Oculus Link).

Why shouldn’t you buy a quest?

These are the reasons why you should get a quest if you are interested in VR. The game selection is top notch, the lack of cables makes playing these games a lot easier without worrying about trip hazards. The portable system makes it easy to take places with you and share them with others. It takes less The setup takes less than a minute and is completely self-contained. The list of functions is growing rapidly. That should be enough to make Quest the best VR platform on the market.

Why shouldn’t you buy a quest? Facebook.

I struggled to write this story for about a week and finally figured out why: The quest platform is so obviously superior to anything else in VR right now that the concept of this story was easy to think about, but in the long run Effects of Quest as a mainstream product scare me. I don’t trust Facebook – the company has violated their users’ trust too many times to count – and Oculus has started to link Facebook and Oculus accounts more closely for advertising and data mining purposes.

For many, this will be a deal breaker. I still use my quest personally, but I no longer have a Facebook account, which helps a little. We also know that Facebook collects information about people even if they don’t have an account. So here we are, with great video games and great hardware that is owned and controlled by one company that I want to remove as much as possible from the technology.

That hurts me as a VR enthusiast because someone has finally made the VR headset I’ve always dreamed of, but there’s no way to discuss it, let alone recommend it, without the long, dirty history of Facebook calling on customers to misuse personal data, not to mention its current role in disseminating political misinformation for profit.

The question is, where does that leave us with this current recommendation, and I can’t answer that for you. Do you feel like strapping Facebook hardware on your face and sending the company’s usage information to take part in the most enjoyable VR experience available right now?

Using Quest is far better than I expected in late 2019, but the effects are unfortunately as dystopian as we all feared. But at least we don’t trip over cables while handing over another aspect of our lives to Mark Zuckerberg.

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