Oculus Quest Hands-On Impressions
By Casey Hawkins
At the 5th annual Oculus Connect convention in San Jose, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally revealed the long-anticipated Oculus Santa Cruz project, which was officially named Oculus Quest.
Quest aims to deliver the visual fidelity of the Oculus Rift with the no hassle, wireless capabilities of the Oculus Go. It uses four wide-angle sensors to track your position, offering six degrees of freedom as opposed to the Go’s three. This will allow accurate tracking in a variety of environments, allowing you to physically move around the space with more freedom and precision than before. The Quest also promises higher quality sound than the Go and doubles its memory capacity to 64 GB from the Go’s 32 GB. Essentially, Oculus says that the Quest represents the next big leap in VR, allowing you to play anywhere while enjoying experiences of higher visual and immersive quality.
The Quest is being demoed at Oculus Connect, and I got the chance to play the renowned shooter Superhot VR on the new platform.
The build of the Quest feels largely similar to the other Oculus headsets, although it’s slightly larger and heavier than the Go. Whereas the Go only used one basic controller, the Quest uses two, and they are much more akin to the Rift’s controllers. The tracking ring that envelops your hand on the Rift now sits above the joystick on the Quest. There are two face buttons on the controller’s surface as well as grip and trigger buttons. Although the layout is slightly different, the Quest’s controllers feel just as good to use as before.
Once I entered the first area in Superhot, the visuals struck me as being nearly comparable to the Rift. While they don’t technically share exact visual parity, playing this game on either platform would be nearly indistinguishable, although it remains to be seen whether this can be said for games with more visual complexity and detail.
Once I started playing the game, any thought that I was in VR melted away, which is exactly what you want from a good headset. Because of Quest’s lack of reliance on wires, you can move around freely and without worry that you will get tangled up or knock something over, which is ideal for a game like Superhot where you have to maneuver and contort your body. The large space that was allocated for me to play in didn’t hurt either, but the headset felt very comfortable throughout my 10 minute demo and never once hampered my enjoyment of the game.
The physical tracking of the space was also good. I could see exactly where I was in relation to the room and if I was coming close to running into a wall. The high quality tracking that the Quest provides could open up completely new avenues for apps and games in the future, something that I’m sure developers are already keen on exploring.
In terms of sound, the Quest did seem to be a bit punchier and more clear than the Go, although I will have to test it more or perhaps use both headsets side by side to truly gain a clear impression.
However, the Quest is a true step up from the Go in all aspects, and because of its accessibility and simplicity, it could become your go-to VR platform over the Rift if its apps and games can come close to the depth of Rift experiences. Oculus said that the Quest will have over 50 apps available once it launches next spring, and if it can truly deliver on its vision, it could be the next big leap towards fully immersive and free VR and change the course of the industry.