I’ve had the Oculus Quest 2 for two weeks now, and I use it every day. It’s all but replaced my PCVR setup, despite its benefits. I’ve found that the wireless headset is far more than just a novelty, especially for VR users with limited time. Booting up a computer, opening the VR programmes and getting into the game is a substantial timesink, and then you’ve got to traipse a big wire around under your feet in a clearly defined space.
By cutting all of that chaff away, you’re left with the best parts of VR at its most accessible – and that’s exactly what I want. With a quick motion and a few gestures, I can set up space anywhere in the house to work on my fitness or press on with one of the many virtual reality adventures available in the Oculus store.
What helps is that the build quality of the device is solid. It feels sturdy but light enough to throw in a bag and carry anywhere. The controllers are well-made, if not a little lacklustre by comparison to Valve’s finger-free Knuckle peripherals. I’ve yet to change the batteries in them despite two weeks of solid play, which is a great sign. Overall, the battery life on the headset is more than enough to give you a few hours from a full charge. If you’re playing more than that in one sitting… I salute you.
The speakers are decent and well-hidden on the inside of the set, but you will want to use the headphone jack to add immersion and make the most of the sound design. But easily, the worst part of the headset has to be the slightly flimsy strap that connects the device to your head. The way you tighten it at the back feels unnatural and, unlike the Valve Index or other more expensive devices, it doesn’t sit snug on your head. It can feel like a millstone hanging off your face after extended use. Of course, Oculus does offer the Elite Strap to fix all of these issues – it’ll just cost you an extra £50…
Crucial to the success of the Quest 2 is the ability to use an (£80!) Oculus Link cable to turn the headset into a fully-fledged PCVR setup, so you can add some power and play even more demanding games. The headset is cheap at £299 for 64GB, but it starts to add up with the official accessories. If you don’t want to compromise with an expensive wire, you can also use sideloading to beam your desktop to your headset wirelessly, which means you can play games like Half-Life: Alyx in your living room while your bedroom PC chugs away.
In my experience with a wireless desktop connection to the Quest 2, there was little to no input lag or delay on a modest WiFi connection. It requires some tinkering and your results may vary, but once you get it working, it’s a dream come true. This is the ace up the Quest 2’s sleeve that will let it dominate the competition. It proves that we don’t need wires to deliver a technically peachy virtual reality experience, and the future looks incredibly bright for the medium. I’m hopeful that the next PSVR will adopt this tactic too, and we can say goodbye to wires for good.
The built-in screenshot and recording features are excellent, and the home screen is super soothing. It’s a perfect way to watch YouTube or Netflix if you’re conked out on the sofa gazing at the ceiling. All of this is made possible by the revolutionary hand-tracking feature, which lets you discard your controllers and use your fingers to navigate the UI and play some apps and games. It’s incredibly impressive when you first get it working and feels like the future.
As for the games, the possibilities are endless if you can link it to your desktop and SteamVR, but the Oculus Store already has plenty of VR highlights. Trover Saves The Universe is absurdly funny and a much-needed skewer of typical virtual reality gameplay. Though, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners might be the store’s standout game, purely for the scale and scope of the experience.
It’s an action-adventure title where you venture out to scavenge, upgrade and survive over instanced days of play. It’s grimdark and quite lonely, but there’s something uniquely satisfying about many of the mechanics, like pulling a backpack from your shoulder and slotting useful junk in, or getting the motion just right to brain a zombie with a makeshift shiv. VR classics like Superhot, Beat Saber and Pistol Whip are all on there too, as well as military shooter Onward for the gun nuts out there. It’s an exciting time to own a VR headset, and there’s plenty of games on the way for the device in the holiday season, so you won’t be short of things to play.
However, my main umbrage with the Oculus Quest 2 is that it forces me to use Facebook to sign in. I still have a dormant Facebook account (for some reason), so it worked fine. Still, there are people suffering from bans and access issues due to their account not being in good standing, which is a frankly absurd reason to gate access to a piece of technology.
It would be fine if we knew we could trust Facebook with our data, but that relationship has indeed broken down over recent years. The issue is compounded by the fact that this is a piece of kit that is strapped onto your face like a data Facehugger. It’s quite the gambit for those cautious about their privacy, and easily the most significant demerit of the otherwise superb device. Facebook has also recently confirmed that if you delete your Facebook account, you’ll also lose all of your Oculus games, purchases and progress.
I get that the most valuable asset in the world right now is data so Oculus is undercutting the typical cost of VR so that they can make that money back with an ecosystem of user information. Still, it should at least be an option and not a demand. I hope that Facebook will walk back this decision, as it means that whenever I recommend the device to anyone, it comes with quite the queasy caveat.
The Oculus Quest 2 is out now.
The Oculus Quest 2 is the ultimate entry-level VR headset, and with some tinkering, it can make your PCVR setup obsolete via game streaming. After playing for a fortnight, I’m convinced wireless play is the future of VR. With the hand-tracking getting rid of chunky peripherals, playing on a Quest 2 feels like the best way to experience virtual reality.
Hopefully, other devices learn from its wireless design and its far more affordable price point, which makes it an obvious choice for new users. However, I hope other manufacturers don’t follow its lead when it comes to the expensive accessories and some aspects of the build quality, with the strap being particularly lacklustre. The invasive social media sign-in also makes the Quest 2 a hard sell for those cautious of their data and privacy.
- Wireless play taps the true potential of virtual reality
- Uncompromising gameplay and graphics across the board bolstered by Oculus Link
- At £299, it’s cheap as chips, as far as VR is concerned
- Expensive accessories that should come as standard
- Invasive Facebook integration
- A lacklustre strap