A lot of people would have bought the Oculus Go first, perhaps for a birthday or during Christmas. As a budget-friendly option, the Oculus Go seems like a great option for first-time users. But it is also restrictive, where people are unable to play some of the best games available in VR today. That’s restricted to the Oculus Quest, a standalone headset that has better controls and experiences.

For many, the Oculus Quest is the superior system. Instead of restrictive controls that work around an axis, the VR headset lets people walk around the room and execute more complex manoeuvres, moving their hands around the room. And great titles are on it too, such as Beat Saber, Pistol Whip, and Synth Riders.

But that does not mean the Oculus Go is a poor option. A lot of great games and experiences are available on that headset as well, and a lot of fun can be had with it. Here’s a guide between the two headsets, with some advice on what to get with both.

Oculus Go: The budget-friendly option

First up, let’s talk about the Oculus Go. Released in 2018, the VR headset caused a stir in the community for offering a light, transportable and cheaper way to try out immersive experiences. Because of its low cost, it became a go-to gift item for many who want to try out the new experience.

And why not? It serves enough great experiences to be worth it for the price, as an entry headset for anyone who wants to try out immersive content. Virtual Virtual Reality is great fun, while RUSH is a staple of the platform. Wands is a recent favourite where wizards fling spells to claim victory on the battlefield. VR is a new and expanding area of entertainment, and the content is a step beyond the games we can play today. For that alone, it is worth a try.

But it is also restrictive. Because of the lack of cameras (and the subsequent Oculus Insight system), the Oculus Go can’t read the room. That means people cannot wander around the room, headset strapped to their heads, trying some of the best games in VR. That’s a big deal. If you expected to play Beat Saber, you would be sorely disappointed.

Don’t put the headset away because of this; there are some great games already available on the platform, and it is supported by many developers making innovative experiences.

Oculus Go in action.
Oculus Go in action. Photo credit: Oculus.

Oculus Quest: The best standalone VR headset

The Oculus Quest was released by Oculus, a virtual reality company owned by Facebook. Following the success of the Oculus Rift and Rift S, the Oculus Quest offers a standalone experience straight out of the box. No powerful PCs are needed to run the headset.

In terms of market positioning, the Oculus Quest is between the Oculus Go and the Oculus Rift S. The latter provides high-quality experiences which fully utilise the power of a powerful PC. The former offers fun experiences with a controller that operates with less freedom than its brothers and sisters. Compared to the two headsets, the Oculus Quest uses the same power as the Go, but with better controllers for immersive gameplay.

Because of this, the Oculus Quest runs the hottest games around, such as Beat Saber. This makes the VR platform worthy of investment for anyone who wants the best of cheaper experiences and the very best games available. It is also selling out everywhere.

What’s more, the VR headset has hand tracking, which can heighten the experience of playing with some new games.

The downside is that it is slightly more expensive than the Oculus Go. For some, that is okay. If it is treated like buying a new games console, the price jump makes sense. But for many people, the price hike may not be enough.

If you truly want to jump into the very best, then the Oculus Quest is right for you.

oculus-quest-stabdalone-vr-headset
Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset. Credit: Oculus.

Why can’t the Oculus Go play certain games?

Take the lid off both headsets, and they both look similar. Both are designed using mobile components, and both try to be as light as possible while conserving battery and graphical power.

But the difference is the cameras. The Oculus Quest can read the room via Oculus Insight, and can then erect a Guardian boundary where players can experience the titles on the system. The cameras can also read where the controllers are at all times.

By contrast, the Oculus Go has no cameras and rely on accelerometers to determine the controllers’ presence. The controller cannot be as immersive, and operate on an axis of sorts. While fine for gunplay and go-kart rides, it won’t detect the full complexity of a saber swing like with the Oculus Quest. This is partially why one is cheaper than the other.

Which games are playable on the Oculus Go or Quest?

Not everything is available on each platform. While the Oculus Go has some small and great titles available, the Oculus Quest has more on its platform.

Here is a summary of some of the top-rated the games available on each of the VR headsets:

GameOculus GoOculus Quest
Beat SaberNoYes
Vader ImmortalNoYes
Space Pirate TrainerNoYes
Robo RecallNoYes
ThumperYesYes
Pistol WhipNoYes
RUSHYesYes
WandsYesYes
Virtual Virtual RealityYesYes
EndspaceYesYes
WanderYesYes

Which VR headset is the best?

Deciding between the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest can be tricky, but if it must be narrowed down to smaller options, then one or two headsets stand out from the crowd:

  • Price: The Oculus Go is cheaper, providing the stepping stone to the VR ecosystem. As it can play 360 videos and some great titles, it is a family system that everyone can enjoy.
  • Games. The Oculus Quest has more games available, with some of the best released in recent years. It is also likely that Facebook will support the platform for longer in the future.
  • Portability. Both VR headsets can be transported easily, as they are standalone and not need external PCs.

From our perspective, the Oculus Quest provides the most value and long-term appeal when compared to the Oculus Quest. With its suite of games, hand-tracking, and deeper complexity of immersive tech, it is much better than its smaller sister. But that does not mean the Oculus Go is not as good. The VR headset is great to watch 360 movies with, and there are still some great titles on the system. It just happens to be slightly weaker in other areas.

Whatever you choose, it is a great time to enter the VR ecosystem. With a lot of innovation happening around the world, the world is ready for a new revolution in gaming. So strap in, and have fun.


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Tom Ffiske

Editor, Virtual Perceptions

Tom Ffiske specialises in writing about VR, AR, and MR across the immersive reality industry. Tom is based in London. 

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