In 2019, Facebook’s Oculus will launch the Oculus Quest, a standalone 6DoF virtual reality (VR) headset for consumers. With its lack of wires, lower price point, and six-degrees-of-freedom controllers, the Oculus Quest is seen by many as the next step immersive gaming and experiences.
But what’s the Oculus Quest and its features? What will the headset be capable of? Is it worth it to buy the Oculus Quest, compared to other headsets? And does the Oculus Quest represent the future of VR?
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What is the Oculus Quest?
The Oculus Quest is the next VR headset released by Oculus, a virtual reality company owned by Facebook. Following the success of the Oculus Rift and Rift S, the Oculus Quest will offer a standalone experience straight out of the box. No powerful PCs are needed to run the headset.
Announced during Oculus Connect 5 in 2018, the Oculus Quest features two 6DoF controllers and the headset itself, which is also equipped with Oculus Insight cameras. The controllers move in a three-dimensional space, tracked with the cameras on the Oculus Quest headset. This means the controllers provide an immersive experience, more than 3DoF controllers which operate around an axis.
In terms of market positioning, the Oculus Quest is between the Oculus Go and the Oculus Rift S. The Oculus Rift S provides high-quality experiences which fully utilise the power of a behemoth PC. The Oculus Go 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 mobile power as the Oculus Go, but with better controllers for immersive gameplay.
Why are people excited about the Oculus Quest?
The Oculus Quest fulfills the sweet spot which many believe will bring VR mainstream. Historically, VR is held back for several reasons:
- Price. The headsets used to cost upwards of $500, not including the price of powerful PCs or laptops to run the headset. VR headsets have been seen as toys of the rich and enthusiastic gamers.
- Software. PlayStation, Nintendo, and Microsoft sell first-party titles which move console units, locking people into the market. VR has had no titles like that, with the exception of Beat Saber in recent years.
- Power. While the Oculus Go offers a great low-end experience in 3DoF, it lacks the complexity or depth which the Oculus Quest can offer with its 6DoF controllers.
- Setting up. VR headsets can be tricky to set up, with sensors needing to be set up and a space cleared. Additionally, they are not portable, unable to leave the house for use unless packed in sizeable cases.
The Oculus Quest addresses these issues:
- The headset will retail for $399, without the need for a headset; for a console, this is an acceptable entry price-point.
- The game will ship with several exclusive titles, such as ports of Robo Recall, Beat Saber, and exclusives such as Vader Immortal. This is a strong line-up for its launch.
- The Oculus Quest is accepted to have ‘good enough’ power to play titles. While it will not be as high-quality as Oculus Rift experiences, it may suffice.
- As a standalone headset, it will be easy to transport and set up.
Because of these benefits, the Oculus Quest will likely get a lot of attention in 2019.
Should I get the Oculus Rift S or Oculus Quest?
The purchase depends on what your priorities are. The decision can largely be split between accessibility and power.
If you want the best quality experiences, then the Oculus Rift S is the one to go for. Connected to a powerful PC, the Oculus Rift S will offer detailed graphics and superior tracking, giving the most immersive experiences to the user. By comparison, the Oculus Quest runs on, effectively, mobile architecture and power. Additionally, the Oculus Rift S will run some titles which the Oculus Quest cannot.
If the price is important, then the Oculus Quest provides a lot of value. At $399 without the need of a PC, the console provides a great entry point to the VR ecosystem. While the Oculus Rift S is $399 as well, it still needs a powerful PC to run properly.
When will the Oculus Quest be released?
The Oculus Quest is strongly rumored to be released on May 1, during Facebook’s F8 conference. The headset will release at $399 for the 64GB model and $499 for the 128GB model. The headset will also be available on the Amazon and Oculus stores.
What games are releasing with the Oculus Quest?
There are a lot of great experiences launching with the Oculus Quest on launch day. Some highlights include:
- Beat Saber. A smash hit across headsets, Beat Saber can be best described as DDR with lightsabers. Players slash blocks to the beat of songs, slashing to and fro with the music. While the Oculus Quest version does not allow people to transfer tracks, it is a great title to have in the library.
- Vader Immortal. Feel like becoming a Jedi, force-pushing folks off cliffs and slashing people asunder with your lightsaber? This game is for you. While it might not deliver on its promises, it already looks far better than Star Wars Kinect.
- Robo Recall. While it might not be the flashiest game, the port will provide a fun shooter with a quirky vibe. Based on the Oculus Rift version, it is highly recommended.
Is the Oculus Quest the future of VR?
The Oculus Quest provides an insight into the long-term future of VR. Gradually the cost of VR will decrease, as components become cheaper and headsets become more powerful. This will in turn make headsets more accessible as they can do more with less.
As the ecosystem develops, then more VR software titles will enter the market. Facebook estimated that there needs to be ten million VR users for the market to be self-sustaining. Once that happens, companies may be more inclined to launch for consumers to play with.
Standalone VR headsets are likely the future of VR. Yet with the lack of power in the current generation, it will be a long way before we reach Rift-quality experiences. That said, much like the first paving stone on a path, the Oculus Quest is the first step in the right path.
Editor, Virtual Perceptions