Facebook’s new virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest 2, will be available starting October 13. Like its predecessor, it is an “all-in-one”, a device that allows us to immerse ourselves in other worlds without the need for a mid-high-end computer to connect the device to, and at the same time much more powerful than conventional solutions. with mobile phone power that became popular a few years ago. In short, the headset allows you to play a vast catalog of technically less impressive versions, and in some cases reduced, of the PC VR experience. This second part of the successful Quest will arrive as good sequels do: building on the previous one, improving in practically each of its sections, but also making some concessions. The latter have a reason for being: Oculus Quest 2 is priced at €349 for the 64 GB model and €449 for the 256 GB version; the cheapest option costs 100 euros less than what the 2019 Quest cost.
In Vandal we have been able to spend a little more than half a week using the 64 GB model, testing all its possibilities, to tell you why it is the best option to enter virtual reality in terms of value for money. Here we are going to talk about hardware and software, and we are going to start with the first. Inside the box we will find the same contents as in the case of last year: the helmet, the two Oculus Touch controllers, the charger and a plastic that is easily placed behind the sponge of the headset so that those who wear glasses do not hit their lenses with those of the device. At a quick glance, it would almost seem like the device is the same as last year’s, just white instead of black. But there are appreciable changes, of greater or lesser importance.
The contents of the box: the helmet, the controls, the adapter for the glasses, the charger and the instructions.
Weight, size, Touch controls and that annoying strap
The helmet is somewhat less heavy than the original, going down from 580 to 503 grams; and it’s also a bit smaller at 191.5mm x 102mm x 142.5mm; the reduction is appreciated, of course, but it is true that in game sessions of several hours it can become a bit heavy (especially because of something that we will discuss later). It’s not like we’re going to use the Quest 2 for many hours at a time, at least not without having it connected to the computer or to the mains: in the battery we haven’t seen any improvements compared to the previous model, having to charge it after about 2 hours of playing video games; full charge takes about two and a half hours. The sleek cloth finish that surrounds the original Quest’s hull is lost here for a matte plastic, which helps keep us from having to worry about dust motes that could collect on the textile, but that’s clearly one of the many reductions of device costs.
But there are two far more important concessions. The Quest had a slider in the lower right part of the device that allowed the distance of the lenses to be adjusted, so that it adapted to the different separation of each user’s eyes: it was a simple and quick process to improve the sharpness of the image. . In this case the slider has been lost. The user must grab the lens and pull it sideways to put it in three different positions. In our case, the slider is not something that we have missed, but it is undoubtedly a change for the worse: take the lens of a device in which you have spent half a salary and press it to the side so that it changes position to the time it sounds “CRAC!”, as if it had broken, is not the best experience when brand new a device of this price. By the way, the position of the lens is indicated on a plastic between the viewfinders.
The change that is undoubtedly worse, but that we are not so sure that it was due to cost reduction, is the new grip for the head. The Quest has a plastic Velcro strap on the top and on both sides; once you adjust it correctly, you rarely have to touch it again unless someone else is going to put it on. Here it has been replaced by a fabric strap, whose clear advantage is to lighten the weight of the device and make it easier to transport, since it can be folded. This strap has a velcro at the top and the pressure of the helmet on the sides of the head is adjusted by pulling two plastics placed on the back of the strap. During our first hours with the device this was an ordeal: we could not get the helmet on properly, which was too loose to safely play titles that required a lot of movement.
We went through the process of running the tape over our ears instead of over them, to see if that would make it more secure; that’s how it was, but this brought the problem that the headphones that we connected by jack slipped little by little until they fell. Finally, we managed to understand how to use the new strap correctly: you put on the helmet, stretch the strap until it stays on the lower back of your head, apply the Velcro and then pull the two rear plastics to the sides. The helmet stays fixed, but still looser than with the plastic of the first Quest. In addition, two other problems: with constant use, the tape loses its position, so it will have to be readjusted (in our case, once every couple of days); And for those of us with large ears, having the headband sit just above the ear can cause discomfort after a couple of hours of gaming. The cons of the strap outweigh its advantages, but in the end it serves to make the device cheaper; In addition, Facebook sells an Elite 2 plastic strap that uses a thumbwheel system (like PlayStation VR, although we haven’t been able to test it) at a price of 49 euros.
The change from the original Quest’s plastic headband to this cloth headband is our least favorite change.
The Oculus Touch controls have been slightly improved. They continue to register the movement of the thumb and index finger, but the rest of the fingers are closed by pressing a lateral trigger. The ergonomics of the new Touch have been improved: the lever and buttons are placed in a more accessible way and the triggers offer more depth. That yes, they continue to use batteries instead of batteries (although they last a long time, in the whole week, using the glasses an average of three hours a day, we have not had to change them); and the A, B, X, and Y buttons are still not entirely satisfactory: for comparison, they feel more like the buttons on the Wii Remote than the Switch’s Joy-Con buttons.
Better screen, better brain
Despite all these details and others not mentioned (such as the fact that the location of the power button has changed and that the helmet speakers have positional audio), the really important hardware innovations are inside. The first is the improvement in screen resolution: at 1832×1920 resolution per eye, sharpness is 50% greater than the original Quest and also an improvement over the Oculus Rift S on PC. These figures mean that, since we see the main menu of Quest 2 (the same as in Quest), we notice a considerable improvement in sharpness, we realize that the words, before a bit blurry, are now read perfectly without needing of moving the head to the point of focus; and it is appreciated above all in games, something that we will talk about later. Another fundamental improvement of this screen that we have not yet been able to experience due to the lack of compatible games is the refresh rate, which goes from 72 Hz to 90 Hz: this should translate into greater fluidity in compatible titles, both in that they come out in the future as in the existing ones that are updated; personally, we can’t wait to play Beat Saber or Pistol Whip at even more breakneck speeds.
The size of both devices is very similar, but when you have it on your head you can see the difference. In addition, the improvement of the integrated speakers is appreciated, although we recommend using headphones (and if they have 3D Audio, the better).
These are not, however, fundamental changes. The memory of the device has improved from 4 GB to 6 GB of RAM, but it is its brain that has taken a fundamental leap with the use of the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2, a processor that is not only more powerful, but is designed with the virtual reality in mind, unlike its predecessor. Presumably this will result in better game performance and quality beyond the necessary resolution increase, but will Quest 2-only games be released? At the moment, from Oculus they have no plans for it: all the titles announced for their virtual reality helmet will be compatible with the two Quest, although obviously they will play better in this sequel. The strategy is logical: Facebook does not seem to have the intention that those of us who already have a Quest jump to this Quest 2, but to create a lasting ecosystem, similar to that of Apple with its iPhone, where the generational leap is noticeable when we change devices by skipping several years of updates.
A constant evolution in software: beyond the Oculus Link
It should be noted that using the Oculus Quest 2 today is a much better experience than using the Oculus Quest when it was released because the features introduced through software updates on both devices make the Quest system much more user-friendly. We are not just talking about improvements in the interface or the addition of an achievement system, but about functions – we repeat, on both devices – almost disruptive. For example, now we can tap twice with our hand on the side of the helmet to see what is around us thanks to the headset cameras, something essential for when we need to leave the controls on a table, to pick up the headphones or to relocate ourselves in the room if we have moved too much. A finger recognition system has been introduced that allows us to navigate through the menus and many of the applications, such as YouTube and Netflix, as well as certain games, without the need to use the controls, intuitively and with fewer errors. of the expected. In addition, the mobile application allows you to turn the use of virtual reality into a social activity in that you can share what you are seeing in the glasses on the screen of your mobile phone, tablet and even on a television without the need for cables.
Things that seem fundamental to us are still missing. Bluetooth pairing to connect headphones is, but at a very preliminary stage. We were able to pair our AirPods Pro, but the sound had a noticeable delay in activities as basic as watching the trailers of the games in the store, and made some titles almost unplayable, such as Beat Saber, which for some unknown reason lowers its frames by second to disastrous levels. But of course, the biggest improvement to the Quest software was the introduction of Oculus Link: we can connect the headset to a computer and use it as a PC VR headset, accessing not only PC-exclusive Oculus Rift titles, but also to the Steam VR catalog and to any other virtual reality title on any platform, as long as our computer has enough power.
This functionality is still in beta on the Oculus Quest 2, but we’ve seen a significant improvement over the original model. To use this function, not just any USB cable is enough, not even the one that comes in the box: you need a USB 3.0 cable capable of transmitting large amounts of data. The official Oculus is 99 euros, and we assume that it will avoid many problems, but we are using this Anker cable. With the standard Quests we’ve completed many such games, from Half-Life: Alyx to Star Wars Squadrons, but experienced occasional disconnections requiring us to unplug the cable, go back to the Quest menu, plug the cable back in and reactivate Oculus Link. It’s a problem in single player titles in that it breaks immersion even though it’s a process that barely takes a minute, but in multiplayer games like Squadrons it’s obviously a pain. But on the new headset, using the same cable, we haven’t experienced a single disconnection in the couple of hours we’ve spent with the two aforementioned games.
Quest 2’s improved screen resolution is actually more noticeable in these two PC games. If a few weeks ago we were amazed seeing the details of the cockpits of the TIE Fighters and the X-wings in the Star Wars game, during these last days we have been amazed again to discover them again in more detail. If at the beginning of the year the modeling and animations of the Half-Life Alyx characters seemed crazy to us, now we have enjoyed them with a more detailed layer. An anecdote: at the beginning of Valve’s adventure there is a puzzle where we have to fiddle with some disks with meat inside; the increase in resolution allowed us to see (probably it was also seen in Quest, but we had to look closer because we didn’t realize it) that in that fleshy blob there are human teeth and half-dead rats that are still breathing; Well used resolution enhancement. Of course, keep in mind that the increase in the number of pixels means that the computer must make more effort to reach the native resolution, just as if we went from a 1080p monitor to a 2K one.
The Oculus Quest catalog has improved, and a lot
Despite the key that is Oculus Link, many of you who are reading this will be interested in this Quest 2 for being that all-in-one, that helmet that does not need a PC or other devices (beyond the intuitive application phone to set up, buy games, download, etc.) to play games and access entertainment applications. This is something that has undergone a fundamental change from the launch of Quest until Quest 2 hits stores. The catalog, even considerably more limited than the computer one, has grown exponentially, becoming a very valuable platform in itself. In its extensive library we can find titles such as the rhythmic and calorie-burning wonder that is Beat Saber, the John Wick simulator Pistol Whip, the multiplayer madness that seems to come out of Ready Player One called Echo VR, the harrowing and incredibly satisfying twist to the puzzle genre The Room VR: A Dark Matter, the social wonder Dance Central VR, the space adventure Red Matter, and the must-have Tetris Effect, to name just a few that no one should miss.
But Facebook’s commitment to Quest 2, which has led to the sale of not only the original Quest but also Rift S, means that an extensive catalog of exclusive video games is coming that can only be played here. And on the near horizon there are already quite a few of them: the fast-paced battle royale Population: One, the sequel to Crytek’s The Climb 2, the dinosaurs of Jurassic World Aftermarth, the narrative adventure Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge and many others, some of which we have been able to test in an alpha or demo version. Warhammer 40,000 Battle Sister promises to be a festival of action gore; and Little Witch Academia, even though its anime graphics don’t work very well, it’s an interesting kart game in which we fly on a broomstick. Titles that have been released on PlayStation VR or PC virtual reality will also be coming to the platform, such as the unmissable synaesthetic arcade experience Rez Infinite and The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners. The demo that we have played of the latter has surprised us. At the end of 2019 we played this survival with an emphasis on exploration and resource management on a relatively powerful computer where it worked stable, but without fanfare. It’s amazing to see it, with the respective visual concessions, in an all-in-one headset where it plays as well as we remember it.
In the Quest catalog there is also no lack of applications, such as social environments in which to interact in different ways with other users, 3D cinema sessions and more than useful apps. For example, Virtual Desktop allows us, after a perhaps somewhat convoluted configuration process for those less used to fidgeting with technology, to play virtual reality titles for PC without the need for a cable; and vSpatial is an impressive productivity tool: it connects to our computer wirelessly to show us an immersive desktop where we can have numerous applications open at the same time, change their size intuitively, and in short, work with an infinite screen and modifiable.
The future of virtual reality?
Before moving on to the conclusions, allow us a couple of notes that do not have so much to do with the hardware of the device. Using Quest’s social features required a Facebook account to be able to add friends and live stream via Facebook Gaming (sadly you can’t stream directly to Twitch), but now that Facebook account is required for any use of the device, as it is required even from the configuration itself – this measure will also be applied to the original Quest. There may be users who are not comfortable with using Facebook applications, concerned about the privacy of their data, and although options are included to control said privacy, the use of that social network and its relatives (WhatsApp and Instagram) can be a matter of concern. complicated for some.
On the other hand, what does it mean that the Rift S is discontinued? The idea behind the Quest line is to make the use of a technology that will not stop evolving in the coming years more accessible. But at the same time, this technology advances in the same way as mobile phones or computers: generational leaps are made by high-end devices and in a few years they reach low-medium range devices, while new ones are made. progress. Probably, the technological advances of the Valve Index of more than 1000 euros, the HP Reverb 2 and others will be adopted in a few years by the cheapest virtual reality helmets, but until time proves us right, those premium products are the ones that make virtual reality evolve. And now, the company most dedicated to this technology, Oculus, has abandoned its PC headsets, the expensive devices where giant steps are taken. What will this mean for the future of virtual reality? Obviously, we do not have the answer, but we do have the doubts.
That said, we’re pretty clear: the Oculus Quest 2 is the best standalone VR headset on the market despite the issues we mentioned at the start, like the new headband and awkward lens fit. It is also the best value for money VR headset for PC. Of course, we do not see compelling reasons for those who have a Quest to jump to this sequel. As much as some may be wary of the company behind Oculus or the fact that the Oculus Store is a closed system where Facebook decides which games to include and which to discard, this device at this price democratizes a technology that of course has yet to evolve, but has never felt as robust as it does now.
Facebook has temporarily given us an Oculus Quest 2 to write this report.