Testing Floor: Oculus Quest 2 supplies unbelievable gaming expertise | Life
Growing up as a kid in the 1990s, we were told that virtual reality was the future of video games.
Films like “Lawnmower Man” and “Virtuosity” pretended we could put ourselves in another world, walk in strange shoes and fight villains in hand-to-hand combat or laser-to-laser combat.
Imagine the disappointment of our generation when VR meant staring at jagged polygonal landscapes that looked like they were made of paper, or worse, Nintendo’s Virtual Boy in which you stared at regular Nintendo games except everything was red was.
This is the kind of luggage I had when I first tried the Oculus Quest 2 ($ 299, oculus.com), the newest VR headset from Oculus, powered by Facebook. I hadn’t had any other VR experiences like the Oculus Rift or the Playstation VR because they were either prohibitively expensive or required additional equipment that I didn’t have.
This is my first VR experience since the 90s. I will say I am absolutely overwhelmed.
First off, Quest 2 doesn’t require a computer or gaming device to run. All you need is the headset and two touch controllers to act as your hands for whatever gaming experience you want. You immediately set a limit so that you don’t run into furniture or walls (you can also play while seated) and you’re good to go. For those new to VR, it offers one of the most user-friendly experiences even when you’re cold.
The experience of playing VR on Quest 2 is impressive enough that in a game like Star Wars: Tales from the Edge of the Galaxy, you would almost expect to feel the tactile elements on planets like Batuu. It was almost exactly the same experience we had 20 years ago.
The headset allows you to get used to the surroundings by being in a 3D grid where you can throw paper planes, launch missiles and clear a desk in one fell swoop. You can also use it to play shooting and dance games, both of which form a good foundation for expectations for VR.
The sound comes from the sides of the headset and creates a lush, ambient landscape. While it spills over to everyone else in the room, it’s aimed at you so as not to overwhelm anyone within earshot.
The headset itself is pretty comfortable as long as you set it up correctly. If you’re playing for 2-3 hours or less of the Quest’s battery life, you and the outer edge of the Oculus will likely be drenched in sweat, especially if you’re playing a rhythm game like Beat Saber. It’s hard to dock points for this as it involves wearing a large plastic helmet while moving.
Aside from the headset’s seemingly short battery life when not plugged into the power cord, the occasional glitch was the biggest drawback I had with the Oculus. Sometimes your VR characters’ hands are lashing out for no reason. In some games like Galaxy’s Edge, the headset loses its direction and leads you down a path that goes nowhere. Those who avoid social problems will find the requirement of a Facebook account problematic too.
Aside from these minor conflicts, my experience with the Oculus (approximately 40 hours) has been smooth, engrossing, and heart pounding. After all, a VR headset lived up to the hype.