The Oculus Quest 2’s one-year anniversary marks how a lot it has grown
When Facebook and Oculus released the Oculus Quest 2 on October 13, 2020 – a year ago today – we praised it as an ergonomic device with significant improvements over the original Quest in terms of performance and display quality. But a limited period of review can only show you so much. The longer you use a device, the easier it is to get over the honeymoon and spot the cracks in the seams.
After almost a year with the Oculus Quest 2, I’ve seen many of the most common ailments with the device – and found ways to work around them. I invested in a new head strap to better balance the front-heavy weight. I tend to get a low battery warning after about 90 minutes, which interrupts my immersion, so I took a look at the batteries. I’m one of those people who have had bad skin irritation from the standard foam face cover (which recently resulted in a Quest 2 recall) so I bought a better face cover replacement.
The Quest 2 will of course turn you into a VR nerd looking for accessories to fix Oculus hardware dropouts.
How you feel about Quest 2 depends on whether you think a console should be a complete package to start with or if you are okay with a company selling a cheap fixer console upper. Old school VR fans are used to modifying their devices with accessories to fix manufacturers’ mistakes and they won’t mind, but every Quest 2 store page calls it an “all-in-one.” “Device, and that hasn’t been entirely confirmed for casual buyers.
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While the Oculus Quest 2 owners have a duty to make hardware improvements, the Oculus team deserves praise for all of the software upgrades made to the headset over the past year. Just check out this timeline of new features patched to the console in monthly updates without the need for new accessories:
- December 2020: The Oculus v23 update adds support for 90 Hz gaming, Oculus Move fitness stats, and the OpenXR plug-in for games developed on non-Oculus platforms.
- February 2021: Facebook is creating the App Lab that allows you to buy and play games from indie developers without sideloading. v25 has also patched voice commands, a proper universal menu for accessing in-game settings, and an improved Guardian 2.0 version that focuses on seated players. In the same month you can place your couch in your virtual room with version v26.
- April 2021: Oculus launches Air Link for wireless PC VR, wired refresh rates of 120 Hz, and in-headset projections of physical keyboards for typing.
- May 2021: The v29 update adds phone notifications in the headset, multiple accounts on a headset, and 120 Hz wireless support.
- June 2021: Oculus adds accessibility features such as color-blind settings and manual vertical perspective shifting so that while seated you feel like you are standing.
- July 2021: The v31 update enables USB-C headphone support and improved social invitations to quickly join or host games with friends.
- August 2021: The Guardian gets another makeover with Space Sense, which allows you to see people or objects clearly when they enter your play zone.
No other game console has improved its software this year like Oculus did with Quest 2.
Oculus has revamped its menus and user interface, turned Oculus Link into a wireless experience, doubled the refresh rate, and vastly improved its AR capabilities in less than a year. I urge you to think of another video game console that has brought so many new features and software updates after launch – not counting the ones tied to a new paid accessory like the Xbox Kinect.
Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central
Of all the software updates, I especially appreciated when Oculus made improvements to the Guardian barrier (now Space Sense). As someone living in a one-room apartment with no proper space for virtual games, I had to pause my own immersion and remind myself not to stray too far for fear of slamming into furniture or hitting my partner with an inappropriate Oculus Touch. Now VR feels less isolating and dangerous – solely thanks to AR tools.
Beyond hardware and software, however, it is thanks to the excellent Quest 2 games library that the console has become a daily or weekend mainstay for millions of gamers.
No matter what type of VR gamer you are, you will find several Quest 2 games that will fit into this niche.
You have a couple hundred Oculus Quest and Quest 2 advanced games to start with. Then there are Oculus Rift games and SteamVR games playable through Air Link, as well as over 500 App Lab games from indie developers – many of which are free. VR games tend to be short, but you will never run out of content if you buy the right games.
Some people use the Quest 2 as a training device and subscribe to apps like Supernatural or FitXR for daily training. Others prefer to keep in touch with friends, jump into the Rec Room for an occasional hangout, or Population: One to saturate their competitive edge.
Source: Michael Hicks / Android Central
In my case, VR remains a much more lonely and relaxed activity; I prefer D&D for my “multiplayer” gaming with friends, and while Beat Saber or Creed: Rise to Glory might qualify as cross-training, my marathon training is usually done outdoors. So I prefer puzzle and story based games like I Expect You to Die 2 or Vacation Simulator. Games that I can immerse myself in and evade my responsibility and worry for a while.
It is testament to the breadth and depth of the Quest Store that no matter what type of VR gamer you are, you can find several Quest 2 games to fit into this niche. Virtually every VR developer is giving up PC VR and porting their games to the more limited hardware of Quest 2 as gamers spend millions of dollars building their Quest 2 libraries. And Oculus Studios is bringing big franchise names to VR with games like Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge and Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners.
As the Oculus Store adds even better, more massive games, it gets harder and harder to cope with a 64GB Quest 2.
Thanks to high sales, Oculus Quest 2 games get more sophisticated gameplay, graphical upgrades, longer storylines, and more DLC support. There is only one downside to this trend: the games are getting bigger, with the upcoming 45GB Medal of Honor game being the most extreme example. Unfortunately, as the owner of 64GB Quest 2 (which gives you just over 50GB of actual storage space), I cannot play without uninstalling my entire game library, which would instantly delete all of my storage files.
Looking towards the second year of Quest 2, there are still areas where Oculus can improve on the software side. For example, I can’t believe we still don’t have proper cloud storage functionality for all Quest 2 games, so you can delete your library to make room without erasing all of your progress. And while you can sideways load Android apps on the Quest 2, I’m happy to see that apps like Spotify get properly integrated when playing VR games.
I could also vaguely hope that Oculus will make a change of heart and remove the Facebook sign-in requirement so you don’t lose access to your entire Quest 2 library in the event of Facebook outages. But there’s no chance for a snowball to happen.
The Oculus Quest 3 is likely to be at least a year out; and even if Facebook rolls out an Oculus Quest Pro soon, a lot of people will stick with Quest 2 for years to come. So I’m excited to see how Oculus Quest 2 will develop from now until next October!
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