For the last week or so, I have been using an Oculus Quest 2 as recently we have gotten a lot of request for VR coverage on our website, and you might have noticed us starting to cover VR games recently. Honestly, with our mission to highlight games that others might miss, how could we ever say no? In fact, from later today we will also have a dedicated VR category on our top menu!
Through this review, I will talk about a few different aspects of the hardware, including its comfort and build quality. Hopefully, I should also be able to highlight some great games that anyone with a VR headset should try out with or without Oculus Link. Not to mention, as I am a first time VR user, I will also talk about how it physically felt playing different experiences. Of course, being a developer myself, we’ll briefly delve into how easy it is to develop for the headset as well.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the overall build of the actual Headpiece as well as the controllers. Despite looking and feeling well built, with tight engineering, responsive button placement and a premium finish, the headset is not at all as heavy as I was expecting.
I currently have my headset sitting in a cushioned case, which has both the headpiece and controllers as well as the Oculus Link and charging cable. Every time I pick up the case to move it around, I still manage to get surprised with just how light the entire package is.
Whilst I have not had a lot of experience with VR before, I have tried some others like Index or the first few Oculus headsets at trade shows, and they were quite hefty to move around. Comparatively, this is so much lighter and easier to handle and move around.
This lighter weight also lends itself to the overall comfort whilst using the headset, something that really helps with some of the build shortcomings. At £299 for a 64GB model that we have, it is definitely the cheapest VR headset available and almost £100 cheaper than its predecessor. Understandably, this price cut has meant that certain parts of the hardware are rather flimsy.
The straps stand out the most in this regards, as it is quite a bit of hassle adjusting it with its flimsy buckles. There are two plastic buckles of sorts on each side of the strap that you have to put in quite an effort to tighten. The issue with having two different adjustment points is that you have to take care to adjust them evenly. Otherwise, it starts limping towards one side.
The face padding for the headset is another area where the build falls a bit short, as its a rather thin foam that makes the headset press against your forehead, causing pressure and discomfort on your temple after prolonged use.
Luckily, the headset has been made with modification in mind, which means that there are some fantastic leather alternatives to the face padding as well as the strap. Unfortunately due to the unanticipated demand for the headset, the Quest 2 Elite Strap is still sold out, and there aren’t many reliable third-party alternatives since the headset is relatively new. Because of which, we weren’t able to get our hands on it to see how it felt. Though, we will be more than happy to do an impression piece down the line when we get our hands on the accessories ourselves.
Another aspect regarding the hardware I would like to talk about is how good the material is. When I originally saw the USB-c port on the headset, I was a bit worried that it might be easy to scratch its surrounding area.
Impressively, however, even with sometimes accidentally scraping the surface with the USB C trying to get it in with my headset on blindly, there is not a single scratch on the surface yet.
Where the hardware really excels, in my opinion, is the controllers. The controllers are really well made, with sensitive buttons that accurately represent your input in-game. The system can pick up whether your hands are on a button, without you having to press it. It all feels very premium.
Not to mention, they are so energy-efficient that I have barely used the complimentary batteries supplied with the bundle. Each controller has a removable part of the shell, where you can slot in the batteries. You need one double-A battery in both controllers. As I mentioned before, the design of the hardware is so well-engineered that the shell blends in so well, and you have to remind yourself which part is detachable.
The software is where the headset really starts to shine, and I do not mean the videogames itself, but the actual tech behind the headset. It still blows my mind how capable this headset is, and can track your space so well due to the four cameras at the front of the headspace without requiring any extra equipment or boxes seen with other headsets.
The Guardian feature is a convenient tool with the headset and is something that lets you freely draw a boundary around your play-area. This feature warns you every time you are about to come close to a boundary, preventing you from knocking into things. What is even more impressive is that the headset remembers your last boundary, so you do not have to re-do the boundary every time. As a first time VR user, I really can’t emphasise how important this feature is, and that you shouldn’t turn it off.
The tracking really is brilliant (both in regards to your space and the controllers), and I was able to freely move around in my boundary and get an accurate representation in games. I will talk about this a bit more when we highlight some games, but it goes to show how much the VR tech has improved.
The UI for quest 2 is really intuitive as well, giving you a customisable home space, with a floating screen in front that you use to access your content. Everything I needed was easy to find or search for.
As with all modern technology, a lot of searching is usually involved, but luckily the keyboard and other search interfaces are implemented well enough that you can get used to organically using them.
What makes this all even better is that the headset features gesture support, so you can even use your hands instead of the controllers, and it generally tracks really well.
The headset is a lot more open than I thought it would be, allowing you delve into experimental updates as well as Developer features for the Quest 2. This is especially helpful if you are looking to dabble into VR Development like me.
I tried the headset with Unreal 4.25, and whilst I did have to look at the documentation online, it was relatively straight-forward to get it setup. You will need a high-bandwidth cable to deploy and test builds with the headset, but you don’t need to shell out for the £80+ Link. In fact, we only used an Anker USB 3.0 – USB C cable ourselves, which more than meets the requirement.
If you set your unreal or unity project as Oculus Quest ready, you won’t even have to keep your headset plugged in after deploying on it, and will be able to access the app anytime. By making developing this easy for the headset, Oculus has ensured that a lot more developers will be able to get their feet wet in the world of VR. I know that I will definitely be dabbling in VR development after seeing what it can do first hand.
PC Link (Oculus Link)
What got me the most excited about the headset other than development, was that it was capable of playing all SteamVR games that support Oculus Rift. Even more enticing was the fact that I could do all that without needing so many restrictive HDMI or other cables to connect to my PC like Rift or other devices, and rely on a single cable instead.
I wasn’t able to get my hands on the official Oculus Link cable and currently have one on pre-order but was recommended the Anker USB A to USB C cable by various people. Compared to the £80+ Link cable, the Anker one only set me back by £15.
Setting up the link to your Steam VR barely requires a lot of work. All you need is the Oculus App, as well as Steam VR and you are good to go. To link up to your PC, all you need to do is connect the wire to your headset. As soon as you do that, you get a prompt in the headset asking if you want to enable Oculus Link.
You are brought to a different front-end once you enable Link, and can launch Steam VR from the headset or through your PC. I have been playing tons of games via the link (more on that later), and I have not had a single issue connecting.
The Steam VR interface is rather nice and is an actual home space that you can move around in and choose what games to play from. It picks up all your VR ready games. The Oculus service has its own optional home-space too where you can customise your virtual space.
One thing to note at the moment, however, is that the Oculus Link is still in Beta so the quality will only get better by release. However, I have noticed that you get a better picture quality through virtual desktop (which is a wireless alternative) than the actual cable. It would have been ideal if Oculus had really invested more in the cable performance before releasing Quest 2, especially with it being so expensive. 90Hz has also been promised but is not available yet either, which is another shame.
Consequently, this does lend itself to a lower res experience, which isn’t a problem with the headset that has 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye compared to the original’s 1440 x 1600 but instead is an issue with how well the data is streamed through the cable. There are beta builds of the software you can try that let you change certain settings through your PC, but I won’t recommend it as it’s always resulted in stuttering for us. Hopefully, it won’t be long before Link is out of beta, and is able to really improve the overall experience.
If you do not get the Link cable, our advice would be for you to get an extension lead, as it can be easy to trip around your Anker wire, since it isn’t as long.