It’s fair to say I introduced myself to Oculus Quest with a healthy dose of skepticism. Facebook’s new standalone headset is hardly the first to try and broaden VR’s appeal; Gear VR, Lenovo’s Mirage Solo and Oculus Go each set out with that same mission. But did any of these really change the conversation around VR? The complaints about accessibility, price, content and performance? Not really.
Even with the promise of inside-out tracking, I wasn’t convinced Quest would necessarily change the game any more than these headsets have. Now that I’ve owned one for just under a month, though, I’m much more assured that it will.
VR Without The Hassle
Quest removes so much of the burden of VR that it’s genuinely become a part of my daily schedule. I’m not talking about hesitantly hooking up Rift wires and trudging through yet another Guardian recalibration. I’m also not fighting my PSVR camera to find the specific spot in my living room that provides the best tracking. I just grab the kit, stand in the center of my room and dive into VR. I know how often that’s been promised, but this time it really is a revelation.
But it didn’t happen overnight. I’ll admit to first feeling a little underwhelmed by Quest’s closeness to Rift games and the familiarity I felt with much of it. The change instead came methodically; less of a lightbulb moment and more of a gradual brightening.
Over the past four weeks, I’ve started to find myself more enthusiastic about jumping into VR. Not because I don’t already love it; at this point I’m practically enamored with the platform. Instead, it’s the strides the console makes in immediacy. For the past few nights I’ve not been able to resist diving back into Star Wars: Vader Immortal‘s addictive wave-based combat mode when I’m meant to be pushing on with other reviews. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, getting a quick hit of lightsaber-swinging action without any of the added hassle feels like the clearest manifestation of VR’s promise of instant wish fulfillment.
Changing The Conversation
More importantly, though, Quest has eradicated that awkward moment. You know that one I mean, when a jaw-dropped first timer removes a Vive or a Rift from their eyes and giddily asks: “How much?!”
“Uh, well you have to buy a PC that costs about $1,000,” you say. “And then the headset is about $400.”
“Oh,” they reply.
Granted $399 is still a little on the dear side, but it’s a much easier pill to swallow now. It’s no longer a conversation killer, it’s a starting point from which you can show people why they should buy into VR. That’s going to play an important part in any VR conversation going forward. So yes, on a very literal level, Quest is going to change the conversation.
Oculus’ next challenge will be to keep the momentum up. Quest’s launch line-up is fantastic and will buy it a few weeks of happy gamers, but we’ll need a steady supply of great new content in the months to come. Moreover, Quest will have to convince developers to keep its limited hardware specs in mind for the next few years as PC rigs become increasingly capable. Something tells me it’s more likely that Rift S and Valve Index will end up bowing to Quest rather than the other way around, but keeping the gap in quality to an acceptable level will be one of the headset’s biggest hurdles.
For now, though, Oculus Quest is off to an incredible start. Give it a month and I think you’ll agree with me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a lightsaber with my name on it.