Oculus Quest 2 review: The $299 VR headset to rule them all
For those who prefer the original Quest’s stiffer headstrap, Oculus will offer an “elite” upgrade for the new headset. You can also grab a battery pack for the back of that strap, which will act as a counterweight and double your playtime. I didn’t get to try those out during, though, and it’s unclear when they’ll actually ship. But Oculus reps say they’re adamant about offering more fit choices this time around. It’s also building alternative facial interfaces that are wider and narrower than the one bundled with the headset, and other companies may offer their own accessories too.
Comfort seems to be the focus for the Quest 2’s controllers too. Oculus basically went back to the original design of the Rift’s motion controllers. They’re larger than before, but still light and easy to hold. And best of all, the company brought back the extra bit of space next to the gamepad buttons, which serves as a convenient thumb rest. The Quest’s controllers were solid, but they always felt like a watered down version of what the Rift got.
So what’s the VR experience actually like? Simply put: It’s better in every way. No matter what you’re looking at, from simple text to the trippy environments in Pistol Whip, it all looks significantly sharper and more detailed. While the Quest 2 doesn’t have the same allure of being the first standalone headset, it’s ability to bring us into VR wirelesslly continues to amaze me. After years of setting up finicky sensors and wearing headsets with Alien-like cables hooked up to beefy gaming rigs, the ability to just slip on a sleek device and step into VR is simply remarkable. And it’s even better now with all of the new hardware upgrades.
The stark, low-polygon aesthetic of Superhot shined even more on the Quest 2. I could make out enemies more clearly as I smashed bottles over their heads, and I was able to target far off baddies with ease. And I couldn’t stop staring at the level of detail for my bird companion in Falcon Age (that extra resolution makes petting it feel even more rewarding). I didn’t have any issues with motion sickness, but then again that’s never bothered me much with VR. (The 90Hz refresh rate upgrade will also help alleviate that down the line.) The Quest 2 gets a bit warm while gaming, but not enough to make you sweat. And I was surprised that I could play for around two hours at a time without feeling fatigued.
The new strap design also changed the way I used the Quest 2 when it came to consuming media. I could just lay down, rest my head on a pillow and enjoy the wonders of 360-degree videos on YouTube or The Legend of Korra on Netflix. That was harder to do with the first Quest, since it was tough to relax while its stiff strap was clamped to your skull. I was also able to binge more easily, since the Quest 2 typically lasted around two and a half hours on a single charge.
Still, at the end of the day, there are limitations to what Oculus can do with mobile hardware, even if it’s a more powerful chip. Moss, a game I absolutely adore, felt stripped down compared to its desktop version. On the Quest 2, the textures looked muddy and simplistic. The environment also lost a lot of the detail and charm I loved so much. But on the plus side, if you’ve got a decently powerful gaming PC, you can just plug in the Quest 2. After playing 15 minutes of Moss in standalone mode, I connected it to PC and was instantly thrust into the lush magic-filled forest I remembered.
Okay, not everyone has a beefy rig, I get it. But the magic of the Quest 2 is that it can adapt. Are you a serious gamer who wants a decently affordable VR headset that can sometimes go wireless? Or are you a more casual user who mainly wants to play Superhot and dive into 360 degree videos? Either way, it’s got you covered.