Perfect Time to Jump Into VR with Oculus Quest 2
Article by Angie Kibiloski
VR has been around for quite some time now, but hasn’t become as widely adopted as other gaming and entertainment consoles, due to a number of factors. Some people are hesitant simply because they don’t think VR has much more to offer than standard gaming platforms. Some may have seen sub-par VR in the past, and felt it just wasn’t impressive enough to bother owning a console themselves. Others may find the cost of VR headsets and other required consoles and peripheral equipment to be prohibitive. The good news is, right now is the perfect time for those hold-outs to jump into the space, and discover the joys of VR, through newly affordable hardware, and some impressive collections of gaming and app experiences.
You may have seen the news this summer, that Facebook did a voluntary recall of their Oculus Quest 2 systems, due to the foamy face pad causing skin irritation in some people. Last month, they rolled back out the new units, but not only did they improve the face pad with a skin-protecting silicon covering, they also doubled the amount of storage that comes built-in on the Quest 2, from 64 GB to 128 GB, for the same price as it had been before the recall, $299. That’s an incredible improvement to add, especially while retaining the price. This new version of Quest 2 is the first reason why I say that now is the time to get into VR. So, let’s talk a bit more about the Oculus Quest 2.
This headset has been out for a year now, though as I stated, the re-issued model just came back out last month. There are some known issues with this headset, which we’ll discuss, and for true VR aficionados those may be deal-breakers, but for a beginner to the environment, these inconveniences should be worth the very accessible price point. Let’s go over the great stuff about the Quest 2 first, because I think it outweighs the negative. The biggest plus is, obviously, the price. You’ll not find another good VR headset for under $300, with many of them well over twice that. The Quest 2 is a stand-alone system too, meaning that unlike other headsets, you don’t need any other pricey gaming consoles or a high-spec PC in order to use it. All the content and hardware you need is right on the Quest 2 itself. It’s also wireless, unlike other headsets, and even previous Oculus models, so you aren’t tethered to anything, and can move around your play space freely. There’s a ton of content, available directly from the Oculus Store within the headset, and some of the games make the $299 price tag worth it all on their own. We’ll discuss those games a bit later.
Now for the drawbacks of Quest 2, of which there are 2 main ones. You’ll find these discussed on any forum or sub-Reddit where Quest 2 is mentioned, so I’ll be brief. These issues are the stock head strap, and the Fresnel lenses. The head strap, being just light-weight fabric strips with clumsy plastic adjustment sliders at the back, can be fiddly to get sized properly, difficult to keep in place depending on your head shape, and uncomfortable for extended play sessions. I don’t hate this strap as much as others, but it would be nice to have something more substantial in the back, to off-set the weight of the headset away from the front of my face. Fortunately, there are many, many, many 3rd-party brands selling replacement straps, made of molded plastic with padding, which cradle your head a bit better, and are easier to adjust. I’ll leave links to some of these at the bottom of the article. The Fresnel lenses used in this headset are crafted with a sort of stair-step structure, instead of the continuous smooth curve of a standard lens. They’re lighter than other types of lenses, making them better for an already bulky headset, but there are flaws intrinsic to their design, like a very tiny “sweet spot,” and what are called “god rays.” The sweet spot is the space right in front of your eyes, where you’ll get the crispest image, and it can be difficult to adjust your headset to exactly match this spot to the position of your own eyes. God rays are streaks of light that are caused by either bright lights in your game, or light-leak around the headset, interacting with the structure of the lenses. Both issues can be very annoying, but are also issues you can learn to live with, until you can afford to upgrade from a $299 VR device to a $600-$1K device. You can also purchase different lens protectors, and facial interfaces, to help with fit and light leaks, and you’ll find links to some of those at the bottom as well. Having said all of this, I still think the Oculus Quest 2 is a great headset, especially for people just getting into the game, who want to try out VR with an incredibly affordable option.
Moving on, the 2nd reason that I think now is a great time to start your VR journey is the huge amount of quality content being produced. In years past, especially when VR headsets were first starting to hit the consumer market, content was very limited, making the purchase of a device a little pointless for most people. The graphic resolution of the content that did exist was garbage, and many people who’d been excited at the prospect of VR were turned off the first time they saw its limitations. I was one of those people, and I stayed away for years because of that initial experience. It was like I’d been expecting to step into a high-def photo, and I’d stepped into a watercolor instead. Now, though, you can find a plethora of great games and apps, both beautifully rendered and exciting to experience. I’m going to run through a few for you here, specifically focused on titles for Oculus Quest 2.
First off, let me talk about some of the awesome FREE content, available in the Oculus Store, since my first point as to why now is a great time to dive in was the low cost of entry. There are 2 tutorial apps, called First Steps, and First Contact, which are a absolute must-haves upon your initial launch of the Quest 2. These are not just dry walkthroughs of the controls and features. Oh no, they’re super fun little mini-experiences, featuring 2 adorable robots…which are also walkthroughs of the controls and features. They’re short sessions, but I could play them multiple times and still enjoy my time within them. Especially for first-time VR users, it’s very helpful to learn what actions your handheld controllers can do, before launching into full games. Next up, I’d suggest a sweet little app called Bogo, where you have to figure out how to befriend the cutest little bear/dog/reptile creature. There are no on-screen instructions, just glowing items and facial/body language queues from your new friend, so it allows you to intuitively discover where you can go and what you can interact with. I’ve found that time means little when you’re in VR, but I’m going to guess that I spent around 20 minutes in this app, start to finish. I wish it was longer, but I can always go back in and visit my little pal for a tummy rub.
After getting your VR legs with these 3 short apps, you can browse the extensive catalogue of games and other apps in the Oculus Store for free full-length titles. MISSION: ISS is an incredible look at what it’s like to be on the International Space Station, orbiting high above the Earth. You’ll get to learn how to maneuver your body in zero-gravity, and manipulate some of the equipment on-board. For the few minutes I played this app, I enjoyed myself immensely, but it was unfortunately one that gave me motion sickness, due to all of the spinning. Surprisingly, considering how motion sick I get in real life, it’s the only title I’ve found, so far, that has made me feel sick enough to quit. If you don’t experience this issue, I highly recommend this app. Elixir is a potion-making game, which utilizes the cool hand-tracking feature of the Quest 2. Put down your controllers and use the movements of your actual hands to interact with the VR space. Quirky and colorful, this game was a fun little break from button pushing.
The Oculus Store is not the only place you can conveniently find content, directly within your headset. App Lab is a 3rd-party distributor of games that are not natively sold by the Oculus Store, so you will not be able to browse the full catalogue of App Lab titles from your headset. However, you can search for them within the Store by name, and purchase them directly from there. If you’re on your phone or browser where you’ve connected your Oculus account, through the Oculus app or website, you can browse one of the App Lab list sites for titles, and their pages should link you directly to the Oculus Store page, where you can add them to your account. Next time you boot up your headset, they should be waiting for you to download. I haven’t played them yet, but several of the free titles I discovered look like they’ll be pretty fun. Open Brush is a free version of the popular paid app called Tilt Brush, where you get to draw, paint, and sculpt in 3D. I don’t mean you just stand at a 3D canvas and paint like you’re in a studio space, but rather you can create 3D pieces from normally 2D materials. Use a paint brush to make a stroke of paint that spirals up from the floor like a ribbon, for instance, as if you’re sculpting with paint. Liminal is a mood-altering game that uses a variety of environments to create a sense of calm, excitement, and awe, with more moods to be added in the future. Relax, play, and explore your way to an enhanced state of mind. The app I’m most excited to try out is Ancient Dungeon, currently in its Beta stage. It’s a 3D dungeon crawler with a Minecraft aesthetic, where you get to openly explore a pixel-block dungeon, finding treasure chests and fighting monsters, while climbing vine covered walls and trying not to get yourself too lost. It looks like a lot of fun.
There are obviously a ton more paid games and apps than there are free ones, both inside the Oculus Store and from App Lab. Some of them you’ll have heard of, even without ever having played VR at all, like Vader Immortal and Beat Saber. I’ve played Beat Saber every day since I got my Quest 2 a couple weeks ago, and downloaded all of the extra song packs as well. This is one of those games that I mentioned earlier, which makes the cost of the headset worth it, even if it was the only game you ever played. In fact, it’s quite possible that my primary motivation in buying my Oculus Quest 2 was to play Beat Saber, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s not only super fun, but it’s also a great workout too. Vader Immortal is a 3-episode saga, where you get to step into the world of Star Wars and interact with Vader, as well as a number of other awesome characters. Learn how to use a lightsaber and move objects with the Force, all amidst a fairly captivating narrative. Both of these games have been out for quite some time, and Beat Saber actually pre-dates the Quest 2. There are new apps and games being added all of the time, and some of the newest and upcoming titles look very exciting. I hope to get my hands on many of them, and I’ll let you know about all the best ones.
Bringing it back to my original point, right now is definitely the perfect time for anyone who has yet to make the jump into VR to go ahead and join the party. With the Quest 2 retailing for such an affordable price, Oculus has made VR accessible to just about everyone. With its recently redesigned face pad, and upgraded storage capacity, this headset really can’t be beat for entry-level devices. True, it has its issues, and if you can afford to spend $600-$1K on gaming equipment, you might look elsewhere, but in the 2 weeks I’ve had my Quest 2, I’ve already gotten my $299 worth of enjoyment out of it. I’ve downloaded hours and hours of free content to play with, and there’s probably years worth of quality paid games to discover in the Oculus Store and App Lab. If you’ve hesitated to get into VR in the past, now is your chance to finally experience it. Check out the links below for some optional accessories for the Quest 2, and check back on our site in the near future for full reviews of some brand new titles that just hit the Oculus Store.
Check out these other accessories for Quest 2: KIWI Design Facial Interface, AMVR Silicon Face Cover and Lens Anti-Scratch Ring, JSVER Carrying Case.
*We are not affiliated with any of these brands or the reviewers who recommended them. Use your own judgement and research when choosing 3rd-party accessories.