While the earliest form of virtual reality came in the form of the View-Master in the 1930s, it wasn’t until the 2010s with the introduction of the Oculus Rift where VR started to become more popular and more accessible.
Even though Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for around $2 billion USD, VR systems have been a tethered experience to a decently powered PC. There have been systems that use a phone to power VR experiences like the Gear VR or Google Daydream but none have been truly standalone until recently.
Back in 2018, Oculus formally introduced their first standalone headset with the Oculus Quest but it didn’t release until May 2019.
After using the Oculus Quest for a few months, it’s a great device that offers immersive experiences that are on par with PC-based VR.
Design & Hardware
The design of the Oculus Quest looks very similar to past Oculus headsets. Since the Oculus Quest is an all-in-one VR system, you don’t need a PC or phone to use it.
The front of the headset has the cameras used to track the 6 Degrees-of-Freedom. The display on the Quest has a resolution of 1600×1440 per eye and there’s also built-in headphones and lens spacing slider.
The cushion around the Quest’s lenses is very comfortable especially for people who wear glasses as I do. It may take a few minutes to get the fit just right. Powering the headset is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor which is the same one found in the Galaxy S8/S8+ and Pixel 2/2 XL.
If you prefer to plug in your own headphones, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on either side and the USB-C port is on the left side of the headset. The right side of the headset has the power button.
Alongside the headset, you also get the Oculus Touch controllers which support hand and gestures. Each controller has two buttons on top next to the joystick along with two triggers.
In terms of battery life, the Oculus Quest lasts around 2 hours of intense sessions.
The Oculus Quest comes in two storage capacities, 64GB and 128GB. The 64GB model I tested costs $549 CAD while the 128GB model costs $699 CAD.
If you plan on carrying your Oculus Quest around or at least want to keep it safe, I would recommend this case from Amazon.ca for around $40 CAD.
To set up your Oculus Quest, you’ll need the Oculus app for Android or iOS. You’ll be asked to connect your headset by pairing it to your Oculus account. The app will let you install apps and games to your Quest and also cast your Quest so you can show it on a TV.
When you put on the Oculus Quest, you’ll first be asked to create a guardian which essentially a virtual border so then you’re not bumping into things in the real world while playing. You can set a guardian for either standing-only or room-scale experiences.
If you do step out beyond the guardian, the Oculus Quest has a passthrough camera that shows you the world in black and white.
After you’ve created a guardian, you’ll then be taken to the Oculus Home which is a virtual room. Oculus Home is divided up into a few sections, Navigate, People, Sharing, Notifications and Settings.
The bottom of your screen in Oculus Home will show you a floating menu that switches between these tabs. On that same menu, you’ll see the time, your Wi-FI strength, options to switch between Roomscale and Stationary along with the battery life of your headset and controllers.
Navigate will let you switch between the Oculus Home main screen, Library (for all installed/purchased experiences), Store, Browser, Gallery and Search.
The People tab lets you see your Profile, Friends, Parties, Events and report people.
The Sharing Tab lets you Cast your screen to a Chromecast device or your phone via the Oculus app, Go Live, Record, Take Photos and Share Photos. Notifications are pretty self-explanatory and show your things like app/games that have finished installing etc.
And settings lets you adjust different aspects of the headset such as volume, Wi-Fi network, reset view, Guardian setting and Oculus Link.
Oculus Link is a fairly new feature that is technically in beta, so there may still be some glitches or bugs. But basically, it allows you to play PC-based VR games using your Oculus Quest (i.e turns your Oculus Quest into an Oculus Rift).
To use Oculus Link, you’ll need a compatible PC and a USB-C 3.0 cable like this one from Anker (that Oculus actually recommends). One thing to note is that the USB-C cable that comes with the Oculus Quest is USB 2.0, so it won’t work.
To start using Oculus Link, you’ll need to install the Oculus app for Windows on your PC. And in the settings, they’ll be an option to enable Oculus Link. After you’ve set up Oculus Link, you’ll be able to play PC VR games that are from the Oculus Store or from Steam (aka ones that are Steam VR compatible).
For compatible PC specs, you can find them here. Only Nvidia GPUs are currently supported for Oculus Link but AMD CPUs will work.
The initial setup process for Oculus Link was a bit tricky at first but after a bit of troubleshooting, it works great. I was able to play Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx using the Oculus Quest and Oculus Link. You’ll want some room to play the game though to get the full experience. I was playing it stationary.
In addition to Oculus Link, the company is adding support for hand tracking on Oculus Quest. That means you won’t need to use the Oculus Touch controllers to play certain games.
One of the biggest reasons you’ll want to buy the Oculus Quest is the games for it. I played a few games for the Oculus Quest and here are some of my favourites.
- Vader Immortal: Episodes I, II, III – $11.99 CAD per episode
- If you’re a Star Wars fan, even a casual one, then you’ll enjoy Vader Immortal. The game will make you feel like a Jedi especially when you come face to face with Vader himself.
- Job Simulator – $22.99 CAD
- The game lets you experience what it’s like to be a gourmet chef, office worker, a convenience store clerk and more. Job Simulator was one of my favourites, especially some for the funny dialogue your robot companions have.
- Vacation Simulator – $34.99 CAD
- Made by the same team behind Job Simulator, this time around you’re on an island for a relaxing vacation. You’ll be able to walk around, paint and talk to fellow guests.
- Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs – $16.99 CAD
- We all remember playing Angry Birds on our phones, the VR version for Oculus Quest makes it a much more immersive and yet challenging experience. In addition to the pre-built levels, the game also comes with a level editor, so you can make your own.
- Moss – $34.99 CAD
- If you like platforming and action-adventure games, then you’ll love playing Moss. You play as Quill, a young mouse the explores the woods and goes on an epic journey.
- Sports Scramble – $34.99 CAD
- Sports Scramble isn’t your typical sports game, sure it has golf, bowling, baseball but it’s all with a twist. The game mixes sports together, so you’ll play baseball with a golf club or bowling with a basketball.
- Racket Fury: Table Tennis VR – $22.99
- If mixed up sports aren’t your thing, there are more traditional games like table tennis. Racket Fury has you face off against robots in a realistic tablet tennis game.
- Beat Saber – $34.99 CAD
- Think of Beat Saber as a VR equivalent to Guitar Hero or Rock Band games. It’s a rhythm game where you have to slash the beats (shown in-game as small cubes) as they come at you. There’s a good amount of songs included in Beat Saber but you can also buy song packs from more songs by Panic! At The Disco, Imagine Dragons, Green Day and more.
Please Note: All the games mentioned above apart from Beat Saber, a review code was provided to test out the game for this Oculus Quest review.
In addition to the games and apps mentioned, there are quite a few VR apps such as Prime Video VR or Netflix VR that let you watch content from those streaming services in a VR experience.
The Oculus Store for the Quest has a good amount of apps and games that offer something for everyone. The Quest does fall a bit short in terms of the number of app/games compared to the ones available for the Rift and other PC-based VR headsets
Overall, the Oculus Quest is a great piece of hardware that offers experiences for everyone whether they’re accustomed or new to VR.
- Completely wireless and standalone (i.e no PC required to use)
- Easy to use interface and setup
- Great performance for a standalone headset
- Built-in speakers work well
- Oculus Link is a great way to expand the VR experience further
- Short battery life (around 2 hours)
- A slightly limited number of titles compared to PC-based VR headsets (at least popular games like Beat Saber are on Quest)