Oculus promised to bring us the next generation of virtual reality, and they really delivered with the Oculus Quest!
Since entering the VR market, I’ve shown dozens of people the wonders of virtual reality. From hard core gamers to those who pride themselves saying, “Well, I don’t like computers, so I don’t think I’ll really be into it…” within a few minutes of Beat Saber or Robo Recall always have the same question:
“So… how much does this cost?”
My answer was always the same, it’s not the system that is expensive, it is the computer to run it.
Oculus Quest changes that, making it so anyone can get into VR. At a release price of $400, the Oculus Quest will be a standalone system that can compete with XBox, PlayStation, and Nintendo. It delivers VR to the masses very well.
But at what cost?
We are still waiting on the full specs for the Quest, but here are a few things we do know.
Don’t get me wrong, wireless is going to be awesome! But wireless inherently means it’s all on you. Literally, the battery pack, CPU, hard drive, video driver, sensors, everything will be on your headset, and it all has to fit comfortably, so it can’t be too heavy or bulky.
What We Know
The first gen Oculus Quest release will only have 64 GB of memory. Most VR games are considerably smaller than other PC games (looking at you, Ark), and they tend to be between 5-10GB. This is because VR games tend to do a few simple things, and if they are good they do them well.. Other games, however, can take 20-30 GB, and there goes roughly half of your total memory.
On top of that, if Oculus is anything like Apple (prayers to the tech gods that they are not), a good 5-10 GB of the 64 GB is likely used up by the Quest core program. That leaves room for 6-12 standard sized games, which means you will be installing and uninstalling games like you used to do with your Razr flip phone when the gallery got full.
Q: Why don’t they just add an expanded memory slot?
A: Because you lose a lot of speed when you use expanded memory, which is why the Galaxy S6 did not feature expandable memory. Samsung devs thought people would value speed over memory, but what do consumers know about what we want?!
Q: Why didn’t they add more memory?
A: I don’t know, what do I look like, a crystal ball?! No, but seriously, I have no clue.
Oculus boasts that “most” games that work on the Rift will work on the Quest. Their business model going forward (and it is a smart one) is to build games for the Quest, then release them for the Rift. That will likely go for all VR game developers, the Oculus Quest is likely to be the most popular VR model on the planet, based on its low price range and high capabilities. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that everything made for VR will eventually work on the Quest, though games ported to VR may not. Sorry, Elite Dangerous.
From the Quest promotional video we saw a lot of games featured, though not named, that are fan favorites, such as The Unspoken, Marvel, VR Boxing, and probably Beat Saber.
We can also assume that all of the games featured on Oculus Connect 5 have been tested on the Oculus Quest, which means most of our favorite games will definitely work.
But most importantly….
The Oculus Quest has 6DoF (degrees of freedom) meaning you can move in any direction and the remotes will still register. How well this works, remains to be seen, since the sensors are on the headset.
For example, if I do something behind my back, will the sensors still pick it up? How well do the sensors register when I pull out my shotguns from over my shoulder in Robo Recall? What if I am playing Beat Saber, looking forward with one leg forward, my hands down at my side, am I going to slice random mines with my rear hand?
Likely Oculus has taken these things into consideration, how well it works… well, we will just have to wait and see!
We know the Quest will have the same resolution as the Oculus Go, (1,600 x 1,400 pixels per eye) which is a good step up from the Rift.
It appears we will not be getting varifocal lenses (makes it easier to focus on things in the virtual world that are close up) this time around. Likely this tech is still too large to fit with everything else the Quest features, so perhaps the next gen wireless Oculus will? Chances are we will see this tech on the next wired Oculus release… assuming they make another wired version.
The Quest’s processing power will be significantly less than what you will get in your computer. We kind of expected that, your Rift is connected to a giant machine compared to a mobile device, but it is disappointing to know that it won’t be ahead of it’s time in this regard.
On the one hand, Facebook believes it can run the Quest on a Snapdragon 835, or a Samsung Galaxy S8. That is a really powerful device, however it will be 2 years old by the time the Quest is released.
We can’t complain too much, the Galaxy S8 still sells for $500+ at BestBuy (as of the writing of this article), so buying the Quest at $400 is still a steal.
Perhaps the Quest’s next version’s CPU will be more cutting edge?
Wired VR sets, like the Rift and Vive, can be played in a medium sized room, in roughly a 50 square feet play area. Oculus Go and PlayStation VR are both sitting/standing play areas, you cannot move at all.
Oculus Quest boasts a 4,000 SQUARE FOOT PLAY AREA.That’s right, 4,000 square feet. I checked 3 different sites to make sure I read that correctly, not 40, not 400, not 40,000 (don’t get greedy), but 4,000 square feet. Most homes aren’t even that big.
What… what am I going to do with that size play area? That’s huge! And awesome. I cannot wait to see what game developers make with this capability.
The goal of Oculus and Facebook is to get 1 billion VR users, and the Oculus Quest is a huge leap forward in getting us there.
Just for reference, 1 billion is roughly the population of the United States of America and Europe combined, 1/4 the population of Asia, and 1/7 the population of the entire world.
Long term goals, Mark. Keep your sights high.
The release of the Oculus Quest reaching the masses means that more and more people will be getting into VR. That means multiplayer VR is going to explode!
Finally, no more 15 minute wait times for The Unspoken, or Archangel: Hellfire!
We will also see virtual reality being used in more fields, such as medicine, mechanics, and other forms of job training.
What We Don't Know
I think the most important questions we all have are:
- No seriously, batteries
- How long can I play on a single charge?
- How long does it take to recharge
- Can I swap out battery packs for (relatively) uninterrupted game play?
Personally, I don’t think I would mind an extra battery pack being attachable to the back of the headset. I mean, maybe cancer? But I already have a screen strapped to my face, so I’ve accepted the inevitable. A battery pack strapped to the back of the headset would extend the battery life considerably of course, but it would also help balance out the headset. The Quest must be heavier than the Rift… right?
Rift or Quest?
If you already have a Rift, keep it. The Rift is proven to be a solid, powerful system, and you already have the hardware to run it. You will not have to worry about lacking power to run demanding games, or recharging the headset. When your Rift breaks down, you will be able to make a nice and easy switch to the Quest.
If you are thinking of getting a VR system and aren’t sure which one you want, I would wait for the Quest to come out. I know, VR games are just so fun! And you want to get one now! However, most people do not have a computer capable of running the Rift, which means you will be paying $400 for the Rift, plus more to upgrade your computer, plus more for extension cables, an extra sensor, wall mounts, etc.
Now that I think about it, the Quest makes almost all of the products I have reviewed mostly obsolete. That’s fantastic.
The Final Question
Now the big question becomes… is Mark Zuckerberg reverse engineering his futuristic android technology to propel us into the future…