RUB out those Christmas lists and start over – because you need to ask Santa for an Oculus Quest 2.
Facebook’s new virtual reality headset is ludicrous fun, and doesn’t cost the Earth.
Oculus Quest 2 – what is it?
The Oculus brand has been a mainstay of VR for years.
And the latest model – the Quest 2 – is the most tempting yet, getting you high-end VR for just £299.
That might sound like a lot, but I’m convinced you’re better off buying this than a new games console.
There are endless apps and games to enjoy, and the thrill of proper VR has never been cheaper.
If you’ve tried a Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard before, discount them immediately.
The Oculus Quest 2 is much more akin to a proper Oculus or the HTC Vive, cutting corners only where absolutely necessary.
And the joy of the Quest 2 is that you don’t need a powerful gaming PC on the side. It works totally on its own.
Oculus Quest 2 – design
Let’s start from the beginning: VR.
VR stands for virtual reality, and involves wearing a headset that replaces your entire field of view with computer-generated images.
Facebook’s headset is equipped with a load of sensors that track the motion of your head.
But they also scan your room, letting you set up virtual walls that stop you walking into…your actual walls.
You also get two controllers that let you track the movement and position of your hands.
Even better, the controllers known when your finger is resting on a button and when it’s not – so you can do things like a thumbs-up or pointing in some VR games.
All this means you can enjoy fully immersive VR.
You can walk around with your own legs, pick up and catch objects, crouch, jump and more.
The headset is comfortable to wear – I have used it for an hour or more with no issues.
There are adjustable straps and lenses, and even an extender for if you need to wear glasses.
You’ll endure some initial faff during setup trying to get the straps and lenses to the right positions for you – but once you’ve done it, it’s sorted forever.
Graphically, the headset is great, with objects clearly defined, colourful and bright.
You can also upgrade the graphics if you’ve got a gaming PC.
This involves purchasing the Oculus Link Cable, which plugs straight into the USB-C port on your desktop or laptop.
If you’ve got a VR-ready computer, you’ll be able to enjoy more graphically intensive content.
The 5metre cable plugged straight into my Dell Alienware R10 Ryzen Edition gaming PC with plenty of length spare for me to use the headset while standing up.
The built-in audio is great, offering spatial 3D sound that is very immersive.
Oculus Quest 2 – games and apps
Once you’ve set up the Oculus Quest 2, you’re transported to a stunning terrace overlooking a vast jungle.
This is your virtual home, where you can access settings, menus, the Oculus Store, and your library of apps, games and media.
You can watch your own videos, or even via apps like Netflix – but most of the fun comes from gaming.
Probably my favourite game so far is Beat Saber.
It’s a rhythm-action game that’s like Guitar Hero meets Star Wars.
You’re equipped with two lightsabers, and you have to slash through cubes in specific directions to the beat of the music.
Think of a dance mat, but you dance with your hands – and your hands are laser swords.
You’ll also need to crouch and dodge walls that come flying at you, so it’s quite the workout.
It’s amazing fun, and is seriously addictive to boot.
Another fun app is Richie’s Plank Experience.
You start off in an elevator, which you ride up to the very top of a skyscraper.
The doors open and there’s nothing but a huge drop down to the pavement below – and a plank you can walk out along.
It’s bizarrely terrifying. It took me around 20 minutes of gameplay before I was comfortable walking out along the plank and back.
Even though I knew I was in my living room, the virtual plank still scared the hell out of me.
Job Simulator is a classic VR game, but still holds up.
The premise is that you’re in the future, enjoying a simulation of what a 21st century job was like.
In ‘Office Worker’, you’ll manage emails, give leaving gifts to departing colleagues, and eat donuts from the breakfast cart. If only real work was so relaxing.
There are plenty of other games, too many to list.
You’ve got the zombie-blasting Arizona Sunshine, a stunningly accurate table tennis sim, a spine-chilling haunted house experience called Layers of Fear, and the Rec Room – a social hang-out where you can relax, play games and voice chat with pals.
Oculus Quest 2 – battery life
I’ve been using the Oculus Quest 2 for just over a week, and I’ve had no issues with battery life.
The headset is fine to use for extended periods of time, and it’s easy to plug back in to charge.
So far, the headset hasn’t ran out of battery once – although I did get a warning after streaming my gameplay to the living room TV for a while.
The controllers take a single AA battery each: mine still aren’t dead, after hours of gameplay.
Oculus Quest 2 review verdict – should you buy it?
When VR had its big breakthrough a few years ago, it was prohibitively expensive.
Then came a load of cheaper headset, but these significantly degraded the experience.
Now the Oculus Quest 2 has found the perfect middle-ground: it’s reasonably priced, and offers a mind-blowing VR experience.
It’s seriously good value for money at £299, and I reckon it’s a better buy than a console right now.
We’ve all played the same old console games, but VR opens up a whole new world of fun.
And the fact you can stream it to the telly or a phone while you play makes it more social too.
One of VR’s big advantages is that it’s intuitive.
You’re interacting with things using your hands just like in real-life.
So even people with zero experience playing video games can get involved. That’s not the case if you tried to sit your Nan down at the Xbox on Call of Duty.
This is one of the best gadgets released in recent years, and you’re genuinely missing out if you don’t buy one.
The Sun says: Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 is the first must-have virtual reality gadget. It’s worth every penny. 5/5
- Oculus Quest at Facebook for £299/$299 – buy here
The Sun’s gaming test rig
The Sun’s tech team uses a Dell Alienware R10 Ryzen Edition to test PC games and accessories:
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- Memory: 32GB Kingston 2933MHz RAM
- Monitor: Acer Predator XB3 27" 4K 144Hz
Dell Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition – buy here
In other news, US rapper Travis Scott appears to be one of the first people in the world to get their hands on a PS5 console.
Sony recently confirmed that more PS5 pre-orders are on the way.
The next-gen machine sold out within minutes when pre-orders launched on September 17.
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