Satisfying virtual reality experiences are unlike anything you’ll experience on your living room TV. Unfortunately, satisfying VR experiences are, for the most part, dependent on additional hardware. That makes it nearly impossible to just grab a headset and start playing, and elevates the price of admission by a few hundred dollars at minimum.
That’s not true of the Oculus Quest. The Facebook subsidiary’s newest portable headset ditches the wires and expensive hardware found on other high-end VR hardware, cramming it all into a self-contained headset with motion-tracking controllers. If the Quest is able to build up a library of quality VR games and experiences, it could turn into the coolest game console you’ll ever own. But it could also be the most painful game console you’ll ever own.
The $399 Oculus Quest ($499 for the 128GB version) is the company’s third major attempt at nailing virtual reality. Its first, the polarizing Oculus Rift, brought VR to high-end PCs, requiring users set up stationary sensors to play. Its second, the smaller, self-contained Oculus Go, ditched the PC for some newfound freedom, but its single controller, limited degrees of freedom, and underwhelming experience eventually left many bored of the entire affair.
Like the Go, the Quest is a self-contained VR headset — it has no wires to get tangled in and no cameras to mount or position for tracking purposes. The Quest supports six degrees of freedom: up, down, left, right, front, and back. Unlike the Go, the Quest’s integrated cameras and motion-tracking controllers do a great job of keeping you properly oriented, and allow you to move freely throughout a virtual environment with your actual body as long as you’ve got the space to do so.