I’ve been a casual virtual reality fan for years now. As a film critic and reporter, I’ve enjoyed seeing movie studios’ creative approaches to incorporating the technology in their marketing campaigns and then in my free time, I’ll never pass on an opportunity to borrow a friend’s set-up to experience the latest VR game or experience. But my question about VR’s potential has always been the same; how can this possibly become a household device? Not only are the systems especially pricey, but then you also need the appropriate space to set up the PC and the room sensors. However, with the release of the Oculus Quest, I finally got my answer – and it’s a very promising one.
The Oculus website boasts, “No PC. No wires. No limits,” and those declarations are largely true, wildly impressive and the main reason why I think the Quest is a game-changer. Without the PC and the wires, the Quest truly does feel like an “all-in-one gaming headset” that you can use just about anywhere. Toss in that $399 price tag and that makes the device more affordable than ever. Spacing limitations are nearly non-existent as setting up your guardian boundary is a total breeze, whether you need space to roam around or just want to carve out a small spot to watch a movie.
After exploring a variety of apps, the only real limitation I experienced is the weight of the headset. (But it is exponentially lighter than devices I’ve used prior.) A short period of time playing a game? No discomfort whatsoever! However, the pressure of the headset is noticeable if you opt to sit down and watch an hour’s worth of Netflix content like I did. This is also when I noticed the most amount of light leakage. This is likely dependent on the film or the show you’re watching, but in this particular instance, I found myself becoming so absorbed in the programming that I eventually forgot about that hiccup entirely.
Another big question on my mind jumping into this specific use of the Quest: why watch movies and shows this way rather than on my television, iPad or computer? I’m certainly not at the point where I’d prefer to exclusively watch content on the Quest but I will say, it is an all-consuming, fully immersive viewing experience that limits distractions. Whether you have the opportunity to explore the frame of a 3D movie or if you’re sitting in the digital living room of the Netflix app, there’s something about this viewing format that really locks you into the content. As for the visual quality, I wouldn’t expect pitch perfect resolution, but again, depending on the content, it’s a slight flaw that eventually fades.
When it comes to Quest gaming, we’ll have individual game reviews coming your way soon but having sampled a handful of titles I can confidently say that the tracking, visuals and audio come together exceptionally well across the board. It’s as realistic a sensation as I’ve ever felt using at-home VR. The only addition you might want to consider are headphones to further enhance the audio system built into the headset.