Oculus Quest 2 2021 Review

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It’s been exceedingly difficult for consumers to get their hands on some of the latest gaming consoles. Normally when discussing those next gen systems you just can’t find, we’re discussing Xbox Series X and Playstation 5. However, lost in the shuffle is Zuckerberg’s little jewel, the Oculus Quest 2.

Coming in two different models, the difference being the amount of internal memory, the Oculus Quest 2 is one sleek piece of hardware. Featuring an all-white design with curves aplenty, the headset and controllers look like something Wall-E could fall in love with. The packaging is phenomenal as well, with even just opening the box being designed as an experience. Still, all of that would be for not if the headset fails to deliver a premier virtual reality experience.

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The Graphics

If you’ve ever spent time with a VR headset, you probably know that it can be a disorienting experience, and potentially a cause for a headache or motion sickness. Thankfully, the Quest 2 may just be the very best of all headsets in offsetting this real issue with virtual reality. Using gently moving air, a perfectly crisp one-to-one motion sensing technology and screen response time, as well as a solid framerate, the Oculus Quest 2 is the best virtual reality experience you’re likely to find on the market today.

When it comes to graphics in standalone titles, the hardware is crisp and bright, but falls short in comparison to modern gaming PCs or next generation consoles. While the headset provides an immersive experience unlike any other, it still is operating with a Snapdragon XR2 chipset. That’s a powerful piece of silicon, but it doesn’t measure up to the latest and greatest. So while existing in a new world that surrounds you is a mind-blowing opportunity, it doesn’t come with the detail or clarity that you can expect on an OLED TV with an Xbox Series X or Playstation 5 attached to it.

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Another issue is that the technology still hasn’t caught up well enough for virtual reality video capture. Whether you’re playing YouTube 360VR videos or watching a Jurassic Park VR video, there’s still something not quite right with realistic video. Instead of it looking like you’re in another world, things can appear ghost-like, or pixelated, or like pop-up silhouettes. However, that does not extend into 3D generated computer graphics, where the experience is fantastical and solid.

Controls

There’s really nothing like holding the Oculus Quest 2 controllers and seeing them translated into your hands. It is so well executed, and so smooth, that this doesn’t just avoid the uncanny valley… it hops it like ET in a bicycle. This is one of the most phenomenal parts of the platform, and promises to amaze even the most ardent skeptic as quickly as you easily pick up a ping pong ball and hit it with a paddle. It’s so intuitive that it’s difficult to imagine how this can even be improved until we can place haptic feedback pads on fingertips. Maybe it would still be better.

The response time to the controllers is practically magic. Without any lag whatsoever, it really does feel like you are truly inside the simulation. The controllers each use a single AA battery, which could be a gripe for some, but the estimated 30 hour time per battery would seem to make a single battery last for a good long while.

Apps

Just like with other platforms, the Oculus Quest 2 is definitely on the lean side of app options due seemingly to the COVID-19 global issues. However, with the headset proving very popular, and with strong capabilities, we’re confident that the library will grow quickly. What is available often feels more like mini-games than full titles. Yes, there are major games that are worth your money, but much of the fare would fit into the arcade category. Oculus needs a Mario or Halo style foundational game that makes the system more than a tech demo. There are some really good games out there, but nothing that could be called a headliner… yet.

As of now, you can play Tetris, you can fight Darth Vader with a lightsaber, you can play mini-golf, and all sorts of other opportunities. Many of these games, by virtue of the platform, are intensely fun. But the potential for this piece of hardware seems so far beyond what is currently offered. In order to get those sorts of experiences, you’ll need to pay out another $70 for the Oculus cord that connects you to a gaming PC. There, using Steam, you can download very impressive, full-fledged games.

Now remember that because of the nature of virtual reality, we’re not saying that games need to be playable for many hours on end. That actually would be a bad idea given that the battery life is probably about two hours during gaming, as well as the fact that playing virtual reality games is a sensory experience best limited to shorter play sessions.

Value

At $299 and $399 for the two different models, the Oculus Quest 2 is a well-priced headset considering that it can operate all by itself with no connection to a PC or other device. Using the ingenious boundary system whereby you can draw your play area right on the ground, the system is enormously portable. You can take this thing nearly anywhere, although we would strongly suggest you only play on flat surfaces. And even if you are strongly limited on space, you can set a Stationary Boundary for the system that confines you to a space just big enough for sitting in a chair.

To say that the system is revolutionary is only an overstatement in that virtual reality has existed in the past. But to say that this is the first time it’s really come together in a package that can have mass-appeal is fully accurate. This is the first time everything really feels like magic. I can easily see this platform being used academically, in the home, for entertainment, in nursing homes, in hospitals… everywhere. It really is that intuitive and that versatile.

For these reasons, we feel confident that the Oculus Quest 2 will be around for a long time with a steadily-growing library of apps. And given that we can say the Oculus Quest 2 is, in our opinion, the best virtual reality headset on the market, it is an absolute steal of a deal that you can purchase it for the listed cost. Finding it might be hard, but if you do, it’s a must-buy. Just consider that leading smartphones can often cost well in excess of $1,000, while the headset that sends you to all new worlds will cost you half of that.

Summary

The Oculus Quest 2 is an incredible device. For the first time ever, it combines everything you’d want for a VR headset into one thing. There’s certainly room for improvement as technology improves, but we’ve reached the point now where virtual reality can be accessible for everyone. The battery life can be short, the device is hard to find still in April of 2021, and there is pixilation in real life videos. But that’s a small price to pay for magic.

Rating: 9.5 Incredible


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