Not all virtual reality (VR) was built the same. Over the years, VR headsets have come in various forms, and for some reason, the majority are riddled with wires tethered to additional hardware, such as a PlayStation 4 (PS VR), or a computer (HTC VIVE, Valve Index, Oculus Rift). To top it off, this investment can set you back anywhere from US$400 to US$1,000. Limited stocks and availability, especially outside of US and UK, makes it even harder to jump on the VR bandwagon.
Luckily, Facebook released a wireless, fully mobile VR headset, the Oculus Quest, in May of 2019, but it still suffered from very limited stock issues, even until today, which means that VR gaming outside of US/UK was simply way too expensive, and generally very difficult to obtain, until now.
With Facebook’s recent announcement and reveal of the new Oculus Quest 2, it looks like 2020 is going to close off with a lot more VR gamers out there. Sure, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X next-gen consoles are launching in November, but if you want to invest in realism and a gaming experience unlike any other, you should read on and find out if VR gaming might be a good alternative to consider this holiday season.
#1. VR Is Now Cheaper & More Accessible Than Ever
The original Oculus Quest costs US$399 for 128GB of storage, but it was and still is difficult to buy due to stock and availability limitations. Come October 13th, the Oculus Quest 2 will ship worldwide via Amazon (US). From what we understand, Facebook has made sure stocks will be plentiful this time, but don’t take our word for it – you might still want to pre-order yours now to avoid disappointment.
The great thing about a hardware upgrade is that the Oculus Quest 2 is US$100 cheaper than the original Quest, as the Quest 2 starts at only US$299 for the 64GB version. It also packs a higher resolution screen (1832×1920 resolution compared to the 1440×1600 resolution of the Quest), a faster processor with the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2, and a lighter frame (503g compared to 571g of the Quest) to make playing a more comfortable experience. However, if you are planning on loading up heaps of games and video content, you might want to consider the 256GB version.
One caveat to using the Oculus Quest 2 though, you will have to login to your Facebook account. There is no way around it.
In fact, if you’re already convinced at this point to jump into wireless VR fun, here are three recommended essentials to consider too:
- Oculus Quest 2 Elite Strap (US$49) – this is essential for enhanced support and comfort for longer play sessions.
- Oculus Quest 2 Elite Strap with Battery and Carrying Case (US$129) – this provides the same enhanced support and comfort, but with the addition of a battery pack on the back strap for even longer play sessions. It also acts as a counter-weight of sorts to balance out the front-heavy VR headset. And of course, everyone needs a carrying case to bring the VR gaming everywhere you go.
- Logitech G333 VR Gaming Earphones for Oculus Quest 2 (US$49.99) – Logitech’s official earphones for the Oculus Quest 2, which comes with a custom-length cable and straps for maximum comfort.
#2. Can Play Most, If Not All Of SteamVR’s Library of Games
As if Oculus Quest’s own library of games isn’t enough, it is actually possible to play and run pretty much all of the VR games on the Steam library too. All you need is a VR-Ready PC (run the free test here), and a USB-C link cable. The official one from Oculus is a tad expensive, at US$79 for a 5M-long cable. You can simply settle for quite a number of third-party cables, as long as it is a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C cable such as this one, which goes for US$10 for a 3M-long cable and up to US$15 for the 5M-long cable.
Here are the steps to get your Oculus Quest 2 up and running with SteamVR:
- Make sure Steam is already installed on your PC (duh).
- Download SteamVR (it’s free) via Steam.
- Download and install your Oculus software if you have not already done so.
- Sign in to your Oculus account.
- Connect your Oculus Quest 2 to your PC using the USB-C link cable.
- The Oculus app on your PC will recognise your headset once it’s plugged in. Click on “Continue”to enable Oculus Link.
- During the Oculus Link setup, there will be a test conducted to test the speed of your USB cable, if it fails the test, it may be time to get the ones we recommended above.
- If asked to “Allow access to data”, be sure to select “Deny”.
- Strap on your VR headset, and head to the “Apps” section, and you should see the SteamVR icon. Select it and choose the SteamVR game to play.
- And you’re all done, enjoy!
However, if you prefer to stay wireless, it is possible too, but you will need to purchase the Virtual Desktop app from the Oculus store within your VR headset or via the Oculus mobile app for US$19.99. This will take up a bit of time but it’s totally worth it if you prefer to go wireless:
- Download and install the Streamer App for Virtual Desktop.
- Download and install SideQuest (its free too).
- Once you have sideloaded it, you can simply launch your games from the Virtual Desktop Games tab in VR.
Once you’re all set up, you can finally get down to playing what is possibly the best VR game experience to date, that is Half-Life: Alyx, via your Oculus Quest 2.
#3. Plenty of Great VR Content for Star Wars Fans
Ok, this reason only applies if you’re a Star Wars fan. There are two great VR games you can play now, and a third one coming soon. First up, there’s Vader Immortal, spread across 3 episodes on the Oculus Quest, where you get to wield a lightsaber, use Force powers, and duel Darth Vader in VR.
If you’ve ever dreamed of jumping into the cockpit of an X-Wing or TIE Fighter for some epic space dogfights, this is it. Just grab the Star Wars: Squadrons for your PC via Steam or Origin, and follow the same steps above (#2) to play the ENTIRE game in VR. The experience is amazing, which you’ll need to experience for yourself to believe it. While you’re at it, you might want to also grab a Flight Stick with a full HOTAS setup, for the added immersion.
For the third game, Star Wars : Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll play as a droid repair technician who crash lands on Batuu after a pirate attack. You”ll have to wait a bit for this one, as it releases later this year.
#4. Exciting Lineup of Oculus Quest VR Games
There’s plenty of games coming to the Oculus Quest 2 (and Oculus Quest) in the coming months. There’s even an Assassin’s Creed VR and Splinter Cell VR game coming exclusively for Oculus in the near future. But for now, here are some of the notable ones:
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners (13 October)
Beat Saber: Multiplayer Mode (13 October)
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (11 December 2020)
Although this won’t be released natively on the Oculus Quest, it will be released on Steam VR, which can then be played on the Oculus Quest via a link cable, or using the Virtual Desktop for wireless play with your PC (as explained above).
Jurassic World Aftermath (December 2020)
MYST (December 2020)
Pistol Whip: 2089 (Holiday 2020)
Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge (Holiday 2020)
The Climb 2 (Holiday 2020)
Warhammer 40,000 Battle Sister (Holiday 2020)
#5. Go Beyond Play With Infinite Office
With Quest 2, Facebook will be introducing a “Infinite Office” evolution of the current Quest interface. Check out the video below, which is demonstrated mainly via the built-in Oculus Browser, which is Chromium-based. This means the browser is widely compatible with websites and web-based apps.
With a simple double-tap on the side of the headset, you’ll be able to switch to “Passthrough” mode which switches the VR view into the real world via (in black & white), so you can see where your keyboard and other real world objects are without removing the headset.
How do you type you say? This problem is solved now, as Facebook is partnering with Logitech to bring their K830 illuminated wireless keyboard into VR. This means you’ll be able to pair it directly with the Quest 2, and even see your VR-hands typing on it.
So there you have it, 5 reasons to jump onto an epic wireless VR experience while on the go. Oh yes, apart from games and web surfing, you can of course enjoy watching Netflix, YouTube and even your own HD video files (simply drag and drop the file via the same USB cable) on your Oculus Quest 2. There’s also plenty of 3D videos you can watch online. Just make sure to come back to the real world once in a while.