Almost everyone agrees that virtual reality represents the future of entertainment and education. Many predict it will serve as the primary interface between the world we were given and those we create displacing monitors, phones, and televisions. Before V/R can assume this role, there are several hurdles it must overcome.
Chief among the obstacles of virtual reality’s wide-scale adoption are the cord and high-end PC that are required to experience it. Google Cardboard and the many phone based V/R sets like it, attempted to bring tether free immersion to fruition and were successful in many regards. They gave us a taste of what could be and sold in numbers sufficient to warrant the capital investment required for innovation.
In my opinion, Facebook’s marketing of the Quest as, “just like the Rift, without the cord” has hurt initial sales. I think they’ve made the same mistake that Nintendo made with the Wii U. I personally looked at the Quest multiple times and decided it didn’t offer enough difference from the Rift to justify purchasing it. My lovely wife got me one for Christmas. Now I understand how wrong I was.
Facebook’s Oculus Quest hit the streets in May of 2019. The headset is physically similar to the other Oculus offerings, but is fully self contained. No computer and no cord. Just slide the goggles down over your eyes, pick up the controllers, and you’re in. The Quest does for V/R what the Wii did for gaming consoles. Within a few minutes of gearing up, anyone, including your grandparents, can easily navigate their way to an untold number of adventures, entertainment options, and venues.
The experiences that are available cover almost every conceivable genre. I’ve hung out in Adam Savage’s (Mythbusters) workshop and watched him build a sheath for his priceless sword. I took a guided tour of the British Museum and went shark diving off the coast of South Africa. I watch Netflix in my own personal theater with a view of snow capped mountains. I attended a basketball game and chatted with my fellow fans. Virtual Reality is so much more than games.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of games to play. Adventure, Shooters, RPG, Cards, Strategy, and more are represented. Some are of poor quality, some are nothing short of amazing. Nothing quite compares to being in your game. Developers are really starting to understand how to deliver V/R experiences that blow meat-space options away.
One major difference of the Quest is that like an iPhone, it is locked to the Oculus App Store. This makes it easier to use, but limits choice. With a little tech know-how you can enable the option to side-load software and there is an underground app store for those that choose take the chance. Checkout SideQuest if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
Besides SideQuest, you can also gain access to more games through a Quest Link compatible cable. If you have a strong gaming PC, use it to access the full V/R experience including Steam V/R and Oculus games that don’t nativity support the Quest. For a list of supported cables and GPU’s see https://support.oculus.com/444256562873335/.
Directly comparing the Quest to the Rift or Hive is a misnomer. It wasn’t created to compete with, or replace them, yet. Sit in a chair and watch a movie on your Rift and you’ll soon be annoyed by the cable draped across your lap and sitting in your computer chair instead of your recliner. How would you provide an entire classroom of students with full gaming PCs and all that goes with them, so their teacher could take them on a tour of the International Space Station? The Quest was made to simplify V/R and make it portable, it does both of those things well. I look forward to seeing what the world does with this technology now that it is here.