Making VR more accessible
For the longest time, the only names in VR gaming were HTC and PlayStation (PS). The Vive and PS VR had the best collection of VR games along with the best hardware to run them. Now, with the release of two new headsets from Oculus – the Quest and the Rift S – it seems like there is finally some solid competition for the VR crown. I’ll break down the specifications of each of these headsets to figure out what new features each bring to the table.
The Quest is one of the first stand-alone VR devices made for high-quality gaming. Boasting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, it is powerful enough to run a wide variety of games at 72 Hz with a 1440x1660 display. Currently its library features big names like Superhot VR, Beat Saber, Creed: Rise to Glory, with 50 more games in its library. Not a poor collection, by any means, although the graphics are going to be slightly inferior compared to how they are in the non-standalone headsets. Owing to the reduced power of the Android processor, many higher-end games like Skyrim VR, Fallout 4 VR, Subnautica and Elite: Dangerous are not available at launch, although we might even see iterations of these on the Quest in the future.
Beyond the hardware and libraries, however, one of the biggest changes with the Quest is its revamped tracking and wires. Or rather, lack of wires. Because this is not plugged into a PC, there are no wires on the device. You simply pop the headset on, strap the controllers to both hands and start playing. This is huge, since one of the biggest complaints people continue to have about VR is how often you trip over the many wires trailing on the floor. Another big change is the absence of big tracking stands all around the room, since all of the motion trackers are built into the headset. In addition, there are cameras on the device so if you ever wander to the edge of your playing area, the cameras switch on to show you a black and white view of your room to make sure you don’t hit any furniture.
For all its features, the Quest doesn’t break the bank. The 64 GB headset is priced at USD 399 and the 128 GB headset is priced at USD 499. With these prices, they are a very economical pick for someone who doesn’t have a gaming set-up but wants to dip their toes into the world of VR.
OCULUS RIFT S
The Rift S targets the market of gamers excluded by the HTC Vive’s hefty price tag of USD 499, mostly by slight reductions in performance to compensate for the reduced price of USD 399. The sacrifices aren’t too steep, however, with a 1280x1440 display and a refresh rate of 80 Hz. The Rift S has the same improvements as the Quest minus the wireless-ness, featuring the same inbuilt motion sensors and cameras. Add to that the benefit of being able to run the beefiest Oculus exclusives alongside the VR games in Steam’s library, and the Rift S shapes up to be a very competitive entry to the VR headset market.
If you already own a PS4, then the USD 300 PS VR headset is still the cheapest option for you, although it can’t run most Steam-exclusive VR games. For PC gamers, however, the Rift S has the perfect set of features to make a solid VR set-up. For everyone else, the Quest is a no-brainer. Overall, you’d be hard-pressed to find better entry-level VR headsets.
Wasique Hasan came to Bangladesh to eat mangoes and get heat-stroke, and he hasn’t found any mangoes yet. Send him information that will lead to the acquisition of mangoes at fb.com/hasique.wasan