If you’re in the market for a VR headset, Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 is likely already on your radar. As far as standalone hardware goes, it’s pretty dominant in the space right now, lacking much in the way of serious competition. After spending about a month with the Quest 2 (and its considerable software library), we’ve got plenty of thoughts on who it’s for, what its weaknesses are, and things you should keep in mind when you’re ready to buy.
Right out of the box, it’s clear that this is a quality product, both sturdy and well designed. But getting it set up properly is crucial, and you’ll want to be somewhat aware of what you’re getting into. For my part, I’m 31, I wear glasses (my vision is exceptionally poor), I have very long eyelashes, and I’m not generally fond of Facebook as a social-media platform. That last point is a big source of frustration for many would-be Quest users, because Oculus requires a Facebook log-in in order to use its ecosystem. This isn’t ideal for folks who prefer to keep their account deactivated most of the time. And it seems especially unfair to those who never wanted a Facebook profile to begin with. (The only way around this is to spring for the Oculus business model, which costs $799 plus an annual renewal fee of $180). To access the business model, you'll need to fill out a form on the Oculus website.
Fortunately, once you get through a brief but annoying setup process, the Quest 2 is fairly comfortable to use. It comes with a thin plastic “spacer” that you’ll want to install immediately if you wear eyeglasses. The foam cushion, where your face meets the headset, snaps off easily; you then insert the spacer in between the two pieces, creating a little extra distance between your corrective lenses and the ones used for VR. Don’t skip this step. If you’ve got glasses, take the extra three or four minutes to install the spacer, and you’ll be glad you did.
In terms of carrying around a large piece of electronic hardware on your face, Oculus makes the Quest 2 highly adjustable and cozy to have on. But the thought of using one frequently, for years, makes me want to consider switching back to contact lenses. No matter what you do—through no fault of the designers or manufacturers—having either glasses or long eyelashes (or both, in my case) means you’ll be constantly making adjustments and wishing it was the tiniest bit more accommodating. As with the shape of your frames and the thickness of your lenses, though, your mileage may vary. At about $80, it’s probably worth it to just order a pair of VirtuClear Custom Lens Inserts (available at Frames Direct).
For an additional $100, Oculus offers a version with 192 GB extra storage (on top of the usual 64 GB). The company also sells a special carrying case for $40, an Elite Strap for “enhanced comfort” ($49), and other odds and ends. If you buy directly from Oculus, they recommend Anker’s third-party charging dock as well as a pair of Logitech earphones, made specifically for the Quest 2. When you get a stock Quest 2 for $299, it comes with a charging cable and two motion controllers—each of which has three buttons, two triggers, and a thumbstick. I didn’t feel as though I was ever missing out by not having any of those other items, but audiophiles and frequent fliers may find them useful.
The Oculus Quest 2 is a fabulous little system, but it’s no substitution for a high-end PC or the cutting-edge video games you’ll find on the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Virtual reality is a unique medium with a unique set of limitations, and you’ll probably want to do some research about specific software before taking the leap. Some titles only run at 72 frames per second; others run at 90 fps, which can be noticeably better. And each game or experience will have very different requirements for player input and positioning, which is an accessibility issue.
The Oculus library’s full of riches. Amazon’s Prime Video VR app let me watch stuff like "The Big Lebowski," "David Gilmour: Live at Pompeii," and the first act of "The Rise of Skywalker" in a spacious, old-timey movie theater—all without leaving my home. I especially enjoyed Vader Immortal (available at Oculus) and the popular rhythm game Beat Saber (available at Oculus), which runs at 90 Hz. I also tested games like Superhot (an old favorite) (available at Oculus), Job Simulator (available at Oculus), and Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge (available at Oculus). The Galaxy’s Edge game runs at 72 fps and allows for thumbstick-based locomotion; I once made the mistake of trying this while standing up and the resulting nausea abruptly ended my VR use for the day.
If you’re interested in a new kind of filmmaking, immersive experiences like Vader Immortal, or games that use motion controls and player movement, the Quest 2 is a worthwhile investment.