Review: Oculus Quest 2 is a big step forward for virtual reality, despite Facebook requirement

Review: Oculus Quest 2 is a big step forward for virtual reality, despite Facebook requirement.
The Oculus Quest 2 in action. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Oculus Quest 2 is now available in New Zealand and brings with it a slew of upgrades, improving on the first model in every way.

Controversially this device requires a Facebook account to be used, which is unfortunate - but if you can get past that, a lot of fun can be had.

It's still not perfect but it is the best mobile virtual reality (VR) I've used thus far.

I've been using a Quest 2 for the past few weeks and here are my thoughts.

The good

It's quite remarkable what this packs into a nice, light 503g unit that sits on your head and frees you from being attached to anything with a cord.

You need an internet connection, but aside from that you can pull it out of the box, stick it on your head, pick up the controllers and you're away. Easy as pie.

That and the relatively low price - NZ$569 for 64GB, NZ$739 for 256GB - make this an ideal first way to get into VR.

I was really impressed with how easy it was to set up a safe play area and just dive straight into playing games. Using the controllers, getting around the menus - it all feels super intuitive and simplified.

The Oculus Quest 2 headset is 503g and offers 1832x1920 pixels per eye.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Despite its small size and being wireless, you get 1832x1920 pixels per eye - about 50 percent sharper than the first Quest. It also has more RAM and a faster chip that makes it all run a lot smoother.

The better display and lighter weight mean watching VR videos with the Quest 2 is particularly impressive compared to other VR units. There's also an increasing amount of cool stuff to watch like live concert experiences and exclusive events.

But of course, it's primarily for gaming.

Over the Christmas break, several members of my family and friends had a lot of fun with this, with some of them now itching to buy their own unit.

The library of games available is tiny compared to what's available on non-VR formats, but it's growing all the time and has plenty to get started with.

Here's a breakdown of the games I played, all easily downloadable direct to the unit and for relatively low prices:

  • The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
    This is maybe the most truly VR experience I've ever played, and my second favourite so far behind Resident Evil 7. Wasting zombies with blades and guns is of course great, but even doing things like drinking and pulling stuff out of your backpack is done physically. This makes it super immersive and kind of like how we all thought VR would be many years ago when we first thought about it.
  • Population: One
    BR in VR is here! This is like a very stripped back version of Fortnite that puts you into a squad and throws you into matches of up to 18 players. You parachute in, grab a gun and try and kill the others before they kill you. It's very rough around the edges and very basic compared to other battle royale games, but it's still a bit of fun.
  • Beat Saber
    One of the most-loved VR games ever released for a very good reason - it plays to the format's strengths and ignores its weaknesses. It's kind of like Guitar Hero but instead of playing a guitar, you use lightsabers to hit virtual boxes to the rhythm of upbeat dance music. It's a sweaty game in summer for sure, but very intuitive and a lot of fun for pretty much anyone - including people who have never played games in their life.
  • Pistol Whip
    Like Beat Saber, this really plays on what works well in VR but makes it way more shooty. Said to be inspired by John Wick, this has you constantly moving forward on an invisible travelator and shooting bad guys to the beat of the music, while avoiding their incoming bullets. 

There are some very cool looking games available I didn't get a chance to play, including a couple of Star Wars games and a Jurassic Park game.

Oculus Quest 2 hand controllers.
Photo credit: Newshub.

The bad

Forcing you to give your personal information to Facebook to use the Quest 2 is a mistake.

A lot of people aren't fans of Facebook - the company has a proven history of being reckless with its enormous power, like accelerating the spread of dangerous misinformation and allowing third parties to ultimately bend the will of populations and attack democracy.

Facebook owns Oculus, so it is their right to force this on customers; but it's limiting the audience as a result.

If you're OK with Facebook, despite the advancements of the Quest 2, it's still not perfect.

The games look and play a lot better than older VR, but are still quite primitive compared to modern non-VR games.

The graphical fidelity of a game in 4K at 120fps on a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X is really impressive and it's jarring when you go from that to something like Population: One, which kind of looks like a PS3 game, just in terms of graphics.

Of course it's amazing playing a battle royale style game in VR, but it will look a lot better in a few years, hopefully.

Oculus Quest 2 in use in New Zealand.
Photo credit: Newshub.

You get around 2-3 hours of use out of the Quest 2 before you need to recharge its battery, and that takes around two-and-a-half hours to fully charge. I hope there's better battery tech in the Quest 3.

You can up the playtime by buying an expensive additional elite strap and battery - but it's currently unavailable through the local website of the Oculus store.

Other accessories are available, such as a Link cable that gives you access to all the VR games you can play on PC, like the very exciting Half-Life: Alyx.

But that cable is also expensive - another $139 in Aotearoa. You can get off-brand cables for cheaper, but it would be nice if the official stuff was more affordable. 

The verdict

The Oculus Quest 2 is a nice and easy way to get into VR at its most advanced level to date for mobile, all for a reasonable price.

You don't need any other tech aside from internet access and, unfortunately, a Facebook account.

But the quality and freedom this device offers make it a big step forward for VR and there are plenty of great games to get into, if somewhat geared towards families and casual players rather than hardcore gamers.

While the technology is going to get even better in a few years, this is a great way to get into VR and likely to bring a lot of joy to anyone who gets it.

Newshub was supplied an Oculus Quest 2 for the review.