When my parents came to visit us last month in Beijing, I had them bring me an Oculus Quest. I really wanted to try out the latest consumer VR equipment, but I didn’t think I’d use it enough to be worth the purchase price of $399. I noticed that they were selling for an even higher price in China, though, so I thought I could use it for a month and then sell it. Things didn’t work out exactly as planned.
The Quest, a standalone rig with hand controls, is currently the mid-range offering from Oculus. The Go is a standalone rig without hand controls, and the Rift connects to a gaming PC for more power.
My previous experiences with VR had been limited to attaching a headset to my phone, some in-store demos in malls, and a multi-player tower defense game at a VR center in Los Angeles about a year and a half ago. The first two were intriguing but nothing special, and the last one got me really excited. I had to wait for a long time for my turn, and when I finally got to play my gun wasn’t working, so all I could do was watch. What amazed me was how exciting it was to just be in the VR world with my teammates, even thought I couldn’t really participate with a broken gun.
I’d heard great things about the Quest, so I was eager to try it out. Setup was super easy—you just draw a line on the ground around you to indicate where it is safe to go—and I quickly found myself immersed in the VR world. I started out with a few of the sample games and the First Steps intro. First Steps is really great, because within a few seconds you figure out how the controller works, and then you start picking up blocks and throwing paper airplanes. It’s amazing how natural it feels. Within a few minutes you’re dancing with a robot and completely forget how silly you must look to someone not in the VR world with you.
While I’ve had fun playing by myself, the most enjoyable thing has been sharing the Quest with others and seeing how quickly they can pick it up. My father laughed out loud the first time he threw a paper airplane, and he loved dancing with the robot. Fascinatingly, he was also not the only person who dropped a controller on the ground when he was placing an object on the table in the VR world. After that happened a few times we started using the hand straps!
The usual progression for testers was to begin with First Steps and then move on to the boxing demo. The boxing demo is pretty intense, and it was hilarious to watch people suddenly become fierce boxers (we have some fun videos). My sister-in-law was actually so frightened by the boxing that she threw the Quest off of her head! It crashed to the ground and cracked open.
I can still turn it on and off with a toothpick, and it still works, so while my plan to sell the Quest may need to be rethought, I’m still excited to keep playing with it.