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Friday, May 24, 2019

Oculus Quest Short Review - Amazing- VR is the future of gaming

It's out and you've probably seen the reviews.  Mostly they have been pretty good.

I'll start off with if you haven't used any VR and if you think you'd like VR you will likely love the Oculus Quest.

Contains the Oculus Quest and the 2 hand controllers, power adapter, power cord and the glasses interface adapter.

The quest itself feels decently built.  The hand controllers since they were probably designed to be light weight to hold them for long periods feel a little cheaper, but it's probably a good thing they are lighter.  The battery covers on the remotes feel like they could be a problem and come off.  I've haven't had that happen in the short time I've used it though.
Update: Covers on the remotes battery did come off during an intense battle in robo recall.  I've seen some foam like covers that might help keep them on I might try and reduce them from being slippery when things get a little sweaty after playing a while

Setup is guided through your connected phone, walking through the pairing steps.  For some reason the Quest app wants your location access, which seemed odd.  Once setup is complete it doesn't seem to be necessary though for things I've used so far.

When you first put the quest on there are a few selections and then it will ask you to confirm a guardian space.

Adjusting the headset

If  you wear glasses gently pull out the foam on the quest and take the glasses extender plastic and put it on top ( if you put the foam down with the plastic side sticking up.  The glasses adapter then fits on top with the glasses symbol facing up towards you).  Then gently push the foam/with the glasses adapter back into the quest.

There are 3 main adjustment points.  Center near the front and the two front sides there are velcro straps you can tighten or loosen.  The whole harness can also be sort of flipped up by pushing on the straps on the front sides or pulling the back of the harness up while holding the front, to make it easier to take on and off.  Adjust the straps so that it fits snug to your face.

Turning on
Hold the button for two seconds and put the headset on.  It shows some cross airs as it starts up.

(Powering off is the same way and a menu option will show letting you use the controllers to select the power off within the quest display).

The Guardian + Start up
When the quest first starts up it lets you see the real world in black and white.  Draws a grid on the floor.  Then let's you draw an area you want to stay within.  You can choose stationary mode or the room mode that let's you walk around. When done it will show you a holodeck style grid (If you remember the grid on the star trek show holodeck before they start a program).  The grid disappears.  Then it goes into the start area to let you select your app to run.  If you were to put your hand/controller/head/quest near the boundary area the grid redisplays so you know the boundary.  If your hand or head goes through it shows that area breaking the grid.  If you go all the way through the quest switched back to the black and white camera view of the real world.

Recommended is something like 6 ft by 6ft area minimum but they do allow smaller for room scale.  I'd recommend finding the largest area you can.  Walking is awesome in the games so more space is very helpful.  Be sure to use it somewhere safe.. not near the top of stairs or something, that could end badly.

You may notice some light leaks through near the nose of the quest area.  It's a little annoying but not too bad.

The first time you use the quest it will take you through the tutorial of how to use the controllers to manipulate the environment and objects.

Using the Quest
Going from guardian and then being popped into the main console area is very surreal.  It looks decemt, graphics are ok.  The feel of the experience if you have never done VR before may be unlike anything you've ever experienced before.  It's a feeling of mixed reality.  You are sort of there in this new world, with some worry about what you could bump into in the real world.  The good news is the guardian has worked well for me so far and I haven't actually bumped into anything.

The tutorial games give a decent startup experience. Using it the first time had me in awe of the ability to manipulate objects with my controllers/hands and seeing them visual in VR space.  Even the tutorial had my mouth gaping open in awe at the sense of space, the feeling of being sort of part in VR and part in reality able to move by just walking (or using the controller on some apps).

Movement.  Many games have you use the joystick to set a target location and press the trigger to move there as an alternative to walking.  I really wish there was an option to just use the joystick and move more like a first person shooter.  They probably do that to avoid motion problems but it took a bit to get used to and takes a little bit a way from the otherwise amazing first person feel of the environment.

Display I noticed was pretty clear though I wear glasses and as I moved around and looked occasionally was a little blury, probably just the way I view through my glasses, did not really detract from the experience though and looking straight was always clear.

The games
There is a limited selection at the moment but a decent enough set to start with.

Many people like Beat Saber you might want to give the demo a try... I didn't find it entertaining for more than a few minutes.

Space Pirate Trainer demo
Is kind of cool getting to shoot at and be shot at by some robot drones.  Using guns and a shield as needed was fun.

VR Chat
Seems like all of the worlds available for other platforms might not be there on the quest.  Not sure I see some online I can't find in the game.  Otherwise  meeting in that environment was interesting.

Rec Room
Much better than VR chat.  More interesting worlds with more to do if you like.  Paintball, sports, and more. Simple graphics but still fun.

Vader Immortal
(Warning possibly some barely minor spoilers) I only played a short time for the first couple scenes.  It's more like a slightly interactive movie so far.  Being on the ship in space was an amazing feeling, I was in awe of the spectacle.   It shouldn't be a spoiler to realize you will meet Vader.  I have to say the feel was amazing, I actually experienced the sort of imposing feeling of Vader towering over you, even though I obviously know its not real felt disconcerting and slightly threatening.  The graphics are decent in this game, most things not photo realistic but some small parts get close and detailed.

I haven't played much yet but so far would recommend it.  It's a very unique experience. Almost feeling like you are living in the star wars universe.  If you like star wars you will want this title.  I
While I only played a short time I'd highly recommend based on that so far.

Update: Vader Immortal was a very short playthrough.. it was very cool though, an experience like I've never had before.

Robo recall: Unplugged
Only played a little bit of this as well. But I'm already hooked.  The graphics look good.  The movement of the robots is great.  The shooter and gameplay itself are awesome, and immersive.

If you like first person shooters you will like this one.  But in VR this is a whole new experience where the enemy robots come from any direction including up high.  The visuals are stunning along with the gameplay.  I did notice a tiny bit of lag in the gameplay once, it wasn't enough to detract from the experience.

If you like frenetic first person shooters you'll probably like this one.  Highly recommend this title based on my short gameplay time.

Orbus VR

Perhaps one of the first VR MMO RPG's.  I've only played for an hour so this quick review can only take into account that.  The game crashes, has basic graphics, poor collision detection, bugs, crashes, and is expensive compared to the other more refined games.  With that all said I love the promise of the game as a VR MMO RPG.  You really feel like you stepped into an MMO RPG game.  I have no doubt one killer app for VR will be a great VR MMO RPG and OrbusVR will have to do for now. World of warctaft on VR would be amazing.   (Orbus VR already can do:Opening treasure chests by actually lifting the lid with your hand, actually throwing spells/magic, Talking to other players with voice non-nonchalantly as you walk by, Opening doors by actually you know grabbing the doorknob and pulling. Actually ask for help finding something by voice. Definitely an experience you don't find in normal games outside of VR usually- and it's amazing!) Falling off a cliff in a non-VR game... not a big deal... in a VR game its a bit of a different experience - it's good enough to trigger an actual fear response of not wanting to fall of the edge of something high... you don't get experiences like that usually in regular non-VR games. Most of the games are designed well enough it seems to not suffer the older motion sickness concerns due to not handling sync with movement well. I agree we could use more good content. I hope more triple A games will be coming to these devices soon as I'm definitely willing to pay for them.

Firefox Reality browser
This browser works pretty well and lets you use a variety of different websites to watch VR video's.
This gives you some access to more content outside of what oculus provides, which is nice.
Some of the 360 video's are the best 3D effect I've seen on any device I've ever used.

YouTube VR
Has a selection of 360 and 180 video's some of them like the firefox browser are the best 3d video's I've seen on any device.

Oculus Venues
Sorry didn't try this one since it actually requires you connect it to your facebook account.  It's unclear why this was really a requirement (even if it supports social features it should let you use it without them).

Has a selection of curated video content.  Some is interesting like 360 video's from the Mr. Robot series, Mission impossible movie with Tom Cruise, and Lego Batman.

Battery life
Supposed to be 2-3 hours.  I have not used it that long yet in a single session so can't comment.    Though I like it so much I'm wishing I could wear a battery pack with it but I think it shuts off when you plug it into the charger.
While I have not tried it yet, it seems like it is possible to purchase an external battery and plug into the quest to possibly extend the run time.  (It won't work if you have it plugged in and try to turn it on.  But it seems like it may work if you unplug it, turn it on and plug it back in while it's on)

Right now there is enough content to get you started for the quest but it's a small library.  After a couple of games downloaded you may not be able to find a lot of new content that interests you.  There is a little more content available for a Oculus Rift/Rift S (and graphics are better).
Something to think about before the investment.
It launched with 50 titles and they are expecting around 100 by the end of the year.  We'll have to see which titles get released.
Updated:  E3 only had a couple of announcements for VR.  One interesting future title people are calling the fortnite of VR is Population One is planned for the Quest.

Wow!  Having only used some old phone VR or arcade/disney VR, being able to walk IRL and move in VR is amazing and the freedom without wires is incredible.  The experience is unlike anything I have felt before.  I was a little disappointed that games I tried didn't get closer to photo realism but that is a pretty high expectation that was probably unrealistic, especially for a device like this.  But I have to say that didn't matter. (And Robo recall and Vader still looked great)  The experience still felt amazing and immersive.  I still always worried about bumping into something  even though the guardian should keep you safe it's a little hard not to worry.  Would be nice to rent or make a 20' x 20' padded room :)    That worry about bumping into something detracts a little from the immersiveness of the experience (maybe that will go away if I trust the guardian more - as it did keep me safe the whole time)

Motion sickness - I was fine when playing some of the more stationary games, with a long session of robo recall when done I wasn't really motion sick but did feel a little off from moving around in the environment a lot where it was probably good to take a break.  This only happened once for me so far.

The Quest feels revolutionary in experience (I never tried the Oculus Rift so can't really compare). It feels like it could be the next big thing in gaming, unless just due to the pricing at present makes that less likely to be widely adopted.  That said considering it could easily cost $2500 for an Oculus Rift + gaming pc + sensors, so from that perspective the Quest would seem to be a bargain (though with less rendering capability).  That seems like at this pricepoint it should bring it into range for a lot more folks.

The amount of content may be the short term concern.  Take a look at the app library and see if there is enough that interests you.

For me this feels like decent VR has finally arrived in a form that's convenient, a little pricey but not crazy expensive like a Rift+ Gaming Rig+sensor level pricey.

If you've wanted to try VR this could be the device for you.

This could revitalize the VR market.  As a famous person in the future from the past once said to the salesman, shut up and take my money!

Downsides:  Some people get motion sick more easily than others.  If this is you, you'll have to try and see if it impacts you..  Can try different movement methods like teleport to see if it avoids the issue for you.

7/3/19 More updates:
After playing these games for several weeks now while some of the magic feeling has worn off and using it doesn't feel as awe inspiring... its still feels like the future.  I've still been playing a couple games almost every day.  I'm finding myself wishing for a wireless Rift S to get access to more games.  A couple games every week or so are being added to the Quest library so it is moving in the right direction.  What's been missing are more action multiplayer games, what can be a great social platform is missing in many of the games so far except for a couple.  Orbus VR I've continued to play and it still shows a lot of promise and still has me wishing for more AAA VR MMO RPG's on Quest/VR.  The content right now is the limiting factor for me, I really like the VR the Quest can deliver but it definitely needs more content.  I'm hoping the upcoming Population One (considered the fortnite of VR will be out soon and prove interesting... seems very promising.).  I find myself wishing Guild wars and world of warcraft had VR options, having polished games of that caliber for VR would be great.

Update noticed for the last month or so my controllers don't connect to my oculus quest right away when I first turn it on.  I have to remove the controllers battery and put it back in then it connects.

I realized my headset and controllers were not getting firmware updates.  You need to leave your headset on in standby mode if you have an older firmware and just let it sit until it updates then do a restart (older firmware doesn't have a check for updates/update button.  Newer firmware does).

Oculus Link beta
I've been testing out the oculus link beta.  Its definitely beta, pretty flaky to get it running all the time but when it runs it works pretty well most of the time.
First problem was getting updates for the headset and the oculus software.  Make sure you have a good usb 3.0/3.1 cable and port on your computer and enough computing/graphics power to run it (right now that's mostly newer NVIDIA cards - check oculus site for details).

You will probably need to continually unplug and plug in the usb cable and/or restart the headset to get it to sync. 

Then on my version sound didn't come out of the headset.  I had to disable in the windows sound app the oculus virtual audio device.  Surprisingly then sound came out of the oculus quest, counter intuitive but it worked.

My rig is sub par on the CPU i7-3770 but graphics nvidia geforce rtc 2060 is more than enough for almost everything.  I found a couple games that recommended higher power CPU's that still ran passably with some lag/slowness but I was still able to manage.

Being tethered to a cable is not fun compared to the wireless quest games.  The graphic differences for games I could compare: Vader Immortal, Orbus VR, and robo recall were mostly adding particle effects (i.e. smoke/fog/ clouds, reflections and a little more detail).  Noticeable but not a huge difference for those games. 

Having access to the larger expanded library of the oculus rift games and steam games is very nice, a lot more content to choose from.  Plus there are some really good games in the rift library.
Tried Doctor Who Edge of Time (It is supposed to be on quest soon.), Lone Echo (Amazing game so far, good graphics, puzzles, action game play, acting.)  Tried Elite Dangerous (didn't get far.. a little hard to manage with oculus controllers only but possible I think), Tried seeking dawn (my Rig definitely didn't seem powerful enough to handle this fully but I could still play it, just a little slow and with reduced graphics.  So far really enjoying the access to the additional content.  I wish they could figure out how to make all the content completely wireless but for now this will have to do.

I found the oculus connect when I could get it to work, to perform pretty well.  This is a great addition to the quest support for additional content.  Hope they can make it a little more stable soon.


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