Back in May, my colleague Daniel Terdiman reviewed the $199 Oculus Go—the first Oculus virtual reality headset that didn’t require a smartphone or PR as its brains—and called its release a watershed moment for VR. Now Oculus has unveiled Oculus Quest, a $399 headset it plans to ship next spring. At Facebook’s Oculus Connect developer conference here in San Jose, Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the keynote and called Quest “the all-in-one VR experience we’ve been waiting for.”
Oculus Go hit its affordable price by including only a single basic handheld controller and skipping the sensors required to sense your movements in physical space. Those limitations aren’t a major issue if you’re doing something like watching a 360-degree video, but they don’t permit more fully interactive experiences such as fancy games. Oculus Quest has the same display system as Go, but like the high-end, PC-powered Oculus Rift headset, it offers two full-featured Touch controllers—one for each hand. Courtesy of wide-angle sensors built into the headset, it also offers “six degrees of freedom,” allowing you to stand up and move around virtual space.
Those more sophisticated controllers and sensors are key to unleashing VR’s potential as a gaming platform, and Oculus says that 50 games will be ready when Quest goes on sale. Oculus Go will remain on the market, and Rift is still the most powerful incarnation of the technology, giving Facebook a full range of headsets for the first time.”This is what we have to do for VR to succeed and get to the future we all want,” said Zuckerberg of the new lineup.
Getting to that future might take a while: Zuckerberg began his presentation by cheerfully noting that Oculus isn’t even 1% to his goal of a billion VR users worldwide.