Oculus Quest CES 2019 Hands-On Impressions

With just 108 days until 1st May – which is a the rumoured Spring launch date of the Oculus Quest – you would think Facebook would be pulling hard on the whistle cord of the Oculus Quest hype train during CES 2019 week. Instead, Facebook decided to demo its upcoming Oculus Quest VR headset to invited guests and press journalists in a more discrete location – a hotel room.

A number of invited press and influencers managed to get hands-on with the Oculus Quest, who each could play a few game demos on the upcoming VR headset including Tennis Scramble, Superhot and Face Your Fears 2. They all managed to share their own impressions, so I thought I would collate their views and feedback on what they experienced.

Wired

Wired kicked things off with their first impressions of the headset and their hands-on time with the game Superhot.

“Playing Superhot on it was especially fun. The game is basically a simulator from The Matrixwhere you dodge bullets and punches in slow motion. After a while, I forgot I was wearing a standalone headset at all. If VR is going to crack into the mainstream and really become a regular activity for most gamers, the Oculus Quest appears to be a great step in the right direction (so far).”

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Mashable

One of the more viral bits of feedback came from Mashable’s Raymond Wong, who with the aid of a few video clips shared on Twitter, seems pretty pumped for the upcoming VR headset.

“The headset felt lighter and comfier to wear on my head with the weight more evenly distributed. This is largely because the strap system cradles the backside of your head more like on the Rift. There’s still a rather noticeable cutout around the nose that leaks in light as on the Go, but the headset’s black interior also helps reduce the amount of light reflected into the lenses.”

“3D sound still comes through two narrow slits on the side of the headset and it still sounds clear as on the Go.”

“The display is OLED displays compared to the punier Go’s fast-switching LCD screen. Refresh rates in the two demos I tried (Tennis Scramble and Super Hot) were fast and I can’t say I saw any latency issues — that’s an excellent sign.”

“I really like about the Oculus Quest: the controllers. They’re very similar to the Touch controller for the Rift with several buttons on the top and triggers on the back and sides to simulate opening and closing your virtual hands.”

“I had doubts the mobile chipset inside of the Quest could accurately track two hand controllers using the built-in cameras and sensors on the front of the headset, but those fears disappeared as soon as I Iaunched into a game of Tennis Scramble.”

Speaking about Superhot having played it on many other VR platforms: “..on the Quest, the game felt entirely new again. Where I had to deal with cables tethering me to a computer with the Vive and Acer headset, the Quest was wireless and I could move freely without worrying about tripping over a cable.”

“I cared less about about the chipset inside or the sensors responsible for tracking. The only thing that I was fixated on was the experience. In this regard, the Quest triumphs.”

“Facebook has a real opportunity with Quest to save VR from its lost ground to AR with Quest.”

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Pocket-Lint

The crew from Pocket-lint also got some hands-on time with the Oculus Quest during their 20-minute demo.

“The visuals are really rather good – the resolution is 1,600 x 1,440 per eye.”

“Thanks to the six degrees of freedom and lack of cable, you can walk around freely and make movements such as jumping or crouching. We didn’t find any glitch with how our movement was tracked.”

“As a side note, if you wear glasses you will really like the Quest – there’s plenty of room for your specs – something that can’t be said of the Rift. You can also adjust pupil distance using a slider on the headset.”

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Wirecutter

Wirecutter gave us an insight into the lack of tracking behind you.

“The Quest works with a modified version of the Rift’s Touch controllers (my favorite for VR), but in our demo the headset sometimes lost sight of my hands when I held them close to my body. If you don’t mind sacrificing some screen and tracking quality in favor of mobility, the Oculus Quest looks to be the headset you’ve been waiting for.”

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Digital Trends

Digital trends found the Quest to be comfortable VR experience, with gameplay appearing very smooth.

“After demoing the Oculus Quest at CES 2019, I suddenly found myself more comfortable with the idea of picking up a VR headset.”

“The controllers are nearly identical to the Oculus Rift, but wireless, and with their own internal sensors. Just like the touch controllers, they are easy to pick up and use, fitting comfortably in your hands with adjustable wristlets that can be tightened so they don’t slip off and go flying in the middle of an intense VR session.”

“..we played two games — Super Hot and Project Tennis Scramble — both of which worked without a hitch. That, too, is an important point. Earlier wire-free headsets, more of which relied on smartphones, had serious issues with both smartphone heat management and overall performance. These issues aren’t present in Oculus Quest, and the two games we tried felt just as smooth as they would on an HTC Vive.”

“…the Oculus Quest is a perfect mid-tier offering that feels like it could be the headset that brings VR to the mainstream.”

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YouTube

Surprisingly there wasn’t much noise on YouTube from any major influencers. I am sure this will increase nearer launch day, but for now, the only relevant video that made it into my search results was this one from German YouTuber – Computer Build TV (Pop on subtitles for translation into English if needed).

Where is the Hype Train at?

So with 108 days to go before we could be able to pre-order the Oculus Quest, Facebook needs to do better to build hype for the Oculus Quest. They need more press, more influencers and more VR bloggers talking about this upcoming headset.

We need to learn more about the games of the expected 50 launch titles that will be available to download and play on the Oculus Quest. We need demos of its launch game’s graphics, to ease the doubt. We need to see gameplay of games in action to show off what Oculus Insight and its dual Touch controllers can give.

There are a few major events coming up between now and the expected release date of the Oculus Quest, where the hype train can stop by and deliver the much needed exposure to its visitors. PAX South kicks off on 18th January. This is a perfect time to show off any confirmed indie titles coming to the Oculus Quest and reach-out to gamers directly. It’s also a prime time for influencers to demo the VR headset and share to millions of their followers.

On 18th March we have GDC 2019 in San Fransisco. This developer focused event is where attendees get to exchange ideas and shape the future of the games industry. This is a good enough time as any to showcase future titles and the technology that developers are working on. PAX East then starts on 28th March, which is another chance to get in front of influencers and showcase more games that are coming to the Oculus Quest.

April brings us the London Games Festival (2nd April) and EGX Rezzed (4th April), both in the UK. At this time we’re less than a month away from the expected launch date. This is perfect timing for more hype and demos with attendees on the show floor, thus creating more buzz and enthusiasm for launch day. It’s also a good point to reach a European audience and spread the word.

Whether the Oculus Quest launches on April 31st or May 1st, time is ticking by, and if the Oculus Quest is being touted as a gaming platform. It needs to follow a pattern of hype and media coverage, that’s similar a console hardware release, in order to be able to reach a wider audience and bring the attention it needs to really make its mark as a gaming VR platform.

Over to you Facebook…

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