The arrival of the Meta Quest 3 VR headset is welcome to anyone who plays with Virtual Reality. While Metaverse may not have landed the way Meta (the company) had hoped, anecdotally, VR feels like a much more accessible technology than it has.
A big part of the reason we’re finding more of the technology in living rooms and bedrooms around the world is in no small part thanks to Meta Quest 2 which we previously reviewed, which itself underwent some changes. A compact headset with a decent background ecosystem and an affordable price, the Quest 2 lasted for years, but it’s time for another round.
This time around, Meta Quest 3 (no awkward Oculus memories here) refines what came before. There’s more power, more storage and it’s also more comfortable, and while the mixed and augmented reality pillars aren’t the strongest, it’s still the headset to buy for anyone curious about VR, AR or MR.
If you’re already a Quest 2 veteran, it’s also worth an upgrade. Many of its smaller updates add up to justify the price hike, especially if you can trade in your current model. But we think it’s worth sitting this spring Best VR headset guide? Read on to find out.
Meta Quest 3: Design
- Controls are included in the box
- Drastic display improvement
- Comfortable to wear
If you’ve seen a Meta Quest 2, you’ll no doubt notice a lot of similarities to the Quest 3. It’s surprisingly slimmer than its predecessor, apart from the black part, and it has the same white plastic shell.
It’s ever so slightly heavier than its predecessor (by 3g) but it feels much more comfortable for long periods thanks to a softer mesh around the eyes. In fact, it almost feels like the same kind of sponginess as the AirPods Max headphones, and I’ve loved them for months – suggesting this will maintain a decent level of comfort.
Platforms: Standalone, PC via wired Meta Link and wireless Air Link
Award: $499.99/£479.99 for 128GB, $649.99/£6299.99 for 512GB
Resolution: 2064 x 2208 pixels per eye
Field of view: 110 degrees
Update frequency: 120 Hz experimental
Controllers: Touch Plus Controller (included)
The head strap is also more balanced and adjustable when worn than the Quest 2’s. There’s also an adjustment button that helps you change how close the headset is to your eyes – especially useful for glasses wearers.
On the front, you’ll find a trio of cutouts that help with mixed and augmented reality, as well as creating a safe space to play in – but more on that in a moment.
Under the headset you will find a wheel to adjust the focus, while there is a volume button. The power button is just below the USB-C charging port on the left side.
If you’ve used the Quest 2, you’ll no doubt notice the 30% pixel-per-eye bump immediately – the Quest 3 looks much, much clearer, and if you’ve adjusted correctly, it helps mitigate the “screen door” effect that it latest generation headsets had. It’s still there, but it’s much less noticeable, and you can see a lot more around the extremities thanks to new pancake lenses. 120Hz is also here from launch, having been rolled out to Quest 2 throughout beta testing.
Meta Quest 3: Installation and performance
- Still one of the smoothest installation processes out there
- Facebook account is no longer required
- Easy to put a “barrier” around your playground
From the jump, let’s be clear, one of my biggest gripes with Meta Quest 2 was its insistence on linking users to a Facebook account, meaning you couldn’t enjoy one without the other.
That’s thankfully gone, with purchases now linked to a Meta account that has its own friends list and online status if you choose, but you can just as easily link it to your existing Facebook account if you prefer. If nothing else, I’m just glad we have a choice now.
Setup was always easy on Meta Quest 2, but somehow it becomes even smoother in Quest 3 thanks to improved passthrough. Last generation you’d have to complete much of the setup in the Android or iOS app, and while that’s still the case, the vastly improved throughput that lets you see the world around you through the headset means I was able to log in and even write some notes for this review on my Windows computer, without taking it off.
Controls pair quickly and users can create their own avatars from a set of customization options. It’s really only a matter of minutes before you’re ready, and once you jump into the library you’ll be asked which of your already owned Quest 2 apps you want to install.
You can set your own limits during the setup process, and I found the Quest 3’s scanner did a much better job than some headsets of calculating where the floor is or moving things around like tables. It’s also fun to watch, as the geometry of your home is scanned into digital space.
The Quest 3 has a great pair of speakers built into the strap, and they’re impressively nuanced, while being surprisingly loud. You can also connect wired headphones.
Unfortunately, I had too much lag with Bluetooth audio, but the built-in speakers were so good that I didn’t mind too much. Still, if you plan to play games or explore space with someone next to you, you might want to break out the old wired headphones.
Finally, the battery life is anywhere from an hour and a half to just over two hours. It’s not much, and the Meta offers an extra battery, but as someone who enjoys VR sessions in bursts, it felt just the right amount to me. With massive RPGs like Asgard’s Wrath 2 on the way that will no doubt feel like massive time drops, you might want to consider the extra power option.
Meta Quest 3: Software and Games
- Large library
- The store is not always the cheapest
- There is PCVR functionality as well
Meta Quest 2’s library was versatile and accessible, and the same can be said for Quest 3’s. It can run almost any Quest 2 app (I’d say everything, but there might be some exceptions).
That means Vader Immortal is here, Beat Saber is here, and Cities VR is here, and they all look better than ever thanks to the sharper resolution. However, developers must update their games to use the faster chip inside the headset.
Still, the secret weapon of its predecessor was always being able to hook it up to a gaming rig for the likes of Half-Life Alyx and other PCVR titles and I’m happy to say the same holds true here. I’ve spent as much time playing F1 23 or Elite Dangerous via my (admittedly rather beefy) PC as I have playing games on the headset itself.
That PCVR functionality also helps bypass the Meta display window. While it offers plenty of regular discounts, it’s not on par with the likes of Steam when it comes to slashing prices.
Meta Quest 3: Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality
- Augmented/Mixed reality is possible
- Not many titles support it yet
I’ve touched on walkthrough before, but it’s really a great feature for removing the “tunnel vision” that can often make VR feel quite isolating.
While there is a button on the menu to enter “immersive mode”, I enjoyed being able to browse my library while being present in my own lounge or office. I also love that you can switch between the two by double-clicking the side of the headset, which feels very futuristic.
It’s part of Meta’s augmented reality game and while there are a limited number of mixed reality compatible titles, the fact that this technology is in a consumer headset should prompt more developers to take advantage of it. You can also use hand tracking, and it’s much better than the previous headset.
Meta Quest 3: Prize
- 128GB or 512GB versions are available
- $499.99/£479.99 and $649.99/£619.99 respectively
- More expensive than Quest 2
At $399 for the base 128GB model (we haven’t even come close to filling it), the Meta Quest 2 is good value and still cheaper than the competition. But the recent $100/£100 price hike means it’s not quite the steal it once was.
Here’s the downside – the Quest 3 is more expensive than its older sibling, starting at $100 more. Still, the Quest 2 launched with 64GB and switched to 128GB or 256GB options while the Quest 3 starts at 128GB and also comes in a 512GB version (which is my review unit).
That’s a lot of space, but depending on how many games or experiences you’re looking to download, 128GB might be perfect and all PCVR games will run from your PC anyway.
Should you buy Meta Quest 3?
If you’re looking to experience VR without a console or PC in sight, Meta Quest 3 has just leapfrogged its competition to be the best overall value package in the medium.
A series of small improvements add up, and it makes it an easy recommendation if your Meta Quest 2 (or Oculus version) is getting a little long in the tooth.
If Meta Quest 3 isn’t for you…
While it’s not getting any younger, consider Meta Quest 2 an affordable introduction to the magic of VR that offers much of what its successor does. Its controls are bulky and that screen door effect is worse, but other than that it remains an excellent headset.
If you have a powerful PC, Valve Index remains a great option, while PS5 owners can enjoy PSVR 2, which launched in the gap between Quest 2 and Quest 3.
Not only does it offer plenty of impressive features like eye-tracking, but it will hopefully get Sony’s first-party studios to support it for years to come.
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