Meta’s Quest 3 virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) is hitting stores worldwide, with early users in countries like the U.S. and Canada praising the hardware as an ingenious piece of technology. Yet others haven’t been as generous in their reviews.
According to Meta Platforms, the company previously known as Facebook, pre-orders for the much-awaited wearable device opened on Sept. 27 and have reportedly been much stronger than expected.
Shipments began on Oct. 10, with a so-called “preorder offer” that includes free access to the Quest 3 game Asgard’s Wrath 2 extending until January 2024. Upgraded versions of games added to the new VR headset include Red Matter 2, Pistol Whip, Dungeons of Eternity, and others.
Meta Quest 3 design changes
Quest 3 is available in 23 countries and starts at $500 for 128GB of storage, rising to $650 for the 512GB model. The bigger storage headset includes a six-month trial of Meta Quest+, a subscription service that offers users two free games each month and other discounts.
The easiest way to buy the headset is to purchase it directly from the Meta Store. Meta Quest 3 is also available through selected retailers such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy in the U.S. People in the United Kingdom can try Amazon, Argos, Curry’s, and others.
First announced by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in June, Meta Quest 3 features a new design that is 40% thinner and more comfortable to wear compared to Quest 2. Meta claims that its headset is the “first” to provide both virtual and mixed reality experiences on a single device.
This means users can fully immerse themselves in virtual worlds, using Quest 3’s cameras and depth sensors to scan their surroundings so virtual objects and scenes can be overlaid onto the real world around them. Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro headset uses similar technology.
“Ultimately, our vision is to…[go] beyond the rigid classifications of ‘virtual reality’ and ‘mixed reality’ to deliver truly next-gen experiences that let you effortlessly blend the physical and virtual worlds,” Mark Rankin, Meta’s vice president of VR, previously said.
The new version of the Quest is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, the Meta Quest 2. It features a higher-resolution so-called ‘pancake’ display, meaning images and videos look sharper and more detailed compared to Quest 2.
The new model offers a full-color mixed reality mode and a 40% improvement in spatial audio speakers’ clarity and bass performance, according to people who have tried it.
Realistic VR experiences
The Quest 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, which is twice as fast and more powerful than the processor in the Quest 2. It boasts 8GB of RAM. Meta says the new chipset allows for more immersive and realistic virtual reality experiences.
With a battery life of up to three hours, the headset comes with new controllers to help people use it more effectively and efficiently. The new system is fully capable of AR gaming, and users can still access over 500 VR games, apps, and experiences from Quest 2.
“The Meta Quest 3 is the best VR headset out there for most people,” said Hamish Hector of Techradar, who tested the device.
“Sure, [it is] not going to offer the same performance as the Apple Vision Pro or a headset powered by a computer or console, such as a Valve Index or a PlayStationVR 2 headset. But it’s significantly cheaper than those options, and, like the Quest 2 before it, it punches above its weight in terms of what it offers for the price.”
Apart from price, Hector appeared impressed with Quest 3’s sleeker and slimmer design, which makes it “easier to adjust the headset without taking it off…more comfortable and secure on my head.” He praised the controllers, saying they no longer “need annoying tracking rings after all.”
“VR text is no longer “afflicted with the blurry edges that make it a challenge to read,” Hector said, adding: “In fact, all virtual objects appear more well-defined than on Quest 2.”
While the MR capabilities are “still not perfect (especially in lower lighting), the full-color passthrough quality puts the Meta Quest Pro’s mixed reality to shame,” Hector observed.
"It felt almost indistinguishable from a PC VR game" – @engadget
"But games like Red… pic.twitter.com/onr7HP5Edc
— Vertical Robot (@Vertical_Robot) October 9, 2023
Meta Quest 3 criticisms
CNN’s Ural Garret spent “about a week and a half inside Meta’s latest headset.” He found the device to be “revolutionary”, but also wanting in some respects. Garret was disappointed the Touch Plus controllers didn’t “get the same level of attention” as other changes on Quest 3.
“The most notable omission are the controller rings, which featured IR LEDs for tracking,” he explained. “These are now moved to the faceplate of the controller with a single IR LED at the handle’s bottom.”
Garret also complained about the short battery life. “For all of the Quest 3’s enhancements, battery life didn’t see much improvement at all. Similar to its predecessor [Quest 2], there is only between two and three hours of battery life,” he said, adding:
“Considering Meta promoted the headset as having a little over a quarter percentage in performance enhancements, even an extra hour improvement would have been nice.”
Users that are looking for more hours out of their new headset will have to pay an extra $130 to buy an optional battery strap from Meta. Garret also spoke about the “small amount of games that use mixed reality,” warning not to expect “a big generational leap” at launch.
“You won’t get anything on the level of, say, Half-Life: Alyx or Horizon Call of the Mountain on PlayStationVR 2,” he said. “It just would have been nice to have a few Meta Quest 3 exclusive games at launch.”