6-Month Review: It’s Time To Stop Sleeping on the Quest 3

Wake up and smell the mixed reality roses.

A virtual reality headset and its two handheld controllers on a table, with a blurred figure in the ...
Raymond Wong

I love being a hater.

I think it’s important to have standards. Being skeptical isn’t just a hipster hobby, it’s a useful tool — it can keep you safe, sane, and might even land you a job as a journalist.

So when I see my online kin being skeptical of gadgets and tech that I both think and write about on a daily basis, I’m inclined to agree. Making everything wireless was a mistake; Sonic does suck; there are absolutely, positively, too many damn gaming handhelds.

But even a hater has his limits. Sometimes, the world of gadgets deserves a bit of unbridled love. Right now, in my world, that deserving gadget is the Quest 3.

The Magic of Mixed Reality

I get it, it’s easy to be disillusioned with tech. Year after year of iterative phone updates has conditioned us to approach new devices with the same excitement we may reserve for a bowl of plain oatmeal. Sincere apologies to anyone who is really excited by plain oatmeal or incremental phone upgrades.

Some gadgets deserve a certain degree of boredom, to be sure. On the other side of the coin, that attitude might also be preventing you from recognizing some magic and what I consider to be the best tech toy in recent memory — it might be preventing you from loving the Quest 3.

I’ve had a Quest 3 for quite a while now, and I’ve used it here and there. I’ve played some Fortnite; I’ve meditated some.

But I haven’t truly given it a shot until recently when I brought it along on a trip to visit my family. Why in the world would I use precious space in my backpack to haul a VR/XR headset through airport security, you ask? Counterpoint: Why not?

The Quest 3 demands respect.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

If you’ve been following along, I like to play Fortnite on occasion (read: all the time with my adult friends), and I figured the Quest 3 — since I don’t have a handheld gaming device to call my own — was an easy way to do that while I was staying with my parents. So I packed the headset, both Quest controllers, and a separate Xbox controller that plugs into my headset, and set off.

While I was at it, I figured I’d give my whole family a demo of the headset. Living vicariously, after all, is a great way to gain perspective. First I started with my parents; my dad is 79 years old, and my mom is 66. Unsurprisingly, neither of them had ever used a VR headset before, let alone one that’s mixed reality-ready. I did what any millennial son would do and situated that headset on their faces, loaded up a good demonstration of how mixed reality works (a game called First Encounters that involves capturing a bunch of fuzzy aliens in your living room), gave them both very brief instructions, and then whipped out my phone to record the whole thing for Instagram.

What I captured wasn't just a low-brow video of my parents looking goofy, it was something sociological, something pure, something... magical. Without any frame of reference for mixed reality, both my mom and dad picked up the game easily, scooting around the room and blasting cartoon aliens into submission. Their review? Mostly “wow.” My dad even went back for a couple of rounds.

What I saw, through them (and myself) was excitement — not just for a specific game, but for a category of technology.

Likewise, when I let my nephew (9 years old) and my niece (6 years old) try the headset, their learning curve was equally as brief. I was able to adjust the Quest 3’s standard head strap to fit both of them and with some brief instructions, they were off hunting aliens.

What I saw, through them (and myself) was excitement — not just for a specific game, but for a category of technology. And then it clicked. Mixed reality is cool, it is futuristic — and the best part? It’s here and it’s now and it’s pretty damn affordable.

A Toy, Not a Tool

There are so many things that the Quest 3 gets right. Unlike Meta’s (hopefully brief) fixation on work applications in VR with the significantly more expensive Quest Pro, the Quest 3 focuses on something we all want: fun.

Inside of the Quest 3’s app store, Meta Store, there’s a surprisingly robust array of VR and XR games that (while not as cheap as a mobile game) are still pretty damn affordable. About $25 to $60 will buy you an experience like Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party or Asgard’s Wrath 2 which offer not only hours of gameplay, but an experience unlike most any regular console or PC game. Plus, there are near-constant sales in the Meta store if you’re looking to save a little money.

Then there’s the overall ease. The Quest 3 is light (enough to pack in my backpack and not feel the weight) and light enough to slide over your head without feeling like you’ll need a trip to the chiropractor when you’re done.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a gadget bring as much intrigue and joy to all ages...

And then there’s the price. Sure, $499 ain’t nothin’, but when compared to the rest of the field, Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro in particular, it starts to look like a steal.

The Quest 3 is simple, fluid, and flat-out fun.

Raymond Wong

So what does all that ease and affordability add up to? In my opinion, it adds up to fun. I can’t remember the last time I saw a gadget bring as much intrigue and joy to all ages, and that wonderment can’t be discounted. Sure, there are still barriers: wearing headsets isn’t always the most comfortable thing in the world, especially over long periods, and limited battery life rears its head when you’re playing a graphics-intensive game. That’s not even accounting for motion sickness or eyestrain.

But when you look at the Quest 3 for what it is — a really, really, futuristic toy — those gripes don’t seem to matter as much. Headsets may not be the ultimate form factor for VR or XR (Meta wants to see all of the Quest’s tech condensed into more glasses-like hardware) but right now, the Quest 3 is offering a glimpse of the future, and that glimpse is a hell of a lot more polished and fluid than you might expect.

So, before you roll your eyes at someone fumbling around their living room with a big screen attached to their face, put your skepticism aside and think twice. Stop to smell the mixed reality roses, you just might find something you love.

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