Oculus Quest Day One Survival Guide (Updated)

Shane R. Monroe
Sep 16, 2019 · 15 min read

So you finally pulled the trigger and bought an Oculus Quest. Congratulations! Maybe you found this guide in anticipation of its delivery — or perhaps you’re just looking for addition information for recent owners such as tricks, tips and recommendations. You’ve come to the right place. Updated: 2019–12–13.

The totally wireless(?) Oculus Quest

What You Should Know — Day One

First, you will be amazed at how empty the box is. That picture above is pretty much it — with the exception of a nice long power cable and wall adapter. The unit charges with a USB-C type connector; nothing proprietary. Plug the unit in right way — as while it does come with some charge, you’re going to want it topped off before the night of fun ahead of you.

The controllers are AA powered and don’t chew through batteries as much as you might think they would.

If you’re coming from a Rift or other wired VR platform, it will take you a couple of days to get over the idea you can put this on anywhere, anytime.

Oh, the controllers may feel weighted differently to you, too — not necessarily in a bad way; just different. I’d also go so far as to say that the Quest controllers feel a bit more cheaply constructed than their Rift counterparts.

You will need to spend a lot of time messing with the straps and configuration of the hardware to get it absolutely comfortable. Even so, the thing is front-heavy and will pull hard on the back of your head — even when you do have a good fit. This is enough of an issue that people on Reddit have endless discussions about it — and there are even commercial products that combine a battery with the weight to level this off.

Simple DIY solution — nice to have extra power on hand, too.

By the way, there is a slider on the bottom for something called IPD (Interpupillary Distance). This adjusts the lenses to fit the distance between your pupils better. Honestly? This is a HUGE selling point of the Quest and you shouldn’t ignore how it can make your visibility better and drastically reduce strain on your eyes.

Something else you probably didn’t know … you must have a mobile device to set this thing up. Yes, you’ll need a smart phone (or tablet) to do the initial set up AND you’ll need it to “cast” the output (along with a Shield TV or modern Chromecast streaming device) for audience watching purposes. Note: You can now stream directly from the Quest to a Chromecast device without using the mobile app as a conduit.

The setup is easy enough — including the setting up of your Guardian Zone (something you will probably start to get annoyed with if you change locations enough). Take heart in knowing that even though you feel like you’re CONSTANTLY setting these things up, if you had a Rift — the process is a nightmare and you should be happy Quest makes it so damn easy.

If you’re coming from a Rift (OG or S) you probably already know about “cross buy” — that is if you own it for ONE Oculus VR headset, you own it on all Oculus platforms. This list is a good start to see what you might ALREADY own for your new Quest. It is worth noting that while the NAMES of the game may seem different (RoboRecall and Drop Dead have slightly different names on Quest) they are essentially the same game and you can install and play them at no additional charge. Recently, many Oculus Go/GearVR games have been made available as cross buy too. Here is a list of those titles.

If you own SteamVR games (which you might and not even know it) — these are not DIRECTLY compatible with Quest wirelessly(since there is no PC involved) but read on and I’ll tell you about a way you may be able to play them on Quest anyway. Note: If you have a VR-Ready PC, you can now use Oculus Link to play most PC VR games on the Quest by tethering a USB cable to that PC.

Another little niggle people may not realize about the Quest over other VR platforms is that the audio isn’t “private” out of the box. With “over the ear” VR headsets, you get a certain level of immersion and privacy. The Quest’s “projected audio” has the positive quality that you can actually hear what’s going on in the room around you (all while keeping the sound remarkably good) but if you want to play in public or in the living room while your wife is watching TV? You’re going to have a problem. There are headphone jacks on both sides of the Quest so you can plug in some earbuds (both sides are stereo, by the way — the official ear buds just do mono for each side) or some other solution.

The Quest is built on the Android operating system — but like Amazon’s Fire devices, they work hard to hide that fact from you. Thanks to this, though, there are some options for “sideloading” — and we’ll get to that in a minute.

I haven’t fully tested the battery life — but the unit will play for several hours on a charge. Just be prepared with a battery pack (you can play and charge at the same time). The included cable is high quality and pretty long so you’ll have that option too, especially if you’re playing seated experiences (of which there are many). If you’re going to curate a night of VR fun at a get together of friends or family, make plans to flip between true wireless mobile experiences and then have people play Ultrawings or pinball while you top the power off.

The secret to a good VR presentation is proper curation of content by an experienced player.

While we’re on the subject of entertaining; I highly recommend you get a nice container of Wet Wipes or other anti-bacterial wipes for the party. The headset will get nasty over time — and keeping it clean should be a priority. Don’t fall for the “designer” wet napkins … go with something cheap and practical.

These are under $10 at Amazon.

Before we move on to accessories and recommendations on experiences, there is one more thing you may run into.

The battery covers on the controllers are magnetic — not “clipped”. If you get really REALLY into your experiences (I go nuts with Beat Saber) you may find the covers “slip” a bit during play. This distraction can cause me to lose a perfect run on my favorite song. There are Quest grips (I have a rather exotic pair from Mamut … see my review in the video below) which would solve that problem, but a small piece of electrical tape would probably handle it too.

Let me tell you about Mamut Grips …

Accessorize your Quest

Accessories aren’t just about aesthetics and convenience. They can be about functionality increases and protection for both wearer and device.

You’ll want a carrying case of some sort. There is an Official Case for $40 that you can buy at Oculus online or even find at local retailers like Gamestop and Walmart. This is what I have — and it works well. If you’re the sort of person that likes the official, branded accessories you’ll probably go with this. This one looks great and is only $25 — highly rated by the community, too.

If you’re looking for a different audio experience, you can use whatever ear buds you like — although you might want to forget about getting Bluetooth or wireless ones working. Naturally there is an official set of short-cabled buds that are designed for the unit, but clocking in at $50 makes them a tough sell. Here are some other recommendations you may want to consider. I will say that I’m still using the out of box experience and I’m pretty happy with it. For an over the ears, well-rated experience check these out; they get good reviews all around and are under $50.

Grips. We talked about grips and their ability to help with the slipping battery covers, but they are also useful to protect your Quest controllers from accidental drops. Also, they help reduce slippage and can even make them more comfortable by making them just a bit bigger for larger hands or even add a back-of-the-hand strap similar to the design of the Valve Index (which are incredibly comfortable, by the way). The Mamut is the gold standard, but they will set you back $40. For a thrift solution, these on Amazon get good reviews and are cheaper. If for some reason you skipped ahead in this article, my review of the Mamut is a couple of paragraphs back.

In addition to the counterweights I mentioned earlier, you may consider a head strap to help distribute the weight better. It is obvious that the front weight is a real issue when you have so many products trying to fix it.

If you wear glasses, you might benefit from using a prescription lens adapter. They aren’t cheap, but if you’re going to be using your Quest a lot — it might be worth the investment.

Since your Quest uses IR technology to track your hands — but without ample light — it cannot track your environment (kinda important) in the dark. Why would you play in the dark? The reasons could be numerous but there is a solution. Using an infrared illuminator, you can bathe your room in invisible IR light which will make your Quest work as intended even in pitch black conditions. This can help poorly lit rooms as well; especially those that maybe only have a single source of light that is blocked when you turn around. The illuminator costs around $20, so another lamp might be cheaper.

Couple of other interesting accessories you might consider include dedicated Beat Saber grips (mixed reviews) and improved wrist straps. If the Nintendo Wii taught us anything it is that motion controllers have a tendency to go flying because people don’t use straps (or use poor ones). I haven’t replaced mine yet, but these look pretty good. As a Beat Saber fanatic, I’m keeping an eye out for grips that are approved unanimously by the community.

Last but not least, you’ll eventually want to invest in a face gasket/cover that may be easier to keep clean or even more comfortable. There endless companies providing these, but VRCovers seems to get the nod for the most comfortable and best overall products.

Recommended Experiences

Take my recommendations with a grain of salt. My tastes may vastly differ from yours — but with the smaller subset of experiences available you will want to hedge your bets by getting as much input as you can before making your purchases. I have a history of Oculus Rift gaming, so what may not be as well received by me on Quest may be due to my unintentional direct comparisons of the experiences.

If you’re a Rift/Rift S/Go/GearVR owner as well, make sure you are signed into the same account on the Oculus Store as there are dozens of “cross buy” games you won’t have to buy a second time if you already own it. This doesn’t apply to games you purchased/own on Steam, unfortunately.

Virtual Desktop

If you have a pretty good gaming PC, you probably have the ability to play SteamVR games on it. Using Virtual Desktop ($20) along with a special streaming program on your computer from the developer you can literally stream SteamVR games over your 5ghz wifi to your Quest. I’ve tried it, it works. I played No Man’s Sky and Space Pirate Trainer quite well this way. Steam games can often be had cheaper (and in greater quantity) than their Oculus counterparts.

This set up does require a bit of effort along with setting up SideQuest — but it is worth it in the end. You are, of course, at the mercy of wifi streaming latency issues (such as network jitter) and not all network setups are idea for this type of solution.

I would recommend native games when possible — if nothing else than to help feed the developers’ families that are making these great games for you and encourage them to continue to support the platform — but also because many of the experiences are just cleaner and better when playing directly on the Quest without external influences.

Oculus Link

Since it was announced at OC6, the future Quest Link feature has easily been the most talked about and sought after functionality for the Oculus Quest. The community has been practically rabid for more information, cable specifications and of course, the inevitable release date.

On November 18th, 2019 — Oculus Link was released as a beta product to the Quest community.

In short, Oculus Link turns your Oculus Quest into an Oculus Rift. A tethered solution (but no sensors or crazy cabling) that allows your VR-ready PC to play pretty much ALL PCVR games (SteamVR, Oculus Store) on your Quest.

I suggest this article and this article for more information.

Applications

Not really “games” per se, but apps you may be interested in having for your Quest.

SideQuest is a “side loading” tool that let’s you install extra games, applications, mods and such right through a USB cable attached to your Quest and PC. If you plan on getting custom songs for Beat Saber, this along with BMBF are the two main tools you’ll need.

Install new games and apps — even Android apps including emulators with SideQuest.

Viewing media on your Quest seems like a no-brainer. Along with the obvious YouTube app and the stuff pre-loaded, you will want to check out Bigscreen, PlutoTV, Amazon Prime VR and SkyBox VR Player.

Bigscreen allows you to hang out in virtual movie theaters watching (probably legally gray) streamed movies by PC users of the app (or host your own). Android and Roku users probably know all about PlutoTV which is a sort of free TV and movies app. Some good stuff on here for free, too. Amazon Prime subscribers can access their content with the native Amazon Prime VR app which has a simple but usable interface.

Probably the most important media app for Quest is SkyBox VR Player. The Quest has no access to memory cards or flash drives natively — so if you want to watch “external content” (wink wink nudge nudge) you’ll want to install SkyBox VR Player; this gives you access to Windows/network shares on your LAN over wifi. It sports a TON of features to make just about any 180/360 video play and play correctly … no matter WHERE you got them from.

Games / Entertainment

Of course, that’s why you got this thing. To play games. I’ll run down twelve of my favorites — which is by no means totally comprehensive; but one must start somewhere. I have published a follow up article with five more experiences I recommend (an yet another five more in this article). From now on, I’ll do supplementary articles with recommendations instead of updating this core list. Note: Videos provided are not all directly Quest driven but rather represent a good look at the game mechanics and play.

Beat Saber. This is probably why you bought a Quest. This is the definitive killer app for virtual reality regardless of the platform. Frantically chop colored blocks flying at you in time to music — using light sabers — and you have the basic idea of this game. Fortunately for you (and NOT for PSVR owners) Quest users have access to thousands of custom songs thanks to the modding community. After all, music is powerful and personal and everyone wants their own music to rock out to. A demo version comes with the Quest and the full game is only $30 — which is on par with the most expensive game I mention here, but if you’re willing to go get endless free custom songs? The price is more than right. Note: You may have heard of the big “banning” scare around custom songs. This is a non-issue. We can all move along. Custom songs are alive and well — and no one has been banned.

Space Pirate Trainer. Accessible, arcade action shooting that it seems everyone enjoys. If you plan to entertain using your Quest, you’ll want this game in your arsenal. Tons of replay, very immersive but isn’t daunting to new players (advanced control usage takes some getting used to). At $15 it is foolish to pass up on it. A very scaled back demo is included with the Quest.

Drop Dead. It seems to be a perfect fit; a story-driven zombie shooting arcade action game. Plays well, has comfort modes for anyone and is just a damn good time. Another solid $15 purchase.

Fruit Ninja. Perfect introduction game for everyone especially since many people may have played it on their phones or tablets. Non-threatening, fruit slashing fun that is immersive but not “scary”. $15.

Moss. If you could sit down comfortably among some beautiful dioramas and guide a cute little mouse around solving puzzles — you would have Moss. Critically acclaimed, gorgeous, approachable and fun for everyone; highly recommended but it will set you back $30 which makes it a bit more pricey than some of the other games here.

Pinball FX 2 VR. Everyone knows how to play pinball, and Zen Studios has been making the best fantasy pinball (tables that don’t exist in the real world) for many years now. For $15 you get a few tables — all played in a gorgeous 3D VR environment and other tables are available for additional purchase. The licensed tables are considerably more pricey, but season packs offer quality tables at a good price.

Racket: NX. Futuristic handball with lots of challenges, modes and lots of fun tasks to complete. You’ll get a pretty good workout if you go in charged up. This is a game I’d recommend having a nice big play area for as you can get a bit frantic while playing. The Guardian Zone may not help the ambitious on this one. At $20 it won’t break the bank, either.

Richie’s Plank Experience. Don’t let this game get away. It looks like a “fear simulator” but the truth is, it is the best flying simulator I’ve seen yet. You’ll never feel more like a superhero than when you’re playing this game. $15 — just do it.

RoboRecall: Unplugged. It’s $30, but it is probably the most “AAA” gaming experience I’ve seen on the platform, despite its relative age. You go “recall” robots that have run amok in the city. Shoot, rip apart, beat them with their own arms — it is insane fun and I can’t recommend it enough.

SUPERHOT. This game gets a lot of press — and for a good reason. It is some of the most (frustrating) fun you can have in VR. Don’t let the simple graphics fool you — you will shoot, throw, stab, punch and anything else you can to survive each room that gets more difficult as you move on. You’ll die — a lot — and you’ll play over and over again despite the fact. It is one of the more pricey investments at $25, but it has universally been the favorite of anyone I introduce VR to.

Ultrawings. A simple, accessible flight simulator that is a fantastic introduction to VR. Tutorial levels guide you into learning the controls and means of flight — then you flight little missions with the knowledge you’ve gained. Various comfort modes help everyone enjoy. An easy purchase at $15.

Vader Immortal: The series is cheap at $10 each, but they are short (and honestly, missing a little replay value). Still, a must purchase for any Star Wars fan and is a great way to introduce people to VR. Until Batman: Arkham Asylum makes it to Quest, this is the go to introduction for curious newbies. After the short story, you have some “arena” challenges you can work through — wielding a light saber against remotes and robots. Note: there are three “episodes” in this series; each is $10 — each with a sharp rise in overall quality. You’ll want to own them all, though for story line continuity.

For those not keeping score, these twelve games will set you back $235 which is still only an average of $20 a game — and that ain’t too shabby.

More Experiences?

Since writing this article, I have written other articles with recommendations:

Got Questions?

Still need more information? Feel free to comment below and I’ll be happy to fill you in. You may also wish to join the Reddit sub r/Oculus Quest. I spend a lot of time there and so do a lot of wise, helpful people that can help you too.

Right now? I need to play some MajorPickle maps on Beat Saber (my current favorite is Mickey by Toni Basil). What are you playing?

My son plays Thriller …

Shane R. Monroe

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I write, blog, record and review anything that interests me — including humanity, parenting, gizmos & gadgets, video games and media.

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