Oculus Go Review: Free your VR

One of the first proper ‘standalone’ VR experiences to hit UK homes is the Oculus Go. This £199 headset boasts its own display and Qualcomm chipset, so all of the smarts are already on-board. This isn’t simply a plastic shell like Google’s Daydream View or Samsung’s Gear VR. In other words, you don’t need to slip your smartphone inside to enjoy virtual reality games and experiences.

Considering the Oculus Go isn’t a massive leap in price over those two VR headsets, it really is quite a bargain. After all, if you include the cost of a Samsung smartphone or Daydream-compatible handset, then the Oculus Go is a lot more affordable.

But is the Oculus Go actually an enjoyable experience? Here’s our full review.

Oculus Go review: Design

If you’ve strapped on Samsung or Google’s VR headset, then you’ll already know what to expect here. The Oculus Go sports a similar design, with a bulky plastic shell that fits snugly over your eyeballs and holds firm thanks to a series of head straps.

Those straps are fully adjustable on all sides, so don’t worry if you have a massive bonce. There’s plenty of padding too, where the mask meets your face. So wearing the Oculus Go for extended periods is perfectly comfortable. You even get a detachable slip which makes a little extra room if you wear glasses. Definitely some smart thinking, as a lot of these headsets really push your specs into your mug.

On the top of the mask you’ll find a power button and volume rocker. These can be easily found even during use, with minimal fumbling. The rest of the controls are handled by a separate joystick, which is bundled in the box.

Oculus Go review: Setup

Setting up the Oculus Go is as simple as you’d hope. Just download the Oculus app from the App Store or Google Play and you’ll be led through the process, connecting the headset to your WiFi and updating the software. We had no issues whatsoever and every step is well explained. The only part we found annoying was the compulsory safety video, but that’s no doubt a legal requirement. Bloody red tape.

Once setup is complete, you’ll no longer need your phone to use the Oculus Go. The headset connects independently to the internet and you can download games and apps directly.

For a proper look at the Oculus Go, check out our full unboxing, setup and guided tour video below.

Oculus Go review: Features

That built-in 5.5-inch LCD screen is absolutely stunning, thanks to its sharp 2560×1440 pixel resolution. Even though it’s right up in your face, VR experiences look nice and crisp. That’s providing they support that resolution, of course. We were also impressed by the built-in speakers. Load up a game and you’ll find that the audio surrounds you, providing excellent immersion. You could actually swear that you’re sat in a tiny cockpit for instance, blasting space pirates as they zip all around you.

Of course, there’s also a headphone jack if you’d prefer a bit of privacy.

That Snapdragon 821 chipset keeps things ticking along nicely, backed by 3GB of RAM. Because the Oculus Go is one hundred percent dedicated to the VR experience, with no background tasks to worry about, we saw no performance drop-outs during use. And even when playing intensive games, the headset will last over two hours before a recharge is needed. Frankly, at that point your eyeballs will be going all squiffy anyway.

One small issue is the lack of storage, however. The entry-level headset only packs 32GB of space, while the more premium model tops out at 64GB. With no microSD expansion possible (probably for performance reasons), you’ll fill up fast if you download a few games and movies. We’d definitely recommend stumping up the extra 50 quid for the 64GB version.

Oculus Go review: Games and apps

The Oculus Store is your one-stop shop for VR games and the rest. This is pretty well stocked already as it’s essentially the same store used by Samsung’s Gear VR platform, which has been around for a while now.

You get a small selection of decent free games and immersive experiences to choose from, if money’s a bit tight. Discovery VR is highly entertaining for instance, offering a good choice of 360-degree experiences that take you around the world or out of it entirely. However, you’ll have to be prepared to spend a few quid if you want to play the best games, such as Republique VR.

The good news is, you can stream video to this headset using Oculus Galleries. Even more exciting are some of the upcoming features, such as Oculus Venues. This takes you to the front row and beyond for live events such as sports, gigs and plays, so you can watch all of the action up-close (for a small fee, of course).

Oculus Go review: Verdict

The Oculus Go is a fantastic standalone solution for anyone who wants to try VR at home, without resorting to buying a specific smartphone to make it possible. It’s surprisingly affordable given it’s an all-in-one experience, while the Store is getting great new experiences added all of the time.

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