As the West Midland's largest virtual reality attraction, customers often ask us which virtual reality headset we would recommend they purchase to play at home. The truth is, the market is full of a wide array of VR headsets to buy, all with different specifications and price tags.
It is confusing to work out which virtual reality system to buy, especially if, like most - you're not familiar with VR or know what to look for. With Christmas approaching, we're expecting to see sales of home-user VR headsets skyrocket, especially as some well-known VR manufacturers pump literally millions into advertising to their target audiences (usually children 10-18 years) in the hope they'll convince their parents (...or Santa!) to buy them one as a present.
What the average user doesn't know, is that not all VR headsets are created equal! If you buy wrong, you'll end up wasting a lot of money...
There is a huge difference in the different types of virtual reality system / headsets available to buy on the market this Christmas. We don't profess to call ourselves 'experts' in the VR industry, but we do know a thing or two about VR tech and what a great virtual reality experience looks like.
Comparing a VR headset designed for 'professional' use with VR headsets designed for the home user market is like comparing a Ford Focus to a Ferrari .... both will get you to your destination, but it's the ride, speed and driving experience that makes it more fun!
In our opinion, there are currently 3 VR headsets available on the market this Christmas 2020 that we'd recommend for home-user use. When we talk about "home-use", we mean that these headsets are simple to use and are designed to be used at home. The headsets do not need to be connected to a high performance gaming PC to play. Not everyone can afford a high-end gaming PC, or the cost of an expensive VR headset designed for professional use - that's why we offer our own premium VR gaming experiences at XP-VR Virtual Reality Experience in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire!
Of course, there are other VR headsets designed for the home user market, but we won't mention or recommend them purely because we believe they are not worth the money. The headsets we've not mentioned may need to be connected up with wires to a high performance gaming PC to play - or have pretty terrible reviews!
Our top 3 recommendations:
If you are thinking of buying a VR system to play at home, then in our opinion, we would recommend the following VR headsets...
A special virtual reality headset released by Sony to use with their PlayStation 4 and 5 gaming systems. A special sensor that plugs into the console is used to track the player's headset position. Whilst wearing the headset, players hold a pair of controllers to move and interact with objects inside the games.
Pros: Relatively affordable, popular, great 'bundle' deals often available that includes VR headset with the purchase of a new PlayStation system or certain games.
Cons: Headset is a bit clunky and doesn't sit on player's face very snugly. Low refresh rate can make some users feel sick whilst playing. Not very immersive as players have to face forwards towards a special sensor bar, meaning they cannot look fully behind them whilst playing inside the games. Limited selection of 'true' VR games (ones that been built to play solely in VR only).
Price: Sells for between £200-£300 depending on retailer. Search best PlayStationVR deals.
Verdict: 5/10. Good for some occasional/low VR use if you have a PlayStation already, but better VR headsets exist for the money.
An all-in-one system that requires no computer or console to play. Players put on the headset and hold a pair of 'touch' controllers to move and interact with objects inside the game. The touch controllers allow for realistic hand movements inside the game.
*We also use these headsets for our own VR home rental service.
Pros: Portable, can be used anywhere (although we do recommend only playing indoors). Lots of games available to buy and play from the Oculus content store. Display is bright, clear and crisp. Very easy to use and operate.
Cons: 2-3 hours of battery life before the headset needs charging. The controllers can be damaged very easily if a player does not draw their chaperone (safety boundary) correctly and collides with a wall etc. Sound quality could be a little bit better and we recommend buying additional add-ons such as padded head straps etc to make the headset more comfortable for longer, extended play sessions.
Price: Sells for between £299-£450 depending on retailer. Search best Oculus Quest 1 deals.
Verdict: 7/10. A great option for moderate home gamers. This headset does everything you need it to do. There are some great pricing deals to be had now that the Oculus Quest 2 has been released.
The latest successor to the original Oculus Quest 1 (above). An all-in-one system that requires no computer or console to play. The headset was newly released in October 2020. Players put on the headset and hold a pair of 'touch' controllers to move and interact with objects inside the game. The touch controllers allow for realistic hand movements inside the game
Pros: Lighter and more powerful than the original Oculus Quest 1 with improved graphics quality and a crisper display. Head strap design has been improved to make it more comfortable for players.
Cons: 2-3 hours of battery life before the headset needs charging. At the moment, you can only buy this headset in an off-white colour, meaning it will show dirt, scuffs and marks very easily.
Sells for between £299-£499 depending on retailer. Search best Oculus Quest 2 deals.
Verdict: 8/10. If you want to play VR at home then we fully recommend this new headset if you don't have an Oculus Quest 1 already. If you do have a Quest 1 already, we don't personally think it's worth the upgrade.
Remember that when buying ANY VR headset to play at home - you'll need to factor in the additional cost of buying some VR games to play. Some games are free to use, but the majority you'll need to pay for in order to download from the manufacturer's game content store. Game prices vary from £1 - £40. If you want to play with other players at the same time (like your relatives or friends) then they'll usually need to own the same type of headset as you and also have purchased the game themselves. (With most games, a person using an Oculus Quest headset cannot usually play against someone that is using a PlayStationVR headset). Do factor this in if you are looking to buy a headset for your child!
Remember, there is currently NO comparison between VR headsets designed for home use and VR headsets designed for the professional market. If you want to play the well-known, hugely detailed / resource heavy VR games like Half-Life: Alyx, Boneworks and The Walking Dead titles then you will only be able to play these on professional VR systems connected with wires to a high-performance gaming PC. These PC's handle all of the processing power that is required in order to play the games. The all-in-one VR headsets designed for home use just aren't powerful enough to do it themselves... yet!
If you have any questions then feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch with us via our social media channels.