We asked (kind of), they delivered. Meta’s much-anticipated Meta Quest 3 headset is set to be arriving on shelves in just a few weeks, and anticipation about what the team have been cooking up has been buzzing on the internet for the past few months. With the Metaverse on the virtual rocks (or at least, not having taken off in the way Mark Zuckerberg hoped) and Apple announcing their Vision Pro headset earlier this year, there’s a lot to live up to: can they do it?
First things first: it’s clear that Meta are pinning their hopes on this going big. The handful of journalists who attended Meta’s preview event last week were told that this was the most powerful headset that the team had ever built, sporting double-graphics performance and a 30 per cent increase in display resolution over the Quest 2.
Fortunately, we got to test those claims for ourselves, too — spending around an hour-and-a-half with the new headset and putting it through its paces. How did the Quest 3 measure up?
Quest 3 Design
Most obviously, the Quest 3 is distinctly slimmed-down compared to its older counterparts (though weighs in at around the same as the Quest 2). The pancake lenses have been improved, which means that the screen is much less bulky than it used to be; it’s also easier to customise, with a wheel that lets you move the eye lenses further apart or closer together depending on preference. And there’s another wheel, unobtrusively located at the back of the head, that lets you easily enlarge or reduce the head size.
The resolution was good enough to let me pick up and drink from a glass of water, relying entirely on the display to do so: no mean feat.
The strap itself is also a lot more comfortable: Y-shaped, which aims to distribute weight more evenly over the entire head. It certainly felt surprisingly easy to wear — for the hour or two I wore the rig, it didn’t feel all that cumbersome.
New Quest 3 features
The Quest 3 marks the first time Meta has attempted to combine VR with what it terms “mixed reality” — that is, AR. The Quest 3 is kitted out with two cameras at the front of the headset plus an infra-red depth sensor that, I was told, has a range of five metres.
Despite making you look slightly like a bug-eyed alien, these three pieces of tech work wonders: the cameras feed back a digital image of what the outside world looks like to the screen inside the headset, neatly side-stepping the age-old problem of walking blindly into bookcases.
It also allows us to play in novel ways. First off, there’s a new display bar that appears to floating in front of you. It can be used both with fingers and with the new Touch Plus controllers — and the tech lets you set up your playspace as effectively an in-person desktop, assigning interactive apps, ornaments, and the like (even, we were told, a working radio player) to this digital rendering of the real world.
Speaking of smart: back to those infra-red sensors. They are the cornerstone of a new boundary-measuring system which scans the space you’re in insanely well. One quick sweep of the premises with my new infra-red sensor let me watch the software measuring up the room in real-time, via a sequence of polygons that marched across the floor and up walls with surprising precision. Which was a relief: when playing the VR game Red Matter 2, red lines would flash up across my path if I went too close to any walls, thus saving me from an embarrassing faceplant.
One other thing that it’s also worth noting is Meta’s new ‘double-tap’ feature: it pauses any game and brings you back into ‘mixed reality’ from VR, thus letting you interact with the outside world without yanking off the headset. The resolution was good enough to let me pick up and drink from a glass of water, relying entirely on the display to do so: no mean feat.
A new Quest headset of course means new controllers, and to that end Meta has delivered a slightly souped-up version of the original controllers. These new versions (dubbed the Touch Plus) connect to the headset via BlueTooth and boast their own tiny tracking cameras that make for a more accurate (and reliable) playing experience. In practice, that means fewer glitches — and, certainly, I didn’t find any.
They’re also more ergonomic: slimmed-down, they fit into the hand like fingers fit a glove. However, it’s worth noting that, if you prefer Quest 2’s Touch Pros, you can sub those in, too.
Value for money
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not a cheap bit of kit: a 128GB headset will cost £479.99, while the 512GB headset will cost £619.99. Does that make the Quest 3 value for money? If you are a VR fan, then absolutely: the Quest 3 really does feel like a big step in terms of AR, and it’s significantly cheaper than Apple’s version, which will set you back $3,499 (it is currently only available in the US). The sheer processing power of the headset and the flashy new tech on screen are second to none, and the games I got a chance to play — Assassin’s Creed, Red Matter 2, Space Puffins — all felt slick and surprisingly immersive.
Where to buy
Meta Quest 2
Meta Quest 3
£299 for 218GB
£479.99 for 128GB; £619.99 for 512GB
Up to 3 hours
Up to 3 hours
1832 x 1920 per Eye
2064 x 2208 pixels per eye