Oculus CTO and legendary programmer John Carmack took to Twitter recently to explain his reasoning behind why Rift S is still worth buying even though Oculus Quest will soon get the ability to play Rift games via Oculus Link.
A bit of backstory: Facebook first unveiled the software feature at Oculus Connect last week, which will let Quest essentially work as a Rift on VR-ready PCs by connecting to computers via a USB 3.0 cable. It’s slated to launch sometime in November, and while it’s no doubt a welcome feature to users who are looking to get one of the most capable VR headsets out of the box, it’s clear some Rift S owners feel snubbed by the news.
Launched just four months ago, Rift S replaced the original 2016-era Rift as the company’s only high-end PC VR headset, and was positioned as the only way to play the platform’s PC VR titles. At the same time, Quest was launched as the only way to play a select number of bespoke VR games either ported or made exclusively for the standalone hardware, leaving both ecosystems segregated outside of the few cross-buy apps sponsored by Oculus
Carmack, who makes no bones about telling unambiguous truths on the company’s technology in his famous unscripted talks, says that Rift S still has a few key selling points over the standalone Quest:
Rift S is more comfortable, lower latency (for now; that may eventually change), doesn’t get compressed graphics, and has five-camera tracking.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) September 29, 2019
Referring to Oculus Link’s current latency, Carmack additionally says that it “doesn’t make any sense to play Beat Saber over the link — play it locally without the cable!”
A fast-twitch game like Beat Saber is arguably one of the best ways to benchmark a VR headset’s hand-tracking and overall signal latency, as you can easily compare between systems the ingrained feeling of hitting blocks on the beat.
Road to VR’s Ben Lang does however point out in his recent hands-on with Link that despite the current issues mentioned by Carmack, the experience is surprisingly pretty great.
“Visually, the image felt smooth with no stuttering or obvious compression artifacts, nor significant muddying of dense textures (something you often seen with attempts at wireless VR over Wi-Fi). The edges of geometry felt sharp and maintained strong stereoscopy,” Lang writes.
The hand-tracking was also pretty good too, although Lang only got to try the upcoming Rift exclusive Asgard’s Wrath running on Quest, so there’s no telling how Link will truly perform with other titles. It was a promising enough experience for Lang to call it “like [using] a native PC VR headset.”
Check out the full hands-on here for a deep dive.