So, I have been visiting VRChat using my new Oculus Quest standalone VR headset off and on since its launch two weeks ago, and to sum up my experience in one word, it has been… underwhelming. VRChat was the first app I tested on my first day using the Quest, and I wrote:
VRChat on the Oculus Quest works the same way as it does on the Oculus Rift, and in no time I was up and running. I selected a portal to an avatar shop and picked out an anime avatar girl. I also visited Al’s Avatar Corridors, a popular and well-known avatar shop in VRChat, but I was disappointed to find that most of the selections would not work in an Quest environment.
When you encounter someone whose avatar is too complex to render for the Quest, their avatar is replaced with a grey robot which has “PC”: stamped on its chest. I predict that many Quest users of VRChat will soon realize that they are missing a LOT of what made VRChat so attractive in the first place, as they visit place after place where most of the other avatars are grey robots. Will that impact how popular VRChat is with Quest users? Perhaps. Only time will tell.
Well, two weeks in, I can report that there is a noticeable jump in the number of Quest-ready avatars at Al’s Avatar Corridors, which is very nice to see. I selected Winnie the Pooh as my avatar and set out to explore this evening.
And I was frankly disappointed in what I found. I would visit world after world packed with grey PC robots (which is what non-optimized avatars look like to Quest users), and when I made an effort to find Quest-friendly spaces like the Quest Café and the Bamboo Tample, I found them deserted or near-deserted (maybe I’ve just been unlucky?). I also noticed severely degraded performance in that any world I visited that had more than a handful of avatars in it (and quite often, the sound was very choppy). In one instance, I actually got VR sick and had to take off my headset, and that almost never happens to me anymore!
And I’m not the only one who has noticed that VRChat on the Quest is not that great an end-user experience. On the VRChat subReddit, a user named SevereMatrex posted:
Despite the title, being able to play VRChat on a mobile headset is very impressive. I didn’t think it would even be available. But, that’s not to say it’s enjoyable (at the moment). Here’s everything that makes the game currently unplayable on the Quest.
Crashes are very frequent. I crash to the Oculus home at least once every hour with no warning. I could be sitting in the default home and I would crash.
I get sent back to the default VRChat home at random. Not sure if it’s my internet connection (other online games run perfectly fine), but I often would just get sent back to my home at random while in worlds, or while joining worlds, which brings me to my next point.
Out of the (notably very few) worlds that are available at the minute, the optimization on some of them is horrible. Even the world such as The Box with just a couple people in it (all with the default PC avatar), I notice a huge drop in frame rate. And then there are worlds like Japan Shrine, which is a fairly popular and good-looking world, but not on Quest! I know this is because of the world creator, but many worlds are like this. Sky boxes are insanely pixelated and textures popping in and out make it feel like there’s no point of playing in VR, at least on the Quest. I know it’s a mobile device with only so many resources, but I still feel like it things could look better (at least eliminate the popping textures…)
90% of people are the default PC avatar. I know this will change in time as more people start converting their avatar to mobile friendly, but as it is right now, I genuinely feel out of place. It’s honestly lonely. It really makes it hard to make friends when everyone is a damn robot. You don’t even know how tall or short they are, so you have no idea if you’re looking at their face or if they’re some embarrassing avatar that you have no idea they are using.
SevereMatrex’s post has sparked numerous comments, so I would urge you to head over to Reddit and read the whole thing for yourself. There’s quite a bit of debate over recent changes VRChat has made which might (or might not) be contributing to technical problems, notably a switch from locally-calculated IK (inverse kinematics) to network-calculated IK.
Now, I am not an expert on IK, but what I do know is this: I had anticipated that VRChat on the Quest would be a lot more fun, and (at least, so far) it hasn’t been. I’m starting to wonder if trying to shoehorn the VRChat experience into the Quest was a tactical mistake, and that the game, as it is right now, is still too unoptimized to run properly on a standalone headset. It will be interesting to see how VRChat responds to these and other complaints from users, and how they will improve the service for Quest users over the next few months. It’s clear that at least some users aren’t happy, but it is still very, very early days.
But I’m also interested to hear what you have to say. What’s your take on playing VRChat in the Oculus Quest? Are you happy with it? What problems have you encountered? Feel free to leave a comment, or join the conversation over on the official RyanSchultz.com Discord server!