Quest Techie: A Weekend With Oculus Link

Hot off the heels of my Quest Techie: A Night With Oculus Link comes my follow up adventures where I take Link for a weekend ride with SteamVR, Oculus Rift games and some hardware discovery. Let’s rock!

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Image courtesy of mixed.de

Since I discussed exactly what the Oculus Link is within the body of my last article, I’m going to give you a short summary this time:

Oculus Link turns your Oculus Quest into an Oculus Rift. A tethered solution (but no sensors or crazy cabling) that allows your VR-ready PC to play pretty much ALL PCVR games (SteamVR, Oculus Store) on your Quest.

There — that was easy.

My PC VR System and Cable

During my evening with Link, I had an Intel i5–4460 Processor (four cores running at 3.2Ghz), NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, 16GB RAM — all standard generation SSD drives (no M2 or crazy fast technology like that). USB3.0 PCIe card (prior use was for the Oculus Rift sensors).

I have since upgraded my CPU to something a little stylish; a higher-end motherboard, an i7–4930K, six core beastie running at 3.4Ghz. I’m using better memory, too.

I’m still using a 26' multi-cord combination; a 16.4' USB 3.0 Active Extension cable along with a 10' Anker USB 3.0 cable. Total cost was $26.

Since my cable does not have a 90 degree elbow connector, I added a little something.

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I added one of these guys. $8 for the pair.

Let’s Revisit Oculus Rift Games

In my evening with Link, I took Asgard’s Wrath, In Death (still a household favorite) and Dead & Buried for a spin. The latter two games ran like a champ — but Wrath bogged down my system a bit previously.

Asgard’s Wrath (Redux)

Since I’d rebuilt my hard drive with the new motherboard, I had to start over (I had a backup — but hadn’t restored it yet). That was fine, since I would be going over slightly familiar territory.

The i7 had definitely improved the overall quality of the game. The Link cable did its job just fine; anything I did see from a hiccup perspective also occurred the first time I’d played through (seemed like the game was loading another location or more assets).

It is worth noting that twice during loading screens, the VR failed slightly; my perspective was off — it was like I was buried up to my chest in “the ground”. The circle you stand in normally was up to my nipples and I had to look up to see the loading screen tips. This didn’t appear to affect the game play, but wanted to point it out.

Marvel Powers Unite VR

The last time I ran this game was with my OG Rift on my i5 and the frame rate and overall experience was extremely poor; so I didn’t even bother to try my first evening with Link. This is a gorgeous, high-action game from developer Sanzaru (the same guys that brought us Asgard’s Wrath).

I honestly expected issues … again. But the Quest Link held up like a champ and the i7 and faster memory (obviously) helped make this a distinctively better experience. Where I may have not recommended this game before? I sure would now.

For those unfamiliar with the game, here is a teaser trailer.

The end of the video has game play :D

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Despite the disgusting fact that this game required two digital lockers (Oculus and Uplay at the same time) and it must have full-time internet access to play — Star Trek is some of the most fun I’ve had in VR.

You truly command a starship along with friends, randos or bots filling out your crew. This simulation includes rescue, exploration and of course battles.

This doesn’t require a ton of fast movement with the headset and it is the consummate and near-perfect “sitting experience” VR game.

You haven’t lived until you’ve played the Kobayashi Maru simulation.

Here was some of my play on the Rift.

Robo Recall

Yes, I know … This game is available “natively” on the Quest, but hey, it was already installed so why not take a stab at it?

Now, this game did not perform well during my playtime. This could be a limitation of my modest PC or it could be Link related — but this was literally the worst experience I’ve had with the Link.

During play with many enemies on the field, I was getting hiccups and stutters galore — largely unplayable. I’ll need to go back again from a “clean boot” (as I used to have to do with Beat Saber) to ensure this issue is with the Link/game and not some rogue nonsense going on with my PC.

Fortunately, the native version of this game is damn good so I don’t feel too big of a loss here.

Xbox One Streaming

A lot of VR gamers are dying for console-like experiences on Quest. Why not take one of the best consoles ever — your Xbox One — and play it in your Oculus Quest headset? Maximum immersion?

Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to work. It would launch, show it LOADING in the headset (and I even heard the Xbox sound) but it wouldn’t go any further.

Shame.

Note: It may be due to limitations of the NVENC limitations imposed by NVIDIA. More testing to be done — and I’ll get back to you.

Battlezone

This is a fun, byte-sized action game you can jump in — play a few rounds — and get out without a lot of long term commitment. It is fast-action and immersive so silky smooth play is required.

The Link performed excellent. No lagging or “black drag” effect. I didn’t see any compression artifacting.

Such a fun little game — goes on sale from time to time. A recommended addition.

Here is some of my play from the Oculus Rift.

SteamVR Games

Steam offers a larger selection of VR experiences and often times the same experiences at lower prices than Oculus themselves — so it is kinda surprising that SteamVR games work as well as they do.

During my evening with Link, I checked out Batman Arkham VR (problems with the motion controllers ‘disconnecting’), and the Steam version of Beat Saber (i5 had some performance issues).

I didn’t bother to go back to the Bat … but thanks to the i7, I made a trip back to the venerable rhythm game.

Beat Saber (Redux)

Now we’re talking! The game was silky smooth and I had NO problems playing Expert level songs with all the graphic settings up and on Faster Song.

I’d say we have a winner here. I saw no artifacting or stuttering issues like I did before. Sometimes, Link isn’t the issue; your underpowered CPU is :D

The Forest

This is one of my all time favorite survival horror games. Crafting + Survival = fun. I have 200 hours into this game on the PC.

While the game is a neat novelty to play in VR, I’m afraid it isn’t the best experience though Link. Could just be the game mode? You will see some choppiness, some “black edge drag”, etc. If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, these performance issues may exacerbate it.

GORN

Probably my son’s favorite VR game (he’s 13), he has been sad since I packed up the Rift in favor of just having the Quest around.

I’ve made attempts to stream GORN for him, with limited success.

By the way, don’t let the goofy graphics fool you — this is a pretty damn fun weapons/gore sim. Hey, it scratches an itch.

Anyway, my son officially gives this test his approval. GORN works well through Link and I specifically asked him about compression, “black space movement” and such — he said everything looked and played great.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED???!

Premium Bowling

I’m always chasing the high of Wii Sports Bowling and this game provides that.

Streaming with VD worked okay and this game would greatly benefit from being wireless due to the nature of the roomscale play.

But, I went ahead and tried it through Link. Overall, the performance was improved, but the game still appeared to be jittery in spots. I believe this is more the game than Link as I recall some of these issues with the Rift as well. I also played the “new” lanes (Paradise Island) which I hadn’t played before.

Superhot VR

Superhot has a native port to the Quest which may make this testing seem out of scope, but there were some concessions made for the port and it is nice to go back and play the reference material sometimes.

Again, Superhot is a game that would benefit most from being wireless because of the roomscale play.

This is the SteamVR version of course, so keep that in mind.

Everything seemed to work pretty well, except … well, hard to explain. The point of the game is that the action slows to a crawl when you aren’t moving, right? Sometimes you want to “speed things up” to get that enemy to get closer so you can punch him, etc. It feels like you need to “move more” to get the same amount of speed up as we did with the Rift (or in the native game).

I’ll need to revisit this later to make sure I’m not “seeing things”, but worth noting. Obviously, if you have no point of reference — this won’t matter to you at all.

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope

This game was recommended to me by a friend originally. I’d played other Serious Sam games and was left a bit unfulfilled.

Turns out the IP is a lot more fun as a VR experience. It was a favored game when I was showing friends my OG Rift last year.

This is a gun porn; a high-action stationary shooter — filled with tons of aliens, tons of blood and tons of disparate weaponry.

Because it is stationary, it is playable in a sitting position (perfect for those with a short 10' cable) and frankly, might be the most fun you can have in VR in a sitting position!

The Link quality was fantastic; no “black bar” streaking or grotesque artifacting.

It isn’t super well known so here is a trailer for you to feast on.

You should be playing this.

Final Verdict

At this point, I feel I’ve taken a good cross section of games to test the capabilities of Link as a beta product.

Is it perfect? Not completely. But it is a far more robust solution than Virtual Desktop or other streaming tools. For most experiences, it is on par (or even a bit better) than the Oculus Rift; especially where SteamVR games go — where there is negligible differences.

There are some gotchas (look for a future article on NVENC; Link vs OBS) and a couple of games that didn’t perform as well as hoped.

That being said, my OG Rift will stay boxed up and will probably hit the open market in the near future. The Oculus Link provides me with the functionality I need to be confident that I have what I need to play the widest selection of VR games with a single headset.

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I write, blog, record and review anything that interests me — including humanity, parenting, gizmos & gadgets, video games and media.

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