With big game launches and more VR headsets on that market than ever, 2020 is shaping up to be a huge year for VR, and an excellent time for first-timers to jump in. In this article we’ve pulled together a concise look at the best VR headsets currently available, and a few you might want to keep your eyes on.
If you’re looking for the very best overall PC VR headset, Valve Index is our pick. It’s pricey compared to the rest, but has an excellent balance of quality, performance, and comfort. That’s why we called it “the enthusiast’s choice” in our full review of the headset.
Things to love about Index are its excellent tracking performance, wide field of view, quality controllers, and range of ergonomic adjustments that make it easy to dial in a comfortable and clear fit.
Index is one of the only headsets that offers an eye-relief adjustment. This let’s you bring the lenses as close to your eyes as comfortable, allowing you to maximize your field of view; it also makes the headset easier to adjust for glasses. Index has a physical IPD adjustment which ranges from 58mm to 70mm, making it easy to align the lenses with the width of your eyes for the sharpest visuals.
But Index isn’t perfect. Compared to other headsets on the market, the external tracking system is more work to set up, typically requiring two tracking beacons mounted on opposite corners of a room, stuck on a tripod, or placed up high on a shelf. They also need to be plugged into their own power outlets. And while Index has cameras on the front for a pass-through view, it isn’t as quick or useful as we’ve seen on other headsets. And did we mention the price tag of $1,000? You can get it cheaper though if you already have SteamVR Tracking base stations from an old Vive headset.
Valve Index Specs
1,440 × 1,600 (2.3MP) per-eye (LCD)
80Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz
Double element Fresnel
Field of View
USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, 12V power
5m + 1m breakaway
SteamVR Tracking 1.0 or 2.0 (external beacons)
Valve Index controllers
Off-ear headphones, 3.5mm aux output
Stereo 960 × 960
Valve Index is officially compatible with the SteamVR library where the vast majority of VR content is available. If you’re looking to play content that’s exclusive to the Oculus PC library (like Asgard’s Wrath) you can use the free but unofficial Revive mod to play Oculus PC content on Valve Index. It may take some tweaking for performance and controller inputs, but for the most part Oculus content will play reasonably well on Index.
Although Quest 2 is a standalone headset (which means games run directly in the headset without plugging into something else) it also has a feature called Oculus Link which gives you the option to plug the headset into a PC and run PC VR games.
Along with the useful passthrough feature, high resolution display, and great controllers, Quest 2 is a pretty great all-around headset. Oculus says that Link on Quest 2 will see some updates to improve performance in the near future, but even at its current level of performance, the hard-to-beat price of Quest 2 makes it a great value, especially considering the fact that the headset also runs standalone VR games from the Oculus Quest store.
Unfortunately the cable that comes with Quest 2 isn’t long enough to work well for Oculus Link, and we can’t recommend the official cable because of its crazy $80 price tag. Thankfully you can get 26 feet worth of Oculus Link cable for $34.
Without being plugged into a computer, Quest 2 can only play games from the Oculus Quest library. If you plug into a computer via Oculus Link, you’ll have access to everything in the Oculus PC and SteamVR libraries as well. That means that Quest 2 is compatible with the vast majority of top VR content out there, as long as you’ve got a powerful PC to plug the headset into.
Though HP’s Reverb G2 hasn’t launched quite yet, it’s worth keeping your eye on if you don’t want to drop the full $1,000 on Index but still want a dedicated PC VR headset. Reverb G2 should be on your radar especially if you’re thinking of picking up a VR headset for seated PC VR games like driving and flight simulators thanks to its high resolution.
When it comes right down to it, G2’s defining feature is its class-leading resolution of 2,160 × 2,160. Thanks to collaboration between Valve and HP, G2 also borrows the excellent headphones of Valve’s Index headset and will be the first headset to finally deliver improved controllers compared to prior WMR headsets.
Reverb G2 will begin shipping in November but pre-orders today aren’t expected to deliver until December. If you don’t mind waiting a few months to pick up a new headset it might be worth holding out for the verdict on the G2.
HP Reverb G2 Specs
2,160 × 2,160 (4.7MP) per-eye (LCD)
Single element Fresnel
Field of View
USB-C, DisplayPort, Power
Quad on-board camera (no external beacons)
Reverb G2 controllers
HP Reverb G2 works natively with the Windows Mixed Reality store, but very few VR applications are available there. Fortunately a free and official plugin from Microsoft also makes it compatible with SteamVR content. If you’re looking to play content that’s exclusive to the Oculus PC library (like Asgard’s Wrath) you can use the free but unofficial Revive mod to play Oculus PC content on Reverb G2.
Standalone VR headsets are fully self-contained and don’t need to plug into anything. They generally offer high ease-of-use thanks to their all-in-one nature and lack of tether. With their low overall cost (thanks to not needing a high-end PC) standalone headsets are a great way to take your first step into VR.
Quest 2 is an upgrade over its predecessor in almost every way. It’s worth noting that you need a Facebook account (and need to be ok with Facebook’s strengthening grip on the VR industry) to use the headset.
With an impressive resolution, powerful Snapdragon XR2 processor, useful ‘passthrough’ view feature, and great controllers, there’s a lot to like about Quest 2. What’s more, if you ever decide to upgrade to PC-powered VR, Quest 2 can plug into your computer and be used like a PC VR headset. When it comes to overall value, no other standalone headset is in the same ballpark right now.
The hidden built-in speakers are convenient but we wish they were more powerful for better immersion (luckily there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack if you want to bring your own audio). And while Quest 2 has a pretty strong game library, since it’s a standalone headset you won’t be able to play any of the big PC VR games like Half-Life: Alyx or Asgard’s Wrath unless you have a powerful PC to plug into.
Yup, our value pick for standalone headset is the same as our ‘Best’ pick: Quest 2! But if you’re brand new to VR and are just looking for a taste, you can probably hold off on the Elite Strap accessory and save yourself $50 in the meantime. If you find yourself using the headset often you can always add the strap later.
See the section above for thoughts and details on Quest 2.
If you know anything about VR, you’ll already know what we’re going to say! PS4 is the only console that currently supports a VR headset (sorry Xbox fans), and PlayStation VR is the only console VR headset you can use. That makes PSVR ‘the best’ console VR headset by default, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we recommend it
PSVR launched in late 2016 and was a great headset for its era, including a handful of excellent exclusive VR games that you won’t find anywhere else. However, the headset is officially past its prime in 2020 and feels ‘last generation’ in resolution, tracking, and controllers compared to what’s available elsewhere in the VR landscape.
It’s hard to recommend buying the four year old PSVR today as it’ll still cost you around $350 new [Amazon]. By all means, if you find it somewhere on sale or used for cheap it might be worth picking up to run through some of Sony’s great exclusive VR games, but otherwise you may want to wait and see what Sony has planned for VR on its next-gen PS5.
960 x 1,080 (1.0MP) per-eye (RGB OLED)
Single element non-Fresnel
Field of View
Stereo camera (external camera)
DualShock 4, PS Move, PS Aim
Earbuds, 3.5mm aux output
PlayStation VR is only compatible with VR content in the PlayStation store which includes a handful of excellent exclusives not available on PC like Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Blood & Truth. You can also use the headset to play non-VR PS4 content in a ‘theater mode’ through the headset, but with relatively low resolution it’s not something you’re likely to do often.
Just like any other industry, XR needs to be a diverse and inclusive place for everyone, but that can vary wildly based on a number of factors. So a new initiative called XR Inclusion (XRI) led by industry professionals has launched a survey to collate data from across the globe alongside a startup kit to help companies reduce discrimination and inequity.
For the survey and startup kit XRI has partnered with experts like Stacey Gordon, CEO of Rework Work and Kristen Nesbit, from national labour and employment law firm Fisher Phillips. Together with XRI’s global members, the free XR Startup Kit offers checklists, templates and training focused on vital business areas such as job descriptions, hiring, unconscious bias, code of conduct, safe channels of communication and much more.
While the kit can help new businesses, the XRI wants professionals to take part in its free, anonymous survey, to help give a clearer view of the ecosystem at present. Thus helping highlight where it’s doing well and where improvements can be made.
“With startups, there is typically less structure, less awareness around inclusive processes and biases, and less red tape in general,” said Gordon in a statement. “By taking an active approach to creating diverse and inclusive company cultures from the start, barriers to progress can be reduced and business performance can flourish, which makes the startup stage a perfect time to not only do what is right on a human level, but also to do what is best for the long term success of the business.”
“As a founder in XR, I wish I’d learned the things in this kit sooner,” said Taylor Freeman, a founding council member of XRI. “Our goal at XRI is to provide startups with resources and systems to support the development of inclusive, professional and safe cultures for both the employees and the company. These foundations should be essential and I believe investors shouldn’t even fund companies without ensuring they have these things in place.”
Tackling diversity and inclusion is vital for any company large or small, wherever they are in the world. When details of the report are made publicly available, VRFocus will let you know.
As it’s Black Friday you might be more interested in what deals are to be had today but don’t spend all your money. Next week a new selection of virtual reality (VR) titles are on their way, set to provide varied gameplay experiences.
Shuttle Commander – Immersive VR Education
Originally slated for release last week, Shuttle Commander is an educational title where you command NASA’s Space Shuttle taking it on various missions to the Hubble Space Telescope. Part physics-based flight simulator you will need to land it at a number of real-world locations, such as Kennedy Space Centre, White Sands Air Force Base and Edwards Air Force Base.
Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds – inXile Entertainment
A team-based multiplayer shooter from the studio behind The Mage’s Tale,Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds offers 10 vs 10 tactical battles across an abandoned military base in Antarctica. With realistic weapon physics, both teams also have to tackle an alien race of biomechanical creatures who are gunning for everyone.
Project Wingman – Sector D2
A dogfighting experience which is geared towards action rather than a full-blown simulator, Project Wingman has over 20 different aircraft and 40+ weapons to swap between. For those who love to immerse themselves in flight combat videogames, Project Wingman supports HOTAS peripherals.
Prison Boss VR – Trebuchet
Trebuchet’s comedic take on becoming the boss of a prison originally came to PC VR headsets back in 2017, and now it gets the Oculus Quest treatment. Craft and trade with the other inmates to improve your living conditions whilst upping your reputation, just don’t get caught by the guards.
Supported platforms: Oculus Quest
Launch date: 3rd December
ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos – MyDearest Inc.
The sequel to Tokyo Chronos, ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos takes place 300 years later where humans are hiding underground from deadly creatures known as Meteora. Part comic, part interactive experience, you’ll be able to pilot giant mechs whilst trying to unravel the mysteries of these beasts.
Retailers began their Black Friday deals at the start of the week but now its the big day itself, where all the limited-time deals come together for a bonanza of savings (hopefully). Virtual reality (VR) fans can get in on the action too, albeit more on the software side than the hardware for 2020. So here’s VRFocus’ roundup of the best deals available online.
When it comes to headsets you might be hoping to pick up an Oculus Quest 2 or HP Reverb G2 a little cheaper. Alas, they’re way too new to be discounted during this sales season, even the Valve Index from 2019 isn’t discounted anywhere that VRFocus could find.
If you’ve already got a VR headset then it’s software you’ll be after and this is where most of the deals can be found. Oculus Store, PlayStation Store and Steam all have various discounts going on, plus there are some physical deals to be had on PlayStation videogames.
Available until end of 27th November
Must-Haves Pack – £69.99/$90 – Onward, Job Simulator, In Death: Unchained, Tetris Effect, Space Pirate Trainer, and I Expect You To Die.
Premium Pack – £127.27/$165 – SUPERHOT VR, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted, Vacation Simulator, Arizona Sunshine, The Room VR: A Dark Matter, Red Matter, Espire 1: VR Operative, Moss, Gun Club VR, and Space Pirate Trainer.
Senior Staff Writer at VRFocus who has reported on the VR industry for the last 5 years. A keen gamer since the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Peter enjoys covering all aspects of the technology; from the latest consumer hardware to enterprise use cases.
There were plenty of virtual reality (VR) titles announced during the week that would normally have been the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), VR Bros’ A Wake Inn being one of them. An immersive horror experience originally slated for this year, the team has just released a new trailer moving the launch to early 2021.
A Wake Inn is a scary title featuring a classic horror staple, mannequins, those lifeless, dead-eyed entities which work so well at terrifying almost everyone. The twist here is that not only is the art deco hotel where the gameplay is set filled with an army of living dolls, you also happen to be one. And then there’s the mysterious Doctor Finnegan, owner of the estate who talks to you via a shortwave transmitter.
The story revolves around you finding out who you are, how you ended up here, and how to get out whilst avoiding the other not so friendly dolls. As VR Bros puts it: “Is it time for the player to take revenge on their maker and set themselves free, or perhaps they’re just a puppet being pulled by its strings?”
In a similar fashion to Last Labyrinth, you’re bound to a wheelchair, making A Wake Inn an entirely seated experience. That’s where the similarity ends, as in this experience you’re given free rein to explore the hotel and figure out its various escape room-style gameplay elements. You operate it just as you would any manual wheelchair, moving the controllers as if pushing the wheels.
Further thought has been put into the gameplay interactions as well, a flashlight for lighting up the darkness which does run out of batteries, a radio with custom stations, and the cinema room where you can watch tapes found around the building.
A Wake Innwill support HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Valve Index when it launches next year. For further updates on this wheeled horror, keep reading VRFocus.