The $399 Oculus Quest Offers Premium Standalone VR (and Darth Vader)

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Are you ready for a quest? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sure hopes you are. Just 10 minutes into his Oculus Connect 5 keynote, Zuckerberg announced Oculus Quest, a new standalone headset from Oculus.

Scheduled to ship next spring for $399, the headset is the company's first standalone headset to launch with Oculus Rift-level graphics. (Oculus Go, also refreshed with new features today, is a standalone headset, but doesn't pack the same graphical oomph as Rift.) With this annoucement, Zuckerberg declared the end of Oculus' first-generation of VR headsets.

Typical of most Oculus headsets, Quest looks pretty slick. The standalone headset will feature that all-important six-degrees of freedom, which is vital for allowing wearers to move in a 360-degree space. Speaking of 360 degrees, Quest will feature 360-degree audio, which Zuckerberg promised will be better than what Go offers.

MORE: What Is Oculus Rift? - FAQ - How Oculus Rift Works - Tom's Guide

Similar to the Rift, Quest will also ship with a pair of hand controllers, which if they're anything like the Touch Controllers, will greatly enhance the immersion experience. The use of the touch interface should make it easier for Oculus developers to bring their games to the new headset, and Zuckerberg promised that 50 games and apps will be available when Quest arrives in the spring.

Unlike Oculus Go, which let you lean side-to-side, Quest will actually let you walk around thanks to the Oculus Insight technology. Comprised of four wide-angle sensors, paired with gyroscope and accelerometer info, Insight maps your room in real time, greatly improving Guardian, Oculus' room-mapping tech. That means you're less like to walk into a wall or trip over some furniture when you're exploring a virtual world. 

Lauded for its flexibility, Insight has been tested with a variety of rooms including those with bare white walls with very little texture and shiny floors. And while it's impressive to have room mapping work in such challenging conditions, Insight takes things a step further by supporting Guardian in multiple rooms. Guardian will even remember each room, so you can just walk in and get to the business and pleasure of VR. At Connect, Oculus has set up a demo in a 4,000-square foot area to show the powers of Insight and Guardian that I'm looking forward to trying.

And Oculus isn't just settling for virtual reality; during the Connect keynote, we also learned about the company's early build of mixed reality. We saw a crude early demo where notifications, virtual videos and real-life social interaction played out on the Quest.

My biggest hope for Quest is that the promised 50 titles include original content instead of ports. And while it's a long time between now and next spring, it looks like I'm being rewarded for my faith. ILMxLAB came on stage to give us a sneak peek at Vadar Immortal: Episode 1 where you'll travel to Mustafar, and come face-to-face with everyone's favorite Sith Lord. Focusing on telling connected stories, ILMxLAB is launching Vader Immortal exclusively on Oculus Quest in 2019.

Stay tuned for our hands-on demo write up later today.