Image: Meta / Sony
Want to buy a VR headset this holiday season, but not sure which one? Let us help you make the right choice.
This article is written for people who are planning to buy a VR headset for the first time this holiday season. For a more general introduction, take a look at our virtual reality starter guide.
Playstation, Meta & PC VR: An overview
This year saw the release of two next-generation consumer headsets, Playstation VR 2 and Meta Quest 3.
Both cost about the same: Playstation VR 2 $550, and Quest 3 $500. The most significant difference between these devices is that Sony’s VR headset requires a Playstation 5 and cable, while Quest 3 is a standalone device that needs no external device or cable to run. I discuss other important differences between these platforms below.
If this is too much for your budget, you can get a Meta Quest 2 for $300, but keep in mind that the Quest 2 may be outdated in a year or two. In fact, there are reports that Meta will soon replace it with an updated model for the same price (see Should you buy Quest 2 or Quest 3 – or just wait and see?)
If you own a gaming PC and want to play PC VR games like Half-Life: Alyx, you can do so with both Quest 2 and 3, and either wired or wirelessly. Note, however, that setting up and using PC VR can be more cumbersome than using these devices in standalone mode, and may require technical knowledge. I give an overview of the advantages of PC VR in the linked article.
Apple will also release a VR headset in early 2024. However, with a price tag of over $3000, the Apple Vision Pro is beyond the budget of most consumers.
Should you buy a Quest 3 or Playstation VR 2?
PS5 requirement vs. standalone use
Playstation VR 2 only competes with Meta Quest 3 on price if you already own a PS5 or if Sony’s console is on your Christmas shopping list anyway. PSVR 2 will not work without the PS5.
Quest 3, on the other hand, can be used without a smartphone, console, or PC because it has all the technology integrated. This has several advantages: For one, you can use the headset without a cable, reducing the risk of tripping and increasing your immersion and mobility while playing. It is also easier to take with you, with the battery lasting about two to three hours.
Graphical performance and software
The Playstation VR 2, on the other hand, offers much more processing power for higher resolutions and more detailed game environments due to the horsepower of the PS5. For most games, however, the graphical differences between Quest 3 and PSVR 2 are not as big as they were between Quest 2 and PSVR 2. That’s also due to Quest 3’s higher quality lenses that provide a much clearer image and a new chip that renders VR games at 30% higher resolution than Quest 2 by default.
However, graphically demanding titles such as Gran Turismo 7, Resident Evil Village, No Man’s Sky, and the PSVR 2 exclusive Horizon Call of the Mountain are only available and possible on Playstation VR 2. The Playstation Store offers around 100 VR titles to date. In return, Meta Quest 3 comes with more than 500 native games, apps, and experiences in the Meta Quest Store, as well as access to the vast PC VR library via cable or Wi-Fi.
It remains to be seen how Sony’s VR platform will develop in terms of software over the coming years. There’s a lack of major first or second party titles, and Sony’s commitment to the platform has been disappointing so far. In contrast, Meta owns several VR studios and is co-funding more than 100 new titles that are currently in development for the Quest platform, including the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR and Asgard’s Wrath 2. However, no exclusive titles have been announced for the new VR headset yet.
Meta Quest 3 has the best lenses of any VR headset today, providing an incredibly clear image right up to the edges. With Playstation VR 2, you have to adjust the VR headset carefully to get the best image. In return, PSVR 2 games shine with better black levels and contrast thanks to the OLED display. In terms of field of view, neither headset comes out on top.
The Quest 3’s pancake lenses also allow for a much slimmer form factor: The PSVR 2 looks quite bulky by comparison.
A key feature of Quest 3 that Playstation VR 2 lacks is mixed reality, the ability to render the physical environment in the VR headset in full color and mix it with digital elements. Mixed reality games and apps are still very experimental, however, and the technology will take a year or two to reach its full potential. Check out our list of the best mixed reality experiences for Quest 3 to get an idea of what this feature is about.
Finally, eye tracking is an important part of the Playstation VR 2. In games that support it, it can increase resolution, detail, and frame rate, as well as enable new game mechanics. Titles like the PSVR 2 exclusive telekinetic shooter Synapse would not be possible without eye tracking. Except for the Quest Pro, the Quest series does not yet use eye tracking, but Meta sees it as a future standard for XR glasses.
Buy Quest 3, Accessories & Prescription Lenses
Buy Playstation VR 2, PS5 & Prescription Lenses
Playstation VR 2
PSVR 2 Accessories