Update: It has come to my attention that the problems I faced with my Odyssey were likely due to bluetooth interference and is not how it typically should have performed. That makes this review an unfair comparison, but here it is anyway.
The Oculus Rift S just got released yesterday and it is great to be back into VR again. My Samsung Odyssey was getting super janky and I had given it away last month and I’ve been VR-less since. After having a 2 hour session with the Rift S I decided to jot down my impressions of the device and run a comparison of the two devices. Yes this is somewhat a review but it will mostly focus on how well it plays Beat Saber compared to the Samsung Odyssey and other Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) headsets.
Unfortunately, I no longer have my Odyssey, so you only get pictures of the Rift S.
If you’re like me, you really don’t want to set up tracking cameras, and before the Rift S, you only had the option of a Windows Mixed Reality set. All other sets that required tracking cameras were immediate deal breakers for me. I was glad that there was finally another option for me to choose from, and choose I did.
The tracking on the Rift S is top notch. The 5 cameras make so much sense and I wish the WMR sets would come up with a set with side or even back cameras. I could finally play the longbow mini-game from The Lab properly. Previously, when I drew my arrow, the WMR controller would lose tracking when it went behind my head, making it basically impossible to aim. The Rift S almost fixes that problem. I still lose tracking when the headset is too close to my face, but I am at least able to aim somewhat now.
The most important thing is that the tracking is much more accurate than the Odyssey. When playing games like Space Pirate Trainer, or Super Hot, my gun would jitter around a lot, making it impossible to aim at anything. I've read that the tracking is not as good as a vibe with 3 or 4 cameras, but it had worked almost perfectly for all the games I've played. In Beat Saber, especially with the hard stages that require quick hand movement, I would lose tracking about 3 or 4 times per song with the Odyssey. The Rift S has yet to fail me in that aspect.
The next massive improvement over the WMR ones are the controllers. The controllers are smaller and lighter, they only take one battery instead of two. I'm not sure of the battery life, but the reduced weight definitely affected my beat saber games. The controllers felt a lot less like weights and allowed me to more easily change directions. I was able to complete levels that I previously couldn't.
One irritating thing is I ended up pressing the home button a lot and the game does not pause when the Oculus overlay comes up. You can change the settings to make it a long press though, so that fixed my problem.
The headset feels a lot less bulky on the head and is quite comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The front of the headset feels physically smaller and probably as a result of that, the field of view is smaller. That was a disappointment since I got the impression that it was supposed to be an upgrade on the previous Rift’s field of view. It felt like a downgrade from the Odyssey but I eventually stopped noticing it when I played games.
One thing that irritates me is how the headset is using a foam cover, and not something leather-like, like the Odyssey did. I figure it’ll end up smelling terrible after a few intense workout sessions, though I have not had it long enough for that to happen.
The headset overall is lighter and easier to don and remove than the Odyssey, mainly because of the lack of headphones. No more getting my hair tangled and ripped out when removing my Head Mounted Display (HMD). (I have long hair)
That brings me to the sound. The speakers do not cover your ears, and are small openings not unlike a phone that project the sound towards your ears. Yes, there is sound leak, and the bass is really weak.
When I slash a block in Beat Saber, it lacked the bassy oomph. Furthermore, the sound effect that plays when you miss a block is really hard to hear over the sound of the music. Overall, my experience with the game was still enjoyable and I suppose I could put headphones if I really wanted to. But the convenience of being able to remove and don my headset quickly felt like a good tradeoff.
Setup is definitely easier than the WMD headset. The controllers are paired to the headset so there was no need for a Bluetooth adapter or pairing the controllers to the computer. Defining the boundaries was a matter of drawing them out while in VR using the HMD's pass through mode. It is a huge improvement over WMR, which I thought was a great experience as it was.
It works with SteamVR but you need to go into the Oculus app and change the settings to allow apps from unknown sources. You also need to download a tool to load the games from Steam into your oculus home. It was not intuitive and I spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out why my steam Beat Saber wasn't connected to my HMD.
The haptic feedback is broken and playing beat saber without haptics is a very strange experience. This bug was acknowledged back in April and I figured that they would have fixed it by now.
Overall, it felt like a small upgrade over the Odyssey. All my tracking issues were fixed and it turns out I can play Beat Saber Expert+ maps with relative ease. Initial setup was easier than WMR, but Steam VR setup was not obvious. The smaller controllers made the games more immersive, but there were a whole bunch of small downgrades like my field of view, and the sound quality.
Should you upgrade? If you aren't playing anything serious (I could play Beat Saber just fine up to expert on the Odyssey) then it's pointless. If anything the immersion seems to have reduced with the lower field of view. I use my headset for Beat Saber and frankly it's the only exercise I get. I'm happy to spend $400 on this if it gets me off my butt.
stl;sdr (still too long, still didn’t read)
In order of importance.
Tracking: Rift S is much better
Controllers: Rift S is better
Compatibility: Both work with SteamVR
Comfort: Odyssey was slightly better
Sound: Odyssey was better
Setup: Rift S is easier