The Pro Controllers on The Quest 2 - A Perfect Combo?
You know, I think we were all a bit surprised when we learned the Quest Pro controllers worked with the Quest 2. I mean, you don't usually get to upgrade the old and busted with any part of the new hotness. So now that I have my Quest Pro and the new hotness has cooled to a gently used lukewarmness, I thought it high time I try the Quest Pro controllers on the Quest 2 and determine whether they're actually worth the investment.
So how exactly are the Quest Pro controllers different from those that come with the Quest 2? The Quest 2 controllers must be seen by the Quest cameras to determine the location. Once the Quest 2 loses sight of the controllers, it disappears or freezes in-game. The Pro controllers, on the other hand, are self-tracked and work like the Quest itself, using three onboard cameras to determine their location in 3D space. So, if the Quest cameras can't see the controllers, they still appear in their appropriate space relative to the headset. This brings the Quest Pro controllers to parity with PC VR controllers, which, until now, meant you could only get 360-degree controller tracking on higher-end VR systems.
But is this actually better? Mostly yes. Your hand has a good chance of going out of sight of the Quest 2 cameras, like in Beat Saber, you will definitely notice a difference. This holds true for archery games like In Death and Elven Assassin, where you have to pull the controller well beyond the view of the Quest 2 cameras. A feature some may not like is the Pro Controllers must be charged versus taking AA batteries. So if your controller's battery dies mid-game, you can't just steal the battery out of your kid brother's Game Boy and get back to it. Some of this pain is mitigated by the convenience of a small charging dock, which also charges the Quest 2, eliminating the need to charge your Quest and controllers in two separate places, making this dock a one-stop solution since you have to charge the Quest anyway.
Tested on the ProSwing Golf club attachment for tracking.
A feature you may not have noticed right away, but one that holds promise, is the Pro Controllers contain new haptics to support a much larger range of sensitivity. Each controller has the ability to detect pressure between the thumb and forefinger, allowing subtle interactions like the light pinch required to pick up a sheet of paper versus the greater pressure required to pick up a hammer. Lastly, you can swap out the lanyard for a pressure-sensitive writing nub in productivity applications. This is something that has to be used to understand its value, and as cool as it is, I imagine we won't see this make the jump to whatever becomes the consumer version of the Pro Controllers.
Really, my only complaint is since the controllers need to find their location in 3D space, they can drift subtly, or sometimes severely, depending on lighting conditions and how much the onboard cameras are obscured - enough that I began to miss the stability of the Quest 2 controllers. I've since learned to compensate by covering windows during the day, rebooting the Quest and Pro Controllers before each session, and clearing the Quest Guardian history if things get too severe. Finally, your Quest 2 accessories may work just fine with the Pro Controller since the grip is the exact same size and shape. That said, if the accessory blocks the controller's cameras or requires a custom lanyard, then you may have to wait for an alternative.
So look, the big questions: How much do they cost? Well, the Quest Pro Controllers cost $300. That's the same price many of you paid for your Quest 2 and its controllers, which likely puts off a great number of you. And is the investment worth the price? I think it depends on how you use the Quest, how important it is to you, and whether you're okay with spending $300. If you use the Quest daily and play a game or use a productivity app that can benefit from 360-degree tracking and the $300 price tag doesn't put you off, then I recommend the Pro Controllers. But for everyone else, I think it's a pass for now. This kind of tracking or a version of it will most likely come in a future iteration of the Quest, so like most things, waiting will get you there eventually, but money will get you there now.