Meta wants to prove that its Meta Quest 2 VR headset (formerly Oculus Quest 2) isn’t the underpowered hardware game developers might believe it to be. And it’s doing so with a 2014 PC game demo.
For Oculus Connect 2014, Epic Games built Showdown, a PC VR demo using Unreal Engine 4 (UE4). It was designed to show off the awesome levels of detail a VR setup could provide.
The experience shows a high-octane scenario slowed down to bullet-time to emphasize the action as a team of soldiers fight off a rampaging robot. Fiery smoke trails behind the missiles the robot is launching, and rubble and cars are flung off in a variety of directions due to the resulting explosions. It looks and feels like a warzone.
Some elements look a little dated today, but at the time this was the best that PC VR setups could achieve – setups that consisted of an Oculus Rift headset hooked up to a PC with a GTX 980 GPU or similar.
Now, roughly eight years later, Meta has managed to get a severely trimmed down version of the Showdown demo to run on its Quest 2 hardware at a smooth 90 FPS –
the same as the original (via Road to VR (opens in new tab)).
Graphics aren't everything
Meta wasn’t just doing this for a fun throwback though. Its optimization efforts have been cataloged in Oculus For Developers blog posts (opens in new tab) so that other creators can mimic what it has done with Showdown in their own games.
While it's fun to joke around this being a nearly eight-year-old demo, getting Showdown to run on the Quest 2 is no mean feat.
The Quest 2’s Snapdragon XR2 chip isn’t as powerful as the hardware Showdown was designed for, and the details about how this was pulled off are long enough to fill not one (opens in new tab), but two long blog posts (opens in new tab) jam-packed with technical jargon.
As seen in the video captured by Road to VR above, the new demo is pretty similar to the original, albeit with a few drops in quality. The world’s objects look significantly more polygonal, and the textures and lighting aren’t as impressive – but Showdown is still just as busy with objects and debris flying around the player.
For some players, the PS2-era graphics will be a tough pill to swallow, however from our own experience the visuals aren’t what make or break a VR game.
Take Resident Evil 4 VR. It looks graphically identical to the classic GameCube version, yet the slick immersive features and the adrenaline you feel as monsters close in on you were more than enough to keep us as engaged as we would be playing a PS5 or Xbox Series X title.
Plus, VR gaming graphics don’t have to take as hard a hit if developers create less busy environments. While the latest Electronic Mixtape courses in Beat Saber are little more than laser light shows, they’re some of the game’s most visually stunning and fun to play yet.
Hopefully, the Showdown demo and the promise of more powerful hardware with Project Cambria and the Meta Quest 3 will encourage other developers to create VR ports for the Quest 2, but we’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, why don’t you check out the best Quest 2 games that are already playable on the platform?