Oculus Quest 2 Controller Alternatives
The Oculus Quest 2 ships with some pretty amazing controllers, known simply as Oculus Touch. While these controllers work perfectly for many VR games — especially ones where you’re moving around — some games just make more sense with a traditional gamepad or something more specialized like a HOTAS flight stick. Several early PC VR games will work best when using third party controllers for Oculus Quest 2, while some of the best PC VR games, like Star Wars: Squadrons, are ideally made with a HOTAS in mind. Looking to branch out for your next gaming experience? These are the best Oculus Quest 2 controller alternatives for every situation.
Best Overall: Xbox Core Controller
There’s really just no beating the sheer compatibility you’ll get with an Xbox Core Controller. The Xbox Core Controller is the controller that ships with the Xbox Series X|S and features Bluetooth connectivity that pairs perfectly with your Oculus Quest 2 or your gaming PC. Microsoft’s Xbox controllers define how a great traditional controller should work and feel, and every game that supports a traditional controller works perfectly with this one.
That means no issues with button mapping or other weird problems that some Bluetooth controllers have on a Quest 2. Since it’s Bluetooth, it’ll also pair with your phone or gaming PC, although some gaming PCs might require the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows if they don’t have Bluetooth connectivity built-in. Controllers like this work best with many sideloaded titles on Quest 2, while playing PC games with Quest can give you the perfect way to get a little personal space or to keep little eyes away while you’re playing mature-rated games.
- Excellent compatibility
- Simple Bluetooth pairing
- Super comfortable
- Might require an extra adapter for some PCs
Best Value: SteelSeries Stratus Duo
SteelSeries controller is a bit less expensive than the Xbox Core Controller, yet it still features all the same buttons and great Bluetooth connectivity that’ll work perfectly with your Quest 2 or gaming PC (or even your phone). This one actually ships with a USB adapter for the PC, meaning you won’t have to buy an extra one if your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth — unlike the Xbox Core Controller — making this an even better value than the price initially suggests.
SteelSeries Stratus Duo controller ergonomics seem to mimick the original Xbox Controller S in some ways, but feature the dual joystick placement from a PlayStation controller, as well as a more traditional cross-shaped D-pad. If you prefer the PlayStation joystick placement or just want to save some dough, SteelSeries is a fantastic choice.
- Less expensive
- Comes with a USB wireless adapter
- Simple Bluetooth pairing
- Not quite as ergonomic as an Xbox controller
- Some quality control issues have been reported
Best HOTAS: Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS
If you’ve played Star Wars Squadrons using your gaming PC and an Oculus Quest 2, you’ll know that it’s a little bit difficult to precisely maneuver your ship in space using a joystick. What better way to replicate the actual cockpit of a Star Wars space ship than to have your very own flight stick and thrust? A hands-on throttle-and-stick, or HOTAS, is a near-perfect way to make yourself not only feel like you’re actually flying in the cockpit of a ship, but also have a far greater level of control over your movements.
Right now, no HOTAS can be paired directly with a Quest 2. There are no Quest 2 games that would support one at this time, anyway. That means, if you’re going to pick up this HOTAS, you’ll need to have it plugged into your gaming PC, where you’ll be playing PC VR games with Quest 2.
The Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS is a fantastic value for your money that separates the throttle from the stick, giving you a more ergonomic way of playing and customizing for your own setup. If you really want to go all-out, an upgraded version can be found on the Amazon page listing that includes separate pedals.
- Separate throttle and stick for better ergonomics
- Solid construction
- Lots of buttons
- No wireless option
- Needs to be plugged into a PC
Best Value HOTAS: Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X Flight Stick
Sometimes, you just want a simple setup that isn’t going to cost a lot of money. In that case, the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS x Flight Stick may just be the perfect product. It retails for a fair bit less than the Thrustmaster T.16000M and features everything in one plastic-molded body. That’s the flight stick and thrust together in one package with one single, each to plug-in cable.
Like any HOTAS, remember that you’ll need to plug it into your gaming PC’s USB port and be playing PC VR games with Quest 2. This will not plugin or pair with your Quest 2, so it’s important to know that before going all in. Two of the most popular games to use a HOTAS with are Star Wars Squadrons and Microsoft Flight Simulator, but you’ll find there are a smattering of other VR-ready titles that also support these incredibly immersive controllers.
- More affordable than many HOTAS
- Single-body design keeps things simple
- Quality construction
- No wireless option
- Needs a PC to plug into
No controller needed: Your hands
You might laugh at this one, but, truly, using your hands in VR is a sublime experience — when it works, that is. The Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 can both track hands in VR space thanks to the four cameras positioned outside the headset. Hand tracking is best used for navigating the menus and official Oculus entertainment apps. However, the best hand-tracking games for Quest 2 will give you a uniquely immersive experience, even if there are only a few games that support the feature.
While hand tracking is obviously free and provides the most immersive way to interact with things in VR, there are a few things to consider. First off, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a brightly lit room so the cameras can see your hands. Second, know that hand tracking isn’t the most accurate thing in the world, and you’ll likely come across several situations where the Quest 2 has a hard time understanding what you want to do. If you’re OK with a bit of jankiness, give hand tracking a shot. If, for no other reason, it’s a fun way to see how the future of VR could look once tracking improves in future headsets.
- Nothing to buy
- Don’t need to charge
- Super immersive
- Tracking isn’t always reliable
- Need to make sure you have bright lighting in a room
- Limited number of experiences
The Oculus Quest 2 was made to be played out of the box without anything else, but there’s no doubting the value that accessories can add to the package. Like the Xbox Core Controller, alternative controllers will allow you to more easily play classic VR titles that don’t have motion controller support. You’ll also find that these are a great way to play classic games via emulators — which can be sideloaded onto Quest — or when playing traditional games on a giant virtual monitor with software like Virtual Desktop.
Fans of flight sims will certainly want to pick up a good HOTAS for an even more immersive experience, as it’ll make you feel like you’re actually sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft or your favorite Star Wars ship. Just remember that these all require a gaming PC to plug into, and all games that support them will be running on a gaming PC.
Lastly is the hands-only experiences powered by the four cameras on the front of an Oculus Quest or Oculus Quest 2. Oddly enough, your hands can actually become controllers with these platforms and any supported title, meaning you won’t even need to remember to charge those controllers for a uniquely immersive VR experience.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Nicholas Sutrich Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it’s VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he’s been writing about it since 2011.
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