Going Virtual

After being curious for a while about getting a VR headset to play some games, the other day I decided what the hell, and I bought an Oculus Quest 2. Now, before I say more, this is NOT a review. For one thing I’ve only had the thing since Tuesday, so not even forty-eight hours, and in any case this is the first VR headset I’ve ever used, so I don’t feel qualified to go into any real depth. But here are my first impressions.

So the very first impression was the one related to the fact that you MUST have a Facebook account to use it. Meh. That kinda sucks, because I was planning on deleting my account in the not-too-distant future. I guess I’m locked in now. Oh, well.

And you also need a smart phone, because it seems you have to use the phone app to finish setting up. Okay, whatever. And of course you’ll need wifi, but that should go without saying.

But the next impression was the one I got when I’d finished setting things up and, headset on, I went into the virtual environment that serves as a Home Page.

Oh. My. God.

The default environment is called Desert Terrace and it’s gorgeous. But I wanted to see what else there is so I checked the settings and found Space Station.

Dang.

That video doesn’t do it justice, because it’s two-dimensional, but you experience it in full, technicolor, mind-blowing, 3D. You don’t just see that room. You’re in that room. And it’s a huge room, and you wish you could literally walk outside the confines of the real-world room you’re in, and stand next to a window and drink it all in. Then when you turn around and look at that saucer-shaped section of the station… it’s as real as anything virtual could be. That damn thing looks like it’s five hundred feet tall. It’s breathtaking. I expected a VR world to be somewhat convincing but I wasn’t prepared for just how damned real it all seems.

And this is just the home, um, page, or whatever you call such a thing. I haven’t even got to the games yet.

Quick note – you don’t need a PC or anything to play games. The Quest is a standalone unit and you can just download games from the Oculus store. You can hook up to a PC, though, and that gives you access to more content, such as VR games on Steam (which I’m planning to try soon, since I already have No Man’s Sky, Obduction, and a couple other games that have VR support on my Steam account).

It comes with a couple of apps built in, in particular the First Steps app that gets you started using the controllers and such. The built-in shooting game that’s part of that is pretty good fun, and I’ve fired the app up a couple of times just to go and play that again.

What does surprise me a bit is that a $400 piece of equipment (that’s for the 256Gb version – the 64Gb model is $300) doesn’t include a premium game or two bundled. My old Wii did. Oculus doesn’t.

So off to the Oculus game store to spend a bit of cash. Games typically run $25-$30. So far I’ve bought Vader Immortal Episode I, Moss, and Beat Saber. I haven’t touched the first one yet other than spending ten minutes in Vader’s Lightsaber Training Dojo – which left me needing to sit for five minutes to get my breath back – so I can’t comment yet. Moss is just incredible. And Beat Saber is addictive and a great way to get a little exercise in the age of COVID-19 and Colorado forest fires (I’m just a few miles from the Cameron Peak fire, and right now it’s so dark outside because of all the smoke above town that you wouldn’t know it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon; Pompeii must have looked something like this right around the time Vesuvius went up):

I’m not going to say much about those individual games. There are plenty of reviews on YouTube, and nothing I can add.

I have a handful of games in my wish list – The Room VR, Red Matter, I Expect You To Die, and a couple of others. I’ll see about buying one or two of those once I’m through Moss and Vader.

So to sum up: I think the Q2 is definitely worth the cash, and it’s easy enough to set up that it’s a great starter VR headset if you’ve never tried one before.

That’s it for now… stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, and for the sake of all that is good, VOTE.

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