At the moment, we’re witnessing a resurgence of VR, with standalone devices, like the Meta Quest 2, to the announced PlayStation VR 2. The idea of the Metaverse becoming a reality is exciting, especially as big names actively working or expressing their desire to get involved in the Metaverse. Some are developing the necessary hardware, and others provide the technology services, but in general, it looks like many big names will become a vital part of the space.
Metaverse market map. Source: Medium
A quick overview of the Metaverse VR space
It seems that discussions around VR need an introductory discussion on the idea of a Metaverse, a network of virtual worlds that can interact with each other. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is one of the biggest names that kicked the hype surrounding this new idea into high gear after it made a 180-degree on its business, looking to focus on building an interactive virtual reality, or a version of the Metaverse as they see it, back in October 2021.
The idea of building towards a Metaverse is now a hot topic as Tencent, a Chinese tech company, registered metaverse-related concepts and items in China, Epic announced a $2 billion funding round for the support of the Metaverse efforts, and even Apple building their own VR/Augmented Reality (AR) goggles. There are also hints of a new operating system (OS) being developed by Apple, called “realityOS”. All in all, the Metaverse and VR/AR gaming, with it, are marching at full speed ahead.
VR Metaverse downsides
Some users may be confused about what the Metaverse actually is. The most common definition states that its a collection of worlds built with VR and AR technologies, which people will use to work and play. While, in essence, it describes the real purpose of the concept, some of the details may be lacking, as most current projects on the software side are regurgitating old ideas seen in the MMO and VR Chat-like experiences.
An article written by Bloomberg indicated that Metaverse and the spending spree behind it do not make much sense at the moment.
“When tech executives like Zuckerberg preach the metaverse, they are promising visions that either already exist, are ill-defined or that nobody actually wants.”
While this may sound harsh and besides the point, it looks like the Metaverse will have a lot of philosophical discussions before it’s officially accepted as the be-all-end-all of VR/AR future.
VR gaming and NFT-s
Users can expect funds to flow into the development of increasingly better VR hardware as well as VR content. Namely, VR is an important aspect of the Metaverse, and besides that, the rapid developments seen so far are already lucrative for developers and programmers, so more of the same can be expected. On the flip side, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain may also inevitably affect VR gaming since NFTs should represent the defacto ownership system in VR and the Metaverse.
While NFTs may bring about more ownership of in-game and digital assets, there is also a possibility of them being used for VR microtransactions, which would probably erode the value and appeal of NFTs.
Best VR Headsets of 2022
As the PlayStation VR 2 headset is yet to be released, and according to rumors and announcements, it could be one of the best, if not the best VR headset in the market.
We look at the top 3 available right now:
Meta Quest 2
It is currently the best VR headset on the market, with prices ranging from $300-400, offering a completely wireless experience to its users. The library of games is quite extensive with titles like Resident Evil 4 and the Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, and even Half-Life: Alyx through a PC. Over the past two years, Meta improved the software and added additional apps that make this the best-buy VR experience on the market.
Another Meta VR headset, the Quest Pro, is a fairly new device offering a lot of improvements over the Quest 2. The display is much better, with improved controls and additional features like mixed reality and eye/face tracking. The storage of 128GB for the base model offers plenty of room for games and apps alike, but there is no option for adding more storage. The biggest downside is the current price which ranges up to $1,500 making it a device out of reach except for the greatest gaming and VR enthusiasts with deep pockets.
HP Reverb G2
Currently, the highest-resolution VR headset on the market, with great audio and a comfortable design that enables users to wear it for prolonged periods. It beats out the competition with its 2,160×2,160-per-eye resolution and a 114-degree field of view. The speakers on the device are designed by Valve (who is a runner-up for the third spot). This headset is a Microsoft Windows mixed reality headset, which is Steam compatible, so all Valve VR games and apps can be run through this headset, placing it at number 3. Prices vary from $599-650.
Best VR game 2022
There are quite a few really interesting games for VR, across different genres; however, among the top 10 games, players can often come across two names that are often included in the top 10.
The first one is Resident Evil 4, a VR version of possibly the most popular Resident Evil game in the history of the franchise. It offers action-packed, survival horror mechanics where users shoot enemies and run through a dynamic environment to save a damsel in distress.
The second one is Half-Life: Alyx, the first full-fledged Half-Life game that Valve has released in a long time. The game features top-tier graphics and mechanics specifically built by Valve for VR headsets.
User Reviews about experiencing VR games
Department of Computer Science State University of New York at Oswego ran a study on 48 participants playing video games across the PC and two VR headset platforms to show that there was no significant user experience difference between the three. PC gaming is rated highest in usability metrics compared to the other two devices. Similarly, anecdotal evidence and reports of gamers across various forums indicate that VR gaming is fun, immersive, and probably here to stay.
Most gamers don’t own a Quest Pro, which is too expensive at the moment, mentioning that PC gaming is still king due to high-quality graphics and the platform’s versatility. This may change in the future in the sense of VR headsets offer better visual quality and more immersion with hand, face, body, and eye tracking features that will turn the body into a controller.
VR may also have additional functionalities and usage besides gaming, similar to the PC, thus possibly making it an inevitable part of our working environment and everyday life in the near future.