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From New Headsets to VR Bars — Where Fantasy Meets Reality

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From the street, Otherworld looks like a futuristic cult headquarters. Tucked under a railroad arch in Haggerston, east London, the unmarked entrance leads to a neon-lit corridor lined with circular white pods that resemble vertical sensory deprivation tanks. In fact, its function is the exact opposite. In this virtual reality bar, these sci-fi cabins are high-spec showcases of VR gaming possibilities and gateways to sensory overload.

An employee wearing layers of cushiony white fabric gathers my friends and me around a glowing table to introduce games that we can try out in hour-long slots. Explore Google Earth in VR or paint in 3D. tilt brush Or shoot each other with laser guns while laughing like crazy. we choose the latter. After a somewhat convoluted introduction to the system, while the non-gamers in our group glanced at me nervously, we entered our separate pods and donned our controllers, headphones and headsets. Our physical environment is tightly closed.

The next hour is real heckling.Each game took a few minutes to learn, but before long we were deeply immersed in competitive dance-offs synth rideran acrobatic sci-fi shooter hyper dash and zombie survival game arizona sunshineEven though we were physically apart, we were able to unite as avatars in a virtual space and communicate through headphones.

A man wearing a virtual reality headset stands in a kaleidoscopic screen of vibrant colors.

Gamers try out the Meta Oculus Quest 2 VR headset at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in March © NurPhoto via Getty Images

This kind of dedicated space can greatly benefit the VR gaming experience. Otherworld’s “4D effect” is a gimmick that simulates wind in your hair and sunshine on your face, but provides powerful hardware and a streamlined system for orchestrating multiplayer games. Crucially, the simple fact that you have room to swing your arms (in-game, you’re bravely beating zombies, and in real life, you’re desperately flipping around) are the comforts of being isolated from your surroundings. made a huge difference. When I inevitably slammed my real body against the wall during a high-octane shootout, I found myself relentlessly padded.

After years of testing VR games at home, I was still unsure, so I was surprised at how much my group of mixed gaming experiences enjoyed the evening. We have invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, arguing that increasing immersion in the digital space will be a key component of the Metaverse, but these technologies always seem to be going mainstream. However, it never fully reaches.

The launch of Meta’s Quest 2 headset in 2020 was a big step forward. Easier to use than its competitors and much cheaper, this model was unable to run sophisticated games because the headset handled the game software rather than the computer or console. Still, the quality trade-off for accessibility and affordability seems to work, with the Quest 2 being the headset that will account for 78% of all VR hardware sales in 2021. % of PC gamers on Steam. Why is my ingestion still slow?

It’s not that good VR games aren’t available. However, there are not many of them.we can dance together beat saber Or while you’re away for hours in an ingenious puzzle shooter very hotMost other offerings are basic, either because developers are stuck building a poor Quest 2 or they don’t see the profit potential in ambitious development for a limited VR audience. There’s only one VR masterpiece. Half-life: Alyxis the sequel to Valve’s beloved shooter series, boasting stunning visuals, a robust narrative, and tons of small, thoughtful details that leverage VR’s unique immersive potential.

I’m reluctant to bring my headset out at home even when playing great games. I have a single-minded desire to want to be, so I’m uneasy about being isolated from the physical environment of my small room. It still feels technically primitive. VR hardware is evolving rapidly, but given the pace of this evolution, now is not the right time to embark. A much better model could be right around the corner.

VR gaming, like many big companies, still has a niche community of enthusiastic supporters who believe in the future of technology. Sony has announced a new PSVR2 headset alongside the new VR. horizon Gaming, Meta has hinted at a new headset named Project Cambria, and even Apple is showing investors demos of its new VR hardware. For home play, however, VR still has some growing pains. The otherworldly space unleashes the full potential of technology. So, paradoxically, you may need to leave your home to experience all the flavors of the virtual world right now.

Video: Game On: How Tech Companies Bet On The Metaverse | FT Films