I bought a new VR headset and it arrived in the mail last week. I’ve had another VR headset for a few years now, that being the PSVR, which is paired with my PlayStation 4 Pro. The PSVR was my first real foray into VR and I played a whole bunch of really fun and entertaining games with it. VR technology has advanced quite a bit since the PSVR was released. Coincidentally, the PSVR2 came out this month as well but I don’t have a PS5, so wasn’t an option for me.
The original PSVR required a camera to track your head and the controllers. That meant that if you moved outside the camera’s view or something got in the way of the camera, it would lose track of you. The controllers that PSVR used were also simple in that it could only track if you were gripping something with your whole hand or not. The concept of knowing what individual fingers were doing wasn’t possible.
The Meta Quest 2 headset improves in all these areas and more. First, the headset has onboard cameras, so it tracks your position from the “inside out”. It doesn’t rely on a camera or set of external sensors to know where you are in your space. Also, since it can work without wires, you’re free to move around in a massive space if you wanted to. Meta warns you not to use the headset outside though, probably for legal reasons (walking into traffic). The controllers are also more advanced. To varying degrees of accuracy, it can track the usage of your thumb, index finger, and middle finger of each hand.
Having onboard cameras is a huge bonus with this headset. As I mentioned, this allows the headset to track itself but it also allows something called “passthrough”. This is when the headset shows the user its actual surroundings, as if you were using the cameras as your eyes. I can’t tell you how many times I had the PSVR headset on and I was fumbling around, feeling for a controller I had set down for a moment. The Quest 2 allows you to see the “real world” at will, if you need to check your surroundings for a second. The view you see isn’t full colour, high resolution though. The real world appears as if you’re looking through black and white night vision googles. It almost feels like you’re seeing the real world in a VR setting. Since it’s wireless, there’s nothing to stop you from putting this thing on and walking out of your home and into the world.
My primary motivation for getting this new headset is to experience VR games at a high-fidelity than before. The game I am looking forward to playing above all others is Half-Life: Alyx, widely regarded as one of the best VR games ever made. I haven’t bought it yet, because at $80, it’s stupidly expensive but Steam allows you to walk around in some of the settings for free and it looks amazing. Once it goes on sale, I’ll grab it then.