By Sidney West
It felt like most of my friends had gotten a VR headset after getting their stimulus checks. They all looked like zombified drones with those plastic boxes strapped to their heads, waving around their hands aimlessly and shuffling around their rooms. I kept asking them if they could hear me if they were still themselves. I only ever got one response from them. “Join us…”.
Over time the FOMO became too much to bear, I wanted to become part of the hivemind. I caved in and ordered my headset. I was ready to be assimilated. So the day came, the box had arrived and sat there on my doorstep. Its haunting aura made me tremble, it beckoned me. For a moment I thought to leave it there, but I spent too much money, I was in too deep to back out now. I opened the box and prepared myself to join my friends.
So anyway! Setting the thing up was kind of a pain, there was soo many wires. I’m thankful I didn’t have to set up any tripod sensors or anything though. It took me a bit to plug everything into the right place. I had to figure out what went where, there was a special USB slot I needed to use that I didn’t know existed prior, but if you’re going to get a reverb headset, make sure your computer has a blue USB slot and a display port slot. There are adapters that come with the headset but I don’t know where the adapters go. After plugging those I evicted my cat from my room so I didn’t accidentally trip over her, and began installing the appropriate software.
Once everything was set up, I donned my VR headset and thus my cyborg transformation was complete. With wires dangling from the back of my head and cameras protruding from my face, I was now one with the machine.
The helmet itself is pretty comfy, though unfortunately, my nearsightedness transferred into VR, so I had to put on my glasses. They fit alright with the helmet on, but I had to fiddle with them a lot and probably looked like I was picking my nose in front of people online. I also had to lift up the device a lot to see where I was despite it having built-in cameras.
These cameras are supposed to help with making sure you don’t bump into things, but they’re very low quality and are in black and white so I’m not sure they’d help you much, especially in a dimly lit room. I probably would have used them more if they had a dedicated button, but you have to go into the windows menu and I’m terrified of doing that because, on numerous occasions, doing so had exited the game I was currently playing. However, that may have just been me not being used to the controllers yet.
Speaking of the controllers, they’re very lightweight and comfortable. They don’t feel cheaply made or anything, and in a head-to-head collision with a framed family portrait, the controllers came out on top. I do have a few gripes with the controller though. I hate how they use batteries instead of being USB rechargeable, and it’s really annoying how the windows button on the controller is so close to the options button.
More than once have I pressed it by mistake and accidentally exited my game, as mentioned before. I really wish they would have moved those buttons or made each button a different shape at the very least because you can’t see which one your thumb is over in VR. But I suppose it’s an issue that might go away with time as you grow accustomed to the layout. Overall, you get a really good headset for a decent price when compared to the other ones out there.
However, the reverb still costs quite a bit, and if you get it, you might find yourself low on cash to spend on games. There are options out there though, don’t worry. In fact, you might even already own games that are VR compatible. So far I’ve tried VR Chat and Valve’s “The Lab”, both of which are free games. I also Tried PayDay 2’s VR mode, which you must own the base game to play.
VR Chat is very cursed and very jank, but I’ve had a blast exploring locations from other games and playing with friends. I usually stayed away from public worlds though, because you can run into some real weirdos there. Being cornered by a 100 ft Ronald Mcdonald will haunt me for the rest of my days.
The Lab is a showcase of what VR can do and comes with a selection of mini-games. It was fun for about an hour but I don’t really have any desire to replay any of the minigames aside from archery.
PayDay 2 VR was a blast. It felt so satisfying to dual-wield pistols and clean out a bank. You equipped weapons by reaching down and selecting them from your tool belt. I felt it really added to the chaos of the game when you run out of ammo and are scrambling to get out your other gun.
I enjoyed playing these quite a bit, but I occasionally wonder if I made a good investment. I’m not sure how much is out there on the VR market and how much of it is just one-hour showcase games. There’s also a lot of issues I’m still trying to fix when it comes to the reverb. Frequently will games freeze on me and my audio will constantly switch from my headset to my computer speakers.
The sound even breaks entirely and will become very distorted and painful, usually leading to me restarting the headset or waiting for the issues to go away. Stuttering is also a recurring issue, despite me having a pretty decent gaming PC, but that may be due to the games themselves having poor optimization. It’s nauseating regardless.
I was worried about me not having the stomach for VR. but I’ve only felt sick after extended play sessions of around three hours. And to be fair, you shouldn’t even be playing that long without any breaks. If you are prone to getting nauseous while playing, I’ve heard from multiple people that you need to get your sea legs in so to speak. So maybe virtual reality is something you’ll grow a tolerance for over time.
So is it worth getting? I’d say so if you’re very curious about VR games. It’s one of the cheaper options out there, being around $600, as opposed to ones that go for $1,000 and such. There are even cheaper options out there, like the Oculus Rift.
I feel like Virtual Reality as a whole is still in its infancy, but slowly is coming out of it. There’s tons of potential for it, not even just in terms of gaming, but in film and art. I’m very excited to see where it goes and how it changes and improves.