Horizon Worlds explained: What is it, and how to play

Horizon Worlds key art with futuristic city and people playing laser tag
(Image credit: Facebook)

If you’re a Quest 2 owner or a VR enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of Horizon Worlds. The app — developed by Meta itself — is getting a big push from the company. 

It’s very clear that Meta is investing a lot of time and resources into Horizon Worlds, but what exactly is it? If you’re confused, here’s a quick run down to explain Horizon Worlds.

What is Horizon Worlds?

person celebrates in Horizon Worlds while two others use creation menu

(Image credit: Meta)

Horizon Worlds is described by Meta as being a “VR social experience,” which should be a familiar concept for anyone who’s played the likes of Second Life or Roblox. It’s essentially a way to meet new players or socialize with friends. There are also various special events that happen in Horizon Worlds as well; Post Malone recently hosted a concert, and Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror film NOPE had a tie-in experience.

Aside from socializing, Horizon Worlds has a huge focus on player creation. Everything in Horizon Worlds is built within the app itself. Select creators can even monetize their custom content. Ultimately, Horizon Worlds is a way for Meta to lay the groundwork for its much-touted Metaverse

What can you do?

Two players using the creation menu in Horizon Worlds

(Image credit: Future)

Scripting, coding, sculpting — you name it. Horizon Worlds lets you create VR experiences (the titular Worlds) without leaving VR. There’s an extensive amount of tutorials available to guide players on the creation process. Users can even collaborate on making Worlds together. 

Because the Worlds you visit are made within the app, the creation process is very physical. Coding blocks exist as cubes that can be plucked from a menu and placed inside of a 3D space. Building props is a similar process, with shapes being grouped and manipulated by your own hands.

Are there microtransactions?

Purchasing an in-game item in Horizon Worlds

(Image credit: Future)

Yes, though not in the way you might initially expect. Rather than paying Meta directly, players instead purchase custom items sold by creators — a feature that’s already found in Horizon Worlds’ competitors, such as Roblox and Rec Room. 

Custom content sales are currently limited to a select group of players. And although Meta has repeatedly criticized Apple and Google’s store fees, it should come as no surprise that Meta takes a very hypocritical percentage of profits from creators.

Is it safe?

two people talk in render showing off accessibility and safety features in Horizon Worlds

(Image credit: Meta)

Facebook doesn’t have a great track record with privacy and safety. That said, Horizon Worlds was updated with new privacy features when it recently launched in the U.K., like a toggled option that automatically garbles the speech of strangers unless you put your hand on your ear to hear them. There are also personal boundary options that restrict other players from coming within roughly four feet of you.

Is it family friendly?

first-person view of someone shooting in Horizon Worlds FPS custom game

(Image credit: Future)

Horizon Worlds is restricted solely to users 18+ in age — in theory. But many have raised extremely valid concerns about children on the app and the potential danger that entails — something The Washington Post recently dove into. 

Meta has also announced that its new policy will allow creators to now mark their Worlds as mature, allowing new, adult-focused content on the app that’s definitely NSFW. This includes Worlds that feature sexually suggestive — though not explicit — content, are “dedicated to or have a core focus on the promotion of marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, or age-regulated activities”, and Worlds that depict “intense or excessively violent physical content, including blood and gore.”

How do I play Horizon Worlds?

Horizon Worlds players gather around in a piano hall, celebrating

(Image credit: Future)

Currently, Horizon Worlds is playable on Rift S and Quest 2 headsets, though Meta has announced that a web version is in development, and a mobile version will be coming by the end of 2022. It’s free to download but there are some caveats. 

As of now, Horizon Worlds is only available in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, and Iceland, though other countries are planned for the future. If Horizon Worlds isn't available in your country yet, there are plenty of other great Quest 2 games to play in the meantime.


Horizon Worlds

Horizon Worlds is a free-to-play social experience with an emphasis on player creation. While it’s currently only available on Meta VR headsets, Horizon Worlds will soon expand to include mobile devices and web browsers.

Download from: Oculus

Nick Ransbottom
Freelance writer, VR/AR

Nick is a freelance journalist and games reviewer with a passion for RPGs, bad puns, and VR. When he isn’t guesting on podcasts or streaming on Twitch, he’s probably playing Borderlands with his husband.