As part of a brand new series, Android Central Senior Editors Michael Hicks and Nick Sutrich are rounding up all of the news on hardware, game announcements, leaks, and cool updates related to the Meta Quest 3, Oculus Quest 2, and other VR headsets.
September is shaping up to be one of the biggest months ever for VR and that all hinges around the Meta Connect conference at the end of the month. Until then, though, the steady flow of Quest 3 leaks continues and Meta is finally starting to deliver on promises made long ago.
While last week's VR news recap focused a lot on the industry at large, this week is almost solely focused on new games and new features for Meta Quest headsets. We got a preview of one of the big-name games coming out this November and the developers of Moss stealth-launched a brand new game in early access for free for everyone to try right now.
Here's what's happening in the world of VR as of the week of September 1, 2023.
Legs and hands
I turned on my Meta Quest Pro this week to play some new VR games, looked in the mirror, and got a shock! Lo and behold, my usual floating avatar was now standing on its own two legs, even including pants that matched my outfit. Sure enough, Meta has finally begun to roll out legs to Quest avatars as of firmware v57.
Meta avatars will now have legs in Horizon Home — that's the home environment that loads up when you put your headset on — as well as the company's social VR app, Horizon Worlds. This lines up with the news this week that the Horizon Worlds mobile beta has officially begun, launching the company's virtual social space onto larger platforms.
In addition to legs, a player's hands are now both more responsive in headset and work at the same time as controllers. Firmware v56 laid the groundwork for this feature and Meta has begun rolling it out to gamers piecemeal over the past week.
Long story short, hand tracking is now up to 75% faster than before and you'll see your hands grabbing those controllers in apps and games that allow the feature. On a system level, this means switching between hand and controller tracking is now instant, removing the final barrier between more natural hand interactions and more accurate controller movements.
And Quest headset wearers looking to get a little more productivity out of their headsets can soon start to use their hands to type on a keyboard sitting invisibly on their desk or table.
As you can see in the above image (or in action on Mark Zuckerberg's Instagram post), the Quest 2 displays a virtual keyboard on a table that lets users type as if they were using a physical keyboard.
Both Zuckerberg and Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth claim they can type over 100 words per minute using this method which means the aforementioned hand tracking improvements must work really well for this specific kind of implementation!
Getting a taste of new games
This Fall, there are a lot of upcoming Quest games to look forward to, but few names ring as loudly in gamers' ears than Vampire: The Masquerade. The legendary series is coming to the Quest by veteran VR developers Fast Travel Games, and we got our hands-on with the game this week.
Set in Venice, players will embark on a journey to retrieve an important lost artifact, dispatching bad guys and drinking as much blood as they'd like along the way. It's a full RPG complete with branching dialog trees, superb voice acting, and gameplay polish that we expect from Fast Travel Games.
Speaking of veteran VR developers, the developers of the Moss series have stealth-launched a brand new spin-off that's completely free. Available on App Lab right now, Glassbreakers: Champions of Moss is a unique 1v1 strategy battler that pits your squad against one other player's squad.
And the developers of Gorilla Tag showed off their own rendition of the famed Echo Arena to its Discord fans this week. The quick 11-second video for "Project A2" looks a bit as if Echo Arena and Gorilla Tag had a baby. Familiar grab-and-fling mechanics are mixed with zero-gravity projectiles and weight, giving us very high hopes that Echo Arena will live on in a new form.
Walkabout Mini Golf's new DLC has also been announced, taking place in the Land of Elves. This new fantasy-themed course pack is sure to blow our minds yet again when it lands later this month, taking us to far-off lands to see how the immortal Elves thought mini golf should work.
But, sooner than that, Quest+ subscribers now have access to Red Matter and A Fisherman's Tale, two classic VR titles that each have an award-winning sequel if you like the original. As a reminder, Meta Quest+ is a subscription service that costs $8 per month (or $60 per year) and includes two free games each month. You can subscribe here.
Quest 3 leaks and the end of the Oculus Rift
Meta sunset the Oculus Rift hardware some time ago, and now the company looks to have started sunsetting apps and games in the Rift store, as well. Youtuber Brad Lynch posted a memo from the Among Us VR developers noting that Among Us VR will no longer be supported on Rift headsets starting October 4, 2023.
Rift users who are still using the official Oculus Rift store on a PC may also notice other titles losing support for the aging VR headset around the same date. In addition to that, several titles that used to be on the Rift store seem to have gone dark, indicating that Meta could very well completely shutter its PC marketplace for good.
If this happens, PCVR gamers will, of course, still be able to access SteamVR for all their VR needs.
The obvious reason for that is the upcoming Quest 3 and Meta continuing to make its business model more efficient. The company won't be supporting anything older than the Quest 2 after the end of this year, so it makes sense for some of this to go away.
And speaking of the Quest 3, we'll wrap this up with yet another leak by Nya_VR_ on Threads who continues to take apart the latest Quest software updates and find Quest 3 goodies.
It looks like Meta is looking to allow Quest gamers to play offline in even better ways than before with a newfangled airplane mode. Plus, the Quest 3 could have an "extended battery mode" that does exactly what it says on the tin. We have no additional details beyond the obvious, so stay tuned to Meta Connect later this month to see what happens there.
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