In his weekly column, Android Central Senior Content Producer Nick Sutrich delves into all things VR, from new hardware to new games, upcoming technologies, and so much more.
I just finished pressure-washing an entire backyard full of things. I cleaned grime and mold off of the fences, the shed, the BBQ grill, the steps, and even the kid's car that had clearly been sitting out in the elements too long. The trick is that none of this happened in real life. It was all a game.
And that's the perplexing part of games like PowerWash Simulator VR on the Meta Quest 3. There's no real-world incentive to do this job. I don't earn real money. I don't get to use the shiny, pristine objects I just spent valuable time cleaning. And I technically just "wasted" my time doing something I could have actually done in real life.
So why is this kind of game so appealing? Is it because I can have real-world friends help me do a meaningless chore and see who accrues the most points? Maybe it's just the psychological need to check off a list and feel good about it. Whatever the reason, jobs and chores are more fun in VR. It's a fact, and I'm just going to lean into it.
The job simulator
One of the best games for any VR newbie to try is Job Simulator. The game is legendary for so many reasons and it perfectly embodies exactly what I'm talking about. There shouldn't be anything "fun" about sitting in a cubicle doing office work or acting as a convenience store clerk without some sort of monetary compensation.
But, paradoxically, performing a job or some other menial task in VR is just so much fun. I surmise that part of this is the ability to do something you normally can't do, even if it is experiencing a menial part of someone else's life.
And, hey, maybe that's the real secret. You're experiencing a fictional story of someone else's life through the lens of their profession.
Both of these games allow you to experience a gamified version of someone's profession. In the case of Lost Recipes, that extends to a sort of history lesson, too, helping you to better understand how cultures cooked through time, including the tools and ingredients they had to work with.
Maybe it's the idea of being able to try something new without any actual repercussions that exist in the real world. You certainly couldn't throw a computer monitor at your boss and not have to have a conversation with the police, but you can do exactly this kind of thing in VR and get away with it.
Plus, games like Job Simulator let you do things you wish you could do in real life. Who wouldn't want to photocopy donuts so you have unlimited supply, or eat a burrito that magically transports you back to your home at any time you wished?
The Zen of power washing
October has been a monumental month for VR releases, to say the least. I put together a spooky game roundup that included Vampire: The Masquerade, The 7th Guest, Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord, and several upcoming releases.
This month, we're getting not just PowerWash Simulator VR, but also Assassin's Creed Nexus, Demeo Battles, Stride: Fates, Pavlov Shack, and Sniper Elite VR: Winter Warrior.
With all that action, PowerWash Simulator VR stands out as a very different type of VR game, designed to give players clear objectives that they can complete at their own pace. Better yet, the game can be used as a way to hang out with a friend and shoot the breeze (or, the pressurized water, rather) while accomplishing something bizarrely fun.
Like the pancake (non-VR) version of the game, PowerWash Simulator drives players through a campaign mode where they helm a fledgling power-washing business. You'll start out with basically nothing — just the pressure washer itself, a few nozzle types, and a step stool for reaching higher places — but will build an empire after earning money and completing jobs.
Each successfully completed job will see word of mouth of your skills spread throughout the town and the calls come flooding in. Eventually, you'll get so popular that NASA even wants you to go to Mars to power wash a Mars rover. It's pretty silly but I guess someone has to be the one to bring water to the Red Planet if we can't manage to find much, right?
I was impressed with the level of detail in the game, too, but I'm not talking about the graphics. They're fine enough and certainly get the job done, but it's the ways you can clean grime off surfaces that impressed me.
You're not just pointing and spraying in this game. You also have to get down to the nitty-gritty details of each object, which often means above and underneath. And, if you don't want to physically go prone on your living room floor to clean grime off the underside of a hanging bench seat, you can just click the right stick to switch between standing, kneeling, and prone positions.
And not all grime is the same, either. Some nozzles provide more power and help remove the more stubborn grime, but the most stubborn grime will require you to earn enough money to purchase special cleaners for each type of surface.
This won't be much of a surprise to you if you've already played one of the non-VR versions of the game but I still thought it was a nice bit of detail added to a game that already feels quite detailed and thoughtful.
Plus, joining friends couldn't be easier. On any level, you can toggle the co-op switch which will highlight your game on a friend's menu for one-click joining. I really wish more VR games made it this easy to join friends. It felt completely effortless and didn't have me wondering if I should use the system invite solution or if the game had its own system.
The obvious problem is that there's no in-game voice chat, which feels bizarre in a VR game. You'll need to use the Meta party system for that, which makes it arbitrarily difficult when it would otherwise be very easy to join friends.
The game also has some performance issues that cropped up right away. They didn't bother me but anyone who has issues with reprojection or motion smoothing might find themselves feeling woozy until this is sorted out. I've asked the developers if they're aware of the issue and will report back if I get an update.
It's also a bit low-resolution when running on a Quest 3. That's not something you'll likely notice much with the Quest 2's inferior lenses but it's very obvious on a Quest 3.
Some small technical hiccups aside, though, I've had a blast playing the game and look forward to spending more time cleaning up the neighborhood (and beyond).
Sure, I could do this in real life and maybe get some monetary incentive or personal satisfaction, but that would require me to buy a pressure washer, take it out, probably get wet (no thanks when it's literally freezing outside), and add more work to my already busy days.
This is a wonderful alternative.
Wash all your cares away with PowerWash Simulator VR. Heck, join a friend and shoot the breeze while blasting pressurized water on all the grime you could imagine.
Buy it at Quest Store
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