VR is a Reality

By Max Gast 

Fads come and go, but VR is still here. And now, in this time of quarantine, it is bigger than ever.

A virtual reality headset (or VR) is a device that has two lenses that play the same picture, one for the left eye and one for the right, to project a virtual world you can interact in with two hand controllers.

 In March 2016 The Oculus Rift was launched. Ever since the commercial launch of the Vive and Rift, VR has advanced more than ever, which is a good thing since before, in the gaming industry, VR was just a synonym for a commercial flop. Examples are the Nintendo Virtual Boy in 1995 and Sega’s VR project that was dropped around the initial release, the Sega VR.

After the wildly successful launch for the Rift and the Vive, they obviously had to make successors to their headsets. What came out of that was the Vive Pro and the Oculus Rift S. Before the launch of the Rift S, the Oculus Go came out. The Oculus Go was a sit-down VR media player with games. Along with the Oculus Rift S came the Oculus Quest, the headset I personally own. Then Valve came out with the $1,000 Valve Index, one of the most powerful VR headsets of all time. It was sold out recently because of one of the most hyped up games of 2020, Half Life Alyx, a prequel to the original Half Life games, which were famous for leaving the 2nd game in the series on a massive cliffhanger and not coming out with Half Life 3.

 I could talk about way more, like the Vive Cosmos and the Oculus Link Cable for the Quest, but I’m here to talk about why VR is a booming industry especially during quarantine. One of the big reasons VR is booming is because of social apps like VR Chat, Rec Room VR, and Bigscreen, which recently started a service where you could buy a ticket to a movie and watch it in a Bigscreen VR theatre. Just because you have to stay away from other people doesn’t mean you can’t still play games like Stunt Runner and Paintball in Rec Room, which, if you haven’t caught on, is basically the Roblox of VR, or hang out with each other in VR Chat.

On to some other facts about VR that aren’t quarantine related. One thing I see a lot is “VR is Dying.” Let’s focus on the people making this claim. These are people who have never played actual VR. They’re making this claim based on their experience with phone VR. And trust me. You don’t want to make such a bizarre claim when your only VR experience is with phone VR. What is phone VR exactly? Phone VR is when you download “VR” apps on your phone and slide your phone into some $10 headset. You get no controllers and you barely have any control of your view.

Another frequently asked VR question. How much does VR cost? One of the cheapest, best quality, VR headset is the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift S at a price of $400. With the Rift S, you need a beast PC but it is Steam-supported. As in the gaming platform, Steam. The Oculus Quest right out of the package is sadly not Steam-supported and you have to set it up on the Oculus app. But! If you get an Oculus Link it can be Steam-supported. Then you have the Oculus Go. Probably one of the best ways to stream media in VR. At a price of $200 you get a few good games, but no Steam support. You have to set up this one on the Oculus App as well. 

For Valve, quality comes in quantities, and to get the most powerful VR headset you might have to wait a month or two. If you want the most powerful VR headset, you have to have a pretty powerful PC. You also have to know how to set up base stations so the game can track your movements because Valve has not moved on to inside out tracking. Saying the Valve Index can go up to 144 Hertz should say enough. I think that’s more Hertz than the computer I’m writing this on. It obviously supports Steam because Valve is the company that owns Steam. But if you want the most bang for your buck you’ll also have to pay a hefty $1,000 price tag.

So now that you know more than you ever thought you wanted to know about VR, you can decide for yourself if you want to jump in. 

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