Update on the Quest 2

It’s been a few weeks since I got the *ahem* Meta Quest 2 *ahem*, so here’s a bit of an update in long form about how it’s been going.

Upgrading the Experience

Out of the box, I didn’t have any real issues with the Q2 as far as comfort goes. The basic strap wraps around the head above the ears and has a “support” strap that runs from the middle of the brim of the visor, across the top of your head, and connects to the rear of the headband. This setup is supposed to prevent the device from slipping down around your neck, but really, a better design — like the PlayStation VR headset — would have skipped the support band and still had a comfortable fit.

I decided to purchase some upgrades. The first was a new headband.

This replacement snaps onto the two side-arms-slash-speakers. It brings with it a hinge which allows for the back half of the “brace” (lack of a better term now) to raise up so I can get my face into the mask…or mask onto my face; your choice. Then, when the brace is returned to neutral position, there’s a knob on the back of the brace that can tighten the whole thing, again, like the PSVR’s design. A padded bracket on the rear of the brace makes for a very comfortable and pretty tight fit. I could never get the stock strap to tighten successfully, as it was all Velcro and sliding adjustments, so this brace works a hell of a lot better. The top support strap is larger than the one on the stock band and comes with its own padding. In truth, I have this kind of tight because my cabeza is kind of grande, and shortening the support strap keeps the facemask at an angle that helps keep the light out around the nosepiece. I should have also gotten a replacement visor pad with the rubber flaps around the nose, but that’s for another day.

I also upgraded the controllers with a deluxe silicone “sock” into which the controllers can be inserted.

Yes, they are color-coded so I can tell my right from my left.

These grips do a few things. First, they provide a less slippery surface, being almost like rubber. Second, they extend the length of the controller’s grip, which is good for people with larger hands. Third, they have hand-wraps which allow for a relaxed grip; since the trigger and index-finger button are touch-sensitive, I’ve often made erroneous selections because I never know where to rest my fingers. Now I can just let my hands relax and the controls stay with me. Fourth (yes, there are a lot of features to these damn things), there’s a battery door which flips open, removing the need to slide the grip off the controller, and then slide the battery hatch off of the base device. Finally (finally!) there’s a frosted silicone wrap around the orbital light ring, which I hope will help ward off any damage should I (or my wife, more likely) swing the controller into a solid object.

And last upgrade but {not} least, I got some glasses spacers.

Peekaboo!

These little doo-dads snap onto the lens rim and provide a raised surface so when I wear the headset with glasses (as I am wont to do, because blind), the lenses of the glasses and the lenses of the headset leave room for the Holy Spirit. The ultimate goal is to get actual prescription lenses so I can enjoy the full experience of VR without these stupid medieval frames attached to my face (yes, the irony of strapping on another set of frames is not lost on me), but since the stock glasses spacer didn’t do jack, really, I got these lil’ chaps to help out in the meanwhile.

Games

My first game on the Q2 was Raccoon Lagoon, which I had owned and had originally “side-loaded” for use with SteamVR and my WMR Odyssey last year. This time I began a new game and gently made my way across the island, helping the Nims with their problems. But then I picked up Garden of the Sea, another “soft” exploration game with islands and cute creatures, and the poor shipwrecked Nims were on their own (hey I’d already finished the game previously!)

This flying pink dragon scares the shit out of me on a regular basis.

In GotS, you must collect raw materials to cultivate a garden, build and upgrade structures for you and your animal neighbors, foster rapport with the critters, and then sail to other islands where you’ll solve puzzles in order to free three goddesses and complete the game. I enjoyed this one a lot, but like Raccoon Lagoon, it’s painfully short. I miss it already.

Bittersweet success.

I will briefly mention Lone Echo (again, I believe), which is an Oculus PC game, meaning I need to either be tethered to the PC via USB cable or rely on AirLink, which uses the wi-fi connection to operate through the PC. I still haven’t completed this as I “got distracted”.

In space, no one can hear you CrItIcIzE vR.

Right now, the game du jour is Vox Machinea. This is a cockpit-view mech combat simulator that every good VR system should have as a rule. If you’re not simulating massive walking war machines beating the snot out of each other, what good is your virtual getup anyway? The game is in Early Access with only a competitive multiplayer mode, but in March of 2022 they will (have already) release(d) a full campaign and a native Q2 version so I won’t have to connect to the PC to play. As a bonus, the Q2 version will have cross-play with PC, and non-VR gamers can also play the game since it has a non-VR mode in the exact same game!

Sorry, I only have a screenshot of my bot-match win.

Exercise

I have been trying real hard to use the Q2 for exercise purposes. I subscribe to Supernatural, which is a high-profile fitness app-service native to the Quest 2. It features instructor led sessions featuring boxing, a kind of Beat Saber-like hack-and-slash thing, meditation, and stretching exercises. Although the exercises have “instructor led” features, it’s not like Peloton where the instructors are actually live; the exercises feature popular songs across several genres and each session takes place within a 360-degree natural environment, but everything is pre-programmed, from the instructor introductions to their motivational yammering to the still images of the landscapes (which have had animated distortions applied whenever water is present har har har). Ultimately, it’s about the exercise and not the trappings, and I find the boxing to be a pretty good workout, while the Beat Saber activity is kind of OK. Meditation is difficult since the instructor is constantly talking, and the stretching is basically stretching.

Virtual Sessions

Today I was messing around with the link cable connected to the Oculus PC app and found myself in the “home” environment. If you’ve ever used a WMR device, or remember “Home” from the PS3 days, you’ll get the gist of things. For everyone else, this space is…well…a home that you can customize for yourself and invite friends to. As you play Oculus PC games and apps, you’ll earn trophies and decor that can be placed in the home. Each home can be customized with several different motifs; mine is currently a cyberpunk apartment.

While futzing around with this app today, I found that I could throw down a flatscreen TV prop, and then broadcast a desktop to that screen. While this sounds fun, I happened to also be watching my friend CakedCrusader play Lost Ark via Discord’s screen share.

I switched this Discord video to full screen on one monitor, and then set the Oculus house TV to display the contents of that monitor. Voila! I had a TV playing live video of Lost Ark in my “living room”.

Now, the ramifications of this should be fairly obvious, if not reachable. If it’s possible to share, say, a movie running on the desktop of the “home owner’s” PC, then any visitors at the time should also be able to watch the video being broadcast to the TV, right? RIGHT?! The world may never know, because A) I doubt it’ll work with the modern video streaming service’s commitment to preventing any kind of stream duplication, and B) I don’t know anyone else who could come over to my “house” and watch TV with me. Why would people want to watch TV in VR? I don’t know, but I could sit on my couch while you sit on yours, and yet we could still be “in the same room together”, chatting and enjoying the same entertainment as if we were co-present. Isn’t that what “the metaverse” is trying to accomplish?

Sound off!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.