29 April 2023
(The second in a series about my UX observations in using this new VR device.)
Tried the Horizon ‘Call of the Mountain’ VR game for the first time today.
- Startup with the VR2 overall was much quicker this time, since I just had to adjust my eye setting slightly again, which was mostly getting the headset on right. Wore my glasses again. It remembered my safe play area, which was good, no matter where I started in the room with the headset on (not sure how it does this).
- The Horizon game started out with a few basic 2D menu settings, most prominently the choice between eye gaze selection vs. normal controller. I chose eye gaze, and it worked really well.
Then it takes you right into a boat scene, which introduces you to the surroundings, with 2 people in the boat with you, narrating a bit. It was a lot like a Universal Studios ride. Then eventually you get out of the boat, and the game shows you how to “walk” (which I chose to be moving my arms instead of via the controller stick). This felt silly (probably looks even sillier) but I rarely got motion sickness, so cool finding! I then had to “climb” by grabbing rock edges hand over hand (grab by holding L2/R2), which was quite intuitive.
- I also got a bow and arrows, and after fumbling with the controls a bit (show to me via 2D menus, which were constantly a bit too high in my FOV) I figured out how to draw my bow and put it away. Shooting the arrows was actually very intuitive and relatively easy to aim, despite no reticle.
- At the top of the cliff, there were items you could grab and interact with, like plates, baskets, fruit, sticks, etc. All the grabbing of items was also very intuitive (amazingly) and they all had realistic physics, allowing you to toss them, bump them into other things, put items inside baskets, even eat the apples by putting them up to your mouth!
- The hands are also quite intuitive, where they bump into or stop moving when they interact with things (i.e. they don’t pass thru objects like your real hand does/would). Somehow it also knows when you are gripping vs. not (closed hands vs. open). You can sort of let the controller ring sit on your wrist, thus allowing you to ungrip without dropping the controller.
Overall it was quite an amazing experience – I played for about an hour, and had to stop after feeling a bit fatigued (I think I was hyperventilating a bit or something from the immersion).
The 360 views are certainly amazing; the world is very detailed, with good lighting, waterfalls, moving vegetation; looking over a cliff edge definitely gives you a sense of height.
The visual fidelity is still a bit low (things look fuzzy) but I guess you trade off high-res for the ability to look everywhere. Not that it can’t render things in high-res — particularly when climbing, the world is very close to your face, and the rocks or walls are very detailed. It’s just that most of the world is not at that same high-res level. I think it does do foveated rendering (things are cleared in your gaze) but it’s of course not as good as the Varjo headset. (According to one article, VR2 does do foveated, AND it combines it with eye tracking, vs. having a fixed high-res area in the center of the lenses. I think the old Varjo headset from 2019 was fixed.)