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Hey there listeners. It’s Mike Snider here and welcome back to Talking Tech. Brett Molina is off today, but we’re lucky enough to have my colleague and friend, Mark Saltzman, with us today. Mark, thanks for joining us.
Yeah. Hey, thanks Mike. Happy holidays to you.
Same to you. I know you’ve written about virtual reality in games recently for us on tech.usatoday.com, and I thought it’d be a good time to discuss VR games. I would bet many people were gifted a VR headset this holiday season, or maybe some listeners got gifts of money and wanted to spring for one or a new game for the headset they already have. I know for many years VR gaming didn’t always match the expectations. Catch us up on where we are now.
Yeah, that’s a great question/point. Yeah, there was so much hype about VR that there wasn’t really a killer app or we really didn’t feel like the momentum was there, and I think sales reflected that as well that it just didn’t really happen.
But then in October 2020 when the Oculus Quest 2 came out from Facebook and it followed by one that had twice the memory. So now you can get 128 gigs for about $300 and 256 for $400, I think that changed the game. And one we’ve seen over the past 18 months is a lot of great content that is relatively affordable. There’s a lot of free stuff too at the Oculus store. And there were some issues, people didn’t like having to log in with a Facebook ID and I get that. But the freedom that the Oculus Quest 2 gave you by not having to tether it to a PC or a game console or stick a phone in the front, if you remember, that was a thing with some of them.
And then the developers learned how to iron out things like motion sickness for the most part. My son was just playing Res Evil 4 VR and there was just one point where he had to take it off and go, “Okay, I don’t feel so good.” It’s like on water. You know? But for the most, I think developers have licked that issue.
So yeah, VR is catching up and to your point, if my social media feed is any indication, a lot of people unwrapped an Oculus Quest 2 over the Christmas break. So great. Yeah. There’s a lot of good content.
Now, in addition to the Quest, are there other leading headsets that have somewhat of a population or following?
Yeah. So there are more powerful VR headsets, like the full Oculus or the HTC that you would connect to your computer. There’s Windows MR. Different headsets there. And to a lesser extent, PSVR is still around even though there isn’t a lot of content for the PlayStation product. But I think Oculus Quest 2, despite not having the kind of power and there is a bit of a caveat there, you can connect it to a PC with a cable or airlink. There’s different ways to do it where you can play more powerful games, but for the most part, people are willing to trade some of that performance for the freedom of not being tethered to anything. So you can like quite literally bring your VR headset with you to go. Don’t be one of those guys at the airport though. Please. That’s playing while waiting for their flight or on an airplane.
But yeah, so some games you can be stationary. Others, you draw out where you are, in front of you, your own little area. And then it’ll bleed into the real world if you start getting close to a wall or something like that. So there’s some really neat things that they’ve added. And I’m really excited to see what Oculus Quest 3, or whatever it’s going to be called. Meta 3, whatever that’s going to look like.
But yeah, in the meantime, there’s a lot of great games. So yeah, one of my last columns for USA Today in 2021 was a look at some, very subjectively, some of my favorite 2021 launch titles for VR. And most of them are for the Oculus platform, including the Quest 2.
So maybe tell us a couple of your favorites that you would want to make sure people are up on.
Yeah. So I already hinted at Resident Evil 4. If you like horror movies or your fan of the Resident Evil franchise, Res Evil 4 VR came out earlier this year, it’s about $39. It’s for Oculus Quest, rated M for mature. And it is a third person survival horror game that has you initially navigate around a rural sort of European village, but it really goes wild after that. And it’s pretty scary and not just jump scares, but there’s a lot of fun in fighting against this never ending hoard basically. And there’s different modes that you can unlock as well. But the story campaign’s really a lot of fun. So if you’ve ever played a Resident Evil game, imagine it being virtual reality, where it’s tied to your head tracking everywhere you look, you are in the game. So a lot of fun single player, survival horror game. So again, that’s called Resident Evil 4 VR. From Capcom, $39.
Another great one, Mike, would be Lone Echo II. So it’s a sequel to a four year old game called Lone Echo, which takes place in space. Also $39 for Oculus Rift. And this is a game from a developer called Ready at Dawn Studios. And it is a sci-fi story. It’s over 10 hours and you play as an Android who is accompanied by this captain, Liv Rhodes, who resurrects you basically after … It continues on from the first game where she brings you back to life. You are this Android named Jack and you have to tackle different puzzles and solve this sort of epic story aboard a space station. But this game may not be for everyone because you do experience weightlessness. So there is this zero gravity part of the game that takes a bit of getting used to. You can imagine in virtual reality that can really trick your brain and it may not be the most comfortable. So I said it was playable on Oculus Rift, which is the PC based one. But you can play it on Oculus Quest 2 by connecting it to a computer through the cables that you get with it or it’s an accessory, if I remember correctly.
And then one more I’ll recommend is called, I Expect You To Die. It’s a really funny UK based game. It’s kind of like a 1960s James Bond esque first person game that’s only $25. It works with Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, PSVR, and different kinds of PC based virtual reality or windows MR headsets from Lenovo and other companies. So you are up against the head of this evil corporation and you’ve got to solve puzzles and manipulate the environment in different ways. What’s fun is if you’re a fan of Will Wheaton and his work, his voice is a character named John Juniper in this game. But it’s a fun and funny game that’s a lot about puzzle solving, using powers like telekinesis. So kind of like Psychonauts 2 in a way, which was another popular game this year, or at least let’s say critically acclaimed game. And it’s fun, you get to put on different disguises. But it’s kind of like James Bond, 1960s, a satire of it, but it is a single player game that’s a lot of fun called, I Expect You To Die 2.
So a couple of sequels in this year. And then I won’t talk much about it, but another sequel worth considering is called The Climb 2, also for Oculus Quest for $30. And that’s from Crytek. Crytek is the company that made all the crisis games a few years ago. So that’s a really fun game about climbing up like buildings, other sculptures, mountains and trying to reach the top. Often it’s timed and there’s a multiplayer sort of leaderboard. It’s not synchronous, it’s asynchronous leaderboard stuff, but really fun.
So lots of good stuff. Lots of good stuff to play.
Well, it sounds like I need to get in VR gear and check these out, Mark. Thanks for being with us today and catching us up.
Yeah. Pleasure, Mike. Happy and healthy 2022 to you.
Same to you.
Listeners, let’s hear from you. You have any comments, questions, or show ideas, you can find me on Twitter @MikeSnider. And please don’t forget, subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcasts. And don’t forget if you want tech news delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to the Talking Tech newsletter. It’s out every Thursday. Go to newsletters.usatoday.com. You’ve been listening to Talking Tech and we’ll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.