Meta, previously known as only Facebook, laid off more than 11,000 employees this month as the tech sector showed signs of slowing. But it’s still on track to spend billions on virtual reality this year.
The company doesn’t plan on turning off the tap anytime soon. So I strapped on a headset (kindly provided by Meta) to check out what’s been drawing most people to this metaverse — video games.
The Meta Quest 2’s offerings initially exceeded expectations. Years ago, I borrowed a friend’s Quest to dabble with knockout rhythm game, “Beat Saber.” It didn’t disappoint when I revisited it, this time jamming out to a new playlist from Lizzo.
Other experiences didn’t quite land. “Iron Man VR” thrilled me as I soared through the stratosphere, battling robots that attacked Tony Stark’s private jet mid-flight. But while my headset was in the clouds, my feet were on solid ground — and the cognitive dissonance left me paralyzed with motion sickness.
In “SUPERHOT VR,” time only moves when you do, allowing you to dodge bullets and pull off amazing action stunts. (Courtesy of SUPERHOT Team)
After an hour in Iron Man’s metal shoes, I worried that virtual reality may not be for me. But that same night, I fell in love with “SUPERHOT VR.” The game throws you into intense action set-pieces. Faceless, polygonal goons charge you with knives, hammers and guns. It’s up to you to beat them all and proceed to the next minimalist level.
But here’s the catch: In “SUPERHOT,” time only moves when you do. So as a barrage of bullets lurches toward you in slow-motion, you have precious seconds to think about how you’ll deal with each and every threat around you. You might have to throw a dog bowl at the first guy, a hammer at the next, then pick up a pistol that went flying to turn on the third goon.
It’s an experience that works out your brain and even your body, and it got me so immersed that I accidentally punched my TV and tripped over my couch. But injuries aside, it proved to me how unparalleled an experience virtual reality can be.
“WHAT THE BAT?” gives you two baseball bats and funny puzzles to solve in the most absurd ways. (Courtesy of Triband)
So with my faith in the platform restored (and with my motion sickness, over time, largely quelled), I got to try many other games for the Meta Quest 2. Here are some of my favorites for newcomers:
- “SUPERHOT VR”: By turns tactical and frenetic, the only thing I have against it is the physical space it requires to really get the most from it.
- “WHAT THE BAT?”: From the makers of the excellent comedy game “What the Golf,” each level of “What the Bat” essentially plays out as its own joke. With nothing but baseball bats in both hands, you’ll find ways to brush an elephant’s teeth, fly paper airplanes and generally wreck mayhem.
- “Among Us VR”: While internet connection issues occasionally spoiled this game, it’s a worthy follow-up to the social deduction phenomenon that caught fire in 2020.
- “Beat Saber”: There’s a good reason Meta often offers this game for free with their Quest 2 headset. It’s brilliantly accessible, and it makes you feel like you’re doing cyberwarrior ballet — even if your sick moves look laughable in real life.
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