Back Down the VR Rabbit Hole

I had planned to do a couple more ‘first look’ posts about some Game Pass games this weekend; there’s a couple I’m curious about. But I got side-tracked in a big way: I’ve been bitten by the VR bug again.

A couple weeks back I posted about how I’d started doing VR ‘workouts’. I’m still doing those. OK it’s been 2 weeks so I’m not going to claim it’s been a lifestyle change or anything, but I have gotten into a routine. I’ve been doing the workouts Sunday, Monday, Wednesday & Thursday. Tuesday and Friday are rest days. Saturdays I do a LOT of walking with Lola so while I’m not doing a ‘workout’ I’m not resting either. Fitbit counts it as an exercise day, so all told I’m exercising 5 days/week which seems reasonable and sustainable.

And when I say workouts what I mean is “playing games that require enough movement to work up a sweat.’ The Meta Quest Move app lets you set 3 kinds of goals: sessions/week, minutes/day and number of calories burned. I set all three quite low to start. I am an old out of shape dude with a history of fatal heart attacks on my father’s side of the family tree, after all. My ‘quiver’ of games so far is Beat Saber, The Climb and Pistol Whip with Beat Saber being kind of the backbone of the routine. But generally I just play the three games until the Move app says I’ve hit my goals, then generally keep playing because I’m just having fun. For example my minutes/day is set at 20 and today I stopped at 50 minutes and then I only stopped because of real world obligations.

So far, this is working just in the sense that I feel SO much better than I have been feeling, both physically and mentally. The workouts are strenuous enough that I feel good and tired but light enough that I can get on with my day after I’m done, and rather than dreading doing them, I look forward to them. My mood has improved so much; like I didn’t realize what a cloud I’d been living under until a bit of exercise seemed to chase it away. In fact last week I had a day where the ‘old me’ returned for some reason and I was like “How did I live like this?” Happily it was just a bad day and by the next morning I was feeling good again. Maybe more importantly when I was ‘down’ I was aware that I was ‘down’ and that what I was feeling wasn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, normal.

But being in the habit of putting on the VR visor 4 times/week has had a dangerous side-effect. I’m really enjoying being ‘in’ VR worlds again and I kind of want more games to play and not just exercise games.

What’s funny is a few months ago I was telling friends about how I’m just DONE with VR. The visors are a hassle, setup is irritating and it’s just not worth it. But after a couple weeks the routine of getting into the VR world takes just a couple minutes. I shove the coffee table one way, shove an ottoman the other way and I have space in front of the couch. Putting the Quest 2 on takes just a second now. None of it feels like much of a hassle.

This weekend, I dug out the Oculus Rift 2, which I hadn’t used in ages and ages. Getting THAT set up was kind of a hassle. Meta no longer makes the Rift so I had to dig around to find the software and get it installed and all that. First I connected it to my gaming PC and had some issues with sound (this PC has given me SO many headaches around sound and I have NEVER gotten a microphone to work on it), plus there is NO space around my gaming PC. Then I decided to try it on my old gaming laptop (in the living room where I have space) and the jury is still out on whether it is really powerful enough to do the job. [Jury is no longer out. The old laptop, which is what I used to use with the Rift, just can’t put out the framerate needed for a comfortable experience. I started getting motion sick using it. Switched back to the new gaming PC and that discomfort vanished. No wonder I didn’t ‘stick’ with PC VR back in the day.]

But the brief time I used it connected to the gaming PC, I was reminded of how much better ‘connected’ VR looks compared to the Quest 2, which of course runs on a mobile processor.

All of which led me to start thinking about Playstation VR 2. I laughed when Sony announced PSVR2 because it was SO expensive, but when I compared it to PC VR headsets, it’s actually pretty affordable. For example the HTC Vive Pro 2 is $800 without controllers or the base stations you need to track it. The Valve index with the visor, controllers and base stations is $1400. Compared to that, PSVR2 $550 doesn’t seem that bad considering I already own the PS5. And the PS5 is right there where I’m doing my Quest 2 workouts so using it should be a cinch.

Next thing I know, I’m down the You Tube rabbit hole watching PSVR2 reviews, tips, and accessories videos, which is why I never got to those Game Pass titles. (Well that and a Genshin event was about to expire and it had a lot of primogems as rewards so I spent a bunch of time crunching through that.) Generally the buzz is pretty favorable with the biggest con being that the ‘sweet spot’ where the image looks best is pretty small so you may need to adjust the visor every so often to make sure is still properly aligned. I can live with that.

While I haven’t taken the plunge yet, I did order some prescription lenses for the PSVR2, which means it’s more or less a matter of “When” rather than “If” I get one. Or I guess I write off the $75 that the lenses cost me as money lost in a fit of madness. But I think I’ll be ordering PSVR2 pretty soon, and I’m excited about it.