3 VR headsets might be a few too many, but I can't help it. I really love VR. Here, let me explain.
I'd had an interest in virtual reality ever since it first became big in the early to mid 90's. The arcade game Dactyl was featured on Newton's Apple, I think. And that intrigued me greatly. Movies like Lawnmower Man, Tron, and The Last Starfighter only strengthened that interest. Sadly where I live VR arcade never caught on. The local arcade tried to get a copy of Dactyl, but it was too expensive and by then the home console market was starting to drive arcades out of business. The local arcade had 6 or 7 older arcade cabnets, and the rest by then was ski ball, coin dozers, and ticket giving 'skill games'. I'd heard of the Oculus kickstarter, but at the time I didn't have any disposable income. And when the Oculus Rift officially launched it was simply too damn expensive. Not that I had a PC that could handle VR. At the time I was using a Radeon X300 graphics card, I think. And even that nearly broke my budget.
It wasn't until January of 2019 that I finally got to experience virtual reality. And like the rest of us, I was blown away by it. I'd gotten a PSVR, two Move controllers, and a couple VR titles (one of them being Resident Evil 7) for only a hundred or so dollars. So not that much more expense added to the PS4 that I'd just picked up. Even then I knew that PSVR was a stopgap for me. I had my eyes set on PCVR. Don't get me wrong, PSVR is great. But the Move controllers lacking a d-pad or analog stick make more active games like Borderlands or Arizona Sunshine a pain. Especially Borderlands. They are perfectly functional, but movement gets awkward. Still, even this was enough to hook me. I've spent so much time browsing the Playstation store looking at the various VR titles. So many I wanted, but I just wasn't sure if I could justify buying them since PSVR was suppose to be an interm until I got a PC capable of handling VR and a 'real' VR headset.
And so I sucked it up and ordered a custom built PC from Alienware with the express purpose of having a VR capable computer. Initially while customizing the tower I was going to buy I'd gotten the best of everything. Then I looked at the total price, and scaled back my plans a lot. I looked for cost saving things I could cut back on that wouldn't impact my intended use. I almost went with a 1080ti or 2080ti, but that build required water cooling. And I'm kind of wary about water cooling. What if the hose or reservoir develop a leak? Wouldn't that fry my computer? So instead I went with the best option that wouldn't require water cooling, two crossfire enabled RX 580 cards. Which was just as well since I've favored AMD ever since I tried buying a nividia graphics card back around 2006 and spent two weeks fighting with the drivers to get them to install. A problem I've never had with AMD drivers.
Still, I had a VR ready desktop. The only problem was I didn't have a 'real' VR headset. What I did have was a $6,000 computer I needed to pay off. This of course delayed getting a VR headset. Then the holiday shortages occurred, then the pandemic... But I was going to get a VR headset. After doing research, I ended up concluding I would get an Oculus Quest for the dual reason of it's tracking was suppose to be good and it was affordable. I could pay for it in a month or two. Of course, pandemic. Nobody had them in stock except scalpers, and even they were running out of stock. Plus I was too damn impatient, so I ended up paying $799 for a 128 gig Oculus Quest. Er, make that "pay it off in 3 or 4 months".
It arrived in late April and immediately I was in love. I was disapointed to realize I couldn't use it for wireless PCVR like I'd thought. But I was having too damn much fun to care about that. And I'd found a way to play Steam VR games wirelessly, opening things up even more. I heard about Oculus Link, and did research into what type of cable to get for it. Ironically about a week after my official Link cable arrived Oculus released an update that let you use the pack-in charging cord with Oculus Link too. *shrug* Oh well. The official cable is longer, so that's good. Don't get me wrong, I love my Quest and use it pretty much every day. At the very least I play Beat Saber for about 15 to 20 minutes for a workout. It's quickly become my favorite way to even play non-VR games. There's just something special about playing flat screen games on a movie theater screen. 🙂
I'll admit, I didn't realize Facebook owned Oculus until my Quest arrived and I saw "From Facebook" on the box. If I'd known this in advance it might have affected which headset I initially bought. When I read the Terms of Service (should have done so before placing the order) I winced. Then I realized I'd have to agree to use my new device. So I sucked it up and signed up for an Oculus Account. Again being honest, I overlooked a few things when reading the ToS. In my defense it was 3am and I'd been up 70 hours at that point in time. When it was anounced that social features and Venues were locked behind linking a facebook account, I initially refused because it's a Facebook account and I was aware of how Facebook treats the privacy of their users. Not to mention the slipshod cyber security of Facebook it's self.
Then I reread the Oculus privacy agreement. At this point I realized that I wasn't somehow protecting my personal data from Facebook by not linking my Facebook account. Oculus was sharing all that data already, so the only thing I was doing was denying myself access to social features and Oculus Venue. If I'd known back in April what I do now, I probably would have gotten an Index or Vive instead. But you know what they say about spilled milk. And I do love my Quest. Unless they really impress me in the future, I'm probably not going to get another Oculus device, and I'm going to start buying my Quest games that aren't exclusive on Steam too so if/when my Quest dies I can still play them, but I do love my Quest and don't regret buying it. Regret buying it from a scalper, sure. But not buying the Quest it's self.
And now I have an HTC Vive Cosmos Elite that just arrived yesterday. I can't use it yet since I've discovered my tower has no USB 3.0 slots. I've ordered a USB 3.0 hub that plugs into USB C, which will get here in roughly six days. Not going to be selling my Quest though. Beyond the fact that I haven't duplicated my Quest library in Steam yet, it's usable for PCVR games that require a mouse/keyboard control scheme. The Cosmos on the other hand is only really usable in my main 'roomscale' play space. The Quest's touch controllers also look like they'll provide more control methods then the vive wands. The button layout is easier to access, and I'm having some doubts about the circle pad on the vive wands. Might work out fine, but I'm concerned. Still, I will be using all three VR headsets going forward. Each has it's pros and cons, as well as exclusive VR titles.
Between social apps like VR Chat or Altspace VR, public theaters like Venue, and social platforms like Rec Room and the upcoming Horizon it really is a community. Not just faceless people on a forum, but people that you get to know while out in the public. All without ever leaving your home. There are arena games where you can find a heated rival or staunch allies. Co-op adventures where you team up with real people, and they're not just a voice. They are emoting, you can see them emoting. Want a solo experience? The community is there to help you find good ones. There's MMOs that go beyond just mindlessly following someone as you spam a set sequence of attack animations. And we're just scratching the surface of what is possible in this wondrous medium. What will the future hold? I don't know, but it's going to be exciting, isn't it?
I guess what I'm trying to say with this essay is that I, like everyone else on this forum am now a VR enthusiast. Sure I'm new to VR, but I've fallen just as much in love with it as everyone else. We are VR, not Oculus, not Valve, not HTC, not HP, and not any other hardware manufacturer. We are what make VR so special. Our passion for this medium elevates it from being a 'mere' gimmicky platform to something profound. And we shouldn't let controversies like the current Facebook Login thing ruin the magic of virtual reality. Regardless of what headset you use, realize that you're part of a larger community. And that community is something amazing. We are VR, and that's more then just 'okay'. It's a grand thing.