I bought a Quest 2 when bored during the pandemic and was shocked at how capable virtual reality devices have become. It inspired me to write this post so that people who are on the fence about virtual reality have some understanding of what they’re missing out on.
I got my VR headset as a 37 year old man who stopped seriously playing video games 15 years ago. Then I played games like Echo VR and BeatSaber, and I got sucked right back in. It felt like an entirely new experience and made me fall back in love with gaming.
Gaming in VR is really not like anything you’ve ever done in a 2D system. Smashing blocks in BeatSaber may seem like a cheap knockoff of Guitar Hero, but it’s an entirely different experience in a virtual world.
Here are some really crazy games you should immediately check out if you’re just getting into VR. BeatSaber, Echo VR, WalkAbout Mini Golf, Tetris Effect, HyperDash, and Gorn. And that’s just scratching the surface. VR gives you a whole new experience with first person shooters, sports, flight simulators, and more.
2) Video Content
360° and 180° video is pretty freaking insane using a VR headset.
And not just adult content (though if you’re into that, it’s equally insane, and use the DeoVR web browser for video content).
No, I’m just talking about watching 360° YouTube videos and sports in VR. It’s crazy (though admittedly there isn’t as much of it). Seriously, check out this YouTube video of the Elton John Experience when wearing a VR Headset and tell me it didn’t blow your mind.
And there’s a lot more where that came from. Here are my favorite 360° YouTube videos. And my favorite 360° music videos on YouTube. Just remember that watching these with a VR headset is a dramatically different experience than pressing play here in your web browser.
3) Exercise in VR
A few years ago, I tried and failed to get into a daily walking habit. It was kind-of sad (OK, very sad).
Enter Virtual Reality. Now I’m doing cardio that’s more intense than walking almost every night and it doesn’t feel like exercise. It feels like I’m playing fun games (because I am). Echo VR is my favorite game to play over and over that gets my heart rate up. But, check out my favorite VR games for exercise if you’re looking for more ideas.
VR is not a substitute for extreme cardio or weightlifting. That said, if you’re looking to build a light cardio routine into your life, VR is an actual godsend. If it’s between buying a $300 VR headset or a home gym, get the VR headset. Just be careful not to punch your walls.
4) Explore The Real Neighborhood in VR
There is an app called Wander on the Quest 2 that lets you load up Google Street View in VR. Sure, you have street view on your computer, so this doesn’t sound that crazy. But, trust me, it’s a much different experience in a VR headset. You will feel like you’re actually there. I did some of the following and had a blast.
- Visited some of my old homes.
- Visited my college campus.
- Visited active warzones in Ukraine (back when they were just regular neighborhoods).
- Explored my neighborhood without dogs barking at me or dealing with the elements.
5) Socialize in VR
VRChat isn’t my thing. But, I’ve met plenty of people who feel it’s THE thing to do in VR. And it’s worth checking out.
Many big corporations agree. Meta created a $10m creator fund and is hiring 10,000 VR devs just in Europe to presumably work on Horizon Worlds and compete with VRChat. So the industry definitely sees potential here.
The reason I’m not super into it is because there are way too many 13 year old boys with Quest 2’s running around for my liking. I’m a 37 year old man and don’t really have any interest in interacting with them.
That said, if you were in a VRChat room with a bunch of people that you liked it might be rather cool. There are some relaxing virtual settings available, and it seems about 10x more interactive than the zoom chats we were doing in 2020.
I’ve also met a lot of people who have extreme difficulties socializing in real life. And they love the app because it’s way easier to feel like they’re socializing without as much of the anxiety. Not for everybody, but many people that suffer from this really like virtual socializing.
6) Watch Movies in VR
I wrote an entire post about how to watch movies in VR (TLDR: use the YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime video apps).
When you do that, you’re going to be blown away by the idea that you can sit in a virtual movie theater and watch a movie on as big of a screen as you want.
The problem is the Quest 2 isn’t really the perfect headset for watching movies. The resolution of the headset isn’t high enough yet (though future headsets will fix this). However, it’s definitely worth checking out a 2d movie in VR to understand the future of how you’ll watch movies. Why buy a $2,000+ 65-inch TV when a $300 VR headset can give you a bigger screen? Also imagine watching a movie on that big a screen while on an airplane or car trip.
There’s also a way to watch content on a big screen with your friends using apps like Big Screen.
7) Work In VR
I’m annoyed that Meta tries to sell VR as a better place to work. Because as you just saw above, there are so many better applications for VR than focusing in on office work.
That said, I wrote an entire post on how to code in VR because I really do believe it’s where I’ll be doing my office work in the future. Admittedly, it sucks now because the resolution of the Quest 2 isn’t high enough to not strain your eyes. But, when better headsets come out in the future this problem will be solved.
Why do I want to work in VR? Here are a handful of reasons.
- I can have as many screens as I want, they’re free, they don’t clutter my home.
- The work setup is extremely portable, I just need to bring my VR Headset with me.
- It is a surprisingly awesome way to collaborate with others if you need to share screens.
- It provides a distraction-free environment where you can ignore the outside world and work in cool virtual places.
8) Watch Sports in VR
I wrote an entire post about how to watch live sports in VR.
Should you though? My take is that current headsets don’t offer a resolution high enough to beat your television when watching 2D sports. That said, I do believe this will be the future of watching sports. Imagine getting your friends together to watch every NFL game on Sunday in a virtual sports bar? That’s awesome and it’s already nearly possible.
That said, live 2D sports isn’t why you should check out sports in VR. No, you want to check out sports in VR because of the 180° video the Horizon Venues app produces of NBA games. It’s an entirely different way to watch a game. Here’s an example of what it might look like via YouTube.
180° and 360° viewing options for sports is something that is going to explode in popularity over the next 5 years. Just as soon as people get better at making 360 videos.
9) Learn a New Skill in VR
So on the Quest 2 there’s an app called Tribe XR that tried to teach you how to DJ using industry standard equipment.
I haven’t used the app myself, but I LOVE the concept of learning how to do things in VR. I definitely foresee all sorts of apps like this coming about in the near future when it comes to golf, cooking, painting, playing an instrument, and more.
Although as of this writing I’m not aware of too many apps that are really mind-blowing just yet when it comes to learning something new.
10) Create Your Own Virtual World
The app was a little buggy when I tried it. But, I love the concept of giving creators the tools needed to build within a 3D space. And some people have build some fairly impressive worlds with it.
Or if that’s not your thing I honestly just like the idea of using VR to be creative. There are all sorts of painting apps and music apps coming online that are really going to be game-changers in the near future.