Tech

What to expect from VR in 2019

Every year, virtual reality technology gets a tiny step closer to that Star Trek Holodeck dream, and 2018 was no exception. With the release of the affordable Oculus Go and the ultra high-end Vive Pro—along with countless other headsets—this year saw VR tech make promising strides towards being a system that anyone would want to own. But what’s in store for 2019?

Oculus’ ambitious new headset the Quest will meld the portability of mobile hardware with most of the tracking accuracy of high-end PC VR, an important step towards VR really breaking into the mainstream. Prices will likely keep coming down, and there are some big, exciting VR games coming that do things that just wouldn’t be the same outside of virtual reality. Here’s what to expect from VR in 2019.

The Oculus Quest could make VR go mainstream 

The spring of 2019 could be a pivotal moment for VR if Facebook can really deliver on the promises fuelling its new standalone headset, the Oculus Quest. Unlike the Rift, the Quest won’t need a powerful PC, but its features far exceed anything we’ve seen from a portable headset to date. Namely, the Oculus Quest sports 6DOF room-scale tracking over the Go’s 3DOF. That means the Quest will not only track you while you tilt and rotate your head, but can also detect you moving your head forward, back, up, and down—exactly the same way the Rift does.

Well, not exactly the same way. The Quest also sports brand new inside-out tracking built into the headset to follow your movement around a room. You won’t have to place IR sensors in your play space because the Quest has built in cameras that map the room and track your movement through it. It’s impressive sounding stuff made even more so because the Quest also comes packaged with two fully tracked motion controllers. It’s essentially the entire Rift experience without having to shelve out for a PC. But that lack of a dedicated GPU will have its drawbacks: Powered by the same CPU found in the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Quest will still meet acceptable minimum standards for fidelity and performance but it won’t compare to a proper PC-powered VR setup. Crucially, though, many games already available on the Rift will run on the Quest, too.

Considering that the Quest will ship for $400 (the same price as the Rift currently), that’s still the most enticing offer on a fully featured headset. Ever. If VR gaming has needed a champion to help it break out into the mainstream, the Oculus Quest is the best candidate by far—a close to perfect intersection of price, features, and accessibility that makes a strong argument for finally jumping into VR. We’ll have to wait until the Oculus Quest ships in spring of 2019 to know for sure, though. 

Playstation VR will continue to be the best for exclusive games… 

PSVR is far from the best headset on the market but it does have two things going for it: A cheap price tag and a manufacturer hungry to secure exclusives anywhere it can. Requiring only a PS4 to use, PSVR is one of the most accessible ways to get into VR and Sony has sweetened the deal with one of the best library of games out there. With hit exclusives like Tetris Effect, Astro Bot: Rescue Bot, Borderlands 2 VR, and Resident Evil 7, there’s a lot to love about the PSVR library that you can’t find anywhere else.

That probably won’t change any time soon, either. PSVR continues to succeed on the back of Sony’s aggressive pursuit of exclusives. In 2019 and beyond, over 50 games are in development for PSVR along with several exclusives like Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown and Everybody’s Golf, and Media Molecule’s Dreams.

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