The PlayStation Goggles are a win for gamers. Not for the Metaverse. – The Denver Post

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Ah, the “metaverse.” Will a fantasy where our office meetings and social gatherings take place mostly in virtual reality ever come true?

As a tech critic who has worn almost every pair of virtual-reality goggles released in the last seven years, I’ve been holding my breath for a long time. And based on my testing of this year’s first big hardware release in the metaverse category — Sony’s PlayStation VR2, which arrives Wednesday — I’ve concluded that VR still has a ways to go before becoming a mainstream staple for work and play.

To be clear, the PlayStation VR2, priced at $550, is one of the best pieces of VR hardware you can buy. The curvy white headset plugs into the PlayStation 5 console, which is equipped with a powerful computer to run high-resolution games more smoothly; by contrast, Meta’s VR devices, including its $400 Oculus Quest 2 and $1,500 Quest Pro, work wirelessly and rely on slower computing chips built into the headsets.

Also unlike Meta, Sony leans into the use of VR goggles only for gaming — a wise choice because, so far, games are the most popular VR applications, and productivity apps for taking video calls through headsets haven’t gained traction.

Still, none of this is enough to make VR more than a niche, even as more brands, including Apple, prepare to enter the industry. That’s because many of the problems people have had with VR headsets since the get-go — including their off-putting aesthetic and high price — remain for the PlayStation VR2 goggles. That being the case, I can recommend them to enthusiasts but not to those who play the occasional video game.

Here’s how I felt about virtual reality and the metaverse after a week of testing the PlayStation VR2.

VR has yet to find a truly killer app.

Why use VR for making video calls, streaming movies or playing games when the existing methods already work well? This is the perennial question surrounding the metaverse. Despite making progress with the technology, the new PlayStation goggles don’t offer a clear answer.

The most compelling new game I tried was Horizon Call of the Mountain, a VR spinoff of the bestselling PlayStation 4 title Horizon Zero Dawn, a postapocalyptic role-playing game. In the VR game, you control the character from a first-person perspective and can swing your arms to run around and climb mountains; you can also move your hands to grab an arrow from a quiver and shoot it with a bow.

It’s a fun game with impressive graphics that show off the hardware’s muscle, but in the end, I still preferred the gameplay and deeper story of the original Horizon Zero Dawn, which I finished years ago on the PlayStation 4.

Otherwise, a majority of VR games accompanying the device’s launch that I tested were relatively old and uninteresting. Those included Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge; Tetris Effect: Connected; and Moss, which were previously released for the older Quest 2 and first-generation PlayStation VR.

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