‘I spent two weeks in Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual Metaverse – it really scared me’

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    The thought of spending my entire life in a virtual reality world has always fascinated me, as has the idea of adding augmented reality to that.

    So when I was given the chance to try out the new Meta Quest 3 headset from Mark Zuckerberg's Meta company, I was more than intrigued. And now having spent two weeks using it regularly, I have gone from intrigued to scared… but also extremely impressed.

    The device launched in the UK earlier this week, with the 128GB model costing £479.99, and the 512GB model setting you back £619.99. The headset, which is technically the seventh one of its kind if you count the days when it was called the Oculus Rift – but third iteration of the Meta Quest devices – is a stunning piece of kit.

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    It doesn't look too different to its predecessor, apart from the whopping great big camera modules on the front of the headset, and the controllers no longer have to big “O” shaped holder on top. But it's the software itself where the device really shines, because, let's face it, you can't see yourself in the headset so none of that really matters.

    Slapping a great big headset on and living your life in it makes zero sense to most people, but the new front cameras make this a real possibility. The Meta user interface overlays onto the real world, so you can happily take part in the Meta world while also making sure you don't sit on your cat who will be banging their food bowl behind you if you spend more than an hour on the device.

    The Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip means that the real world/augmented world mash-up is seamless, although the actual quality of the cameras used by the device do sometimes leave the real world looking a little fuzzy – this was confirmed by my wife who also used it, so it's not my eyesight to blame.

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    The Meta world app is great, even though the meta avatars still look like the ones we all used when the Wii games console was a big thing. I do think some work needs doing on navigating around the virtual world with it, as having to use the joysticks for slightly jittery movement is not ideal – there must be a better solution than that, and it really does need to involved having feed… something missing from the Metaverse.

    Meta thankfully gave me access to some top apps and games, although I haven't yet tried all of them… such as The Cabin: Home Invasion, as the idea of that scares me. But the ones I did try, like Demoe Battles and Dungeons of Eternity really show off the unique skills you can use with the device to control it without actually using the controllers.

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    This could be a niche thing, but being able to use Whatsapp on the device was wild for me, and recording audio notes was seamless, with the quality of the messages actually proving to be better than my phone, which is no Nokia 3210 by any means. Watching TV shows was an interesting experience, as it does feel like you've got an IMAX screen glued to your head.

    It's not for everyone, and after a couple of hours of using it in one go, I did need to take a break. One thing that did freak me out a little bit, is the random appearances of other headset users, who then start talking… with their actual voices.

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    I was not expecting it, and it did scare me quite a bit at first, especially when they just randomly appear next to you in certain games and start waffling about random stuff. It takes a while to get used to, but I can see so much promise in Zuckerberg's vision for the future – although just make sure you remember to feed your pets if you're going to live permanently in the Metaverse.

    And also, maybe don't wear the device outside of your house just yet…

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