Image Credit: Cloudhead Games
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When I asked my extended family what they wanted to play on the Meta Quest 3 during the holidays, they asked me what I had to show them. To simplify things, I said I have a “meditation game” and a “shooting game.”
To my surprise, most of them said they wanted to play the shooting game. And perhaps not so surprising: The Meta Quest 3 was the gaming platform that they came back to over and over again. I gave them a choice between the meditation game of Tripp, where you can experience a kind of interactive psychedelic experience and Pistol Whip, the shooting game in virtual reality. Only a couple chose the meditation game, while they came back over and over to play Pistol Whip.
We had a wide ranger of people at the family gathering, equally split between men and women. We had a 10-year-old girl and a 90-year-old matriarch. I had to simplify things because we didn’t have a lot of time for each game demo, and certainly not enough time for anyone to learn something complicated. On that front, the newer and more popular Gorilla Tag lost out because it was a bit tough to figure out at the outset. These players needed something that they could learn in a few seconds. Of course, shooting won.
With Pistol Whip, the gameplay is pretty intuitive. You put two controllers in your hand and can shoot with one of them. You point at the Start button, squeeze the trigger, and it starts, after I set it up and get them ready with the headset. Then the enemies come at them in a game on rails, and the player has to shoot them. After six bullets, you reload by pointing the controller down and back up. It’s a fast-moving game, and you have to dodge the bullets coming at you and bend to the side or duck to avoid obstacles.
We inevitably laughed as one of our family members started moving and dodging while wearing the headset as the rest of us chuckled. And with the mixed reality imagery, the family member wearing the headset could often see the rest of us while they were prepping to get into a game. That probably added to the comfort of wearing something that could block their vision of the rest of us.
They always came out sweaty, though some who were better at the game got much better workouts. Pistol Whip is great for workouts, and it proved more popular than Beat Saber, which only a couple of family members tried. Beat Saber isn’t quite as accessible, I guess, as you have to learn how to move and slice things with a bit more accuracy. If I had my own choice for a game to show off with unlimited time, I would have chosen Asgard’s Wrath 2 on the Meta Quest 3.
Only one family member reported getting a little nauseous — far fewer than in years past. That speaks to the quality of imagery on the Meta Quest 3, and it’s a good sign that Meta is on the right path when it comes to dealing with motion sickness in VR.
I tried to show off some other games like Woorld and National Geographic, but the experience wasn’t accessible right off the bat and so the players gave up pretty quickly.
Dave the Diver on the Lenovo Legion
While the family was playing the VR game, I played Dave the Diver on the Lenovo Legion, which is like a big handheld PC. It’s a full PC that is more like a Steam Deck or a Switch. It was pretty easy to start up and resume, though it often had trouble figuring out if I was playing the game with a game controller or with a mouse. The screen looked amazing, but it didn’t auto-resolve the size of the game to the size of the screen. So it wasn’t quite as easy to play as a Nintendo Switch.
But the Lenovo Legion is quite a beautiful machine. I’ve lined it up to play other Steam titles and have been switching on and off between my desktop and the Legion. It didn’t attract quite as much attention as the Meta Quest 3, but it is pretty spectacular in its own way.
Games on the Nintendo Switch
The gamers in the group gravitated to the big screen TV, where they plugged in a Nintendo Switch. They played four-player versions of Mario Kart, with race after race. I joined in and was singularly bad at the game, though I usually didn’t wind up in last place. They also tried a few rounds of Super Smash Bros., but that was a bit more confusing and so they quit that one early.
Of course, there were lots of tabletop games that we played that had nothing to do with technology. The board gamers pulled out one of the gifts — Splendor. And the 10-year-old pulled together crowds to play the latest version of Exploding Kittens. And we ended one night playing a few games of War with traditional playing cards. It’s really hard to beat such games for easy-to-learn accessibility.
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