The meta begins in the metaverse: this is how the first testers judged

Image: Meta

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Last week, Meta’s attempt to build a Metaverse platform launched Horizon Worlds. What is the American press saying?

Horizon Worlds has been open since December 9 to all citizens of the United States and Canada who are 18 years of age or older and have a Meta Quest 2 (test) or an Oculus Rift (S). Support for Meta Quest 1 will end on January 13, 2022.

The Metaverse platform has been in development for a long time and is still in beta after the North American launch. More than two years after the announcement, it was finally time to open the doors to a wider audience and possibly gain new world creators.

The last time Meta showed Horizon Worlds to the American press was in August 2020 and the impressions were average. What has been improved in the meantime and is the platform now convincing?

UploadVR: “Copy of Playroom Now What?”

Ian Hamilton can’t help but compare Horizon Worlds to the competing Metaverse platform Check-in room compare. The biggest difference is that users must log in with a Facebook account and be 18 or older and there is no 2D version for PC, consoles and smartphones. “Horizon Worlds is more or less a playroom, but without kids running around,” Hamilton writes.

Avatars play virtual paintball in Horizon Worlds.

Meta presented a virtual paintball game called Arena Clash to the American press. A similar game has existed in Rec Room for years. | Image: Meta

The tools with which you (as in Rec Room) build your own worlds are robust. You can use other people’s works, but there is no marketplace yet. Instead, Meta runs contests where designers are rewarded with cash prizes.

Horizon Worlds is approaching refinement and complexity Competitors like Rec Room and VRChat. We don’t know how things will continue and what the platform will be able to do beyond that.

On the Road to Virtual Reality: Great Tools, Few Incentives

Ben Lang calls the current Horizon Worlds a “round experience” that offers “great tools”. The base remained the same, but the systems were improved and the experience optimized.

Last time there could only be eight users in a world, now there are 20 – depending on the complexity of the scene. Another bonus are the new, more realistic avatars.

Avatars converse in a virtual living room

The new avatars are more expressive and realistic, but still cartoonish. | Image: Meta

The world building kit fully collaborative in nature: Up to four friends can work on a project at the same time and what they are doing will be synchronized in real time. “It exudes a very strong sense of co-design,” Lang writes.

Horizon Worlds already offers an “awesome global package”. Success depends on the quality of user-generated content and how easy it is to share and discover. Meta needs to create more monetary incentives for talented creators who would otherwise prefer to stick with competitors like Rec Room or Roblox.

CNET: A metaverse with many questions

Horizon Worlds is a familiar mix of Rec Room, AltspaceVR and VRChat, but the coding tools and features could set Meta’s platform apart from the competition, writes Scott Stein.

It remains to be seen how successful the company will be in moderating larger groups and avoiding toxic behavior in VR. “Meta will have to show that these new public spaces can be better controlled than other social virtual reality apps – and Facebook itself. »

The VR app is aimed at adults, but they often lend their VR glasses to their kids. It is unclear how Meta will enforce the age restriction.

The company relies on designers who share resources and develop new ideas together, but it’s not yet clear how this collaborative creativity with concepts like property and trade match.

Horizon Worlds looks lovely and familiar, but also a bit buggy and cartoonish. It’s unclear how it will stand out from the crowd of Metaverse apps.

In Worlds, you can teleport between worlds, but there’s still some work to do before Horizon Worlds feels like the social universe “just around the corner.”

Techradar: “Ready Player Meh”

Lance Ulanoff is disappointed with Meta’s first “Meh-taverse”. The avatar editor offers plenty of customization options, but not enough to create a digital likeness like this.

Ulanoff also found the worlds themselves boring: “Although some parts of Horizon Worlds are impressive, such as the spatially localizable sound, most of the environments are small and sparsely populated,” Ulanoff writes. Experiences are slow to load and none of them are “transformative”.

Program two avatars together in Horizon Worlds.

Collaboration is a strength of Horizon Worlds. Users can even program together. | Image: Meta

“The games I tried seem to have been developed by users, that’s why incredibly raw looks and the rudimentary functions explained,” writes Ulanoff. It was only in Meta’s developed hub, the Plaza, that he saw the potential in the form of better graphics, more people, and more entertaining activities.

“I wouldn’t call Horizon Worlds inspiring or impressive. The platform is sparsely populated, visually bland, and painfully small at the moment. He’s unlikely to convince anyone that the Metaverse is just around the corner,” Ulanoff concludes.

Techrunch: “Futuristic decor”

Amanda Silberling had a more positive experience. She shares how she launched paper airplanes with others and spoke to a moderator who welcomed newcomers and explained the controls. “It was an eerily beautiful experience, just admiring the futuristic landscape and listening to the people around us discuss their avatars’ outfits and do little metaverse talk,” Silberling writes.

In terms of user experience, Horizon Worlds is a great leap forward compared to the event application of Meta Horizon Venues (test). The Metaverse platform already looks more attractive and promising.

But as Horizon Worlds opens up to millions of users, Meta must first prove that it can keep things safe on a social platform like this.

What are VR enthusiasts saying?

And what are longtime VR fans saying about Horizon Worlds? Meta’s platform has met with little enthusiasm in the VR community, at least when looking at the Reddit forums.

A Reddit user named lman777 thinks Horizon Worlds has above all a Problem: Worlds just aren’t visually appealing enough. Creatives should have more design freedom and should import 3D models, similar to VRChat.

A woman looks amazed and her avatar reflects emotion.

Project Cambria captures facial expressions and transfers them to avatars. | Image: Meta

The problem: VR worlds must run smoothly on a mobile chip and be able to display many users at the same time. Technically it is a huge challenge and why the Meta Quest 1 will soon no longer be supported. The chip installed there is old and relatively slow. With the optimization for Quest 2, the worlds could become a little more complex, bigger and more beautiful.

According to The Verge, in the future it will be possible to program on a desktop computer instead of just in VR, which could lead to better gameplay interactions and mechanics. Additionally, Meta is planning a library of 3D models for Horizon Worlds, which will make it easier to decorate environments with virtual objects.

Meta’s Upcoming VR Glasses Bring More Realistic Social Interaction

Reddit user Dougwm1337 thinks it’s not the environments that make Horizon Worlds unattractive, it’s the social interactions and avatars that aren’t realistic enough. “While the current avatars are cool, it’s still like trying to socialize in combination,” writes Reddit user Dougwm1337.

Meta’s upcoming Cambria VR glasses should help, as they Eye and face tracking supports. So far, artificial intelligence has interpreted facial expressions based on body movements and microphone input.

“If face-to-face interactions were realistic enough, you wouldn’t even need interesting environments. People are infinitely interesting on their own,” says Dougwm1337.

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