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Promotional image for the Meta Quest 3: The new device is to be released in the fall

Photo: Meta

Metaverse pioneer Mark Zuckerberg wants to know it again: With postings on Facebook and Instagram, the Meta boss announced his company's new wireless digital glasses on Thursday. The so-called Quest 3 is the direct successor to Meta's most successful virtual reality (VR) glasses to date, the Quest 2. The device is scheduled for release in the fall, at a starting price of 570 euros for the standard model with 128 GB of storage space.

Much more than the Quest 2 in the summer of 2020, the new model will be staged as a "virtual and mixed reality headset", although its app offering is likely to continue to consist mainly of games and experiences in VR. In other words, from titles where you no longer perceive your real environment while playing.

The buzzword metaverse, which stands for Zuckerberg's big vision from the fall of 2021, did not fall in his current announcement. Apparently, Meta has also realized that the idea of a digital parallel world is not yet mature enough to attract the masses. In any case, »Horizon Worlds«, the company's in-house metaverse project, is still considered a huge flop.

The promotional video for the Quest 3 states that thanks to a clearer and sharper image, VR will become more "real" in the future. In a blog post, Meta speaks of its "highest-resolution display to date", but does not give any technical details. The company also raves about a "groundbreaking meta-reality". What is apparently meant by this is that you will be able to play a virtual board game on your real living room or kitchen table, for example, thanks to a corresponding overlay in the image of the cameras.

A journalist has already been allowed to try out the device

What Meta plans to do with the Quest 3 had become apparent over the weekend through hands-on impressions from Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. In it, Gurman had outlined that the Quest 3 strives for a balancing act more than its predecessor, between purely virtual worlds and applications that also include the real environment.

The so-called pass-through function has been fundamentally revised for this purpose. With the help of two RGB color cameras, it makes it possible for wearers of the actually closed glasses to see their surroundings. Mark Gurman reported after his test that he had even been able to operate a mobile phone via passthrough. With the outside view of the Quest 2, this is difficult to do. It only provides a black-and-white and very coarse-grained image of the environment.

Another improvement, according to Gurman, is that it will now be possible to determine the interpupillary distance directly with the glasses on the head via a wheel. There is also a new depth sensor on the front of the headset. It is intended to ensure the most natural-looking depth perception possible and a more accurate representation of the scope.

Eye tracking should not exist

In general, the Quest 3, which does not require a console or gaming PC to use, is said to be thinner than the Quest 2 – and noticeably more powerful thanks to its Snapdragon XR2 chip from Qualcomm. As before, the games and digital experiences are controlled with two hand controllers as standard. In their new edition, their iconic tracking ring is omitted this time. Alternatively, many apps can be controlled via hand tracking. According to Gurman's report, the Quest 3 does not offer eye tracking, unlike Playstation VR 2 and presumably also Apple's first headset.

Mark Zuckerberg's advance with the Quest 3 can be interpreted as a declaration of war in the direction of Cupertino, or at least as an attempt to swim in the hype waters of the upcoming Apple presentation. In all likelihood, the iPhone company will present its first mixed reality headset to the public next Monday. It is expected to be a premium product that will run both VR and augmented reality apps and could cost five to six times more than the Quest 3.

Meta, on the other hand, is aimed at gamers and technology fans who cannot and do not want to afford such an expensive device. In the back of its mind, the company probably also has the low interest in its Quest Pro, a professional VR headset. The headset, where Meta has already experimented with a pass-through function in color, cost 1800 euros when it was launched last year. This was a price that apparently deterred even many companies and tech enthusiasts.

In the meantime, Meta has reacted to this, the company now offers the Quest Pro for 1200 euros. Meanwhile, 2 euros are being called up for the Quest 450. And from Sunday, it will be 350 euros.

It was also about new VR games

You will probably be able to have fun with the previous model for some time to come. After Zuckerberg unveiled the new headset in the afternoon, his company presented more than a dozen new games in the evening, which will be released for both the Quest 2 and the Quest 3. A real killer app, for which gamers would have to buy one of the two VR glasses immediately, was rather not included, although some well-known brands appeared, such as the manga series "Attack on Titan", which is getting a VR adaptation.

Also shown were a third part of the puzzle game "I Expect You To Die" with the addition "Cog in the Machine" as well as a new game in the world of the Netflix series "Stranger Things", in which you slip into the role of villain Vecna. The second part of the action game »Arizona Sunshine«, in which you fight your way through a zombie world together with a virtual dog and, if desired, at the side of human comrades-in-arms, was also presented. Briefly teased, but not yet really shown, was a VR offshoot of the traditional Ubisoft series "Assassin's Creed". Details about »Assassin's Creed Nexus VR« will follow at a Ubisoft event in June.

As a new flagship title, especially for the Quest 3, Meta positioned a successor to the adventure game "Asgard's Wrath". The first part was released in 2019 and was considered a state-of-the-art production at the time, showing what was possible in VR – similar to "Horizon: Call of the Mountain" in the case of Playstation VR 2. However, the game was a PC-only VR title for Oculus Rift and Rift S. If you wanted to try it out with these glasses or the first Quest glasses, you absolutely needed a powerful gaming PC. »Asgard's Wrath« remained more of an insider tip than a phenomenon for the masses.

In part two, four heroines and heroes will once again take on gods and mythical creatures, including in ancient Egypt. The "biggest, most epic VR action role-playing game ever" with over 60 hours of gameplay is promised full-bodied. On Quest 3 it is supposed to run in a higher resolution than on Quest 2. »Asgard's Wrath 2« is scheduled for release in winter.

You can watch a recording of Meta's gaming showcase with all the new features here.