Xbox VR: Everything you need to know

VR technology has been developing at a rapid pace in recent years. Virtual reality is gaining popularity and is no longer just a technology from sci-fi movies, as VR sales posts are trending upwards. 

That being said, Xbox fans were right to be a little disappointed that Microsoft did not have their back in this regard, unlike Sony, which is currently releasing its second version of the VR headset. Is that going to change this year? Or do Xbox gamers have other options? Let’s find out! 

 

Xbox VR goggles by Microsoft 

The news of the VR goggles rumbled like a clap of thunder, and gamers hoping for a Microsoft virtual reality release had their eyes flashed like a child receiving a coveted toy. It’s all thanks to Italy’s IGN, whose staff were prompted to upgrade their VR headset after connecting the Xbox Wireless Headset to the console. To IGN’s editors, it didn’t seem like a simple error, as subsequent messages even spoke of a VR update being available.

It might have seemed like a matter of time before Microsoft made an official stance on the new VR goggles, and after all, such information could not have found its way into the software by accident. As it happened, the corporation was quick to respond to the reports and briefly summarised them: it was just a localisation error. There will be no VR headset for the Xbox, at least not anytime soon. 

According to the Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, during an interview in the 2021 Wall Street Journal magazine:

 

“I think that when we think about immersion, we think about mixed reality, virtual reality, I’ll even take it to ‘metaverse,’ which seems to be the buzzword of the day now, (…) “We’re big believers in that software platform and the devices that will enable that, absolutely, [but] we’re focused a lot more on the software side of that right now. When I think about immersive worlds and I think about the connection of a player and community, that’s something that’s very high on our investment list ”.

 

Does this mean Microsoft is giving up on Xbox VR altogether? Not necessarily. Development of the headset was to be put on hold until better technology was available. Despite their not-inconsiderable capabilities, PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are limited by bulky cables and wireless adapters often cost as much as the HMD itself. Microsoft aims for higher, looking to start straight away with wireless headsets. There is some logic to this. After all, VR has failed to conquer the consumer market, or at least not to the extent expected. Virtual reality may become a mainstream hit, but it probably will not happen in the current generation.

 

Microsoft HoloLens 2

Whilst Microsoft has not officially announced that it is developing a VR headset for the Xbox console, it has been involved in the technology in some ways. Microsoft collaborated with Valve and HP to design the HP Reverb G2 VR headset and released its mixed reality headset, HoloLens. 

Microsoft didn’t create VR hardware for gaming, but it has released its specialised goggles for industrial use. The HoloLens 2 is an ergonomic, wireless, standalone holographic device with enterprise-ready applications, allowing you to work more accurately and efficiently. However, at the same time is astonishingly expensive ($3,500), making it unaffordable for consumer gaming. It’s not even designed to fully immerse you in virtual reality, or, for that matter, a mixed reality experience that relies on augmented reality technology.

As we read on the manufacturer’s website, they are designed to allow you to work with your head elevated and hands-free, and therefore work longer and more comfortably, as well as safely and without errors. What’s more, this piece of hardware allows you to connect with colleagues in other locations and work with holograms to solve problems in real-time.

However, these are purely industrial augmented reality goggles for use in industry, unfortunately including the military. In November 2018, Microsoft was awarded a contract to supply the US Army with 100,000 HoloLens goggles, which were to be used to “enhance the lethality, mobility and spatial awareness needed to dominate […] modern and future adversaries”. Just before the start of MWC 2019, more than fifty employees wrote a letter to Microsoft director Satya Nadella indicating that they refused to develop solutions for war, combat, and oppression. In the end, Microsoft abandoned the development of HoloLens 3, leaving doubts about its future involvement in VR.

 

Does this mean that Xbox console owners must forget about VR entertainment? 

Fortunately, it’s not so bad. Microsoft console owners can stop nervously clutching their Xbox custom pads, the road to VR gaming is not completely closed for them! The Xbox Series X and S do not officially support any VR goggles. There is also currently no Xbox software that supports any VR modes. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the world of VR-Gaming is off-limits to Xbox Series X custom controller owners. 

You can connect third-party goggles to your Xbox console. It was also confirmed at the Meta Connect 2022 event that Xbox games would be available in virtual reality. According to IGN, Meta has confirmed that the Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta service will be coming to the Meta Quest Store. We will be able to call up the service, but it will appear as a 2D card. Gamers would need to connect an Xbox custom pad to a headset to play games from the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate library. It is not yet known when exactly the feature will come to virtual reality, as no date, even an indicative one, has been given.

 

What are the best VR goggles for Xbox? 

Below, you will find some of the most popular VR goggles that you have the option to connect to your Xbox console and indulge in unlimited VR gaming adventures. 

 

Popular goggles for Xbox One and Xbox X Series 

  • HTC Vive Pro VR Goggles – The VIVE Pro VR Goggles are a refined virtual reality headset created by HTC that has very positive feedback from users. 
  • Oculus Quest 2 128 GB VR goggles – A slightly cheaper variant from acclaimed VR hardware company, Oculus. 
  • Sony PlayStation VR2 goggles – yes, you can also use competing goggles from Sony on Microsoft hardware.
  • HTC Vive Cosmos Elite VR goggles – gamers value these for a great VR-gaming experience, with great image and sound quality.

 

How do I configure the console, so it can be used with VR goggles? 

 

Let’s use an example well described by the manufacturer, the Meta Quest VR goggles from Oculus in partnership with Microsoft. 

 

Configuration in a few steps: 

  1. Charge the goggles — to start, plug the power cord into the Meta Quest goggles and a power source to start charging.
  2. Download the Meta Quest mobile app and create an account with it.
  3. Adjust the goggle fit and view – gently adjust the lenses by moving them left and then right until they are in the position where you can best see the screen and then the sidebars. Once you’ve moved the sliders, centre the top bar between the sliders again so that the distances on either side are equal, and the top bar is in the middle of your head when you put the goggles on.
  4. Start your VR gaming adventure. 

 

How do I configure my Xbox controller to be used with the goggles? 

The Xbox Series X custom controller is an optional controller that you can use with your VR device. 

 

Wireless Xbox pad configuration:

  1. Insert 2 AA batteries into the compartment on the back of the controller.
  2. Connect the Xbox wireless adapter to your computer. If the USB port you are using is behind the computer, you can use a USB extension cable.
  3. Press the sync button on the Xbox wireless adapter. The LED light will start flashing.
  4. Hold down the Xbox button on the controller. The Xbox button will start flashing slowly.
  5. Hold down the sync button on the controller until the Xbox button starts flashing faster. The button will stop flashing when pairing is complete.

 

VR gaming – conclusion 

Although Microsoft is behind the competition when it comes to VR hardware, as a gamer, you do have a few options to try this type of gaming. Yet, if you prefer not to spend money on non-premium hardware, you can always create an Xbox controller and wait for better VR times.

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