RIP: Google Has Abandoned Its Daydream VR Platform

RIP Google Daydream (November 2016 – October 2019).

Sad news out of New York this morning as Google confirms it has discontinued the production of its Daydream View VR headset and will not be providing VR support for its upcoming Pixel 4, effectively killing the Daydream platform in the process.

While speaking to several news outlets following today’s event in New York, Google confirmed that beginning today, they will cease sales of the Daydream View headset and will no longer be integrating the Daydream platform onto future Pixel smartphones or any other Android devices. 

Image Credit: Google Inc.

“We are no longer certifying new devices,” a Google spokesperson confirmed to VentureBeat.

“There hasn’t been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we’ve seen decreasing usage overtime of the Daydream View headset,” added an additional spokesperson according to Verge. Although the system had potential, “we noticed some clear limitations constraining smartphone VR from being a viable long-term solution,” said the spokesperson. “Most notably, asking people to put their phone in a headset and lose access to the apps they use throughout the day causes immense friction.”

Originally announced in May 2016 at Google’s annual I/O conference, the Daydream VR platform launched later that year on the original Pixel smartphone, offering users one of the first quality mobile VR experiences. Over the next three years, Google would go one to provide mild support for the platform via occasional updates to software and content and an expanding lineup of compatible devices; the even released a “1.5” update to the original model.

Unfortunately, the platform — as well as devices such as the Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset, would fail to capture the interest of mainstream audiences. While it’s unclear what the final nail in the coffin actually was, it’s highly-likely the high price of certain apps and limited content played as major factors. Earlier this year the company confirmed that its new Pixel 3A would not receive Daydream support; as was the case with every other phone released in 2019.

Image Credit: Google Inc.

During the 2018 Google I/O event, the company demonstrated a major shift in interest away from VR in favor of augmented reality. There, the company teased several new AR-related updates on their way to a handful of its proprietary apps, as well as its very own platform, ARCore. Since then, the company has doubled-down on its commitment to AR, adding augmented functionality to Google Search, Google Maps, Google Lens, and a variety of other software. 

With the death of the Daydream platform, Google’s only vested interests in VR appear to be its popular 3D VR art app, Tilt Brush, and its timeless Google Cardboard headsets. While I am going to miss the serene tranquility of the Daydream home environment, I am excited to see where Google decides to take the technology next now that it’s focused almost solely on AR.

Feature Image Credit: Google Inc.

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The Avengers Location-Based VR Game Made Me Feel Like An Actual Marvel Superhero

The VOID’s 20-minute hyper-reality experience is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish.

Last week we had the chance to check out Marvel’s Avengers: Damage Control, a new location-based VR experience from ILMxLAB that’s heading to select VOID centers October 18th. Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Damage Control throws fans into an epic superhero battle, during which they’ll fight side-by-side alongside a handful of famous Avengers.

Here’s the situation: Ultron, the evil self-replicating artificial intelligence we thought destroyed in Avengers: Age of Ultron, is actually alive and has been taking advantage of the chaotic events surrounding the Infinity Stones to rebuild his robot army undetected. When the ruthless supervillain attacks a Wakandan Outreach Center, it’s up to you and three other friends to step-up and join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in saving the world. To fend off this massive invading force, you’ll need to harness the power of Shuri’s prototype Emergency Response Suits, an advanced Iron Man-like armor built using a combination of Wakandan and Stark technology.

Unlike many other location-based experiences featured at The VOID, Avengers: Damage Control relies entirely on hand-tracking when it comes to player interaction. Whereas Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire and Ralph Breaks VR featured heavy-use of physical weaponry, Damage Control instead had us interacting with the world via hand gestures. By holding out our palms towards enemies, we were able to fire a series of powerful pulse lasers; by raising our arms in front of our bodies, we engaged a holographic shield capable of absorbing enemy fire. After blocking enough shots and storing enough energy, we could then extend both our hands forward to fire a series of auto-targeting projectiles, taking out entire groups of bad guys at once. 

While the tracking felt slightly buggy during some of the more chaotic moments, firing pulse beams at bad guys and blocking incoming fire like Iron Man felt completely surreal. Unlike other, more linear location-based experiences, ILMxLAB wanted to ensure that Damage Control had players scanning the entirety of their environment in 360-degrees. Along with combat, your hands play a large factor when interacting with the physical set.

Image Credit: ILMxLAB

In order to progress through certain stages of the experience, we had to interact with buttons, railings, and several other physical elements. While this did increase the overall immersion of the experience, it does, however, introduce several concerns over safety. While other VOID experiences featured physical weaponry or light hand interaction, Damage Control relies entirely on rapid hand gestures. Visitors, especially younger children, could very easily end up hitting their arms and hands on the many different physical set pieces scattered around the environment. Thankfully, I think most visitors will be too busy soaking in all the incredible visuals to notice the searing pain.

Over the course of the nearly 20-minute experience, Damage Control took us across a generous helping of memorable locations within the Marvel Cinematic Universe; all of which enhanced by a variety of impressive haptic technology and immersive elements. For instance, one of the earlier levels had us at the home of Doctor Strange (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), a multi-level townhouse located in NYC. While walking through the familiar halls of his Sanctum Santorum, we could actually grab hold of the ancient wooden banister leading us to the hero magician. As we traveled past an open window, we could feel the cold wind and wetness hit our faces as the harsh winter conditions spilled into the hallway. 

Image Credit: ILMxLAB

In another portion of the experience, we teamed-up with Antman and Wasp (voiced by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly) as we defended against a wave of Ultron forces at the airport featured in Captain America: Civil War. During one particularly memorable sequence, we were actually treated to scent-based immersion, similar to that featured in Ralph Breaks VR. While I won’t spoil exactly what this portion of the experience entails, I will say it makes great use of Antman’s specific abilities and is, without doubt, one of my favorite moments from the experience.

Another great portion is an action-packed chase sequence in which my team and I piloted several escape pods while blasting airborne enemies. While one teammate piloted the craft using a physical steering wheel, I leaned out the side door and took shots at a handful of bad guys; I could actually feel the wind on my face as I dangled outside the escape pod. 

Image Credit: ILMxLAB

Avengers: Damage Control is the longest and arguably most action-packed location-based VR experience to be featured at The VOID so far. The use of hand-tracking technology in favor of physical weaponry adds a certain uniqueness to the experience, one that sets itself apart from past immersive releases. That being said, the experience could have used more interesting hand-based interactions. Apart from several brief encounters with basic buttons, Damage Control’s use of hand-tracking technology extended almost exclusively to combat. Whereas Ralph Breaks VR featured a variety of hand-based challenges, puzzles, and other elements to interact with, Damage Control is focused more on simple, extravagant set pieces and fast-paced combat. 

And while there were moments of the experience that made great use of scent and temperature-based haptics, they all felt as though they were mere afterthoughts. Unlike Ghostbusters: Dimensions or Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, the haptic elements featured in Damage Control feel like they were shoehorned in during development as opposed to incorporated organically into the experience. 

Image Credit: ILMxLAB

“We’re always looking for new stories and corners of the universe for our characters to explore,” said Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, in an official release. “Now, after more than a decade of amazing support, we are excited to give fans the same opportunity: to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Expanding how people can experience the MCU is something we’re always trying to do, and in Avengers: Damage Control, we wanted to give fans the chance to suit up alongside some their favorite heroes for the first time ever.”

“The opportunity to bring such a beloved universe alive through immersive storytelling has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” added Shereif Fattouh, Senior Producer, ILMxLAB. “Avengers: Damage Control lets you feel what it’s like to shoot repulsor blasts with your own two hands, suited up in Shuri’s latest technology. This original adventure allows you to go beyond the screen, and become a character in the story itself.”

Image Credit: ILMxLAB

Avengers: Damage Control will be available at the following VOID locations beginning October 18th:

  • Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, CA
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Mall of America – Minneapolis, MN
  • Cinemark – Plano, TX
  • World Trade Center – New York, NY
  • The Battery – Atlanta, GA
  • Genting Highlands – Malaysia
  • The Rec Room at Round House Park – Toronto, Canada
  • The Rec Room at Square One Shopping Centre – Ontario, Canada
  • The Rec Room at the West Edmonton Mall – Edmonton, Canada

Tickets are available for purchase now through The VOID.

Feature Image Credit: ILMxLAB

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Can Virtual Reality Stop Sexual Harassment Before It Starts?

Virtual reality can potentially improve the quality of sexual harassment prevention training.

Combatting sexual harassment in the workplace is no easy feat. This pervasive form of violence continues to affect the lives of women around the world. However, virtual reality might be able to change this. Although the burgeoning technology is in its infancy, it has the potential to be an effective solution for sexual harassment prevention training.

It has been over 40 years since Michelle Vinson, then a 23-year-old bank teller, sued the bank’s branch manager. The Supreme Court ruled in her favor, stating that sexual harassment was a form of discrimination that violated her civil liberties. Still, we hear about the same abuses to this day. From government officials to Hollywood superstars, sexual harassment continues to be a pervasive problem in society.

Could virtual reality be the systemic solution we need for this systemic problem?

The Effectiveness of Sexual Harassment Training

Research shows that 45% of female employees in technical fields have reported sexual harassment in the workplace. Around 35% of women in the US corporate scene have experienced it at some point in their careers. In the same survey, 98% of the companies that were surveyed had sexual harassment policies. However, only 32% of women from these companies feel that inappropriate behaviors are addressed efficiently.

Currently, preventive training solutions include HR-led programs and digital resources from videos, slideshows, and texts. Burgeoning technologies such as virtual reality might deliver more effective results. Since VR is an immersive technology, it has the capacity to show its users first-hand experiences of sexual harassment. Compared to ordinary videos, VR headsets produce a visceral feeling of being in an uncomfortable circumstance.

Simply put, VR creates empathetic experiences. Users feel similar emotional responses that victims of sexual harassment feel in a real-life setting.

How VR Improves Sexual Harassment Training

Regatta VR is an example of a VR training initiative aimed at sexual harassment prevention. It leverages the technology’s immersive properties to mimic real-life scenarios of discrimination and harassment. The company hopes to make HR realize that sexual harassment training isn’t merely a box-ticking exercise.

“Sexual harassment training in the workplace has to be about more than checking boxes or dealing with incidents to be effective,” Regatta VR told us in a statement. “It needs to focus on prevention, on starting a conversation about how men and women can work productively together.”

In the Party Gone Wrong module, users see life from the eyes of a woman. They follow the perspectiveof a female employee after a company event. There, a male co-coworker appears to be too aggressive and intimidating. She reaches out to another male colleague who then helps her out of that situation. Throughout the program, the perspective shifts from the female employee to the second male co-worker. In doing so, trainees learn how to respond appropriately to the aggressor.

Another module puts trainees in the shoes of a supervisor. In this scenario, an employee tells you that your boss just hit on her, prompting you to think about how to resolve the issue. Do you inform HR? Confront your boss?  Although the victim is female, the perspective is gender-neutral. This scenario presents a common issue in the workplace. Employees report incidents of harassment. However, companies often fail to respond to it. This module teaches supervisors the importance of building trust, as well as gathering information about the incident.

What to Expect in Future Modules 

Currently, their module centers on the female perspective. They do, however, plan on adding more scenarios in the future. They’ve partnered with Indiana University Kinsey Institute to make sure the content they create is valid and relevant.

According to Bill West, founder and CEO of Regatta VR, they’ve yet to create scenarios wherein the male is the victim. But they might at some point.

Can Virtual Reality Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

There’s very little research on the effectiveness of sexual harassment prevention training. Since VR initiatives are fairly new, we don’t know for sure how it will change the workplace environment. One thing is for sure: it’s up to organizational leaders to test initiatives such as virtual reality. Only then will we know if VR can prevent sexual harassment.

 

Quelle:

https://www.virtualrealitypulse.com/edition/daily-oculus-microsoft-2019-10-09?open-article-id=11728683&article-title=can-virtual-reality-stop-sexual-harassment-before-it-starts-&blog-domain=arpost.co&blog-title=arpost

Educational VR Experiences from CuriosityStream

A look at CuriosityStream and some of their great VR experiences.

One of the great potentials of VR is its use as an educational tool. However, finding good educational VR experiences can be a bit of a hunt. Most of them exist as individual apps that need to be downloaded. There’s also the issue of determining the credibility of the producers of these apps.

One unique streaming service called CuriosityStream poses one solution.

What Is CuriosityStream?

CuriosityStream is a streaming service dedicated to documentaries. The service, recently launched by the founder of the Discovery Channel, is home to over two thousand documentaries and series. Some of these are produced by CuriosityStream but most are by other individuals and organizations.

The service costs US$3/month or $20/year. That’s cheaper than other streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. It also works on most mobile devices, computers, smart TVs, Digital Media Players and on Xbox One.

A streaming service composed of just documentaries has enough educational potential. However, CuriosityStream also has a small but growing collection of VR content.

How Their VR Experiences Work

There’s a special corner of CuriosityStream dedicated to their VR experiences. Some of these are available through the platforms but others must be downloaded through Steam and Viveport. These include both 360-Videos and more interactive VR content.

The full-scale VR content requires a dedicated headset. The 360-videos, however, only require desktop or smartphone with or without an adapter.

CuriosityStream has a number of VR experiences that let users visit Pluto, dive into volcanoes, and more. Their most recent and currently promoted experiences, however, are on the popular topic of Ancient Egypt.

360-Videos

Two of the experiences are 360-videos. They’re free to view on the CuriosityStream page linked above and on their YouTube page.

Tombs and Monuments of Ancient Egypt is more of an ad for CuriosityStream than a video in its own right. It lasts less than 90 seconds and it jumps around too much to give you much looking around time.

Nefertari’s Tomb is a bit longer and is more like a guided tour. You’re more free to look around while a narrator talks about Nefertari and the importance of her tomb.

The bonus to the videos is that they are free and they can be experienced on a desktop.

VR Content

The real attraction of the day is the full VR experience, Nefertari: Journey to Eternity. This is a full-scale app that requires a dedicated headset and a download. However, the download is free and allows access without internet.

The visuals were created with high-resolution scanning and photography. The Oculus page for the experience says that the resolution might be so high that users may have to turn down the image quality for it to work right. Of course, that will depend on what computer your headset is hooked up to. And, no, it doesn’t work with the stand-alone headsets from Oculus.

This has only been a look at some of the educational VR experiences from CuriosityStream. If you’re looking for ways to work VR into a curriculum, or if you’re just a curious person, be sure to check out their other content.

 

Quelle:

https://www.virtualrealitypulse.com/edition/daily-oculus-microsoft-2019-10-09?open-article-id=11728683&article-title=can-virtual-reality-stop-sexual-harassment-before-it-starts-&blog-domain=arpost.co&blog-title=arpost

Das Mammut von Hundisburg

Von Juliane Just

Auf den Spuren von Mammut und Co.: Der „Entdeckerpfad Zeitspuren“ beleuchtet die Historie von zehn Orten in und um Haldensleben.

Einst tummelten sie sich im Landschaftspark Hundisburg: Mammuts. Der Info-Pult an der Kiesgrube weist zumindest darauf hin, dass hier einst Knochen der Tiere gefunden worden sind. Besucher müssen jedoch nicht länger nur ihre Fantasie anregen, um sich das Mammut auf dem Gelände vorzustellen – künftig zeigt eine App, wie es vor Jahrmillionen an dieser Stelle aussah.

Dafür wird der „Entdeckerpfad Zeitspuren“ technisch aufgewertet. An zehn historisch bedeutsamen Stätten im Stadtgebiet gibt es bereits Informationspunkte, die einen Einblick in die Siedlungsgeschichte der Region geben. Dort werden künftig sogenannte QR-Codes angebracht. Mit einer App auf tragbaren Geräten wie dem Smartphone oder Tablet kann dieser Code gescannt werden – dann fängt der Display an, die Historie wie von Zauberhand lebendig zu machen.

Virtuelle Elemente

Möglich macht das die sogenannte „Mixed Reality“. Dabei wird die Realität mit virtuellen Elementen verknüpft. So kann der Nutzer der eigens dafür kreierten App künftig an jedem der zehn Standorte ein 360-Grad-Panorama aufrufen. Das sieht dann so ähnlich aus wie beim Online-Dienst Google Street View.

Auferstehung der Ruine Nordhusen

So kann der Nutzer per App die Ruine Nordhusen als 3D-Modell wieder auferstehen lassen. Vor sich sieht der Besucher das reale Objekt, auf dem Handy sieht er die komplette Ruine vor Jahrhunderten mit einer Siedlung daran, die sich nachweislich dort befand. Ähnlich funktioniert auch das beliebte Spiel „Pokémon Go“, das an bestimmten Orten in der Realität virtuelle Fantasietiere auferstehen lässt.

Nach dem Panoramablick können Besucher sich weitere Objekte des jeweiligen Standorte virtuell auf ihrem Smartphone ansehen. So wird an der Parkkiesgrube in Hundisburg ein Stoßzahn eines Mammuts zu sehen sein. Auch die gefundenen Überreste von Wollhaarnashorn und Wildrind können betrachtet werden. Durch das Bedienen am Display können die Fundstücke virtuell von allen Seiten durchleuchtet werden.

Kostenlose App

Ebenso sollen weitere Fotos und Informationen über die kostenlose App abrufbar sein, die spannende Zusatzinformationen liefern. Zusätzlich können die Texte zum jeweiligen historischen Standort auch als Tonspuren abgespielt werden. Dabei wurde jeder Standort individuell gestaltet.

Für die Herstellung der App hat sich die Stadt Experten an die Seite geholt, die sich mit solchen virtuellen Ausstellungen bestens auskennen. „Eine Ausstellung zu erstellen bedeutet heutzutage mehr, als nur eine Vitrine aufzustellen“, sagt Stadtpressesprecher Lutz Zimmermann, der das Projekt betreut hat. „Wir wollen Geschichte erlebbar machen.“ Zielgruppe seien Jugendliche, Familien und Kulturinteressierte.

Auf der App können die Besucher ebenfalls ihre Route zu den verschiedenen Orten sehen. Damit ist jede Station zumindest virtuell ausgeschildert. Dass einige der Orte nicht am Internet-Netz anliegen, wurde ebenfalls beachtet. Die App ist so optimiert, dass sie auch an diesen Standorten nutzbar ist und nicht viel Datenvolumen benötigt. Erlebbar wird das virtuelle Haldensleben Ende des Jahres. Dann soll die App fertiggestellt und für Interessierte nutzbar sein.

Barrierefreie Ausgestaltung

Das Zeitspuren-Projekt kostet insgesamt 77 000 Euro. Durch Fördermittel aus dem Programm „Sachsen-Anhalt Regio“ liegt der Eigenanteil der Stadt bei 15 000 Euro. Doch damit ist nicht Schluss, denn die Stadt hat noch mehr mit dem Entdeckerpfad vor. Im nächsten Schritt sollen einige der analogen Stationen barrierefrei gestaltet werden.

Der Vorteil an dem Projekt: Sollte sich die App bewähren, könnte man dies auch auf andere Projekte projizieren. „Wenn es gut ankommt, könnte man dies auch auf innerstädtische Tourismuspunkte ausweiten“, sagt Lutz Zimmermann. Auch die Zeitspuren-Punkte sollen stetig auf den neuesten Stand gebracht werden.

 

Quelle:

https://www.volksstimme.de/lokal/haldensleben/tourismus-das-mammut-von-hundisburg

Gadgeteer Releases For Quest On October 24

After an initial release on other platforms and a Quest port announcement last month, Gadgeteer will release for Quest on October 24.

The game, developed by Metanaut, involves using gadgets, machines and physics to solve 60 puzzles, along with a seperate sandbox mode that lets you go wild with the game’s tools. The initial launch was back in April on the HTC Vive, and has since launched in early access for other PC VR headsets.

Peter Kao, Metanaut CEO, shared an interesting little anecdote about the game’s title while responding to comments in a Reddit thread about the upcoming Quest release. As David noted in our initial review, the game’s mechanics are similar to that of Rube Goldberg machines.

Originally, the game was named Ruberg as a reference to this, but the Gadgeteer team soon ran into trademarking problems.

“At first, the owners of the trademark were okay with us using the name but after a year into development (and showing off the game publicly!) they changed their minds,” said Kao. “They said Ruberg was too close to Rube Goldberg and that people will be confused by it. So, we had to change the name to something else. We’ve always called the objects in our game ‘gadgets’ and so we landed on calling the game Gadgeteer!”

Gadgeteer is available to wishlist on the Oculus Quest store now. There’s no price listed on the Oculus Store for the Quest version yet, however, the early access PC VR versions are currently priced at $15.

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Google’s Daydream Over? Pixel 4 Not Supported, Viewer Sales End

Despite impressive specifications Google’s new Pixel 4 phone doesn’t work with its Daydream VR platform. Google confirmed in a statement it is ending sales for its Daydream View which allowed you to slot in a series of Android-based phones and enjoy a simple 3DoF VR experience.

The lower budget Pixel 3a debuted earlier this year without support for the platform and we’ve seen a series of departures from Google of VR-focused researchers over the last few years. We reached out to Google for confirmation and received the following statement from a spokesperson over email:

We saw a lot of potential in smartphone VR—being able to use the smartphone you carry with you everywhere to power an immersive on-the-go experience. But over time we noticed some clear limitations constraining smartphone VR from being a viable long-term solution. Most notably, asking people to put their phone in a headset and lose access to the apps they use throughout the day causes immense friction.

There also hasn’t been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we’ve seen decreasing usage over time of the Daydream View headset. While we are no longer selling Daydream View or supporting Daydream on Pixel 4, the Daydream app and store will remain available for existing users.

We’re investing heavily in helpful AR experiences like Google Lens, AR walking navigation in Maps, and AR in Search that use the smartphone camera to bridge the digital and physical worlds, helping people do more with what they see and learn about the world around them.

Facebook held a eulogy for slot-in VR at its developer conference last month. Say goodbye, then, to the headaches of VR headsets which consume precious phone battery life and offer only three degrees of freedom to move around comfortably.

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Asgard’s Wrath: How To Find And Access Major Midgard Side Locations

Asgard’s Wrath is one of the medium’s richest action RPGs to date (read our review here), and as such, it is positively teeming with secrets and hidden quests to find.

That said, the biggest and best side quests in Asgard’s Wrath are stored away in optional dungeons, called Labyrinths. While many treasures and points of interest are hidden in plain sight, Labyrinths tend to hide away from the world for you to go out and find.

Meanwhile, for those who want to battle their hearts out, some of the toughest (and most rewarding) combat challenges in Asgard’s Wrath are served up in Arenas, where mortal challengers are invited to step up and take on Valkyrie Challenges for prizes and glory.

It isn’t immediately obvious where to look for any of these when you’re first starting out, so here’s our guide on how to find and gain access to some of the earliest major side locations in Asgard’s Wrath. Note that entering a Labyrinth for the first time usually consumes a Midgard Key. Likewise, entering a Valkyrie Challenge always costs a Hogni’s Heart, which you can replenish from the blacksmith at Aegir’s Hall.

Labyrinths

Labyrinths are massive dungeons that span entire zones in Asgard’s Wrath, much like the main zones featured throughout the main quest arc. While some Labyrinths in later sagas are part of the main quest itself, each of the biggest Labyrinths found in the early sagas spanning across Midgard are entirely optional and tend to reward plenty of loot and unique (unbreakable) Hero equipment.

Unmarked Tomb

Asgard's Wrath Unmarked Tomb EntranceZone: Stormborn Beach

Quest: A Restless Soul

Required Hero: Ingrid

Required Followers: Astrid, Hulda

Rewards: Ingrid’s Hero shield.

How to get inside: From the Tomb of Thorketill the Patient on Stormborn Beach, immediately head up the stairs and travel through the passageway. Use Astrid’s Wind Gust ability on the windmill to open the door, and travel inside to begin the quest.

Abandoned Dungeon

Asgards Wrath Abandoned Dungeon Entrance

Zone: Borgarholt Fort

Quest: A “King’s” Ransom

Required Hero: Any

Required Followers: Astrid, Hulda

How to get inside: After you gain access to the Borgarholt Ravine, travel past the God Altar and underneath the bridge until you find a tight corridor leading off the main path and into a well-lit enclosure. Head down the stairway towards the locked door and the side quest should initiate.

The Virgin’s Labyrinth

Asgard's Wrath Virgins LabyrinthZone: Midgard Highlands

Quest: The Lady in the Labyrinth

Required Hero: Any

Required Followers: N/A

How to get inside: At the God Altar, enter god-mode and look at the large statue with two yellow eyes and a closed doorway for a mouth. Poke both yellow eyes at once and the previously closed door will now be open, initiating the quest. Head on through the now-open corridor and head up the stairs to the gate.

Forgotten Sanctum

Asgard's Wrath Forgotten SanctumZone: Great Belfry

Quest: Mysteries of Midgard: Parts I & II

Required Hero: Frodi

Required Followers: N/A

Rewards: Frodi’s Hero shield.

How to get inside: As soon as you make your way to the large round Grand Chamber door, which is on the platform directly below the zone’s God Altar (you can’t miss it), turn left down the stairs into a cylindrical room that leads down a corridor. Follow the corridor to a door, and you’ll find yourself inside of the Forgotten Sanctum.

Arenas

Valkyrie Challenges that take place in Arenas where you face off against wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies. Each session is timed, and the timer runs indefinitely until you finally die. The rewards you receive at the end are determined by your rank.

Ranks:

  • Thrall (2x kills)
  • Farmer (4x kills)
  • Skald (6x kills)
  • Raider (8x kills)
  • Berserker (14x kills)
  • Drengr (18x kills)
  • Godly (???)

Seaside Stronghold

Asgard's Wrath Seaside StrongholdQuest: Arena I: Seaside Stronghold

How to get inside: A fast travel point appears in the Stormlands after completion of the second saga.

Whisperwind Point

Asgard's Wrath Whisper Wind Point

Quest: Arena II: Whisperwind Point

How to get inside: A fast travel point appears in the Highlands after completion of the third saga.

Asgard’s Wrath is now available on the Oculus Rift for $40.

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Spectro Is Welcome Bit Of VR Ghost Busting, Out Today

There are few things I would assign the word ‘hate’ to in this world. The Star Wars prequels would probably qualify. Probably seafood, too. But, most of all, I hate jump scares.

I mean that sit-in-the-cinema-fingers-in-my-ears-eyes-closed kind of hate. I freeze up at the slightest hint of suspense, ready to visit my happy place. As I’m sure you can imagine, this makes a lot of VR intensely unplayable for me. How I managed to survive Resident Evil 7 I’ll never know. How refreshing, then, to be able to enjoy Spectro’s brand of family-friendly spookiness scare-free.

One look at Spectro and you’ll know what it’s about. This is a stab at a Ghostbusters VR game (or, in gamer speak, Luigi’s Mansion VR). Curiously, though, there’s a hint of classic Wolfenstein to it; each level is small, containing a handful of rooms you need to clear enemies out of before searching for a way to progress to the next stage. Even the music ticks away in the background like an early id Software game. Throw in some rogue-lite inspirations and you have a game that’s clearly assembled on the foundations of others and remarkably similar to Bevan McKechnie’s Compound.

Out today in Early Access, this all makes for a surprisingly meaty, if imperfect haunted house. Ghosts are dispatched first by reducing a health meter with a Proton-style beam and then sucked up. It’s a reliable system in need of a little more substance. Ghosts feel like bullet (or laser) sponges, with robust health bars crawling to depletion. Regular upgrades, unlocked by finding keys and pairing them with chests, alleviate those frustrations, though there’s a desire for more process. It would be great, for example, to use motion controls to slam ghosts into walls to stun them, or to summon household items as shields.

Some variety does come in the way of enemy types. Most simply shoot projects at you but others drop bombs. Incoming projectiles are clumsily dodged using smooth locomotion or teleportation; it’s much more engaging to lean out of their way instead. It left me longing for some sort of Resident Evil 4-style stop-and-shoot system that would root you to the spot. Still, as it stands Spectro plays like an enjoyable shooter that could lean a little more on its weirder side and be a bit more intentive with its platform.

Spectro 2

There are a precious few examples of that already, though. To progress to the next level, you have to collect totems that expose hidden doors. It gives each level a fun sense of mystery, even if the item hunting minigame required to collect totems is a little monotonous.

But the appeal of tackling more levels with other upgrades, bought by discovering coins inside items, is a strong one. My first run at Spectro’s gauntlet lasted 25 minutes and, after a quick break, I found myself wanting to dive straight back in for the next.

It’s something of a relief, then, that Spectro launches as an Early Access game. This is an enjoyable little VR ghost hunter that could be much better if it more readily embraced its platform.  Fortunately, the developer is promising to add “more hand crafted level components, more pick-ups and upgrades, more ghosts” and other elements over the course of pre-release. I’m pretty optimistic that this one is going to get the love it deserves.

Spectro is available now on Steam Early Access with support for Rift and Vive for $19.99.

 

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VR Graffiti Game Kingspray Hits Quest This Week

Remember Kingspray? It was a great little VR graffiti experience that launched alongside PC VR headsets. We’d all but forgotten about it, but it turns out Kingspray Quest is coming soon.

Kingspray’s developers just confirmed that the game will hit the standalone VR headset on October 17th (thanks to Polish Paul for pointing this one out to us!). The news was accompanied by a new trailer for the game. We’re especially big fans of the bit where someone stands in front of a wall wearing a Quest.

Kingspray gives you all of the tools to create virtual wall art on the fly. You’re able to quickly change colors, scale walls to reach other areas and undo any mistakes. Judging by the trailer, multiplayer support will be included. No word on if there will be cross-buy support with the Oculus Rift version, though.

Kingspray Graffiti takes a simple premise and expands it out to the point that it offers all of the features you’d ever want — and plenty that you probably didn’t know you wanted,” we said in our review of the app all the way back in 2016. “It feels like the real thing, but it also lets you do so much more than what the typical artist could ever do in real life.”

We’ll admit we’re a little surprised to see the game making the jump to Quest. Its Twitter account has been silent for years and its Facebook page made its first post in 16 months in early September. We’d assumed the game was all but lost to time, but hopefully it can find a new lease of life on Quest. Still no word on a PSVR release, though.

Are you excited about Kingspray Quest? Let us know in the comments below!

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