SteamVR Update Adds Mallorca, A New Photogrammetry Environment

The latest SteamVR update adds a new photogrammetry environment for users, captured in the village of Fornalutx in Mallorca.

Mallorca is an island located in the western Mediterranean sea, off the coast of Spain and part of the Balearic Islands. It’s home to an ancient village called Fornalutx and, as described in this post, Valve has processed a bunch of photogrammetric data to create a SteamVR home environment featuring a path running through the village.

steamvr home mallorca

The data was originally captured in October 2019, but it seems Valve employees only just got around to processing and converting it now. The scene is made up of over 640 photos, which were taken handheld with a Canon EOS 5D Mk IV using an EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens.

To process the photos into a photogrammetry scene and clean up the results, Valve used Reality Capture, Agisoft Metashape, Agisoft PhotoScan, Modo, Substance Painter and Photoshop.

steamvr home mallorca

You can subscribe to the Mallorca envionrment here on Steam. Valve encourages anyone with questions on capturing and processing a scene to post them in the comments section of the Workshop listing.

The update also brings a bunch of bug fixes for SteamVR, OpenXR and Windows Mixed Reality support. You can read the full list here.

In last month’s SteamVR hardware survey, Quest 2 reached 47.92% of VR headset usage on the platform, creeping its way toward 50%. The Valve Index, meanwhile, climbed slightly up to 15.35% while the Oculus Rift S continued to fall, now at just 11.07%.  You can read more about last month’s SteamVR hardware results here.

GOLF+ Is Getting One Of The World’s Most Iconic Courses Next Week

A new course is coming to GOLF+ on Quest 2, and it’s based on a real world course that’s regarded as one of the best in the world.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a stunning course that gives players an expansive panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, while also providing players with tough wind conditions for the same reason.

From May 26, the course will be available to Quest 2 players on GOLF+, allowing them to experience the iconic course in VR for the first time, as pictured below.

golf+ kiawah valley

This will be the fifth full course available in GOLF+, which features a mixture of real world and fictional courses. It follows on from the fictional Alpine course, which was released last month as a free update.

It’s not clear yet whether the Kiawah Island course will be a free or paid release. One of the game’s other real world courses, Wolf Creek in Nevada, released as paid DLC for $7.99, so there’s a fair chance that the Kiawah Island release will follow suit.

GOLF+ began its life on the original Quest headset in May 2020 as a putting-only game, titled “Pro Putt”. However, late last year the game rebranded to GOLF+ to coincide with the addition of full swing courses.

While the full courses were a welcome addition, they are sadly not supported on the original Quest — those players can enjoy the putting and driving ranges, but not full courses. This means the upcoming Kiawah Island release will also only be available on Quest 2 headsets.

Little Cities Cracks Top 10 On Quest Store Top Selling List

City building simulator Little Cities cracked into the top 10 of the Top Selling list on the Quest Store yesterday, just over a week after launch.

The Quest Top Selling section is updated live, listing the top selling titles on the store in descending order. At the time of writing, Little Cities sits at the twelfth position on the list, but nDreams Community Manager Jimmy Bowers confirmed in a tweet that it made it to the number ten position for a brief period yesterday.

It’s an impressive feat for Little Cities, which was widely regarded as the underdog in the recent battle for best city simulator on Quest, with Cities: Skylines spin-off Cities: VR releasing just a few weeks before it.

The list of top sellers on Quest remains pretty stable a lot of the time.  Massively popular games like Beat Saber, Job Simulator, Superhot, Onwards, Population: One and Saints & Sinners are almost always featured in the top ten, with room for only a few others to rotate in and out if they sell enough.

For Little Cities to make it onto the top of the list, even for a brief moment, should signal that it’s selling quite well at the moment compared to other staple titles.

We loved Little Cities when we reviewed it earlier this month, thanks to the way it distills the best elements of the genre in a new presentation that feels perfectly designed for VR. The game’s development was largely driven by two people — James and Kerry Howard, who make up indie UK studio Purple Yonder — alongside publishing support from nDreams.

Little Cities is available now on the Quest platform.

More Than 1/5 Of Meta Staff Work In AR/VR Division – Report

A new report from The Verge claims that Meta’s Reality Labs division comprises of over 17,000 people.

The report largely deals with the freeze on new hires — first discussed in a report from Reuters last week — as the company reevaluates priorities and cuts back on and postpones select projects. The Verge reports this will affect non-Reality Labs divisions such as those that deal with Facebook Dating, Messenger Kids and more. The Reality Labs-specific changes will be announced soon, according to internal comments from CTO Andrew Bosworth last week, but Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg insist that staff lay-offs are not planned “at this time.”

However, after mentioning that Meta isn’t planing to move staff off Reality Labs and onto other teams, The Verge’s report also makes a passing comment claiming that the Reality Labs division “already totals over 17,000 people.” We reached out to Meta to independently confirm the accuracy of this number, but Meta spokespeople declined to comment.

Reality Labs is the division that works on all virtual and augmented reality hardware and software, as well as Portal, the company’s dedicated video call hardware. In March 2021, a report from The Information claimed that 10,000 people at Meta (then Facebook) were working on VR/AR, which accounted for around 17% of the company’s employees at the time. That was up from 2017, when around 5% of company employees were working on VR/AR.

This means that in just over a year, Meta’s Reality Labs division has made approximately 7,000 new hires. According to Meta, the company hired more engineers in Q1 2022 than they did in all of 2021. As of March 31 2022, Meta’s total employee headcount was 77,805 — up from 58,604 at the same point in 2021. The 17,000 people working at Reality Labs specifically then equates to 21% of the entire company — 4% higher than a year ago.

You can read more about the planned cutbacks here, as well as a breakdown on Meta’s most recent earnings report, featuring increased Reality Labs revenue and costs, here.

In Death: Unchained Demonic Trials Event Will Mix Up Gameplay From May 24

Demonic Trials, a new event coming to In Death: Unchained, will mix up the core gameplay over the course of three weeks, starting from May 24.

The event will introduce three ‘Demonic Sigils’, one for each week, which will “completely change all of the known game rules and set brand new goals for the players.” Interestingly, the event will also let players choose from all of the chapters and environments featured in the main game, allowing those who have never progressed to later stages of the main campaign to experience some of the later environments.

Demonic Trials In Death

Unlike other In Death events, Demonic Trials is not a tournament and players won’t compete against each other — instead, everyone will be working together to earn ‘Legend Points’ and rewards. You won’t be rewarded on your score, but on the collective effort from all players across runs in the event.

Developers Superbright do warn that this event will be more demanding than the main game, with “more challenging rules and requirements for ending the run and killing enemies.”

This event is the latest in a string of similar limited-time challenges and post-launch updates that Superbright have brought to In Death: Unchained since release. We were big fans of the game in our review written at the time of its Quest release in mid-2020, but since then there’s been loads of new content and visual improvements to enhance the experience for new and existing players.

We recently checked out the wave-based Siege of Heaven mode, which was updated with new maps last month, and came away suitably impressed at the variety it offered.

The Last Clockwinder Releases June 2 For Quest 2, SteamVR

A release date is set for VR puzzle game, The Last Clockwinder.

The single-player ‘co-op game will release June 2 for Meta Quest 2 and PC VR via Steam.

The Last Clockwinder Release Date Revealed

There’s also a new release date trailer, embedded above, giving us a proper dive into the actual story and voice acting that will accompany the automation puzzle gameplay.

As we’ve seen in previous trailers, you’ll be solving puzzles by acting out actions to create a chain of automated robots performing tasks. Here’s a description from the developers:

The Last Clockwinder is a VR puzzle-automation game set in a cozy sci-fi world. Your mission is to repair the Clocktower, an ancient haven for the galaxy’s plants and seeds built into the trunk of a colossal tree. Use the Clockwinder’s gloves to turn every simple task into a looping clockwork automaton. These clones can do everything you can do, from planting to storing to passing items around.

Create an interconnected system out of your own clones. Grow plants, harvest resources, and work together to save the clocktower!

Just last month, we learned that developers Pontoco would be partnering with Cyan Ventures, the team behind seminal adventure game Myst, and Robot Teddy, for funding and publishing support. Now, we have a release date penned in for just over two weeks away.

The Oculus Store page for Quest and Steam Store page for PC VR are also both live now, so you can wishlist the game ahead of launch on your preferred platform.

According to the developers, we can expect the total playtime to last between four and six hours — a nice, manageable experience, then.

F1 22 Developers: ‘No Plans’ For PSVR Support

In an interview with TechRadar, the developers of F1 22 stated they have “no plans at this time” to bring PSVR support to the game on PS5.

Back in April, developer Codemasters announced that F1 22, the upcoming title in the annual F1 game franchise, would release with full optional VR support on PC. The game is also set to release on other platforms, including PS5, so we remained hopeful that we might see PSVR 2 support down the line.

However, with PSVR 2 now unlikely to launch this year, we might have to wait for the next annual installment for that to eventuate. In an interview with TechRadar, F1 22’s Senior Creative Director Lee Mather stated there was “no plans at this time” for PSVR support, with the VR mode staying exclusive to the PC release for now.

“We’ve been investigating VR for some time and we want to bring it to our F1 game without compromise,” Mather told TechRadar. “We have partnered with a team who has worked on other Codemasters’ titles and it has taken several years to get us to this point where we know we can deliver a premium experience for our players.”

We got our first look at PC VR gameplay of F1 22, and it’s a shame that it won’t be coming to PSVR 2 in any capacity just yet. That being said, even if the developers intended to add PSVR 2 support for F1 22, by the time the headset actually releases, we’ll likely be closer to the release of F1 23. Here’s hoping that something is being planned for that release, at the very least.

If nothing else, we’re still  holding out for eventual PSVR 2 support for Gran Turismo 7 later down the line.

You can read more about PC VR support for F1 22 here and check out some gameplay here.

Quest v40 Adds More Bluetooth Keyboards, Security Features

The latest version of the Quest system software, v40, adds more Bluetooth keyboard support and more.

Despite ‘The Big 4-0’ headline on the Oculus Blog, it’s a rather low key set of updates for the Quest in v40. The biggest focus is on a suite of new privacy and security-related features across different areas of the OS.

One such feature is the ability to lock individual apps behind an unlock pattern of your choosing. This was originally announced in March, as part of Meta’s plans for increased parental controls on Quest.

Pattern unlock quest 2 app

Per-app lock will now allow parents to prevent children from accessing select apps without their permission — every time you want to open a locked app, the user will have to enter the custom unlock pattern. This can be different on an app-by-app basis, and is available in addition to the existing headset-wide lock pattern feature.

Another new security feature is the addition of 3DS-enabled credit card payments in VR, which is now an opt-in feature for developers with in-app purchases. This allows you to enter and charge a credit card solely in VR — previously, credit card information had to be entered through the Oculus mobile app.

Messenger on Quest now also offers optional end-to-end encryption for both messages and audio calls in VR.

For Bluetooth keyboard owners, more models are now supported with tracking in v40. A second Apple Magic Keyboard model — the one with a full numeric keyboard — is now supported, alongside the Logitech K375 and Logitech MX Keys models.

A few audio accessibility options are now available as well — there’s a mono audio option, as well as balance controls for left and right audio channels.

Team Beef Quake 3 Arena Quest 2 Port Now Available Via SideQuest

The latest Team Beef port for Quest 2, Quake 3 Arena, is now available via SideQuest.

As usual for Team Beef ports, you can install the app completely free of charge, but some functionality won’t be available until you take extra steps to add the full PC game files yourself, from a copy you own. You’ll also need to enable developer mode on your Quest first, as per usual for SideQuest. If you haven’t done this before, you can read more in our guide to setting up and using SideQuest.

As it stands, installing the Quake 3 Arena port directly from SideQuest includes the official (and free) id software demo. This means you’ll be able to play some of the single-player for free with just the SideQuest install, alongside multiplayer on specific servers marked as ‘DEMO’.

The SideQuest install also comes with a companion app called Q3 Launcher that adds additional functionality, such as changing your player name and installing mods, new single-player campaigns and map packs.

If you want to play the full game, you will need to own a legal copy of Quake 3 Arena for PC on Steam or elsewhere. Once you locate your installed PC files for Quake 3 Arena, all you need to do is copy all the PK3 files in the baseq3 folderinto the /ioquake3quest/baseq3 folder on your Quest, using SideQuest or Windows explorer.

The port includes full tracked VR weapons, intuitive VR weapon selection, support for 90, 80 and 72Hz framerates, along with cross-platform play with PC and Android players.

Pavlov Shack Drops Quest 1 Support, Preparing For QA Submission

An update from Pavlov developer davevillz shed some light on the progress of Pavlov Shack.

Pavlov Shack is a new version of the popular multiplayer VR shooter, and has been in development for Quest for quite a while now. But it might finally be making its way over to the official Oculus Store soon. Over a year ago, Shack made its App Lab debut, bringing a sudden rise in players.

However, a new update from developer davevillz indicates that the team will soon release a final beta of Shack, which will be sent to Meta’s QA team in submission for an official full release on the Oculus Store for Quest.

In the same tweet, davevillz also revealed that Shack will be dropping support for the original Quest headset. This is because the team “encountered performance regression/issues on the new engine” on Quest 1, which “forced [their] hand to focus on Quest 2.”

Pavlov started its life as a competitive shooter for PC VR, heavily inspired by the Counter-Strike franchise. Pavlov Shack is the Quest spin-off of the original, scaled-down for Quest’s standalone hardware and currently available for free in beta on App Lab.

The official Oculus Store release for Shack has been a long time coming, initially scheduled for last year. It will hopefully release soon after being approved through the Quest QA process. The full release on Quest will cost $24.

A version of Shack is also planned for release on PSVR 2, once the headset is available. Both versions of Shack, on Quest and PSVR 2, will support cross-play with each other, but not with the original PC VR version of Pavlov.