There’s a VR Sword Art Online Event Happening Tomorrow

If there’s one franchise that embodies virtual reality (VR) technology and the idea of the metaverse then it has to be Sword Art Online. A novel series created by Reki Kawahara that’s been spun into films, videogames and more, this week fans can truly delve into this popular franchise thanks to a new event called Sword Art Online -EX-CHRONICLE- Online Edition; viewable in VR of course.

Sword Art Online

Split across five areas, the event is set to feature both interactive and non-interactive content all depending on how you plan on accessing Sword Art Online -EX-CHRONICLE- Online Edition. For example, in the free “Boss Battle” arena VR users will have full motion controller support to shoot and defeat the boss or they can enjoy activities like competitive wall climbing with friends.

From the look of it, VR is not only the most immersive way to get the best out of the event it’s the aptest, considering SAO is built around virtual worlds. Heck, the series even inspired one Japanese startup to develop its own headset that could be used whilst laying down in bed.

There will also be a 4-sided screen theatre video experience, a live performance by ReoNa; plenty of anime material on display and limited edition merchandise sales if you love some SAO merch. As any Sword Art Online fan knows, the novel’s plot begins in 2022 so now is the perfect time for a retrospective whilst awaiting what comes next.

Sword Art Online

Fully sponsored by Sony and organized by Sony Music Solutions Inc., Sword Art Online -EX-CHRONICLE- Online Edition offers both ticketed and free areas. If you’re purchasing a ticket the most expensive at ¥3800 YEN (approx. £24 GBP) grants you access to the VR app. Or there’s one for ¥3300 (£21) for PC and smartphone users. Oh, and before you purchase anything be aware that the event is open to those in Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, and the US.

When it comes to the VR app this is solely designed for PC VR users as they’ll need a SteamVR account to download it. Details on how to install can be found here.

Sword Art Online -EX-CHRONICLE- Online Edition runs from 22nd February at 1pm (JST) to 11th March 2022, 4:59 PM (JST). For further updates keep reading gmw3.

Preview: Startenders: Keeping the Customers Happy

Within twenty minutes of being behind the Startender bar I’d told two hulking, craggy-looking aliens to piss off. They couldn’t hear me, but it felt cathartic after they complained that I hadn’t served their drinks fast enough. Within another twenty minutes I’d mastered the art of washing glasses with my left hand, while my right hand poured a suspicious-looking liquor. At the end of my shift, I felt exhilarated.

Startenders puts you in the shoes of an intergalactic bartender. You stand in a little cubicle surrounded by drinks and equipment; customers approach the bar and you give them a thumbs up to ask them for their order. Some want a chilled pint of space lager, others want a fancy colourful cocktail complete with a tiny umbrella.

There is so much to do in this small space. There seemed to be bottles everywhere, as well as fancy machines for squeezing juice, chopping garnishes and chilling the glassware. At first, I was worried that this would feel clunky and awkward, but each poured shot or pulled pint felt incredibly satisfying. There were still moments of clumsy hands; at one point I spilt a complex drink and let the customer walk away, throwing the glass over my shoulder.

Despite the confined space behind the bar, there’s a great sense of freedom in movement. Placing a garnish on the rim of a glass felt as smooth as the broad arm movements of placing a drink in front of a patron. By the end of the first few shifts, I’d earned plenty of tips which allowed me to buy new drinks and upgrade my equipment.

I put down the headset and kept thinking about the intricacies; the humour, the vibrant colours of the bar itself, how natural everything felt – even how the fluids poured! I found myself looking around between customers, absorbing the ambient chatter and clinking of glasses. While we’re constricted to being behind the bar, it feels like there’s a huge universe out there.

That exhilaration I felt came from a good VR experience, I found myself eager to get back in and see how much more complex the drink orders could get. Startenders is a test of memory, motor functions (and customer service patience).

The only downside to this early build was the disparity between standing and sitting modes of play. While every counter height can be manipulated by pulling a handle and raising or lowering, I still felt I was having to stretch too much to reach high up. Much of the game tries to counter this with pulleys and handles, but it slows the pace of the game meaning more errors or time wasted with each customer.

That small gripe aside, Startenders is not only shaping up to be great fun, but the possibility of a ‘pass the headset’ mode and a lengthy campaign means this could be a must-own experience for VR users everywhere. The developers seem to have nailed the atmosphere of a busy bar, minus the sticky carpet and smelly toilets.

The VR Drop: Horror on the High Seas

Welcome to another VR Drop, that time of the week where gmw3 looks ahead at what’s to come in the world of virtual reality (VR) videogames. It’s a nicely packed week ahead, whether that’s brand new releases, older titles getting some love on a new platform or indie creations seeing an official launch.

Paper Birds

Paper Birds – 3DAR

An oldie but a goldie if you love interactive VR stories, Paper Birds originally hit Meta Quest back in 2020 and now it’s the turn of PC VR headsets. From 3DAR, the creators of Gloomy Eyes, Paper Birds is a 30-minute tale that tells the story of young musician Toto (played by Jojo Rabbit star Archie Yates) as he searches for his lost sister. You can then interact with the world to aid Toto’s journey.

Deadness – ALIEN Studio

Time for some dark, suspenseful VR horror in the form of Deadness from ALIEN Studio. Set in an old research facility that has seen better days, you have to explore this hell hole whilst sitting in a wheelchair; thus adding to the tense atmosphere. Carefully manoeuvre through the corpse-filled corridors and try to find clues as to who you are and why you’re there. Not for the faint of heart.


Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! – HappyGiant

PlayStation VR may not be the hot ticket it once was but developers are still showing the headset some love. After a Meta Quest and PC VR launch in 2021, HappyGiant is bringing Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! to Sony’s headset next week. Join the crime-fighting duo as a rookie and complete various training challenges whilst helping Sam and Max solve a selection of otherworldly crimes.

  • Supported platform(s): PlayStation VR
  • Launch date: 23rd February

Admiral Wars – DB Creations

Get that thinking cap on as you need to formulate the best naval strategies in Admiral Wars. Set for a Meta Quest App Lab release, Admiral Wars features both single-player (against AI) and PvP multiplayer gameplay modes. Order your fleet into position and look out the window whilst they take down your enemies or watch as your carefully planned attack backfires and your ships disappear into the depths. As this is an early access launch, in the future DB Creations expects to add additional features including a solo campaign.

MarineVerse Cup

MarineVerse Cup – MarineVerse

Another VR experience on the high seas but without all the carnage and mayhem (sort of). MarineVerse Cup has been on Meta Quest’s App Lab since the distribution platform launched last year. Now MarineVerse Cup is making the official leap to the main store, a competitive sailing game offering three boat types with realistic mechanics so you can learn how to sail – without worrying about falling off.

  • Supported platform(s): Meta Quest
  • Launch date: 24th February

Roguelite Adventure Outlier Steps Onto Steam in March

Having revealed its latest virtual reality (VR) project, Outlier, last year, developer Joy Way is gearing up for its early access launch via Steam. The studio has announced that the PC VR release will be taking place next month.


Coming from the same studio behind Stride and Against, Outlier is a very different beast, a roguelite shooter set in a stylish sci-fi universe. The narrative revolves around you being captain of the last human ark, vessels designed to find humanity a new home. However, your ark is swallowed by a black hole and during this process, you discover what looks to be a habitable planet. Unfortunately, it’s being attacked, fortunately, that black hole incident has endowed you with powers. So down you go to clear out the menace.

Those abilities include a roguelite’s main feature, rinse and repeat until perfect. With every level procedurally generated death merely means restarting a little bit stronger and hopefully slightly wiser. That does mean, of course, that you’ll encounter different characters and experience new artefacts, weapons, and story pieces.

Player progression is always an important factor in any roguelite with Outlier combining power-ups and ability modifiers for players to tweak their characters. Spells such as the fireball or telekinesis can be merged to create an explosive fireball and a fire push. During early access Joy Way will continue to add more weapons, more powers, and more pickups.


As gmw3 has previously reported, Joy Way plans on bringing Outlier to Meta Quest 2 later in the year, saying in a statement: “Meta has accepted putting Outlier to the official Quest Store. Though, we plan to tweak all main game systems first during the early access period. After we receive enough feedback from the community on the core mechanics and future content of the game, we will start working on a Quest port.”

Outlier is currently scheduled for release via Steam Early Access on 17th March, supporting Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index. The full videogame is currently slated to arrive by the end of 2022. Check out the new trailer below and for further updates keep reading gmw3.

Music Sandbox Virtuoso Hits PC VR & Quest 2 in March

Reality Interactive, the indie team who’ve been developing a musical sandbox called Virtuoso have now revealed that an official launch is only weeks away; coming to PC VR headsets as well as Meta Quest 2.


If you are a Quest 2 owner then you may have already come across Virtuoso on App Lab. Rather than all the rhythm action games where you have to play to someone else’s music, Virtuoso is about creating your own; on some familiar and unfamiliar instruments.

While you can create beats on drums and snares, using the Looper tool to create layer upon layer of sound, instruments like the three-dimensional Oorgan have been tailored to VR. Here you can really let loose with motion controls, twisting and turning the controllers to create new sounds and effects. In total there are six instruments to experiment with, plus there’s an option to add vocals using a virtual microphone.

You don’t need to be a musical whizz either. One feature that’ll come in handy when trying to make your first track is Tempo Sync to keep you in time. And to stay on pitch there are preset scales. Once you got the hang of it you’ll be able to record tracks and share them with the community.


Virtuoso is a new take on playing and creating music that is both accessible for complete
beginners and amazingly powerful in the hands of experienced musicians,” said Jonatan
Crafoord, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Really Interactive in a statement. “The instruments are built from the ground-up for expressing yourself musically in VR, while the tools and interactive tutorial help you stay on beat and in tune. We can’t wait to hear the music that the Virtuoso community will create in it!”

The first videogame to be published via Fast Travel Games’ new publishing arm, Virtuoso is scheduled to arrive for Meta Quest 2, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index on 10th March 2022. For continued updates keep reading gmw3.

Vox Machinae’s Awesome Mech Combat Confirmed for Meta Quest 2

Space Bullet launched Vox Machinae back in 2018 as an Early Access title, quickly gaining a loyal following thanks to some tasty mech combat mechanics. Today, the studio has announced an official launch is on the way as well as one very unexpected piece of news, a Meta Quest 2 edition is coming!

Vox Machinae

Designed as a PC VR title, managing to squeeze Vox Machinae onto the Quest 2 is quite the achievement if you’ve seen the game in action. In fact, Quest support was never part of the v1.0 plan as Space Bullet’s Alexander Gorshkov mentions in a press release: “Coming to Quest in particular was not part of our original modest roadmap, and all notions to make such a move were considered unrealistic. Not only by us devs, but by anyone who has a sober understanding of the kind of effort that would be required to make the appropriate optimizations.”

But the team has managed it, with the Meta Quest 2 launch now due to coincide with the full PC VR rollout. This is currently slated to be taking place on 3rd March 2022 but Space Bullet has said this is only on condition that final performance adjustments and bug fixing have been properly finalised.

That’s not all. For the first time, you can actually see the story campaign in action thanks to a new trailer. Up until last month, Vox Machinae had always been a multiplayer combat experience, teaming up with mates to fight in big 16-player battles. It was earlier this month that the single player element was revealed. The campaign adds a new twist to the gameplay, with a planet-hopping narrative where giant conglomerates are vying for resources.

Vox Machinae

Of course, Vox Machinae will still be the same mech fighter on Meta Quest 2 as it is on PC headsets. You can choose from a selection of different GDR’s (Grinders as they’re called) that can be customised with lasers, missiles, cannons and more. Each of these hulking great machines operates within the laws of physics, adding new limbs increases weight and makes you slower. Losing one in battle means a reduction in offensive capabilities but your rig is lighter.

That same sense of realism extends to the control scheme. Inside each cockpit are all the physical controls necessary to manoeuvre your GDR, immersing you in the entire experience.

With only a couple of weeks to go until launch, as further Vox Machinae details are released gmw3 will keep you updated.

Pre-orders Open for the $2700 Linux-based Simula One Headset

By the end of 2022, there’s going to be an abundance of new virtual reality (VR) headsets on the market to suit all tastes and requirements (if there are no delays). One such device is the Simula One which has a unique feature to all the rest; its software is entirely Linux based.

Simula One

Aimed at developers and those VR fans who want the freedom the Linux OS provides, creator SimulaVR opened pre-orders for the headset earlier this month after shunning a planned Kickstarter campaign. A last-minute decision so that the company could roll out its own pricing scheme with greater flexibility, the Simula One will actually come in three variations.

At the top of the pile is the Founders Edition, a standalone headset with luxury design features like a matt black finish, brass accents and a wood panel. Then there’s the tethered version which is the cheapest of the bunch whilst in the middle is the standard Simula One. However, none of which are exactly priced towards consumers (hence the lean towards devs and pros) coming in at $4,999 USD (Founders Edition), £2,699 (Simula One – Standalone) and £1,999 for the tethered edition.

What do you get when you’re dropping a least a couple of grand on a VR headset? Well, the Simula One boasts features like a 2448×2448 per eye display resolution, 90 Hz refresh rate; 100° field of view (FOV), eye and hand tracking, and 55mm-77mm IPD. Pre-installed with SimulaOS, a customizable, open-source VR Linux distro, the Simula One’s other unique feature is its detachable compute pack which contains an Intel i7-1165G7 Processor, 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD.

As the Simula One is being built for devs and hackers alike, the software is compatible with any app that runs on Linux. Plus SimulaOS can be removed and replaced if you so wish. Take out the compute pack and tether it to a PC and you can play SteamVR videogames – if you have the right controllers.

That’s not all! Simula One has augmented reality (AR) capabilities thanks to two high-resolution RGB cameras. So you can see your keyboard whilst typing away on multiple Linux windows.

However, those prices mentioned are for pre-orders with the standard Simula One going up to $3,499 after launch. The company expects to ship the first units “no earlier than Q4 2022” with priority given to Founders’ Editions.

When it comes to all those other new headsets, Meta has its Project Cambria scheduled for release this year and so too does Somnium Space. For continued updates, keep reading gmw3.

Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! Set to Burst Onto PlayStation VR Next week

HappyGiant dropped Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! onto Meta Quest and PC VR headsets last summer, indicating at the time that a PlayStation VR edition would arrive in early 2022. And that’s exactly what the team has stuck to, revealing today that the comedy filled title is set to arrive in a week’s time.

Sam And Max VR

If you’ve managed to completely miss Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! up until this point, the crime-fighting duo were originally created by LucasArts back in the ’90s where you’d help them on their zany adventures. HappyGiant and Big Sugar Games then revived the franchise, bringing some of the original creators back to retain that feeling of authenticity.

Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! drops you in the shoes of a cadet looking to join the illustrious ranks of the Freelance Police. To do so you’ll need to complete a series of challenges (mini-games), each one more fiendish than the last to test your physical and mental capabilities.

Between the series of mini-games, an overarching narrative will play out where you’ll have to help Sam & Max deal with several dangerous enemies; including monsters from outer space and more diminutive foes.

sam and max

Reviewing the Meta Quest version of Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual!, gmw3 found the videogame to be: “one of those VR experiences you want to love because the characters are so well defined, amusing and likeable, even when Max is handing you a bundle of lit TNT. That’s not enough to carry the experience when a big chunk of the gameplay is either shallow or frustratingly twitchy.” 

Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! is currently scheduled to arrive for PlayStation VR on 23rd February, priced at $19.99 USD/€19.99 EUR, with a 10% discount for PS Plus Members for a limited time. For continued updates, keep reading gmw3.

iFixit to Become Official Reseller of Valve Index Parts

Virtual reality (VR) headsets can (if you’re not careful) take a bit of a hammering, whether that’s from being dropped or just as likely, someone walking into a wall. Since its launch in 2019, the Valve Index has been one of the most popular PC VR headsets offering great comfort, sound and visuals. But high tech hardware can’t remain perfect forever so Valve has revealed this week that replacement parts will soon be available via iFixit, the well established DIY repair website.

Valve Index

The decision isn’t finalised just yet with Valve saying: ” We are still hammering out the details, and will be sharing more info on this soon.” The announcement mentions that iFixit will have “replacement parts for the Valve Index VR products” so that alongside the headset itself, you’ll likely be able to get parts for the Index controllers and Lighthouse base stations.

Valve’s decision is part of a wider deal with iFixit and the upcoming Steam Deck – iFixit recently posted a new teardown. Steam Deck is due to begin shipping this month for those that pre-ordered early, with three models available. Thinking of plugging your VR device into it? It might work but that’s not Steam Deck’s purpose: “Technically it’s possible. We’ve seen people jury rig it, but we didn’t design and optimize Steam Deck for VR,” states an FAQ from Valve.

Additionally, it’s been spotted that Steam has begun adding an “Unsupported on Steam Deck” tag to SteamVR titles just to ram home that fact.

Steam Deck - xray
An x-ray image of Valve’s Steam Deck. Image credit iFixit.

Back to iFixit, the popular community-driven site which features thousands of guides for lots of today’s tech doesn’t actually include a repair guide for Valve Index. Hopefully, that’ll change once components have been made available.

However, there are guides available for the likes of HTC Vive, Vive Cosmos, Vive Pro, Oculus Quest and Meta Quest 2. iFixit even sells a small selection of HTC Vive parts.

As further details regarding Valve and iFixit’s deal are revealed, gmw3 will keep you updated.

Motorola & Verizon Aim to Reduce XR Headset Bulk With 5G Neckband

When it comes to mass-market adoption of virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) glasses one of the biggest issues the industry faces is that of bulk. Lenses, screens, batteries and processors, it’s quite a lot to have perched on your face. Progress has been made to redistribute some of the hardware, with the latest idea from Motorola and Verizon being a “5G Neckband” to help make head-worn devices lighter.

Lenovo ThinkReality A3
Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3

As reported by Engadget, the companies have taken the approach where the neckband will house components like the processor, connectivity (5G/WiFi) and the battery, leaving the headset/glasses to purely focus on the visual aspect. Thus reducing overall weight whilst encouraging a smaller form factor.

Details released so far showcase the device being paired with Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 smart glasses – Lenovo is the parent company of Motorola – although there’s mention that the intention is for the neckband to work with other devices.

As for specifications, the 5G Neckband will contain a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 5,000mAh battery; a touchpad, a SIM card slot, and a charging light indicator. All in a form factor coming in at 54 x 97mm (2.1 x 3.8 inches) and weighing 100 grams (3.5 ounces). Then there’s all the connectivity and sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer and GPS all feature as well as the 5G antennae. And that’s just the front pendant.

Magic Leap
Magic Leap One with its external processor.

That’s right, the neckband has a rear “trapezoid-shaped module” which houses antenna and stereo loudspeakers weighing 75 grams (2.6 ounces). There’s no imagery of the rear unit but the companies have said both are connected via coaxes and signal lines. As you can see from the solitary image the cabling looks quite chunky with a magnetic attachment.

“We took a smartphone and exploded it around your neck,” said vice president of technology at Verizon Brian Mecum. “We don’t introduce new form factors or new compute platforms very often in the industry. If we can make it easier for kids to learn and we can make it easier for people in sports leagues to learn without the complexity and friction of big heavy things around their head, it’ll change.”

Details regarding pricing and availability have yet to be revealed but Motorola and Verizon did mention talks are underway with several major partners.

The idea of taking components like the processor and battery out and making them external to the main headset is nothing new. Devices like Magic Leap have been doing that for years but this is a more novel attempt at making an easily worn (almost) fashionable system.

As further details are released, gmw3 will keep you updated.