If ever there were a year to try games that can drop you into an alternate reality, 2020 would be it. As the coronavirus pandemic restricts our travel and the never-ending news cycle weighs on our minds, a virtual reality headset can provide some relief, escape and distraction (at least for a little bit) from actual reality. It’s one of the best ways to leave home from the comfort of your home.The goggle-like gadgets, which float a screen in front of your eyes to create a virtual 360-degree landscape, offer an immersive way to play increasingly powerful video games, make art, exercise, and even spend time with friends. And it’s a good time to get in on the action: In the past, VR headsets were attached to a computer and were, for most people, prohibitively expensive. But the new generation is surprisingly approachable. Facebook recently launched the Oculus Quest 2, a $300 headset that Wirecutter named its top pick because it doesn’t require cords or a computer — you can slip it on and start playing just about anywhere, though it does require a Facebook account to use. An alternative is Playstation’s PSVR, but with outdated specs and a new PlayStation due in November, the PSVR will soon be obsolete. Other VR headsets, like the Vive and Valve Index, are pricier and require PCs.
The rapidly expanding VR universe, which is accessible from an app store within the headset, will please beginners of all tastes and ages, from an experienced PC gamer to your 8-year-old niece. Here are some tips on where to begin.