VR/MR Review

VR – I think my most preferred device is the Oculus Quest. Similar to what the others have mentioned, I like how it is not connected to a PC. I feel this is important as the user will not be able to see anything in the physical world when wearing the headset, and tripping over wires is a likely accident that might happen if one is not careful. However, I have to add that it might be a little bit uncomfortable when it came to wearing it. I tried it once and it felt like it was drooping forwards despite adjusting the straps a number of times. Despite that, I still quite like this headset as it is easy to learn how to use it and the hand controllers are intuitive to use.

MR – I think my most preferred device is Microsoft’s Hololens 2. First of all, it has a very sleek look and seems less bulky compared to other devices in the market. Additionally, I also quite like how the design allows the user to be able to “flip up” the headset. It makes it very convenient to switch between seeing in mixed reality and the real physical world. It is also clear that users can wear spectacles when using this headset. During my internship last summer at a VR company, I helped out in a number of outreach events and I realised there is a common misconception that one has to remove their spectacles whenever they have to put on such headsets. Besides the technical specs, I feel that the design of the headset is also integral in attracting one to want to buy it, as well as ensuring the user is comfortable and enjoys using it.

Credits: Pictures obtained from Google Images

Latest VR/MR Technologies

The field of virtual, augmented and mixed reality has seen various novelty and hype cycles over the past few decades. As the price of hardware devices decreases and research into improving the user experience grows, adoption in multiple industries and use cases is becoming increasingly exciting. 2019 was a huge year for XR headsets and applications. With much hype for next-generation devices like HoloLens 2 and Google Glass EE 2, 2019 saw major developments in enterprise adoption and was a significant year in proving the XR industry is well past its early adoption phase. Let’s take a look at some of the best XR technologies that came out in the past few years.

Latest VR Hardware

VR headsets can be categorised into Standalone, Wireless/Mobile and Tethered.

Tethered headsets are devices that need to be connected to a PC / console / external device usually via cables. By connecting to an external device which hosts the video processing, tethered devices allow for higher computational power to provide better image fidelity and more complex functions. The downside of tethered headsets is the requirement of having to set up the external device in order for your VR device to work. The connection to the external device using cables also limits mobility and portability, although some newer devices tried to resolve this drawback with the option to connect to the external device via bluetooth / WiFi in place of cables.

Mobile headsets are designed usually for use with a smartphone, such as the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream View. By simply placing your smartphone screen into the mobile device, the lenses in the device separate your smartphone screen into two images for each of your eyes, and therefore converts the smartphone screen into virtual reality. This way, mobile headsets do not need to connect to any costly external device via wires, and are relatively much cheaper especially if you already own a smartphone. However, mobile headsets tend to have a limited 3 degrees-of-freedom (DOF), where only direction, and not position, can be detected. As more advanced headsets are developed, mobile headsets have become increasingly obsolete.

Standalone headsets require only the headset itself to get started, removing the need for complex setups. Devices like the Oculus Go and the Lenovo Mirage Solo are some examples of standalone headsets. While the minimum setup requirement is much simpler now, standalone devices tend to be heavier and more limited in controls as all the computational processing is now done on the headset instead of an external device.

The table below lists a few of the latest VR devices in the industry along with some key parameters:

Device Field of View (FOV) Resolution (pixels) Refresh Rate (Hz) Headset Type Connections Price (USD) Remarks
HTC Vive 110° 1080 x 1200 per eye 90 Tethered HDMI, USB 3.0 $499 6 DOF
HTC Vive Pro 110° 1440 x 1600 per eye 90 Tethered Bluetooth, USB-C port,
DisplayPort, USB 3.0
$799 6 DOF
AMOLED screens
HTC Vive Cosmos 110° 1440 x 1700 per eye 90 Tethered DisplayPort, USB 3.0 $899 6 DOF
Oculus Quest 100° 1440 x 1600 per eye
2560 x 1440 in total
72Standalone None $399 (64 GB)
$499 (128 GB)
2 OLED Panels
Oculus Rift S 95° 1280 x 1440 per eye 80Tethered DisplayPort, USB 3.0 $399 6 DOF
Oculus Go 101° 1280 x 1440 per eye 72Standalone None $149 3 DOF
Valve Index 130° 1440 x 1600 per eye 120 (up to 144 in experimental tests) Tethered Custom cable,
DisplayPort, USB 3.0
$999 (for headset, 2 tracking stations, 2 controllers)
$499 (headset alone)
Sony PlayStation VR 110° 960 x 1080 per eye 120Tethered HDMI, USB 2.0 $299  6 DOF
Requires PlayStation 4

Preferred VR Device

My preferred VR device would be the Oculus Quest.

Each of the VR devices have their different specifications which are best suited for different purposes. As a newbie to VR, the Oculus Quest seems like the best choice due to its good blend of performance, ease of usage and affordability.

One of the distinguishing features for the Oculus Quest is that it is a standalone device. Its setup requirements are simple and there is high portability. As a newbie exploring VR development, the ease of setting up and using the device is a huge drawing factor as it reduces my barriers to learning. The wealth of online information/tutorials makes the Oculus an easier tool to learn as well. There is also high versatility as the Oculus is built on Android hardware, and users can share their VR experience with others via smartphone or TV easily. The lack of cables will also give users more maneuverability and built-in sensors to recognize the user’s environment also help to map out the VR space for the user to move in safely.

As a standalone device, the Oculus Quest has relatively competitive performance as well, using a Snapdragon 835 processor, OLED screens and providing 6 DOF motion tracking along with built in speakers to create one of the best user immersions among standalone headsets. While its Snapdragon 835 chipset may not be able to compete with PC systems like the Vive Pro or Rift S, the value in compacting all processing systems into a single headset to remove the need for external setups is still a commendable step in the right direction. The touch controllers are lightweight and intuitive, while the headset is designed to allow for some adjustments to cater to different users.

One downside of the Oculus Quest is the limited battery life, lasting between 2 to 3 hours, but there is still the option to connect the device to a PC for longer periods of usage. The device might also be heavy given that it has to house all the processing units in the headset. Nonetheless, while it may not have the best individual specs in the industry, the relatively cheap Oculus Quest is one of the most value for money VR devices. From a developer and user perspective, the Oculus Quest therefore seems like the best option to begin my VR journey with.

Oculus Quest
Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2019/07/02/facebooks-oculus-quest-fixes-vr-this-is-a-game-changer/#aeabd33135e8

Latest MR Hardware

The field of MR devices is still relatively new compared to VR headsets. Many MR headsets are a combination of VR and MR capabilities. Similar to VR devices, MR devices are built usually with specific use cases in mind, whether it is for business and enterprise level corporate training or for improving the user experience while driving. Below is a list of some of the more prominent MR devices in the market currently.

Device Field of View (FOV) Resolution (pixels) Refresh Rate (Hz) Price (USD)
Microsoft HoloLens 2 52° 2560 x 1440 120 $3500
Magic Leap 1 40° 1.3M pixels per eye 120

Varjo XR- 1 87º Two 1920 x 1080 low persistence micro-OLEDs and two 1440 x 1600 low persistence AMOLEDs 60/90 $5995
Samsung Odyssey 110º 1440×1600 per eye 60 to 90 $499
Asus HC102 95° 1440 x 1440 per eye Up to 90 $429

Preferred MR Device

My preferred MR device would be the Microsoft Hololens 2.

Microsoft Hololens 2

Personally, what excites me about the XR industry is exploring the possible and unexpected use cases the technologies can be applied to. The Hololens 2 was created for factory workers, in places that can spend thousands on a work tool. Its clear and purposeful use case attracted my attention right from the get go. 

Designed with a flip-up visor, the Hololens 2 allows users to transition between the real world and mixed reality world effortlessly. Personally, I like the choice to design MR devices as wearable glasses like the Hololens 2 as opposed to the traditional bulky designs of VR devices, as in the case of the Varjo XR-1. This is crucial to increasing the uptake of MR devices in industries. Users should have as little friction as possible when using MR devices in order to effectively use MR in their daily work/lives. To this end, the Hololens 2 has taken considerable efforts to design a user-friendly device. The device has some of the best specs in the industry which help to provide a comfortable user experience. It is compatible with glasses, offers light, gaze and eye tracking functions, and has voice recognition for commands and control. The breadth of control options enables the user to use the device more efficiently in the real world. The portable device also includes built-in speakers and options for spatial collaboration, helping to revolutionize workplace interactions. 

In terms of performance, the Hololens 2 also boasts some of the best features in the industry. The device has one of the best hand-tracking technologies as compared to other devices, contains a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850, and provides high-resolution graphics through its high frame rate and resolutions. These specifications help push the frontier of the MR industry and its applications. From a developer perspective, the Hololens 2 also has no lack of support from Microsoft. The device also taps on cloud processing power to provide remote rendering for Microsoft azure cloud subscribers, giving it great potential to be a leader in processing power among the MR devices.

While the use case of the Hololens 2 is mainly at the workplace, the leading specs of the device make it an impressive MR headset. While the field of vision is not the largest, the compact design and high ease of uptake make it a leader in the industry. Assuming I had the money, this would be a device I would be excited to try. Nonetheless, between the Varjo XR-1 and Hololens 2, the Hololens is still more affordable and sufficient for most use cases right now. With some of the best specs in the industry which help to provide a comfortable user experience, I believe the Hololen’s technology can be extended to other use cases with further developments, and it would be exciting to see how its other applications continue to push the barriers of the MR industry. This is definitely one example of an MR device developed right and I hope to see more competitive products being rolled out in the industry to help drive the costs down in the long run.

VR/MR Review

Regarding VR headsets, Oculus and VIVE are the more well-known headsets out there. While the idea of VR dates back as early as the 1860s and that the first head-mounted display being made in 1968, it was not till 2010 that VR truly starts to gain widespread public attention.

While VR has its application in fields such as medical and military, it was in the gaming sector, where it truly stands out. Based on this train of thought, it made sense to create VR devices that caters to gaming instead of other fields.

Oculus being one of the frontrunner in the VR gaming sector meant that there is a lot of support available for it be it game titles or profits from selling its device. Additional revenue meant that there is a better ability to come up with better versions of VR headsets.

Oculus Quest VR Headset

While I do not have a specific favorite VR Headset to say, Oculus Quest is likely to be the head set I will be purchasing if I decided to get start with VR now. Asides from the wide plethora of gaming titles available for Oculus products and being wide priced relative to its capabilities and utilities, there are certain specifications that made Oculus Quest stands out from the rest of the headsets.

The first and foremost would be that it is a standalone VR headset. This meant that it is wireless and users do not have to risk tripping over the wires while using the device.

The second standout function it having 6 Degrees of Freedom and that is a pretty big plus. The problem with 3 Degrees of Freedom headsets is that it can only track your head orientation and does not track the position of the headset. Having 6 Degrees of Freedom, Occulus Quest can provide a more immersive experience by giving the feeling that you are actively in the VR world rather than being stuck to a fixed spot only being able to rotate your head and limited to the movements of the controllers.

However, what the Oculus Quest lacks is built in earphones. This meant that there is a need for a additional earpiece or headphone to be plugged in the Oculus Quest itself.

In this aspect based purely on technical specs alone, HTC VIVE FOCUS would be a better device given that it has built in microphone and speakers and also have the functions mentioned above. The downer to this device is that it has a relative high price. Since earpieces are pretty common nowadays, not having built in headphones is not necessarily a negative.

Image result for hololens 2
Person wearing Microsoft HoloLens 2

Mixed Reality is a relatively new concept, where the first time I have heard of it was in the 1st lecture itself. While there are a number of MR headsets out there, HoloLens 2 stands out compared to the rest of the crowd.

One of the more standout features is the futuristic feel to the headset. In Sci-Fi shows, movies and stories, we have heard from time to time that people can just interact with holograms out of thin air and the HoloLens 2 is basically that except for the need of having the headset of course.

The headset is proclaimed to be pretty comfortable even for people wearing spectacles. It would be pretty hard to be immersed in the experience if you are constantly being annoyed with the headset itself.

Favourite VR and MR headsets

Favourite VR headset: Valve Index

Valve Index (full kit)

My favourite VR headset is the Valve Index. Priced at $1000, it costs more than twice as much as an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive, but it does come with some pretty cool specs. It has a resolution of 1440×1600 per eye with a 120Hz refresh rate (higher than the average 90Hz in many headsets). It also features an estimated 130 degree field of view.

While the display specs are good, I am most excited about its unique controllers! They are able to track even individual finger movements! With these controllers, it’s fully possible to reach out and grab an object in virtual reality instead of relying on abstractions that do the grabbing for you. You can watch the finger tracking in action in this YouTube video.

The second thing that I quite like about the Valve Index is the audio system. Instead of headphones that rest over the ears, there is a pair of speakers that sit some distance from the ears. I personally prefer listening to music and game audio on speakers because it’s more comfortable for me, so this is another feature of the Valve Index that would compel me to buy it.

The speakers on the Valve Index rest a distance from the ears. No direct contact is made.

Favourite MR headset: HoloLens 2

HoloLens 2

The HoloLens 2 is one of the most advanced Mixed Reality headsets available now. It is also a rather expensive device, with each unit costing $3,500! At that price tag, it is clear that the HoloLens 2 is targeted at companies and professionals.

Based on reviews written by people who have actually tried out the HoloLens 2, it provides an immersive experience in mixed reality for the wearer. Interaction with virtual objects is seamless, and the objects respond as if they are real objects.

The HoloLens 2 has a visor that can be flipped up when the wearer wants to exit from the mixed reality. The visor has an ergonomic design aimed to promote comfort when wearing the device. It even slides over prescription eyeglasses, making it possible for myopic people to use the HoloLens 2 without having to be blind as a bat. As someone who wears eyeglasses, I appreciate Microsoft’s effort in designing the headset to allow us to comfortably keep our eyeglasses on.

The HoloLens 2 visor can go over prescription eyeglasses comfortably.

VR/MR Headset Review

The Oculus Quest headset is my preferred VR headset in the market currently as it includes many desirable features. Firstly, It is a standalone product which allows ease of movement and no need for connecting wires. It has the ability to rival PC powered VR experience but is less expensive because of the lack of additional gadgets and wireds needed to be connect to the equipment.

Since there are two motion controllers, the Quest offers six degrees of freedom tracking. This implies that the user is able to walk around, crouch or bend comfortably in the VR environment. The user comfort has also been rated to be extremely high for this device as it is quite light on the head and has foam inner lining around the goggles. In terms of resolution, it is also superior to many other headsets (1,440 by 1,600 per eye).

My favorite MR headset would be the Magic Leap One headset. The main selling point of this device is that it uses Light Field technology. This makes it extremely usable and comfortable which also means that it may be more useful in integrating the technology into commercial and real life usage ( incorporating the real world is one of the aspects of MR that is very important to me). The device uses advanced eye tracking and even uses blinks as a control function for the user. Magic Leap One uses Interchangable components which allows greater user comfort experience. There is a lot of funding, around 2 billion, for this product which my allow it to develop faster than other products on the market.

One Magic Leap - VR/AR



Review of VR/AR/MR Headsets

VR/AR/MR is still in its relative infancy. While significant strides have been made in terms of technological improvements and availability of content, it is still seen as a niche.

I’ve only tried two VR/AR/MR headsets, namely Microsoft Hololens 1 and Google Cardboard (doesn’t really count, I don’t think but works well enough for a small introduction to VR, if you can’t afford a full-scale headset.)

But enough about me, here are my thoughts on the VR/AR/MR scene.

Latest Devices on the Market (not exhaustive)

HTC Vive Pro
Steam Index
Oculus Rift S
Oculus Quest
Sony Playstation VR
Microsoft Hololens 2
Samsung Odyssey+
HP Reverb Pro
Pimax 5K Plus

Preferred Devices

For VR: Oculus Rift S

Image result for oculus rift s

This is a subjective opinion, but I personally prefer the Oculus Rift S. I haven’t actually tried any VR headset, so my opinion might be invalid, and is based on research and watching others use the headsets on YouTube. I feel that to have an informed opinion, you got to try them out yourself in person. The Oculus Rift S is affordable, which is big if you want to mass market it to consumers and bring it out of the niche it’s currently in. It is a well-rounded headset, in terms of having better lenses, better controllers and better tracking for the price point. It also doesn’t rely on base stations, which dramatically increases portability.

Having cutting edge features is not going to help the scene if no one’s buying headsets, and so I believe lower cost headsets with features that are just good enough for immersion is the gateway for VR to become more popular. So while other headsets might feature higher FoV/framerates or better displays, it’s wise to be price conscious because VR is a fast moving field and the devices of today might be obsolete really quick because of rapid innovations in VR tech, and so that is why I elected to go with the Oculus Rift S.

For AR/MR: Microsoft Hololens 2

Image result for microsoft hololens 2

I consider Hololens 2 to be the world’s most pre-eminent MR headset. The problem with AR/MR today, similar to VR — is the ubiquity and accessibility of devices to the masses. Make no mistake, the Hololens 2 is not a consumer-grade device, but targeted towards developers instead, priced accordingly.

Since I’ve only personally ever used the Hololens 1, I cannot accurately say how the experience of Hololens 2 would be. One of my issues with Hololens 1 was it’s fairly limited field of view, which is addressed by Hololens 2 with its larger field of view.

The headset is accurate in tracking the real world. The virtual objects placed in the environment seems like they’re really there, and there’s no drifts or deviations in placement. I remember playing a game (a tech demo really) and they had robot drones flying all around the mapped room, and clinging onto the walls, firing at you. I thought that was pretty cool. You can also do random things like putting up YouTube videos on a wall in your office, or open a browser.

MR has a ton of potential use cases, for consumers and enterprises alike and Microsoft is well-placed to be the driving force and catalyst to propel innovation and generate interest in the field with its Hololens 2 offerings.


It’s an exciting time for VR/MR/AR, and maybe 2020 will be the year it all breaks out and becomes the next big thing, and maybe we’ll see VR/MR/AR be common place just like the smartphone revolution, and to a smaller extent — the smartwatch revolution.

The future is nigh.

My idealisation of VR and XR

Admittedly, my experience with VR, AR, and XR is rather limited – I have only tried VR and AR once or twice, and I have not had the opportunity to experience XR yet. Therefore, it is really difficult to dictate any device as a ‘favourite’ without having experienced them all. That said, I still have my own ideas and perceptions of what I desire with these devices. Hence what I write here will be a subjective analysis of the products based on my understanding of the devices and the ideas/technologies they represent.

Favourite VR Device

To me, the outstanding feature of a VR device is not necessarily how well the virtual world can be presented to the user – truth to be told, I think a good monitor(s) can really help with immersion. Instead, when I think of innovation in VR, I think of the controller. VR allows users the capabilities of 3-Dimensional inputs, with movements no longer restricted to just 2 dimensions. So what is the next step?

Image result for valve index controllers

Presenting the Valve Index and its unique controllers! Unlike most of the controllers on the market right now, these controllers do not just track your movements, but they track your fingers too! This allows for much more sophisticated controls – you can now pick up a ball just like in real life, instead of just pressing down on a button. With the controller straps, you could also go hands-free allowing actions users to ‘throw’ objects around naturally. While there has definitely been progress in hand-tracking technologies (such as with the Oculus Quest), I feel that the controller coupled with the hand tracking would allow for seamless transitions in gameplay/interactions between moving a character and performing hand gestures. Lest you end up with weird control schemes like in the Xbox Kinect, where users could use arm gestures naturally, but had to resort to doing weird actions with their bodies to move around (see: Star Wars Kinect).

While I have many thoughts about the other VR devices in the market, I think a short and concise summary of the product and my thoughts should suffice. Ranking from my favourite (after the Valve Index) to least favourite, they are:

Oculus Quest: A standalone VR headset with a relatively cheap price can go a long way in making VR very accessible. Even its short battery life has a silver lining – it is important to rest your eyes once in a while! Also, hand tracking!

PlayStation VR: Another accessible VR headset, that is if you already own a PlayStation 4 console. As the power of the hardware is limited by the PS4, it means that all the software that you buy can be played without any performance issues from having a weak CPU. With the support of Sony, the PlayStation VR also feature an extensive collection of high-quality games to play.

Oculus Rift S: The ‘OG’ VR headset is still quite decent, but the other options either have something unique, or are just more accessible. It also features a cable that helps to provide more power to the headset, but I can see that being a hinderance when users are trying to use the device.

Nintendo Switch VR Kit: While I am a big fan of the creative approach that Nintendo used to enter the VR market, the fact that you have to physically hold the ‘headset’ to your face the entire time looks really, really tiring. It also doesn’t help that it has a very limited library of games. Despite the ability to play older games with a new perspective (ie. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey), it is hard to really judge how influential the new perspective can be without trying it out myself.

Favourite XR Device

On to XR, however, I am much less uninformed about the technology here. I wish I have had a chance to try out one of these products at least once, but I haven’t had the luck. To me, I think XR should be a device that one can use to enhance their daily lives, and I think the demo for Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 really sold it for me. Featuring hand-tracking (which I have already mentioned how much of a gamechanger it could be above), eye-tracking and voice-commands, it seems as though there are many different ways to control and enhance whatever the user is doing. Best of all (not really, but still pretty significant), it features a flip-visor, so that users can easily switch between the mixed reality and… reality without the hassle of removing the headset. Of course, the price is pretty steep, but if we’re looking at my favourite XR headset, this is pretty much what I want XR to be and more.

Image result for hololens 2

Once again, here are the other noteworthy XR devices ranked (after the Microsoft HoloLens 2) as follows:

Oculus Quest: I like it because it can do both VR AND XR, which really gives the user a lot of flexibility on how they want to use the device. Once again, my bias of hand-tracking is still present and swaying my opinions, especially for XR devices, since the user’s own body should be part of the mixed reality.

Magic Leap 1: Despite the lack of hand-tracking, the Magic Leap 1 does feature eye-tracking and voice commands, which still goes a long way in helping users interact with the virtual elements around them. Moreover, the Magic Leap 1 is also available with prescription lenses, which can prove to be helpful to someone like myself. However, the lower field of view compared to the HoloLens 2 seems to play a big part in ruining one’s immersion.

RealWear HMT-1: The RealWear HMT-1 is clearly designed for industrial workers, and while I can definitely see its use and impact, it is simply not what I am looking for in a XR headset. That said, I have to say that aesthetics and functionality wise, I love how the headset is part of a safety helmet, further emphasising what it is for.  

Review of Dark Souls 3, the Game Referred to by Journalists as “The Hardest Game Ever”


After more than 500 hours of playtime in this game, I can safely say that Dark Souls 3 is my favorite game.

Game description

It is an action role-playing video game from a third-person perspective. The game focuses heavily on high-intensity combat with the ability to dodge, block, parry, and stamina management as each action costs stamina which adds a certain challenge to the game.

The screenshot of the game UI. This is the first boss that you will face in the game and it is surprisingly difficult for a first boss.

Action screenshot from the same boss.

Link to the YouTube gameplay

Content (Graphics)  

To start, the game looks amazing visually for a game released in early 2016. The art style is inspired by culture from the late middle ages (1500 – 1600) and the amazing, slightly surreal gothic architecture adds to the unique aesthetics of the game. The music and art style really immersed me in the game and gives a certain dark and gloomy personality to the game which fits the main story.

Content (Gameplay)

The combat in this game is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is extremely fast-paced where I need to be aware of your enemies and surroundings at all time as a few hits are enough to kill my character. Not only that, there is a stamina bar which gets depleted every time you do an action (attack, dodge, run) and thus, it requires me to pay attention to stamina management too on top of the difficult, action-packed combat. While this overwhelmed me in the first few hours, it wasn’t long before I got used to it and started to really enjoy the fast-paced combat system. The difficulty of the combat keeps me on my toes at all time while playing the game which prevents the game from being boring/too easy near the end where most games would start to die down in terms of excitement or challenge (Card 38, The Lens of Challenge).

Despite the game being really-difficult, it is still very fair to the player. The enemies have well telegraphed attack animation with incredibly-accurate hit boxes which can be countered by dodging or parrying at the right timing. This is a skill than can be acquired through practice and it is not unfair to the players as experienced players can even complete the whole game without being hit once by paying attention to the enemies’ attacks. Moreover, the game starts of easy and gets progressively more difficult later-on which gives time to the players to get better at the game as the game progresses. I can really feel myself improving as I continue playing the game and it shows in the decreasing rate of my character dying (Card 39, The Lens of Skill).

The difficulty level is also mitigated by the appropriately-designed reward system. This game rewards players that are willing to take risks by exploring the harder areas early-on to get really-good weapons and armors that can carry them for a good chunk of the game. While playing this game, every reward that I got, be it item or weapon or armor, still give me a sense of pride and accomplishment as all the rewards require you to defeat a hard boss or reach a hard-to-reach areas. Moreover, each reward is always worth the effort it takes to get them where the harder it is to obtain the reward, the better it is. This amazing reward system is what made me want to keep playing the game as I feel like I am getting significantly-stronger after every reward that I get (Card 46, The Lens of Reward).

The game world is completely explorable and there is no explicit direction pointing towards the next checkpoint or goal. As such, you are free to explore the game without being forced to proceed in a certain way. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea as this could possibly cause some players to get stuck and unable to proceed, I still find it to be enjoyable. By not having a clear direction, I feel truly immersed in the game as every direction is point my character to is completely based on my own decision and not influenced by the game’s storytelling or guidelines. This gives me a sense of freedom in gameplay as it allows me to choose what I want to explore in the game (Card 79, The Lens of Freedom).

The game’s story is not based on expositions or dialogue but more on the world-building. There is rarely any interaction or dialogue and the expositions are extremely cryptic. However, the game world is rich with unspoken stories. For example, a certain cursed area of the map shows signs of decay and the enemies gets more and more distorted as my character slowly fight his way to the center of the curse. As you progress through, more and more information about the curse slowly gets revealed before the climactic fight with the boss of the area. There was no dialogue throughout this whole section, but I still managed to get what the story is and how it happened. Moreover, each item in the game has a backstory to it (even objects like a candle) and this allows me to understand the story even more. This unique approach to story-telling really hooked me in as the lack of exposition is mitigated by not only the story-rich game world but also my imagination as to how things could have happened (Card 78, The Lens of Story).

Referring to The Elemental Tetrad

Amazing gothic aesthetics that fits the game’s dark tone and gloomy atmosphere which is complemented by the somber story of the game. The incredibly-accurate hit boxes of every single enemy in the game and the main character really shows how incredible the game’s technology is and the graphics is quite amazing for a 2016 game.

The combat mechanics are where the game really shine where the fluid, fast-paced, and action-packed combat managed to keep the me engaged throughout the whole game. Usually a game feels stale when approaching the ending of the game, but this game still managed to keep me on my toes the whole time even until the 2nd time I played it. The need to manage my stamina, while at the same time avoiding enemy attacks, and the fluid player attack animation makes every enemy encounter exciting.

Overall, this is a very solid game with fluid combat and awesome art style. Despite the game being almost 4 years old, it still has an active community playing which shows just how amazing this game is. I would give it a 10/10.

Overcooked 2 Review

Image result for overcooked 2 story
Poster for Overcooked 2.


Just as the saying goes: “Too many cooks spoil the broth “. Who would think that creating a cooking game for a party of 4 bring about so much chaos in terms of swearing and screaming! Overcooked 2 is a 2v2 Versus / Local Co-Op 1-4 players  party game where you try to manage the chaos in your kitchen while serving dishes on time.

Imagine trying to serve a plate of French fries, your friend trying to find an extinguisher to put out the fire, your friend fell into a trap: this chaos and catastrophe perfectly sums up a simple level in Overcooked.  

Lens 78: The Lens of Story  

Cut-scene from Overcooked 2 Co-Op Mode

You and your friends become cooks to save the Onion Kingdom through venturing different maps to cook and serve food to save the day! Throughout the game, you get to experience different rounds depending on the progress of the storyline and face different scenarios and obstacles which you will need to overcome.

The story was well-thoughted as it really makes you feel like a cook, doing your best to save the day by trying to manage the challenge with your friends in order not to burn something or overcook something which you need to serve. But honestly, it feels like a series of rounds and levels patched together with a thin layer of plot which had little to no significance to whatever you are doing in the game itself.

Honestly, the game did not need a story as I did not really watch the cutscenes and wanted to skip them in order to play the main game. What could have been done better is that the game could have added elements or decision trees during the rounds which affects the future levels and the story which you are going through.

Lens 38: The Lens of Challenge

Image result for overcooked 2 fire
Cooks trying to put out the fire in their kitchen!

Levels do not get progressively difficult. However, there is an interesting twist to this: you get to experience a huge variety of different kinds of maps with different challenging obstacles. For example, you would have to make sure you do not go too fast on the icy levels where you might slip and fall or navigating through the platforms in the space levels. It gets exciting the first few times you play it as you get to enjoy different levels with your friends. However, as you play it again and again, you might find it a bit too repetitive.

Despite this, in the co-op 2v2 mode, your opponent become your biggest challenge. Your opponent can steal your food or sabotage your ingredients as you try to gain more points by serving dishes on time. There is a huge element of sabotage and conflict, which is the driving factor for many party games. As a result, the challenge gets increased significantly, due to the element of opponent and conflict.

Lens 45: The Lens of Competition vs. Collaboration

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Well, the story mode is an 8 as cooperation is key in order to passing the level. You and your 3 other friends will need to help each other to cook, wash the dishes, and put out any fire hazard which someone might have caused. If not, you would need to replay the level until you pass the level. Of course, you can troll your friends by holding onto the dish, but you might get hurled with vulgarities.

For the Versus mode, it is a 5 out of 10 as you feel competitive and want to sabotage the other team to gain an advantage. However, you still need to work with your partner to get the dishes served in time and make sure you get enough points to win that round.

Referring to The Elemental Tetrad

The Aesthetics: It is lively and joyful most of the time and the music selected really suits the map in which the players are in. After all, you would not want to have moody scenes 24/7 when playing a party game. Not only that, visual feedback through music and visuals is good as it would occasionally warn you when you are about to miss an order or reach the end of the time limit.

The Story: Not Significant, would rather not have a story and just play the story mode without the cutscenes itself, which might be annoying at times.

Image result for overcooked 2 controls
Easy to Learn controls based on the Xbox version of Overcooked 2

The Mechanics: They are simple enough as you just need to walk, pick up items and ensure that your kitchen is in order. Perfect for a party game as you can pick up the game easily and play it with a couple of friends who might not have great gaming skills.

Overall, I would give this a 9. It would be a 10 out of 10 if only the story was more interactive and decision trees would affect the story and endings.

My Preferred VR/MR headset

For me, when it comes to VR, the most important aspects which I looked into are resolution, frame rates, connections as well as price. I want something which looks good and is smooth as a VR unit with high latency can worsen the experience. Also, since VR is unlike conventional gaming, I would need to move my head a lot, that would mean the fewer the cables, the better. Last but not least, the price must fit into my budget.

I’ve research on a few competitive VR set on the market currently and these are the specs.

VR headset Resolution Frame rates (Hz) Connections Price (USD$)
Valve Index 1440×1600 RGB LCDs 120 to 144 (experimental) 5m tether, 1m breakaway trident connector. USB 3.0 DisplayPort 1.2, 12V power 500 for just the headset
Oculus Quest 1440 x 1600 72 Wireless 399 (64GB) 499 (128GB)
PlayStation VR 1920 x RGB x 1080 120 HDMI, USB 299.99
Oculus Rift S 2560 x 1440 80 USB 3.0, DisplayPort 399
Image result for oculus quest
Oculus Quest

After careful consideration, I believe the Oculus Quest is the VR headset I am looking for. Compared to other popular VR headset on the market, the Oculus Quest is the jack of all trade. What I like about it compared to another headset is,

  1. It does not need a cable, fully standalone. This allow for greater manoeuvrability.
  2. It does not require a high spec gaming PC, which is a huge cost saving factor.
  3. Not the most affordable VR headset but the price is reasonable.

However, what is lacking in this headset is that the refresh rate is lower compared to other unit, and since it is a fully standalone unit, it would mean that the number of games playable is limited. All in all, it is still a competitive unit and being wireless and reasonably priced is the largest selling point for me.

Once again, the most important aspects which I am looking for in a MR headset is more or less similar to that of VR. However, MR and VR differs a little, where MR have cameras which is able to capture user’s environment and display it onto the headset. Thus, for a more immersive experience, I look into Field of View (FOV) as well. Human has a vision span of approximately , therefore, I believe the experience will be better if the headset’s FOV is close to .

MR headset Resolution Refresh rate (Hz) Connections FOV (degree) Price
Samsung Odyssey 1440 x 1600 60 to 90 HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0 110 499
HP VR1000-127il   1440 x 1440 60 to 90 HDMI 95 Approximately 382.99
Asus HC102   1440 x 1440 Up to 90 HDMI 2.0and USB 3.0 95 429
Acer AH101-D8EY   2880 x 1440 60 to 90 HDMI 2.0and USB 3.0 100 399
Acer AH101 Windows Mixed Reality Headset
Acer AH101-D8EY

From the list, my preferred MR headset would be the Acer AH101-D8EY. As compared to other MR headset, it

  1. Has higher resolution
  2. Has wide FOV
  3. Is affordable.

However, the Acer AH101-D8EY is far from being a perfect MR headset. If we dive deeper into reliability, the Samsung Odyssey can easily took over the Acer AH101-D8EY. It seems that the Acer MR headset has buggy SteamVR compatibility, and camera-based position tracking isn’t as responsive as sensor/beacon based tracking. However, overall the specs are competitive and most importantly, it fit my budget, otherwise I would have easily chosen the Samsung Odyssey.