We tested Horizon Worlds, Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse

Explore, create, play together… Horizon Worlds is a playful first glimpse of the future Metaverse of Meta, the new name of the Facebook group. Available for several months in the US and Canada, it has been rolling out in France since Tuesday, August 16, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. The opportunity to get a first glimpse of what awaits us in what is being heralded as the future of the Internet, for better or for worse.

Reserved for users over 18, you must have an Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset sold for €450 by… Meta. Last February, Mark Zuckerberg’s group claimed 300,000 users on Horizon Worlds. But before you start fantasizing about this metaverse, you should know that Horizon Worlds is still just a spinoff of what an immersive world could really be in a few years, Web3.

Horizon Worlds is still entirely in English. It offers four large rooms. Credit: screenshot.

First step in Horizon Worlds: Create your avatar

The Horizon Worlds app is available for free in the Oculus Quest Store. Just download it and then launch the game to enjoy it. First step, mandatory, create your avatar. In fact, without appearance, impossible to enter the metaverse. But you have the freedom to choose the one that suits you. Female or male, thin or fat, young or old, with skin color of your choice, desired hairiness, etc. everything is configurable. And adjustable as desired afterwards. There are a good number of options, but all of this is still largely lacking in detail for the result to really be the same (if you want an avatar on your photo).

You can also choose your clothes, even if your avatar in Horizon Worlds has nothing under the belt: neither legs nor feet. In a few minutes the trick is done. This avatar is automatically linked to your Facebook account. When customization is complete, you have the three main rooms of Horizon Worlds: Game (to play), Waiting (see/join) and hang out (to encounter). In addition, there is a way to create your own world. 10,000 of them have been created by users of the game since its launch, according to Meta.

First step in Horizon Worlds: Create your avatar. Credit: screenshot.

But just before we enter one of the metaverse environments, there is one last step waiting for us. The system informs us that we can display a menu in the palm of our hands at any time. Simply turn your palm towards you to access various options and settings (mute your microphone, report annoying behavior, change activity, etc.).

Welcome to a new world

For now, it must be said that this metaverse leaves nothing to be desired. Even without having high hopes for this sketch of a new world, the rendering still leaves something to be desired. Above all, the system is slow. As soon as you change universes, wisely take your problems patiently while the elements take charge. Creating the visual rendering, preparing for visitors … with all this anticipation, we would be entitled to hope for a high level of detail and real fluidity, but we are far from it. The sets are rudimentary to say the least.

The interactions remain. Horizon Worlds warns us right before entering the game for the first time: behind all the avatars there are “real people”. As a result, every crossover character in this metaverse is a member of Facebook. During our wanderings we encountered young American teenagers in the play areas (point and shoot in a team, fighting zombies, etc.). Despite the official rule of not allowing minors in, it doesn’t seem complicated to get around the rule…

A Horizon Worlds under high surveillance

During our visit to the Hang Out world, we met a dozen people there. First choice: a somewhat heated discussion between a couple of avatars. Apparently one of them used a swear word and the others didn’t like it. We quickly took a walk somewhere else… Right towards the basketball court, which seems more inviting. A certain Daniel_Kutomz, definitely a teenager who had not yet changed by the sound of his voice, was on the field taking a selfie with other players.

Obviously we shouldn’t have touched his ball… here he makes fun of our agility and starts giving us a virtual “slap” or two. It’s more ridiculous than anything, but immediately a certain Robocop, wearing the “community guide” badge, lectures him. “Remain calm and respectful, Daniel. Otherwise I’ll have to ban you from the field, you know that.”, he warns. Teenage life in the metaverse is eerily reminiscent of teenage life on the playground. Next.

Robocop, the one
Robocop, the “community guide”, summons a young avatar to order. And he doesn’t like it. Credit: screenshot.

Meeting of the third kind (who complained about his girlfriend)

In the universe Waiting, although there weren’t many people when we went there, a few avatars were hanging around a table. Finally a bit above. Because who says no legs, says… no room. Between two packets of popcorn, here are three avatars in full discussion. To avoid cacophony, it is only by getting closer to the trio that we begin to hear their conversation.

The truce of formalities, under nickname and avatar, the shyness quickly disappears and one easily joins the conservation where one was never invited to participate. From conversation it was actually more like group psychotherapy. An avatar with a male appearance (and voice) explained his daily life to two other characters, with female forms. And obviously it was not joy with his girlfriend. He needed to unpack his bag in front of strangers. After 10 minutes of complaining and blaming, the flight seemed to us the best option… A little click of the palm to leave Horizon Worlds and here we are back to reality. With some relief.

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