Google’s tweaked Daydream View VR headset doubles down on virtual tourism

Google’s Daydream View is only a year old, but it’s already receiving a minor refresh to make one of the best mobile VR headsets even better as Google invests in virtual tourism.

The tweaks on the hardware side are minor, but welcome. Most notably, the new Daydream View includes updated high-performance lenses that promise better visual quality and a wider field of view—though Google didn’t delve into hard numbers. The original model had a ho-hum 90 degree FOV. As far the visuals go, it makes sense for Google to stay vague there, as the Daydream View requires a Daydream VR-enabled smartphone like the new Pixel 2 to act as its brains and screen, and display quality varies from device to device.

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HTC Vive buyers now get Fallout 4 VR for free

Fallout 4 VR. Doom VR. Skyrim VR. Whether or not they turn out good, it’s safe to say Bethesda’s upcoming slate of VR titles mark virtual reality’s biggest software launch since…well, ever. Three well-regarded and “full-length” games, all ported in full—and exclusive to the HTC Vive, at least on the PC side.

HTC’s taking full advantage of the situation, announcing today that from now until some as-yet-unknown time in the future, all new Vive headset purchases will be bundled with a free copy of Fallout 4 VR. Given that the hardware currently retails for $100 more than the Oculus Rift after this summer’s price cuts, a $60 freebie should help take some of the sting out of the price and help the Vive compete against Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

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Intel kills its standalone Project Alloy VR headset, as PC-powered VR wins out

Intel has decided to halt development on its Project Alloy standalone VR headset, executives said, as a standalone headset proved to be no match for PC-powered VR.

In August 2016, Intel launched Project Alloy in conjunction with Microsoft, as one of the first instances of making the technology behind virtual reality into an open-source platform, sort of like the PC. But Intel decided not to go forward with the project for two reasons, according to Kim Pallister, the director of the Virtual Reality Center of Excellence at Intel: lack of customer interest, and a discovery that a self-contained headset just didn’t offer the performance of a PC that could be plugged into a wall.

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Intel may tie future Core CPUs to the VR trend with dedicated features

Intel is exploring ways to accelerate virtual reality by building dedicated logic into its integrated Core microprocessors that would improve VR on even basic notebooks. Comments from Kim Pallister, the director of the Virtual Reality Center of Excellence at Intel, in a short interview on the eve of the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) in San Francisco, imply that these features are in the design stage. It’s not clear when those improvements will roll out to the computing community at large, however.

Virtual reality remains a hot topic among chip companies like Intel, which see the demands of VR—high video resolutions at high frame rates, with sensor inputs across six degrees of freedom requiring even more computational horsepower—as a driver for new, more powerful chip architectures. But there are limitations: With clock speeds effectively capped at a bit faster than 4 GHz, Intel doesn’t necessarily have the horsepower in its Core chips available to power VR. And even if it did, the trend toward declining PC prices says that consumers wouldn’t necessarily want to pay for it. 

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This week in games: KFC’s creepy VR training, Anno 1800 revealed, Brink goes free-to-play

Between the start of the fall release crunch and the increasing importance of Gamescom, we’ve had quite a news week. We already wrote about Age of Empires IV and Jurassic World Evolution, but it turns out that was just the tiniest tip of the Titanic-sinking iceberg.

Tyranny shows off its upcoming expansion, Destiny 2 unveils a premature launch trailer, Battlefront II debuts its 24-player space battles, Brink goes free-to-play, Ubisoft announces Anno 1800, KFC plans to train employees with virtual reality, and more.

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