First look at Meta’s Project Cambria VR headset leaves us underwhelmed

After months of promising that his Project Cambria headset would revolutionize the worlds of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally given us our first taste of what it can do; and we are more than a little disappointed.

After the resounding success of the Meta Quest 2 (formerly Oculus Quest 2), Meta’s next headset has been set up perfectly for a home run. VR is more popular than ever, and the Quest 2 leads the pack with its standalone design, impressive capabilities, and library of incredible (and exclusive) VR games.

Project Cambria is set to adopt everything that made the Quest 2 great, but will take everything to the next level with improved specs and features.

One such upgrade is Color Pass, a tool that will allow Cambria wearers to see the real world around them in color rather than monochrome like on the Quest 2.

This unimpressive polling feature will actually be a massive upgrade to Meta’s headset mixed reality capabilities. But based on Mark Zuckerberg’s demo, you’d be forgiven if that wasn’t the impression you got.

A not-so-next-gen presentation

In a post on his Facebook page, the CEO of Meta gave us a one-minute insight into his time playing The World Beyond.

This mixed reality game is built using Meta’s new presence platform (more on that in a minute) and features a cute alien/rabbit/fox hybrid as your trusty companion (imagine a Stitch from the 2002 Disney film Lilo and Stitch).

The game itself looks fun, Zuckerberg throws a virtual ball for his mate to retrieve, and he gives the little creature a scratch on the head when he does a good job. It is indeed an AR Tamagotchi.

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But the presentation of the demo carries a college video project vibe.

We barely get 30 seconds of footage of Zuckerberg actually playing the game, let alone from his perspective. Adding insult to injury, the few clips we get from inside the headset are a jerky mess – showing that Cambria won’t bring much improvement to the Quest 2’s lackluster video recording features.

It looked like the kind of footage you’d expect from a leak – something shot in a hurry to avoid getting caught by superiors – not an official first look.

Project Cambria was touted as the PS5 of Quest 2’s PS4, but this demo makes it look more like the PS4 Slim.

Beyond the color, nothing from The World Beyond seemed impossible on the Quest 2 – perhaps that’s why a monochrome version is coming “soon” to the headset’s App Lab program according to Zuckerberg.

Much like his Foo Fighters VR gig, Meta needs to stop hampering his own efforts.

The attendance platform looks really cool. This will allow developers to use AI and machine learning to create inventive mixed reality experiences with manual and voice interactions. But what we’ve seen so far doesn’t look particularly groundbreaking.

With the Project Cambria headset coming this year, it’s only so long before Meta and Zuckerberg give us a proper presentation to show us what his new hardware looks and is capable of. But this demo definitely dampened our expectations.

Turns out the “Meta killer” we’ve been waiting for isn’t PSVR 2 or Valve Index 2, it’s Meta itself.

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