THE YEAR OF THE VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS: Part 1

Best VR Gifts for Christmas: Headsets & Experiences

Christmas. It’s about coming together with all your best people. Reuniting with your favourite family and friends from near and far. We’ve never known it any other way. This year, Covid-19 is doing its best to limit this across the world but our Christmas-loving team here at Circus is not having it. So we’ve been busy tapping into the magic of the virtual world to find ways to spark the Christmas spirit at home. From meeting together in new and exciting ways, playing one another in thrilling games, to discovering mysterious parts of the world together.

In this, our blog mini-series, we’ll look to bring you a whistle-stop tour of simple, practical ways you can harness the brilliance of the virtual world to make this Christmas special.

VR Headsets

Never has buying a cool VR gift for Christmas been as relevant, or as accessible as it is today. Prices are lower than ever before and cover a range of budgets. But alongside this, the spectrum of VR gifts and technologies is vast. From VR and AR headsets and games, to VR experiences, PCs and 360 / VR cameras. Where to start in the hunt for the perfect gift?

To make things easy, we’re starting with the essentials. The fundamentals that’ll bring the biggest smile to your recipient: VR Headsets and Experiences. 

For Best VR headsets, we’ll draw on the work by The VR Reviews Team. Luckily for us these 6 tech-savvy gaming experts have drawn up this handy list of the 16 best VR gifts for Christmas 2020. Within it, they’ve handpicked and evaluated the brilliance-against-cost-effectiveness of a range of market-leading headsets. Results as follows:

  • OCULUS QUEST 2: Comes out top overall. “Latest and greatest features on the market”. Lighter than its predecessor and considered good value for money.
  • HTC Vive: Best Immersive Mid-Range Priced Tethered VR Headset
  • Oculus Rift-S: Overall Best Mid-Ranged Tethered Headset [Editor’s note: this has since upgraded to the Oculus Rift-S]
  • Lenovo Mirage Solo: Best Stand-Alone VR Headset
  • Pansonite VR: 2nd Best Low Budget Virtual Reality Headset
  • Sony PlayStation VR: Best Console-Based On Budget & Tethered VR Headset
  • Google Daydream View: Best Low Budget Google VR Mobile Headset
  • Samsung Gear VR: Best Low Budget Virtual Reality Mobile Headset

Many in-the-know bloggers converge on these top picks in one way or other (WindowsReport.com, WHATVRgearbrain). They also cover the more basic VR headsets for iPhone and Android phones, such as the Google Cardboard VR Kit – a fun entry-level kit to experience virtual reality and 360 degree videos.

VR Experiences

For VR Experiences. There’s no doubt an impressive array available for different headsets. Here’s a few top picks from our very own Circus team. Admittedly mainly available on Oculus, but several cover other headsets too.

Richie’s Plank. Simply put: our team’s Number One! A classic VR experience which has aged well. Perfect for entertaining friends and family – even for introducing them to VR for the first time. The experience was designed to invoke “the strongest possible emotions in the shortest possible time.” You get to walk the plank 80 stories high up. Your knees will go weak. Team tip: Set up a real (low!) plank; have spotters on standby to catch your guests in case they fall; and try out “nightmare mode”, sky writing and flying in the 3 hero academy missions. Amazing fun!

Mission: ISS. VR at its best, this Emmy-nominated simulation takes you on a trip into orbit, experiencing life on board the International Space Station. Real NASA astronauts guide you on the ISS through archival video clips. You move and work in zero-gravity, dock a space capsule, take a spacewalk. Awe-inspiring!

The Climb. A classic VR game and a favourite among VR experts. You get to scale epic heights, immerse yourself in beautiful locations, and experience the adrenaline rush of extreme free solo climbing.

National Geographic Explore VR. You set off as a National Geographic explorer to discover 2 of the most iconic locations on the planet. In Antarctica, you get to climb a massive ice shelf, navigate around icebergs in a kayak, and survive a raging snowstorm as you search for a lost emperor penguin colony. 

In Machu Picchu, Peru, you immerse yourself in incredible digital reconstructions of the ancient Inca citadel. Watch mummy worship, encounter alpacas, or raise a cup of sacred chicha…

Beat Saber: Our team’s top choice for a truly funky and entertaining game! It’s a unique VR rhythm game where you aim to slash the ‘beats’ (essentially small cubes) as they come at you. You end up dancing as you bounce through the levels and avoid obstacles. Each beat displays which saber you need to use and also the direction you need to match. The music is composed to perfectly fit the handmade levels, and new music packs mean you can even listen to your preferred genre. 

Population: One. This brand new VR experience is taking the VR experiences world by storm.  Its unique “Vertical Combat System” brings unparalleled freedom and mobility. You get to climb anything you see to gain the high ground advantage; fly through the map to rain down bullets from above; and build strategic cover to protect your squad. What more could you want to do at Christmas?

We hope this helps a little.

Happy virtual shopping!

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