A YouTuber tried BlockVerse's mixed reality mode at "field scale" outdoors, describing it as "Minecraft in real life".
BlockVerse is a Minecraft clone for Meta Quest headsets with a twist: it supports mixed reality, not just virtual reality. The default mixed reality view presents a chunk of the world as a miniature diorama floating in front of you, but it also supports a full-scale mixed reality mode.
To use this mode practically, you'll need a warehouse or flat outdoor space. You'll probably also want to enable developer mode to disable the headset's safety boundary, since it only supports 15x15 meter spaces at most.
YouTuber Brandon Ballinger (AwakenToast) tried out exactly this with his Quest 3, and the result is a glimpse of the enormous barely-tapped potential of outdoor mixed reality gaming:
Ballinger starts by digging a virtual hole in the physical ground, expressing amazement at the "sense of depth" looking down into it. Throughout the video you see him carefully avoid falling into virtual holes he digs, stepping around them despite the fact that, of course, they're not really there.
He goes on to build a virtual house, noting that it seems to stay in place even as he roams around the large grassy area, suggesting Quest 3's positional tracking system has little-to-no drift even at this scale.
When he adds a ceiling to the house it becomes clear just how blurred the line between virtual and mixed reality can be. Seeing his only view of the real world through the empty doorway highlights how mixed reality can be a spectrum of merged spaces rather than a binary on/off button.
Quest 3's lack of dynamic occlusion (it's currently experimental and can't be shipped in apps yet) is also clearly on show here, however. At several points in the video you can see Ballinger walk in front of trees, yet his virtual creations are still rendered in front of it. What's even more jarring is that when he's joined by children at the end of the video, they should appear as if in his virtual house, but instead are only visible through the doorway as if half in the ground.
On a more positive note, what strikes me about this video was just how compelling games like this could be with local colocated multiplayer. Yes, the now-defunct Minecraft Earth tried this on mobile. But seeing virtual objects in the real world in a headset is a fundamentally different and better experience to just seeing them on your phone camera preview screen.
As Meta makes the safety boundary less restrictive, we may soon see a wave of outdoor mixed reality games where you and your friends can take your headsets to a park to play games and craft creations together. Games could even incorporate public play and persistence, for a massively multiplayer experience in the physical world. How far off are we from a "Pokémon Go moment" for mixed reality headsets?
Developers and users are exploring mixed reality at a pace we've never seen before, and we'll be following developments closely. If you see something interesting being done with mixed reality please let us know about it with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.