How to access the metaverse — do you need the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset to gain entry?

AltSpace VR
(Image credit: Future)

Whether or not you have a Quest 2 headset, you may be wondering, "How do I enter the metaverse?" There's all this chatter about a simulated realm that will one day change our lives, but you have no idea how to access it.

First thing's first, I want to debunk two common misconceptions: the metaverse is not a new concept nor is it one monopolized place where everyone can hang out. Platforms like Roblox, Second Life, IMVU, and the now-defunct Club Penguin are all considered metaverse hangouts (the last three were launched in the early 2000s).

So what's with the sudden revival of interest in the metaverse? With VR headsets becoming more popular among everyday consumers, Meta (formerly Facebook) and other companies are competing to become prominent players in the metaverse market.

What kind of metaverse apps are there?

Some metaverse platforms believe that the future of the simulated realm involves cryptocurrency, allowing users to purchase digital real estate, skins, accessories, and more with Bitcoin alternatives.

For example, Decentraland and Sandbox are two of the most popular blockchain-based metaverse platforms, allowing users to socialize with people all around the world. Decentraland and Sandbox use MANA and SAND, respectively, to power their virtual ecosystems. Users often purchase these cryptocurrencies on Coinbase.com (opens in new tab) to elevate their experiences on both platforms.

Decentraland

Decentraland (Image credit: Decentraland)

It's worth noting, however, that Decentraland and Sandbox cannot be accessed with a VR headset. Both can be downloaded and played on a PC or Mac.

If you're curious about metaverse apps you can access with Meta's Quest 2 headset, let's talk about VRChat, Rec Room, Horizon Worlds (Meta's metaverse app), and AltspaceVR (Microsoft's metaverse app). If you want to deal with whiny, high-pitched children all day, head to the first three. If you want a more adult-centered, mature experience, AltspaceVR is the best of the four.

AltspaceVR

AltspaceVR (Image credit: Microsoft/AltspaceVR)

AltspaceVR targets the 18+ audience and it often holds incredible events where you can meet many likeminded individuals. You can sip hot cocoa while listening to comedian hopefuls bomb on stage, spin around on an ice skating rink while an indie band puts on a show, and even meditate in a Tibetan temple with fellow mindfulness friends.

Do I need a headset to access the metaverse?

No, you don't need a VR headset to access the metaverse. For example, VRChat, Horizon Worlds, and AltspaceVR let you use your PC to navigate their social VR worlds. However, there will be limited functionality in some cases.

Oculus Quest 2 review

Oculus Quest 2 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If you sign on to AltSpaceVR on your PC, for example, you'll be able to talk and joke around with folks in the metaverse like other headset-wearing participants, but if someone waves at you, you won't be able to wave back. The Quest 2 headset comes with controllers, giving users hand-tracking capabilities PC users don't have.

Using a headset also makes the experience far more immersive in a Ready Player One kind of way. When you're signing onto a metaverse app on your PC, the dichotomy between your physical and virtual worlds is more conspicuous. However, once you have the Quest 2 headset strapped to your head, it's easier to forget that you're inside a game.

If you decide to get a headset to access the metaverse, we recommend getting the Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as the Oculus Quest 2). We also highly suggest pairing the Quest 2 with the Elite Strap, which ensures that the headset fits more comfortably on your head. 

How do I access the metaverse with the Quest 2?

Once you've secured your Quest 2, you may be wondering, "OK, how do I gain entry to this magical metaverse everyone keeps talking about?" Well, as mentioned at the outset, there isn't one giant social VR environment that you can enter; there are several.

We recommend that you explore Rec Room, Horizon Worlds and VRChat on your own time, but if you want to visit a simulated realm that is paragon of what the metaverse should be like, we'll show you how to access AltspaceVR on the Quest 2.

1. Fire up your Quest 2 headset and you should land in your home environment.

2. Press the Oculus button on the right controller to pull up the hovering taskbar menu.

3. Select the Store button and input "AltspaceVR" into the search bar.

4. Download AltspaceVR.

5. After the download is complete, launch the app. You'll be prompted to enter your Microsoft username and password.

6. Once you've completed the onboarding process, personalize your avatar however you like.

7. You can access various worlds inside AltspaceVR by clicking on "Worlds." From art museums to network events and pool parties to rock concerts, there's always plenty to do in AltspaceVR. Don't see anything that catches your eye? Just hang out at the campfire site, which is where everyone meets before teleporting to a different world.

Don't forget to check out our feature of the metaverse's seedy underbelly as we explored the hidden strip clubs inside VRChat.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!