"Wooorld" is like Google Earth VR lite for Quest 2 - review
Wooorld wants to bring the whole world into your living room so you can explore it with friends. In some ways, it's reminiscent of Google Earth VR.
After six years, Google Earth VR is still one of the most fascinating applications that virtual reality has to offer, but it has been reserved for PC VR for just as long. Wooorld wants to become an alternative for standalone headsets and supports multiplayer to boot.
Features of the app include:
- a mixed reality mode,
- 360-degree views of streets in the style of Google Street View,
- search for locations via text input or voice recognition,
- a geoguessing guessing game,
- hand tracking support,
- the ability to make 3D drawings,
- and take photos and selfies.
Wooorld is a launch title for Meta Quest Pro (info), but it also runs with Meta Quest 2 (report). The biggest difference between the two versions is that Meta Quest 2's passthrough mode is in black and white instead of color. I have only tested the Quest 2 version.
Wooorld: Review in a nutshell
Wooorld gets in its own way with the interface. Graphically the 3D landscapes leave a lot to be desired. However, the app is the only alternative for those who want a 3D experience similar to Google Earth VR on a standalone headset.
Wooorld is suitable for you if you ...
- are looking for a social 3D world exploration app
- like mixed reality and
- love geoguessing.
Wooorld is not for you if you ...
- expect a full-fledged Google Earth VR for standalone headsets,
- are put off by complicated interfaces and
- want to travel through detailed 3D landscapes.
To get the most important thing straight away: If you expect a similarly intuitive control like Google Earth VR, you are in the wrong place with Wooorld. The app starts with a multi-step tutorial, but even after that, the interaction schemes overwhelm. This is also due to the fact that Wooorld is more complex than Google Earth VR.
Instead of completely immersing the user in the 3D world, Wooorld displays the world map within a virtual table, probably for performance reasons, whose width and height can be adjusted separately. This complicates the controls immensely.
Users have to move the world map on the one hand, move themselves on the other hand, and constantly adjust the table to their own needs. In mixed reality mode, the rules are different again, and those who put away the VR controllers and switch to hand tracking are confronted with another 2D interface!
This jumble of modes and interfaces gets in the way of the VR experience. I was more concerned with learning the interface than enjoying the 3D landscapes during my test. The controls are simply a horror to use.
Many 3D cities are missing
The second major disappointment is the 3D landscapes themselves. That is, if they exist.
According to the developers, Wooorld represents about 450 cities in 3D. I was astonished to discover that the large Croatian city where I live exists only as a 2D wallpaper, although it can be admired in Google Earth VR in magnificent 3D. Not even the capital is available in 3D!
This is no exception. Even cities like London and Paris are currently flat. The studio promises to add 3D versions of these cities soon.
Once you have found an area or a city that is available in 3D, disillusionment sets in again. Geometry and textures are rudimentary and not very pretty to look at, even if you activate the full detail level of the 3D display in the settings (see video above). Those whose eyes are spoiled by Google Earth VR will be disappointed.
Still, when I visited the city of my college days, it warmed my heart. The good news is that even at this relatively low level of detail, there's a recognizability and comforting nostalgia, like when I first tried Google Earth VR.
Designed for multiplayer
The Street View feature is well done. You can grab virtual pins and drop them on a street or square. Afterwards, the 360-degree panorama appears around you. The search also works well. The voice control was able to quickly and flawlessly identify which cities and places I named.
I only tried out the multiplayer feature less extensively. The app throws you directly into a room with strangers without being asked, which can be an unpleasant experience.
Fortunately, you can switch to a private room, but only alone. Only with the next update will it be possible to create private rooms for friends.
Then I'll also be more inclined to try the Geoguesser mini-game, where you're teleported to a random area and have to guess where you are based on Street View views.
Conclusion: 3D world exploration with drawbacks
Wooorld wooed me not. At least shortly after the app's launch.
It seems to me that the developers wanted to pack too many features into the program and forgot about the user experience. Bringing something like Google Earth VR to a standalone headset is a technical feat, but the result isn't quite convincing. If I want to travel the world in 3D and demonstrate this experience to others, I'd rather reach for the PC VR classic that's easier to control and more visually impressive.
If you don't have a computer and are dying to experience something similar on Meta Quest 2, you should still give Wooorld a chance. It is the only standalone VR app that offers 3D world exploration.