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Palmer Luckey’s new VR headset is to die for. Literally

Question: do you remember Palmer Luckey? If you’re into VR gaming, the name might ring a bell. In case you’re not, Palmer’s been making a name for himself ever since the Oculus Rift launched. As a VR pioneer, Palmer has been trying to shape the VR landscape since 2009, something he’s now attempting again. Only this time, his newest VR headset is designed to blow your mind in the most literal sense of the word.

How? By actually blowing your face off when you die in-game. Fitted with three explosive charges, this Meta Quest Pro-looking contraption is designed to plaster your back wall with brain tissue in the case of an in-game demise. So if you’re looking for total immersion, this is it.

The biggest question might be “Why?” and Palmer is willing to elaborate on it. As he explains in his latest blog post, Sword Art Online’s NerveGear is why. Apparently, people have been asking him endlessly if he ever watched it. Those same people allegedly also had questions about a real-life NerveGear. And if people want it, why not give it to them?

The popularity of SAO led to massive otaku enthusiasm for Oculus, especially in Japan, which quickly became our 2nd largest market.  In turn, the existence of the Rift made SAO itself seem far more plausible and grounded – a story that had been written in a world where VR was a dead technology was now straight out of the gamer hype headlines.  This synergy had meaningful impact on our dev kit sales and adoption – literally thousands of people reached out to me asking variations of “Have you seen Sword Art Online?  When will you make the NerveGear real?!”.  The Oculus SDK was the closest thing to SAO’s World Seed, a software tool that enabled anyone to create incredible VR worlds.

Unfortunately for all the ‘suicide by VR’ contemplating people out there, development on this NerveGear is only halfway done. The lethal half is in the bag, but the perfect-VR portion ain’t. According to Palmer, that might even take him a couple of years to figure out. Plus, having three obvious death deliverers strapped to your frontal lobe isn’t exactly inconspicuous. And since SAO’s NerveGear was designed to hide the deadly part, there’s also work to be done on that.

But hey, if your idea of ultimate VR is to have your noodle blown out after seeing a game-over screen, count yourself ‘luckey’. You might just get your ‘shot’ at it at some point. Then again, there might be that issue of getting this VR headset approved. If you’re more into VR headsets that won’t kill you, PlayStation has the VR2 coming up which is less lethal. That one only kills your savings account.