Meta is adding a new “voice mode” to Horizon Worlds that garbles any voice chat coming from non-friends on the VR social platform, the company has announced. By default you’ll still hear all nearby users at the same volume but turning on the “garble voices” toggle will replace them with “unintelligible, friendly sounds.” The feature will roll out in the coming weeks, according to Meta.
According to a screenshot of the toggle shared by Meta, the feature can be used to make users “feel more comfortable or safe.” It follows a series of reports about harassment that users have experienced on the social VR platform, which came out of beta late last year. In February, Meta introduced a “personal boundary” system in February that’s on by default, and prevents other users from getting into your personal space.
When you use Voice Mode to garble the speech of those around you an icon will appear above your display name to indicate that you can’t hear what strangers are saying. But if you’d like to temporarily unmute them you can do so by raising your in-game hand to your ear using a motion controller.
Interestingly, Meta’s screenshot of the Voice Mode feature shows it alongside a separate toggle that lets you mute non-friends entirely. Presumably, allowing you to still hear their voices in garbled form is meant as a compromise so you can still hear the general social hubbub of a room without being subjected to potentially abusive comments from strangers.
Meta announced the new safety feature alongside the service’s launch in the UK. The country is the third to see the release of Horizon Worlds alongside the USA and Canada. The VR social platform is a core part of the company’s pitch for its metaverse future, and includes the ability for creators to build their own levels for other players to experience.