While the concept of virtual reality is far from new, we’re finally beginning to unlock the potential. In the past year and change, several new VR headsets have made their way to market. The HTC Vive provides the most immersive and exciting experience of all.
Pros and Cons
|● Best VR experience|
|● 1:1 user tracking|
|● Favored by game developers|
|● Largest field of play|
|● Comfortable for extended use|
|● Hefty price tag|
|● Requires high end GPU|
|● Being tethered|
Look and Feel
From the moment you unbox the HTC Vive, it’s clear this thing means business. The headset is clad in a mean matte black and loaded with indented sensors that help track the user within the virtual world. One thing you notice immediately as compared to other headsets is a camera. The camera provides an additional level of tracking within the virtual space. If you’ve looked into other VR headsets, you’ve noticed this feature is exclusive to the Vive.
When it comes to comfort, the Vive performs well. Comfortable foam lines the area where your face makes contact with the headset. The rear head strap helps to distribute the weight of the unit evenly. Dialing in a custom fit is easy. The straps are all completely adjustable, as is the distance between your eyes. Different sets of padding are included depending on your face shape.
As for what’s under the hood, the Vive blows the competition out of the water. The HTC Vive features two beautiful 1080×1200 displays and a 110-degree field of view. The 90Hz refresh rate provides a silky smooth video experience. Then, you have the sensors. Between the headset and controllers, the Vive contains over 70 sensors. All these sensors work together to sense any movement you make, down to 1/10th of a degree. All of these aspects work in harmony to create an amazing virtual reality experience.
Ease of Use
The Vive requires a bit more legwork to set up than similar headsets. Vive requires the use of two motion trackers, called Lighthouses for gameplay. Thankfully, HTC and Steam took care of a lot of the initial setup headaches thanks to their thorough and funny setup guide. After a few minutes of setup, you’re ready to enter the world of virtual reality.
The only real downside to the Vive is the wires. You run the risk of tangling yourself in the wires when playing. HTC seems to have addressed this issue with its tether-less upgrade kit. The new hardware isn’t without its price, though. Expect to shell out another $330AUD to cut your cords. In the meantime, this is an area the front camera comes in handy. You can toggle the camera on and off to see the real world while you’re in game. So, the camera can be helpful for untangling yourself should you get caught up in the wire.
The provided Bespoke controllers deserve their own section. You can’t match their level of functionality in the VR space. Each controller features buttons, triggers and a touch panel. Sensors within the controller track each movement with no observable latency. At worst, they’re a little clunky looking. But, no other controller comes close to doing what the Vive’s Bespoke controllers can.
SteamVR provides the extensive library of HTC Vive games and features the best VR games to date. So far, there are three different types of games.
- Room Scale – These are the best VR games. In room scale games, you’re able to interact with the full field of play. Room scale games unlock the full potential of the virtual reality experience.
- Standing Only – These types of games are ideal for gamers with smaller bedrooms. In standing only games, you’re able to interact with the environment in a limited capacity. You can still duck and lunge and that type of stuff, but you can’t walk around the full environment.
- Controller Based – These games still provide the virtual reality experience. But, they’re pretty much useless without an Xbox One controller. I think you’ll find that while the controller based and standing only games are awesome, the best VR games are room scale.
Best VR Games
I’ve only had my headset for about a week now, so I haven’t had the chance to sink my teeth into the full game library. These three games have been my favorite so far.
- The Blu – Call it bias since this was the first VR game I played. But, it’s going to be hard for it’s beautiful and immersive experience. Without giving too much away, the game offers three different VR experiences. Swim a coral reef surrounded by tropical fish and other sea creatures, dive a shipwreck or explore the deepest depths of the ocean. Each of the three experiences is amazing.
- The Brookhaven Experiment – This one is not for the faint of heart and playing it scared me half to death. It’s your typical first person zombie shooter. The unreal graphics and immersive nature of the game make it memorable, though.
- Space Pirate Trainer – This may be my favorite game so far. Space Pirate Trainer will get you up and moving as you duck, lunge and dodge yourself out of the way of incoming fire. I figure if I play this game a half hour a day, I’ll never have to hit the gym again.
Price and Where to Buy
Ah, the price. As I’m sure you’ve seen in other HTC Vive reviews, the Vive will set you back about $1399AUD. It’s also well worth the price tag. If you can afford it, your only concern should be where you can buy the HTC Vive. Once you get your Vive, I’m confident you’ll forget all about the hefty price.
There isn’t a virtual reality headset on the market that can compare to what the HTC Vive is capable of. The price might be steep, especially if you’re planning on taking your VR games wireless. But, if you’re serious about getting the most out of virtual reality, the HTC Vive is the only headset to own.