Virtual Reality (VR) has come a long way since the early days of Nintendo’s VirtualBoy. With both formidable upstarts and global electronics giants taking a stab at the burgeoning immersive gaming market, the space is surely one to watch for extreme innovation in the coming months and years. And with acquisitions like Facebook’s recent purchase of Oculus Rift, you can be sure that race for the VR gaming pole position has only just begun.
Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC recently jumped into the VR game with its Vive headset, developed in conjunction with with giant PC game producer Valve. Here are the top 13 things you need to know about this innovative VR platform.
13. Vive is a joint project between HTC and Valve.
Vive was created by HTC in partnership with Valve. The gaming platform offers a unique experience that utilizes the space around the user during gameplay.
12. Its controllers redefine hands-on gameplay.
Due to motion-sensing controllers, Vive offers a more efficient and immersive experience when compared to other VR systems on the market. The system comes with two handheld controllers, each equipped with a trackpad, dual-stage triggers, and 24 sensors that can accurately track movement.
11. The headset is capable of full-body tracking.
The Vive unit also contains two base stations that can track 360° motion. These stations are placed around the user for accurate pinpointing and a highly synchronized experience. The base stations enable the Vive to track the user’s full body movements while giving allowing them to roam freely.
10. It features some of the most advanced VR graphics on the market today.
The headset can display high definition images at a 2160 x 1200 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. It has 32 sensors built-in that can track movement for 360° and an impressive 110° field of view. A notable feature is the front-mounted camera that can display real-world images blended with in-game graphics for a gaming experience in augmented reality.
9. The price of the Vive is more expensive than its competitors.
The Vive is $799 in the HTC Vive store, but won’t be shipped until May 2016. Despite being pricier than the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, the Vive offers a markedly superior gaming experience.
8. Vive requires a hefty PC desktop or workstation to run optimally.
The HTC Vive needs a mid/high end with at least an Intel Core i5-4590k CPU and a Nvidia GTX 970 (or any Radeon equivalent graphics card) to optimally.
7. Vive already has a wide selection of game titles available, thanks to Valve.
Thanks to the Valve partnership, the Vive fully supports the Steam VR platform, allowing it to run a myriad of titles from an expansive, ever-growing game list (e.g., GTA V, Metal Gear Solid V, Minecraft, and more).
6. Ample physical space is required for optimal game play.
The Vive needs room to work: at least 4.5 by 6 feet of free space is required for a optimal VR experience. This amount of space is necessary for tracking a full range of user movements.
5. Detachable headphones mean that sound upgrades can be easily had.
The Vive ships with detachable headphones that can be replaced by attaching your favorite pair to the back of the headset.
4. Vive offers full-body movement tracking—unlike some of its competitors.
The primary difference between HTC’s offering and its arch-nemesis the Oculus Rift is that Vive is capable of tracking full body movement for a more realistic and immersive experience.
3. A continuously immersive experience is possible with Vive, sans wall crashing.
Crashing into walls—while comical to observers—can be a painfully realistic experience for VR gamers. To address this issue, Vive uses the front camera to display real walls and surroundings, giving users the confidence to safely let loose.
2. The Vive comes with built-in phone connectivity and functionality.
The Vive is also capable of answering incoming calls, check SMS messages, and viewing your smartphone’s calendar.
1. Expect to see a plethora of independently developed games for the Vive.
Valve’s gaming ecosystem with hundreds of millions of active users is surely a win for HTC. Additionally, Valve’s OpenVR software development kit (SDK) make developing games for the Vive a simpler affair. Expect to see a bounty of independent titles for the HTC Vive in the near future.
In short, if you’re looking for the most immersive, high-performing, and intuitive VR platform available right now, this is the hands-down winner. And with full compatibility with existing AAA games and Valve’s highly-lauded series like Portal, Half-Life , and Counter Strike, the HTC Vive won’t keep you waiting long for new titles.