This year, virtual reality headsets go on sale in bigger numbers than ever. Affordable models like the Samsung Galaxy VR and Google Cardboard have been around for months, but when you see the high-end editions which are arriving right now, the differences are palpable.
Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the new machines from VR company Facebook-owned Oculus and Taiwanese phone company HTC.
Later this year, PlayStation VR, which will connect to a PlayStation 4, is due and Microsoft’s Hololens will come subsequently.
The Oculus Quest hits the VR sweet spot
Valve’s free demo software The Lab is great, set in a world similar to Valve’s Portal . There are multiple games in The Lab , some basic, some downright scary. The best is Longbow where you must see off attacking Vikings. One controller is the arrow, the other the string of the longbow which you pull back to shoot. Behind you is a burning torch – you can even wave your arrow across it so it catches alight and you can shoot a flaming arrow, though you lose some visibility in the process. Overall, this is a rich, fast-paced game that will keep you coming back for more.
VR Headsets models are moving from computer and phone powered to standalone (no other device needed to jump in VR).
HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are just the first arrivals in a big wave of VR systems. Both are powerful and effective, though, having tried both I’d say HTC wins out as the better of the two, though it is pricier. And with both you still have to factor in the cost of a powerful-enough laptop, remember.
But the Vive is comfortable enough to wear for extended periods, and has graphics that are butter-smooth, with a fast refresh rate and clever coding to completely banish motion sickness. The wireless controllers are also comfy and extremely responsive, ensuring great gameplay.
As more VR titles become available, this will become an increasingly desirable purchase. It’s already pretty compelling.