MSI gave us a chance to try out the latest version of its VR One backpack PC at Computex. So we strapped in, grabbed a big gun, and entered Dead Prison 2.
The new VR One features an unlocked Intel Core i7-7820HK processor on an Intel HM175 chipset motherboard. It can be equipped with up to 32GB (2 x 16GB) of DDR4-2400 memory, two M.2 SSDs (with MSI’s Super RAID 4 configuration as an option), and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB or GTX 1060 6GB graphics. Wireless connectivity (in the form of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2) comes standard, and two 8-cell 91WH hot-swappable batteries can be rotated out for fresh ones (additional batteries sold separately) to extend your tetherless game time.
A USB 3.1 (Gen 2, 10Gbps) Type-C port and four USB 3.0 ports sit at the top of the VR One, along with an HDMI 2.0 port and a mini-DisplayPort interface. This gives you plenty of options to connect your VR HMD. However, an Oculus Rift isn’t ideal for the VR One because the tracking cameras need to be plugged into the PC. The system is primarily designed for the HTC Vive, as evidenced by the included 90cm HDMI, USB 3.0, and 12V power cable extensions.
The VR One we sampled featured an Intel Core i7-7820HK, 16GB (2 x 8GB) of DDR4-2400, a GeForce GTX 1070, and a 512GB PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 SSD.
Lock N’ Load
Getting ready for our Dead Prison 2 demo, we needed assistance strapping the VR One to our back. This seems to be the only downside to most back-mounted VR PC solutions, as attempting to shoulder the rig yourself, with a headset connected to it, can be quite awkward (although we suppose anything is possible with some persistence). After adjusting the backpack straps, we put on the HTC Vive headset and were handed a large assault rifle-style gun.
The gun itself was similar to the tracked gun peripheral we saw early this year at CES, but the attendants didn’t have any information on its manufacturer. Unlike the gun we saw in January, it did visibly sport a Vive controller instead of an integrated Vive tracker puck. However, it came in both shotgun (with a pump-action handle on the barrel) and assault rifle styles, and we found the latter to be quite reactive. (In our demo, we didn't get to try the shotgun.)
No Going Back To This Prison
Although we were able to try the MSI VR One backpack PC at MSI’s Computex booth, the company didn’t output the gameplay to a nearby monitor, as is usually the case with VR demos at tradeshows. This may be due to game itself; Dead Prison 2 isn’t available in the U.S., and as best we can tell (we found only a YouTube video trailer for the game), it exists only in a theme park located in Kaohsiung Taroko Park, Taiwan.
The game can be best compared to the likes of HordeZ, or just about any other shoot-em-up undead wave survival game. This game just brings the action to a prison--one you must escape at all costs. We were paired with another person in the same Lighthouse play area, but our individual play space was limited to keep us away from each other (it was a standing-only experience). However, both of us were in the game at the same time, and it was nice having backup in a sticky situation like this.
We started the demo at the end of a dark, dilapidated prison block. The gun in our hands was plainly visible and accurately tracked, and we shot off a few rounds as we waited for the inevitable wave of zombies to begin pouring into the room. You reload by pointing the barrel of the gun towards the ground. Curiously, the gun's haptic feedback (the classic clack-clack-clack of a motorized gun peripheral) continued even if we were out of ammo, so long as we were pulling the trigger. (This is one of the important nuances of haptic feedback that a company called Immersion seeks to provide.) This definitely broke the immersion of the tracked peripheral, but it was still cool to hold a big gun with big trouble on the way.
As zombies started converging from three sides of the room (we had our backs to a wall, literally--er, virtually?), we unloaded clip after clip into the undead assailants. As we began to get overrun, the attendants pulled the gun from my hands and ended the demo.
We didn’t get much time with the VR One, but we were impressed by its comfort (it didn’t feel like we were lugging almost eight pounds on our back) and the fact that it wasn’t exhausting hot air on us in any way. The gameplay was smooth and intense; it made us wish that Dead Prison 2 was available stateside and that we had a VR One at home.
Pricing And Availability
The MSI VR one will be available in two flavors, with either a GTX 1070 or a GTX 1060. The storage for each model also varies--the GTX 1070 has a 512GB SSD, whereas the GTX 1060 version sports a 256GB SSD. You can purchase the VR One from Newegg (opens in new tab) or Amazon (opens in new tab), with a suggested starting MSRP of $1,999.
|Product||MSI VR ONE 7RD-067US||MSI VR ONE 7RE-065US|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7820HK|
|Memory||16GB (2 x8GB) DDR4-2400|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5|
|Storage||256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD||512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD|
|Ports||- USB 3.1 (Gen2) Type-C w/ Thunderbolt 3- USB 3.0 x4|
|Display Output||- HDMI 2.0- Mini DisplayPort|
|Networking||Killer Wireless-AC 1535|
|Battery||8-cell 91WH||8-cell 91WH|
|Dimensions||15.9 x 11.5 x 2.4”|