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The HTC Vive Review

The HTC Vive has all of the ingredients to successfully challenge the Oculus Rift, including its 6DoF hand controllers, the ability to walk around in virtual spaces and 100+ games on the way.

Conclusion

So Which Experiences Are Worth Your Time?

Aside from impressive hardware, the Vive is launching with an impressive suite of complementary software. There are dozens of games available now, and we're told another 100+ should be available soon. A majority are designed to take advantage of room-scale VR, too. And so far, every title that I’ve tried is worth checking out. If it uses hand controls and exploits the physical space you make available to it, the resulting experience is unlike anything else you've tried.

To be frank, the Rift left me scratching my head as to why I'd need virtual reality to enjoy some of its games. Meanwhile, all of the games designed for the Vive leave no question as to why they require hand controls. VR for games that work in 2D is neat, but it feels like a novelty after sampling the alternative. Room-scale games do not feel that way at all.

Shooters are incredible, first-person adventures and puzzles twist your mind in ways you couldn't have imagined previously and even third-person games aren't so disconnected when your hands can reach in and interact.

You Really Do Have To Try This

HTC and Valve came together and created something truly incredible. The experience that you get from room-scale VR with hand-tracked controllers is going to change your definition of what gaming can be. Rather than sitting in a chair, using a gamepad and imagining what it’d be like to vanquish your enemies with a sword, you can get up and swing it yourself. That sense of glory from winning a battle gets a lot more real.

The truth is, I’ve never in my life had this kind of experience, and I mean that. I can't compare it to anything I've ever done before. Playing games on one monitor is fun. A bigger, higher-resolution screen is incrementally cooler. And gaming across multiple displays seems like the most immersive window into that world possible the first time you sit down in front of three screens. But none of that compares even remotely to being inside the game.

The Rift almost gets there. And it'll likely deliver a similar experience when Touch arrives later this year. But without hands, today I still feel like a spectator. Intuitive controls and the ability to walk around are indescribable assets to a virtual reality experience. Really, you need to find a rich friend who bought the Vive, sight unseen, and try it out for yourself. That's the only way you're going to fully comprehend the magnitude of what VR can be. If you emerge on the other end and claim this is a gimmick at risk of a quick death, I'd be surprised.

At $800, the Vive is far from an affordable toy. But I insist the price is well worth paying. Don’t compare this to a mouse, keyboard or joystick. Don’t even compare it to a racing wheel. The Vive and Rift signal the beginning of a new era in gaming. When 4K displays first surfaced, they sold for thousands of dollars. New technology always commands a high price. And what you're paying for VR is actually quite reasonable in that context. You just can't quantify the level of entertainment the Vive delivers.

High prices will come down, and more enthusiasts will be able to afford the Vive months from now. If you have the money to buy in now, you won’t be disappointed. If you don't, make a friend who does. Or you could consider selling some teeth. And just imagine how slaying skeletons will help keep your mind off the pain!

MORE: The History of Virtual RealityMORE: The HTC Vive VR Launch Titles
MORE: SteamVR Performance Test: 16 GPUs Compared
MORE: Beta SteamVR Interface Is Easy To Navigate, Offers Customization
MORE: The Oculus Rift ReviewMORE: 





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Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardwarecovering Graphics. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • comedichistorian
    Well it looks like as of 7:30 AM on April 5th you can't order one from the official site if you're from the US or Australia. It doesn't say this anywhere on the site, they just won't let you continue on after the order summary. However, if I select "Ireland" as my location I am able to go to the next step and presumably complete the order. Anyone have any ideas as to what this might mean? Anyone else able to actually complete an order after having selected US?
    Reply
  • DrakeFS
    They have got to do something about that cable. I fully expect a base station and belt receiver accessories to be sold soon, probably not by HTC\Oculus though. The latency that a wireless solution would add to an application sensitive to latency may be the reason both HMDs are cabled. Then again, it could just be cost, after all $800 sounds a lot better than $1000.

    Guess if it annoys me enough, I could always do a ceiling mount.
    Reply
  • comedichistorian
    Ooooh yeah I like that idea. An easy/cheap yet surprisingly reliable option would be one of those Command Strip units. Get a few loops that'll hold 5lbs and mount them wherever needed in your room and you're done. Those things really hold up, I've mounted heavy pictures with them and they've been holding up fine even with all the temp changes and a small quake we got here.
    Reply
  • turkey3_scratch
    This makes me now want to dish out the extra $200 for this over the Oculus. Except, I actually don't have the open room, I don't even have 5x5 feet so I don't think it's a possibility.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    They have got to do something about that cable. I fully expect a base station and belt receiver accessories to be sold soon, probably not by HTC\Oculus though. The latency that a wireless solution would add to an application sensitive to latency may be the reason both HMDs are cabled. Then again, it could just be cost, after all $800 sounds a lot better than $1000.

    Guess if it annoys me enough, I could always do a ceiling mount.
    Ooooh yeah I like that idea. An easy/cheap yet surprisingly reliable option would be one of those Command Strip units. Get a few loops that'll hold 5lbs and mount them wherever needed in your room and you're done. Those things really hold up, I've mounted heavy pictures with them and they've been holding up fine even with all the temp changes and a small quake we got here.


    The problem with a ceiling mount is the length of the cable isn't enoug for that.
    you'd have to run the cable up the wall, which would require at least 7 feet, likely more, than across the ceiling to your play space - which would be around 5 feet from the wall or more.
    You might have enough range to reach your head, but you definitly won't be walking around in a room-scale space like that.

    The cable is somethign we're just going to have to live with for now. It's not going away for the first generation, so get used to it. We're looking at probably two years or more with the current hardware before any major iterations hit the market. I may be wrong about that, it could end up being like the cell phone market, but for now, this is what we have to work with.

    It's really not as big of a concern as people think. Yes, you are aware of it always. No, it doesn't detract from the experience enough to brush it off due to a tether.
    Reply
  • Borisblade7
    They have got to do something about that cable. I fully expect a base station and belt receiver accessories to be sold soon, probably not by HTC\Oculus though. The latency that a wireless solution would add to an application sensitive to latency may be the reason both HMDs are cabled. Then again, it could just be cost, after all $800 sounds a lot better than $1000.

    Yeah its teh latency added by the wifi. Until someone finds some work around, its going to be cabled. It doesnt matter so much with the Rift since you can only sit on your ass and play it, but with this being superior with its ability to actually move around, being tethered can cause issues. Having said that, most every vid i've seen of people using this, it really wasnt much of an issue.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    This makes me now want to dish out the extra $200 for this over the Oculus. Except, I actually don't have the open room, I don't even have 5x5 feet so I don't think it's a possibility.

    You can filter the SteamVR store to show you what is available for Standing experiences. These games still use the hand controlls, but they don't required that you walk around.
    A quick search on steam showed there are 54 titles that support standing configurations and don't need room scale.
    Over 30 of those titles launched today and are true VR games designed from the ground up on Vive.

    http://store.steampowered.com/search/#sort_by=Released_DESC&sort_order=DESC&category1=998&tags=-1&vrsupport=101%2C302&page=1
    Reply
  • turkey3_scratch
    Ahh okay, that's good to know.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    They have got to do something about that cable. I fully expect a base station and belt receiver accessories to be sold soon, probably not by HTC\Oculus though. The latency that a wireless solution would add to an application sensitive to latency may be the reason both HMDs are cabled. Then again, it could just be cost, after all $800 sounds a lot better than $1000.

    Yeah its teh latency added by the wifi. Until someone finds some work around, its going to be cabled. It doesnt matter so much with the Rift since you can only sit on your ass and play it, but with this being superior with its ability to actually move around, being tethered can cause issues. Having said that, most every vid i've seen of people using this, it really wasnt much of an issue.


    For smooth graphics in VR, the target is 11.11ms of latency. GPUs are just barely able to deliver that reliably over HDMI, adding a wireless signal in there will make it far higher, making it infeasible for the majority of people.
    I'm sure there's a wireless version in some research lab somewhere, but we're likely going to have to wait a while for that to hit consumer markets.
    Reply
  • hoofhearted
    Intel NUC, GTX980 MXM, a lith battery and a backpack will solve the cable issue. Maybe something that converts methane gas to electricity combined with an anal probe will solve the power issue. Throw in a free can of beans.
    Reply