Hands on with Vive
At the beginning of this week, I was one of the first people virtually lining up refreshing the HTC Vive website hoping to preorder my own personal VR headset. I was there when the website went down and the counter was stuck on 0:00:00. I experienced the horror of being told it was sold out, swiftly learning that all I need to do is refresh the page. I remember when it was announced last year and have followed it closely since then. I just tried out HTC Vive. All those hours spent watching videos of VR games (mainly Elite Dangerous), all those hours spent reading about the tech involved in running it – I can finally say, those hours were not a waste of time.
Getting hands on with Vive:
The first thing I noticed picking up HTC Vive is that it’s not heavy at all. For a piece of technology which has two 1080p screens and serious tracking tech built in, it is surprisingly light. This is good because it doesn’t feel like a burden while wearing it. The straps were a bit odd but I got used to them. I think they needed some more adjusting because they were sitting on my head to high.
Vive is surprisingly light
The first demo was a simple “balloon blowing” demo which allowed me to learn the basics of using the Vive controllers. The left touchpad allowed you to select a balloon color and it blew up for you. The with the right hand, you could push it away. The controllers were light and fitted well in my hands. The next treat was Blu: Encounter. I was positioned on a ship underwater and could move around the front deck. As I moved towards the right hand side of the deck, I came close to the wall and the promised virtual wall appeared before me stopping me even coming close to the wall. Next I went to the very front and looked over the edge. I knew if I wanted I could walk more forward and walk through the railing but I was happy to enjoy the realism and treat it as a real world. Overhead stingrays swam and from above me a large blue whale appeared. The detail was immaculate. I was completely immersed. The whales had high detailing on its skin and had barnacles on its tale. I moved towards it to look it straight in the eye. The eye was moving back and forth looking at me – there was red around the edges. It began to swim away and with one giant swish of the tail, shaking the entire ship (the fallen down mast rattled), it swam off back into the depths.
The detail was immaculate. I was completely immersed
It was time to play some games. First of two was Job Simulator. When I first heard about Job Simulator I thought: “why would anyone want to simulate a job”. It was actually pretty fun, but I’m not sure it’s one I’ll be playing that often. My office manager – a floating computer – came and gave me an intro: the big screen in front of me was there to give me tasks to do. The first task was eating a donut and drinking some coffee. I genuinely opened my mouth as I brought the donut towards me out of instinct. All through this I was grinning like a child at Christmas (I’m pretty sure people were watching me). Then I had to make the coffee. I was sort of lost. This is a new office. But I had a coffee machine just behind me. These menial tasks helped acclimatize me into using the Vive controllers so I would recommend that when you get your Vive, you play around with Job Simulator for a few minutes. I was enjoying my experience so far but I got very excited when the space shooter came up.
I genuinely opened my mouth as I brought the donut towards me out of instinct.
The game was Space Pirate Trainer. The basics of it were that you stand in the middle of a platform and small hover ships similar to the ones Jedi’s use to train their apprentices. The first ship shot at me and I genuinely flinched. Vive had tricked my brain into reacting to the visual stimulus. I pulled out a shield in one hand (it took a while to get used to the action needed to do this) and began. It was amazing being able to actively block bots when they split up. There were 2 in the middle and one flew to my right. I used the shield to stop the ones in the middle shooting me and killed the one on the right. My reflexes would kick in every now and then as though I was holding a real shield. Every part of my body believed the experience was real – cue again kid at Christmas. Unfortunately it all came to an end when the headset fell off and while trying to to put it back on in round 6, I was killed. The hands on previews was over.
My reflexes would kick in every now and then as though I was holding a real shield
- Well weighted headset
- Immersive realistic experience
- You have to adjust the headset properly before playing your games