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.

The age of virtual reality kicked off a little more than one week ago, and enthusiasts can already choose the high-end experience they prefer. Last week we covered the launch of Oculus' Rift, and today we're looking at the Rift's first competition, HTC's Vive, designed in partnership with Valve. The Vive builds on the VR we've already seen by adding six degrees of freedom (6DoF) hand controllers and the ability to walk around within virtual spaces. Whereas the Rift offers presence in virtual reality, the Vive takes you one step further into that world.

In addition to the controllers that get your hands into the game, HTC's Vive includes a tracking system that allows you to move around and interact with your virtual environments. Valve calls this room-scale VR, and it's not a gimmick. Rather, it's what sets the Vive apart from Oculus' Rift. Although the Rift will have its own answer to HTC's 6DoF controllers later this year, the Vive's room-scale VR is the one feature that remains unchallenged for now. 

Naturally, room-scale VR presents a unique set of challenges. There's safety, to start. HTC addresses this through the Chaperone, a system designed to keep you from unknowingly walking into real-world objects. The peace of mind this provides makes it easier to "trust" VR without worrying about what's happening outside of your headset. You also get a front-facing camera. We'll see how developers end up using it. For now, though, it's another way to monitor what's happening with the HMD pulled over your eyes.

Sounds fancy, right? There's little doubt that HTC is going for a more premium VR experience than its competition. Oculus started this journey with the idea that it wanted to make virtual reality as affordable as possible. The hardware ended up launching at a price point much higher than many originally anticipated. However, Oculus was really gunning for lower cost. HTC and Valve, on the other hand, tout Vive as the most engaging VR platform out there. Oculus had its fans expecting VR for the masses, and then had to backpedal. Meanwhile, HTC and Valve made us aware that this was going to be a pricey purchase. Early details had us believing that the experience would be worth it, though.

So the hardware sounds compelling enough, but what about the software side? After all, content is just as important, if not more. And as we mull over our favorite VR experiences and try to decide which HMD to buy, each company's library weighs heavily on our opinions. But let's not forget that we're talking about Valve here. Its Steam platform speaks for itself. Steam is open for all developers, and if you're a gamer, you probably already have an account. Want more evidence? Although Oculus had a head start over HTC, the Vive is launching with more titles to choose from. And from what we're hearing, there are 100+ more on the way featuring Vive support.

From where we're sitting, the Vive has all of the ingredients it needs to successfully challenge the incumbent Rift. But does the brainchild of HTC and Valve make you want to clear out some space in your home, get up on your feet and game in VR? We've been playing with the retail Vive for a week now (and a Vive Pre for a month before that) and we're eager to tell you about the experience. Trust us, it's worth paying attention to.

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  • kyzarvs
    Biggest prolem for me is compatibility - I don't want to end up having to have both headsets and nothing I've read so far hints at interopability, so if I want game A, B and C with A & B being Vive titles and C being a Rift one, I have to buy both? Who wants to end up with the Betamax / HD-DVD of VR headsets? This is the only reason I'm waiting for the (inferior) PSVR as my first VR headset - I know everything VR for the platform will work on it.
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  • Batosai
    You are also limited to headphone quality audio, if you have invested in high quality home theater or music listening speaker/amplifier system might be difficult to adjust to. Headphones create a small sound field around your head which would be contradictory to the large field of vision granted by the VR system. The VR systems you don't have to move about might work better in that case.
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  • Gallarian
    @kyzarvs - Both companies (Oculus and HTC/Steam) have said on record that they do not support 'exclusive' titles.

    There are some games that are only available to the Vive because of Room Scale, and some that are currently only on the Rift because the developers have had access to it for a lot longer.

    For the latter,. most developers have announced Vive support within the year, such as with EVE: Valkyrie.

    Even Sony is thinking about making the PSVR compatible with the PC, so it really does seem that we are not set for another juvenile 'console war' scenario.
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  • kyzarvs
    Anonymous said:
    @kyzarvs - Both companies (Oculus and HTC/Steam) have said on record that they do not support 'exclusive' titles.

    There are some games that are only available to the Vive because of Room Scale, and some that are currently only on the Rift because the developers have had access to it for a lot longer.

    For the latter,. most developers have announced Vive support within the year, such as with EVE: Valkyrie.

    Even Sony is thinking about making the PSVR compatible with the PC, so it really does seem that we are not set for another juvenile 'console war' scenario.


    Hope you are right and it will settle down - a quick skim through Steam just now:

    "A surreal building game for Vive VR"

    "Space Pirate Trainer is the official trainer for wannabe space pirates on the HTC Vive."

    "A tongue-in-cheek virtual reality experience for HTC Vive."

    That's just out of the current banner of adverts, dunno if that's a representative selection. Hope I'm wrong, but no-way am I paying £hundreds until the situation is much clearer...
    0
  • Gallarian
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    @kyzarvs - Both companies (Oculus and HTC/Steam) have said on record that they do not support 'exclusive' titles.

    There are some games that are only available to the Vive because of Room Scale, and some that are currently only on the Rift because the developers have had access to it for a lot longer.

    For the latter,. most developers have announced Vive support within the year, such as with EVE: Valkyrie.

    Even Sony is thinking about making the PSVR compatible with the PC, so it really does seem that we are not set for another juvenile 'console war' scenario.


    Hope you are right and it will settle down - a quick skim through Steam just now:

    "A surreal building game for Vive VR"

    "Space Pirate Trainer is the official trainer for wannabe space pirates on the HTC Vive."

    "A tongue-in-cheek virtual reality experience for HTC Vive."

    That's just out of the current banner of adverts, dunno if that's a representative selection. Hope I'm wrong, but no-way am I paying £hundreds until the situation is much clearer...


    Im assuming those titles are Fantastic Contraption, Space Pirate Trainer and Job Simulator?

    None of those titles are 'exclusive', they're Vive only because of the need for tracked controllers and/or room scale which no other VR platform currently supports, which will change when Oculus releases its own controllers and room tracking for the Rift.

    Valve and HTC have made it very clear they do not think exclusive titles are healthy for VR and will not force any devs to sign such contracts, with similar statements from Oculus.
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