The HTC Vive Review

What You Can (And Can't) Do With The Vive

Available Vive-Compatible Games

The Vive is launching with a surprisingly diverse line-up of content. Though Valve is a direct partner with HTC, its involvement primarily involved arming developers with everything they needed to build games. Valve did release a free title called The Lab, which is composed of several mini-games and experiences. But the real meat comes from other companies that took Valve's tools and ran with them.

Bundled Content

One of the very first experiences that was ever shown on the Vive was Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives. The game took many forms in the last year, and the final release is one of the titles you get with the Vive. The idea is that you are in the future when robots do all of the jobs. The company created a simulator you can use to “remember what it was like to job.” These are goofy little scenes where you can play an embellished version of an office worker, chef, mechanic and grocery store clerk.

Fantastic Contraption is also included with every Vive system. This is a puzzle game that was first released years ago as a 2D title. Northway Games teamed up with Radial Games to convert the original concept to a room-scale VR title so you can build life-size contraptions in the comfort of your own home.

The third piece of content you get with the kit is Google’s Tilt Brush. To me, this is one of the first “killer apps” that people will spend hours in. I’m happy to see it bundled with the hardware, because this is a must-see for everyone; there’s something completely indescribable about drawing in 3D space.  

There Are How Many Launch Titles? 

The three aforementioned titles are a great start for anyone exploring VR, but you’ll likely want something with a bit more visceral excitement, especially once you get accustomed to actually being in virtual environments, rather than observing them. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of different experiences to try on day one.

Room-scale tracking paired with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) controllers open up a whole new world. Suddenly old genres like gallery shooters present tremendous potential. Space Pirate Trainer VR and Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades are both great. Hover Junkers is another example of a VR shooter, though not a gallery shooter. In this game, you're actually fighting other players in epic gun battles.

If RPGs are more your style, Vanishing Realms and A Legend Of Luca are games you’ll want to look at. Both have you playing in a first-person perspective, where you are the sword-wielding hero collecting loot and fighting enemies. The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed is a puzzle-solving adventure that takes inspiration from the classic Sierra title, Myst. The Gallery features a deep story line with a rich soundtrack. It also features NPC animations that have been created by real actors and a unique motion capture technology from inside VR.

There is a fair selection of more casual titles, as well. On top of the three titles that ship with the Vive, you have Audioshield, a rhythm game that has you blocking beats with shields (it more fun than I could ever describe); Cloudlands: Mini Golf VR, which is exactly what it sounds like; and Final Approach, where you act as the invisible flight control god from above.

All told, there will be 45 room-scale titles launching with the Vive on launch day. That doesn’t include the games that don't support room-scale and the dozen or so games and experiences that are already available before the hardware, including Elite: Dangerous and its offshoot dogfighting game Elite: Dangerous Arena, as well as Descent: Underground, which are also available for 2D screens. There's definitely no shortage of content for the new platform.

Game Developer Tracked Controllers Alt. Input Room-scale Standing Seated Min Floor Space
#SelfieTennis @VRunicornsYesNoYesYesNo
A-10 VRFuturetownYesNoYesYesYes
A Legend of LucaLegend StudioYesNoYesNoNo2m x 1.5m
AudioshieldDylan FittererYesNoYesYesNo
Beach Ball ValleyPaul EckhardtYesNoYesYesYes
Blarp!Isaac CohenYesNoYesYesNo
BowslingerPampadueYesNoYesYesNo
Capria: Magic of the ElementsHorn & IvoryYesNoYesYesNo
Carpe Lucem - Seize The LightHammer LabsYesGamepadYesYesYes
Cloudlands : VR MinigolfFuturetownYesNoYesYesNo
Diorama No.3: The MarchlandThe Shoebox DioramaYesNoYesYesYes
Fantastic ContraptionNorthway Games / Radial GamesYesNoYesNoSoon2m x 1.5m
Felt Tip CircusAlpha Wave EntertainmentYesNoYesYesNo
Final ApproachPhaser Lock InteractiveYesNoYesYesYes
Holodancenarayana games UGYesNoYesYesYes
Hotdogs, Horseshoes & Hand GrenadesRust LTDYesNoYesNoNo2m x 1.5m
Hover JunkersStressLevelZeroYesNoYesYesNo
Irational Exhuberance: PrologueBuffalo VisionYesNoYesYesNo2m x 2m
JeebomanFuturetownYesNoYesYesNo
Job SimulatorOwlchemy LabsYesNoYesNoNo2m x 1.5m
La PeriInnerspace VRYesNoYesYesNo
Light Repair Team #4Earie Bear GamesYesNoYesNoNo2m x 2m
Minigame Party VRScornzYesNoYesYesNo
ModboxAlientrapYesNoYesYesNo
Nighttime Terror: Dessert DefenderMark SchrammYesNoYesYesNo
Periodonica: A VR Sports GameJumping LlamasYesNoYesYesNo
Pierhead ArcadeMachabit LtdYesNoYesYesNo
Portal Stories: VRPrism StudiosYesnoYesYesYes
Proton PulseJustin Moravetz, Jake KaufmanYesnoYesYesYes
Quar: Battle for Gate 18Steel Wool GamesYesNoYesYesNo
realitiesrealities.ioYesNoYesYesNo
Ruckus Ridge PartyForeignVRYesGamepad, KB/MouseYesYesYes
SculptrVRNathan RoweYesno YesYesYes
Skeet: VR Target ShootinFlatbox StudiosYesNoYesYesNo
Space Pirate Trainer VRI0-IllusionsYesNoYesNoNo2m x 1.5m
The Cubicle Roel van Beek , Jurgen Hoogeboom ,Joppe de Graaf , Jesper van den Ende YesNoYesNoNo2.6m x 2.6m
The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the StarseedCloudhead Games Ltd.YesNoYesYesNo
The LabValveYesNoYesYesno
The Rose and IPenrose StudiosYesGamepadYesYesYes
Unseen DiplomacyTriangular PixalsYesNoYesNoNo3m x 4m
Vanishing RealmsIndimo Labs LLCYesNoYesYesNo
VR Baseball - Home Run DerbyUnity3D.CollegeYesNoYesYesNo
Water Bears VRSchell GamesYesNoYesYesNo
XLR: Shield Lead ReturnMetaware Limited, LLCYesNoYesYesNo

Non-VR Gaming

In addition to the 40+ VR-ready and -exclusive titles that you can experience today, Valve will let you play any game in your Steam library on your Vive headset. These games won’t play in stereoscopic 3D, but they will be playable on a huge virtual monitor in front of you. Oculus offers this feature for Xbox One games on the Rift.

If you want to play your older titles in VR, you need third-party software to make that happen. Currently, the two enabling solutions are VorpX and Vireio Perception, but neither package supports the Vive at this time.

Can It Do More Than Gaming?

As with any VR platform, developers are still discovering the possibilities of what you can do with the Vive. Right now, though, the system is primarily for entertainment. You can watch 360-degree videos through the Jaunt application, or you can take in passive content such as TheBlu from Wevr. But there’s not a lot in the way of productivity yet.

Virtual Desktop is one option. It lets you access your entire computer in a virtual environment. You can even make your icons float on a transparent background. Game developers and environment designers will soon be able to edit their creations in VR using the upcoming VR editors for Unity and Unreal Engine.

Social media has also gone VR. AltspaceVR is a popular VR network where you can meet other people in virtual worlds. AltspaceVR lets you watch videos togeth, play table top games, and generally socialize in virtual reality.

Room-scale VR opens up a lot of doors, but it will take some time before we see much more than gaming.

Will There Be Developer Support?

Prior to the Vive reveal, Valve was talking to a few developers about the prospects of a room-scale VR system, which led to the content that was introduced with the Vive at Mobile World Congress. Very few developers were known to be working on content for the Vive. Nevertheless, HTC and Valve were confident that the system would hit the market that year.

Fast forward to today. We’re a few months behind the original plan, but the content line-up is starting to look a lot better. As recently as January, we knew of fewer than 20 titles for the Vive, and not all of them were planned for launch-day release. Now that the Vive is finally landing in customer hands, you'll find an impressive roster of games in Steam.

We thought 30 titles sounded great for the Rift. But developers have had Rift hardware to work with for nearly three years, so we weren't surprised to see that HMD launch with so many titles. By contrast, Vive dev kits have really only been out there for around six months. Still, the platform somehow ended up with more launch content than Oculus pulled together.

In a recent interview with Polygon, Valve’s Chet Faliszek said there was never a plan to have such a complete line-up on launch day. "We provided the hardware, but it was up to the developer what to make, what platforms to support and when to release it," he said. The 35+ titles that will be available on day one are simply a product of the motivation and passion of the teams behind the games.

In January, during the SteamVR Content Showcase, Faliszek hosted two round table discussions with the 12 developers that were presenting games at the event. During those discussions, he asked, “So have you guys all moved to VR forever?” And the answer was unanimously yes. Once people try VR, and room-scale in particular, the medium's potential is immediately clear. Developers are taking note and jumping in with both feet. "I feel like developers walk out of VR and then they’re like, 'OK, I have 10 ideas that I instantly want to make right now!'," said Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs. "Usually, with new tech you have to really pitch people hard, but in VR it’s the other way around."

There’s very little trepidation from those who have dipped their toes into VR already. The confidence is high, and the opportunities to create something amazing are endless. Everything is new in room-scale VR. “I think it’s worth getting into [VR] early. There’s so many cool things to discover, so many games that haven’t been made, or genres of games that haven’t been made. I think it’s a great time to get in,” said Futuretown’s Justin Liebregts in the same showcase. “This is one of the first times in a long time that 'reset' is being hit on the industry,” added Andy Moore of Radial games. “You can be a brand new person out of the blue and make something amazing. And not have to compete with people that have been established for 20 years.”

That says a lot about the health of this industry in the early days.

In Some Ways Its Easier To Build A VR Game

Some of the folks who feel that room-scale VR is destined to be short-lived often use the argument that development for the platform is too difficult, and developers won’t support it. That isn’t the case if you believe what Faliszek says about the topic. Developers are actually finding many aspects of VR development much easier than traditional games.

For example, you no longer have to make elaborate character animations for the player’s avatar. You also don’t need to map buttons for things like duck or attack. StressLevelZero pointed out in a developer video that the cover system for Hover Junkers didn’t have to be created, and that there is no need for aim assist. It all depends on your own personal accuracy. All of these things help make putting together a game easier in VR.

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65 comments
    Your comment
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • kcarbotte
    Quote:
    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.

    Quote:
    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.
  • Borisblade7
    Quote:
    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.
  • kcarbotte
    Quote:
    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
  • turkey3_scratch
    Ahh okay, that's good to know.
  • kcarbotte
    Quote:
    Quote:
    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.
  • 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.
  • Clerk Max
    Great review, thanks as always Kcarbotte. Hats off to Valve and HTC for solving the motion sickness by using 1:1 room scale feature. The trade off is to give up locomotion as used traditionnally in FPS and use the "blink" teleportation... but the experiences in room-scale seem so engaging that it was worth it. Motion sickness was the major show stopper and it has been cracked to a large extent.
  • groundrat
    "You also get a front-facing camera. We'll see how developers end up using it." Pyro-vision, anyone?
  • clonazepam
    I want to see these in schools for their robotics programs. This would essentially give them unlimited parts that never break or need recharging, and more freedom to experiment.
  • turkey3_scratch
    I want to see virtual reality connect to some sort of software controlled fan system that surrounds your body, and you get to ride a coaster simulation with the wind blowing on you as if you're actually riding a coaster.
  • acegamer123
    Thanks for the great review. Was glad to see the tests with multiple GPUs. Really showed that I'm going to have to go ahead and upgrade my 780 for some games. I was holding out for a Pascal announcement today but since that didn't come I guess I might as well go ahead and get a 980ti
  • kcarbotte
    Quote:
    Great review, thanks as always Kcarbotte. Hats off to Valve and HTC for solving the motion sickness by using 1:1 room scale feature. The trade off is to give up locomotion as used traditionnally in FPS and use the "blink" teleportation... but the experiences in room-scale seem so engaging that it was worth it. Motion sickness was the major show stopper and it has been cracked to a large extent.


    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.
    I wanted to try and cover everything people would want to know. There's likely some more stuff to cover, so we'll have more on the Vive soon.


    Quote:
    I want to see these in schools for their robotics programs. This would essentially give them unlimited parts that never break or need recharging, and more freedom to experiment.


    I know of at least one high school teacher that recieved a Vive and is using it in the classroom.
    I expect this will become much more commonplace in the comming years.

    Quote:
    Thanks for the great review. Was glad to see the tests with multiple GPUs. Really showed that I'm going to have to go ahead and upgrade my 780 for some games. I was holding out for a Pascal announcement today but since that didn't come I guess I might as well go ahead and get a 980ti


    980Ti is definitely handling VR exceptionally.
    If you haven't ordered a Vive yet, or just ordered one, you'll be waiting a while. Might be worth holding out until you have the kit. You never know what will be announced in the next couple months.
  • picture_perfect
    1943658 said:
    Yeah its teh latency added by the wifi. Until someone finds some work around, its going to be cabled

    Are the controllers wifi? Why do those work so good.


    1943658 said:
    For smooth graphics in VR, the target is 11.11ms of latency.

    How is online gaming ever going to work with VR. I usually ping 20-200ms.


    2218418 said:
    Hats off to Valve and HTC for solving the motion sickness.

    They have definitely NOT solved motion sickness. For a long-term honest review, check out TribalInstincts. Summary: VR is wonderful but getting sick is truly one of the worst feelings in the world.
  • hoofhearted
    Intel's skull canyon NUC would be the PC. And since it works with Razer's Core Thunderbolt 3, then someone needs to make a smaller version of Razor's core that takes 980 MXM in SLI cards. Then some rig like this for holding this rig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WetWkdeCBDs
  • cats_Paw
    Ill give it time.
    Let the dust settle, get it slightly cheaper and when a mid range GPU can handle it... perhaps even a Laptop GPU, so I can make it into a portable gaming device.
  • Vorador2
    The problem is....i don't have the space to play it on room scale. I barely have a square meter available where my pc is. I could play seated or standing at most.

    I might look into those pseudo "omnidirectional treadmills" like the Omni. But i also need to renew my computer since is not VR-ready. Expenses start piling up fast.
  • gdmaclew
    I don't like the fact that all the content for the HTC Vive will have to be downloaded from Steam. I'm in a rural area with wireless LTE with a 10 GB per month limit. I already have problems playing games that are supplied on CD/DVD because there are always DLC updates after installation which cutns into my monthly limit. If all game content has to be downloaded, then this is a deal breaker for me and, I suspect, most rural users. They should make content available on hard copy as well.
  • nukemaster
    I agree with the user above about maybe ceiling mounting the wires could help.

    Also I see Doctor Who :p
  • kyle382
    Quote:
    Quote:
    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.
    Quote:
    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.


    Oowee that's a scary thought. Annual iterations from occulus and HTC with no product recycling D: I want modular design like OSVR....although better quality hardware options would be nice.
  • dagnamit2
    Quote:
    Oowee that's a scary thought. Annual iterations from occulus and HTC with no product recycling D: I want modular design like OSVR....although better quality hardware options would be nice.


    No way, the second hand market is going to be incredibly important to the establishment of VR. I would guess that both Oculus and HTC will offer trade-in discounts to first adopters so that a refurbishing program can start to sell used units at much less cost. The iPhone refresh model could work here. Flagship, $600, Year old New, $400, Refurbished year-old, $300. It's a good way for them to make some money and reduce the price of entry for the plebs.