The HTC Vive Review

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 Reality
MORE: 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 Review
MORE: 
AMD Liquid VR Explained
MORE: 
Nvidia GameWorks VR Explained
MORE: The Past, Present, And Future Of VR And AR: The Pioneers Speak
MORE: 
The Key To Virtual Reality Immersion Is The Audio

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

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This thread is closed for comments
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.