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HTC Vive First Impressions
During Acer’s launch of the Predator 17 X laptop and the Predator G1 Desktop, there was a demo held to show off the laptop’s ability to handle VR with the HTC Vive. We were quick to give it hands-on impressions and comparing it to the PSVR headset we tried recently. So this more of a quick first impressions, as the only game available for testing was Ninja Fruit VR, which does not utilise the main selling point of the Vive: room scale VR.
For the uninitiated, room-scale VR uses a certain amount of space where the player can interact. Instead of being stationary, either sitting or standing, room scale VR uses the whole allotted space for you to explore. You can move around, duck, jump and grab anything within the play area, straying too far and you will see an in-game barrier appearing, the chaperone, to let you know you are too close to the edge of the play area. The room-scale VR is facilitated by two sensors, called Lighthouses, that tracks the headset and Vive controllers on a 1:1 scale.
As I put on the headset, it feels fiddly at first, using rubber straps to mount the headset on top of my head. There’s no apparent feel of weight coming from the headset as I bobbed my head, though it is not as weightless as the PSVR, but not by much. There’s a long wire running down from behind the headset and to the USB hub, which connects via USB. The leneses can be calibrated by twisting a small knob located on the front -right side of the headset. Since there was no room scale VR demo played, we cannot determine if the wires will be a deterrence to the experience, say, you could tripped down from it.
But the Lighthouse positioning could be an issue.
The setup shown here is about 2 feet by 2 feet size. It can go up to 5 feet square in size. But the cramped position did made some problems as I accidentally hit one of the Lighthouse’s tripod stand. Another user actually knocked it down! The chaperone appears when the headset is close to the edge of the play area, but won’t trigger if the controller exceeded the limit. Either that, or the setup for play area size was not done properly.
Outside of that, the Vive works exactly as advertised. In Fruit Ninja VR, the controllers are katanas. I actually took a few seconds and glanced over the katana and inspected it, only to accidentally trigger the game by hitting a menu button when I was just swinging it around.
Since it is 1:1, it really feels like I was slashing fruits like a ninja that can somehow dual-wield fricking katanas, slashing sideways, vertically, and even a cross slash. But of course, not every swing of the sword was accurate, as I missed a few fruits here and there, but it doesn’t feel like the controller did not register my input, it was totally on me missing that floating banana with a bonus time boost.
As expected, visual clarity on the Vive is much more sharper than the PSVR. What you see on the viewpoint render on the laptop is what is seen by the person with the headset. Sense of depth and space are very apparent, and I had a few moments where reflexes kicked in as I juked away from a fruit shooting up too close to me, then badassfully slash them away in a one nice swoop.
You can totally play Ninja Fruit VR with very expressive motions, as I did. Or you can just flail your lower arm and wrist all over and it can still track everything nicely.
While we gain not as much insight about the Vive than we would hope for, the main takeaway here is that both the Vive and PSVR have parity when it comes to the feel of virtual reality. No lag or motion sickness, can snuggly fit on the head and offers the sense of space and depth. What boils down to it is how accessible the headsets are (price, availability, pre-requisites), some features (room scale VR, or just standing/sitting VR) and games available for each headset. Whatever your choice is when it comes to VR headsets, it is safe to assume now that each headset will offer the same feel as we take a step into the virtual world.