Lately, we constantly listen the word VR everywhere. Virtual Reality is a fact and a technology that day by day is more integrated in our lives. Everyone has heard about the Oculus Rift, which have been the pioneers in this technology during a couple of years thanks to its development kits, or even the Google Cardboard (and its variations) or the Samsung Gear, which approached us this world to our mobile phones.
But today we are not going to talk about any of these, today we are going to talk about Steam and HTC Vive, Valve‘s and HTC‘s bet to get into this new market with their own kit.
The arrival of Valve to the virtual reality wasn’t a surprise, since they’ve always been pioneers and have revolutionized the videogames market, so logically they weren’t going to be left behind and they have come back with a very complete VR system, the Steam VR.
The Steam VR is an interactive 360º virtual reality experience, that is adapted to the room scale and works through two wireless base stations which are placed in the room and allow you to have your own tracking system in the same absolute space, it is like having your own personal GPS system in your living room, with a pinpoint accuracy thanks to the lasers, an HMD (Head Mounted Display, that is to say some virtual reality goggles) and a controller for each hand, that the user uses. Thanks to that, it is achived an incredible visual experience with a total immersion into the game, because the HMD features a 110° field of view and 32 sensors that allow a precise motion tracking. The fact of counting with a resolution of 2160 x 1200 and 90 Hz of refresh rate, deliver detailed graphics and lifelike sensation due to the smooth and the realism of the movements. And above all, thanks to the wireless controllers it is achived a very fluid interaction, plus, each of them count with HD haptic feedback, dual-stage triggers, multi-function trackpads and 24 sensors for 360° one-to-one tracking that mirrors hand movements.
Moreover, the fact of counting with a VR adapted to the room scale gives total freedom to the user to move and see the games from a brand new perspective with no interruptions, since the Steam VR count with Chaperone, a guidance system that alerts you if you approach the boundaries of the play space while a front-facing camera blends physical elements into the virtual world.
But this doesn’t end up here, a part from this innovative way of playing, we also count with the most “classic” mode, that means that we can play with our keyboard and mouse (or controller) while we are sitting in our chair, with no need to move through our room in order to play. Moreover, it also offer us a theatre mode that will allow us to play to those games that doesn’t support VR by simulating a theatre where will find a huge screen to play, some games such as Dota 2 take advantage of this game mode to offer us a new spectator mode in which we’ll be able to see the gameplay, the map and the players, like we could see in the Steam VR teaser.
Currently, the HTC Vive cost $799, a very high price that doesn’t fit everyone’s budget. What is more, we must have a powerful PC if we want to be able to use them, that is why Steam has developed a performance test with which we’ll be able to test if our computer can stand them or not.