This past week, I had the exciting opportunity to try out the HTC Vive for the first time at my local Microsoft store. After signing a completely unnecessary waiver, I began the demo. These are my experiences.
The Microsoft employee first let me choose the demos I wanted to try. I chose The Lab’s Solar System, Job Simulator, and Longbow (also part of The Lab). The headset was then put on my head, followed by the headset and the two hand controllers.
Immediately, I felt a much higher sense of immersion compared to the Google Cardboard I am used to. The headset was more comfortable, fit better, and the view looked much better than I was expecting. I could use my eyes to look around much more than on Cardboard because the display did not become blurry towards the edges, and the “screen door” effect seemed much less present in the Vive than it does on Cardboard, even though Cardboard and Vive have the same resolution display, depending on what phone is used in Cardboard.
I also noticed that the tracked hand controllers and positional audio improved my sense of immersion. In combination with over 90 FPS in each eye, having my hands in VR just made sense. I felt like my hands were part of the virtual world.
First, I walked around a small room designed to get me up and running with the hand controllers and Chaperone. Chaperone (a box that appears around you in virtual space signaling the end of your physical space) was very unobtrusive and did a great job of making sure I didn’t ram my hands into a wall.
After a minute, I was put into the first demo. Because this was a Lab game, it was designed as an experiment. Immediately, I noticed the lack of a virtual floor in the environment. For a moment, this threw me off, because while I knew I was standing on the floor, the lack of a floor in the VR realm was weird.
Because I only found out I could throw planets after trying the demo, I found it boring, but I imagine if I knew about the game’s extended capabilities while playing, I would have been further entertained. Teleportation worked well in the space, and I never once felt nauseous.
The next demo I tried was Job Simulator. Having watched a lot of game footage from Job Simulator, I knew exactly what to do. For the three or four minutes this demo lasted, I enjoyed throwing mugs around and trying to type on the computer. This demo proved to me the importance of animating every object. Since next to everything in Job Simulator can be interacted with, the game is extra fun. For example, I tried to throw a power strip, but I also put a donut in a filing cabinet.
Lastly, I moved on to Longbow. I found it difficult to shoot in the game, but I bet I could do better with practice. In addition, after only a minute or so in the game, my arms started getting tired, so this is probably a good fitness game. Being up on a tower did not make me feel queasy, and shooting enemies from afar was a fun challenge. Overall, Longbow was a cool game that really exemplified having hands in VR.
These were my experiences with the HTC Vive at the Microsoft store. I really enjoyed the demo, and in the future, I would like to go back to test titles like Tilt Brush and Fantastic Contraption. In addition, Alex and I are hoping to make a video in which we test out a friend’s HTC Vive for a lot longer than a ten-minute demo.
Have you ever tried the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift? What games would you like to try in VR? Be sure to let us know in the comment section!