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Skeezix the Cat

HTC Vive

The HTC Vive is pretty darn nifty, if I do say so myself.  Having Valve and Steam be so much part of how you use it, it's extremely easy to start games, exit games, and even use your desktop in it.  The biggest obstacle to playing a VR game is getting up and putting the headset on.  There are lots of games for it and some of them are killer apps in my opinion, such as Hotdogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades for me which is a virtual shooting range game with a few killer robots thrown in here and there.  For a lot of people though, Minecraft is probably their go to app when they play the Vive and I've even seen people get one just for playing Minecraft.  Unfortunately you have to do a little modding magic to do this as it is not natively able to work, at least not the Java version.  I can tell you firsthand though that it is indeed worth it.  The sense of scale, the depth of seeing the world in 3D, and seeing just how gargantuan the blocks are compared to you is an incredible experience.  Looking out off a mountain, or up at one, low res textures or not it is awe inspiring.  Don't even get me started on the adrenaline rush from being attacked by mobs.  You will legitimately duck, dive, sidestep, etc. to dodge incoming arrows or spider leaps.  Be careful not to slam into a wall because you probably will at one point.  Many people say that playing Vivecraft gives you a similar feeling of enjoyment and wonder as when you first played it.  I wouldn't say it was that good, but I won't ever play it any other way after experiencing it.






The lighthouses used for tracking are pretty robust in how they can be mounted, and they do not need to be connected to anything but power to function unless they can't see each other, in which case you have to use an included sync cable which looks like an ordinary aux cord but seems to be practically 50 feet long.  The way they work is also very good, even if they don't always work as intended.  They bathe the room with an intense infrared light, and do not communicate with the headset or a computer in any way.  The headset itself does the tracking along with wand tracking.  I have found that if you move quickly enough, you can "grab" things in games even if they're say, under a real life bed or table due to space constraints before the headset loses track of them.  I do still have jitter and occasional floating hands in games though, usually if I sit down or keep the wands away from the frontal region of the headset for very long.  Comfort is pretty good.  The headset is noticeably heavy, and is always the first thing to become annoying.  It also has a tendency to slightly compress my nasal passages, making it hard to breathe through my nose if I'm playing anything even remotely active.  Despite this, as long as you keep the room cool or sufficient fans on you, it doesn't necessarily smother your face even though it can make you sweat from your face so you can play longer.  The wands are fairly comfortable to hold for long periods of time, but in frantic situations it's very difficult not to press the palm buttons on the back.  I have dropped my gun in H3VR probably a hundred times while trying to hold back a killer robot and reload at the same time.  The buttons are also not really that great.  I mean they aren't hard to get to, and they work, but besides the menu button you have an admittedly omnidirectional touchpad but besides that, a trigger and one single button.  It's not a big deal but they could have at least had one or two more buttons or did it in a way that allowed you to manipulate multiple fingers, like the Rift's controllers.  Like having multiple buttons down the back similar to the two they have (that are not separate keys by the way, hitting one or the other will do the same thing in any game I've played so far) but horizontal instead of vertical, and spaced where you would typically have your fingers anyway and through squeezing with a particular finger, you could have finer hand control.  Then again maybe it wouldn't work as well.  I'm just salty that I can't flip things off in VR.  The headset does not have built in headphones, but it does have an aux port dangling from the back which I am a big fan of because you can just use some good earbuds and the outside world will completely melt away.  No light gets in the headset even if you have a bright room light, and depending on your headphones no sound will either.  Once you get twisted around a few times you will lose all sense of direction in the real world and will pretty much be at the mercy of the Chaperone guards to keep from hitting things.







Now there are some big and small problems I have come across.  One is that if you just have your lighthouses sitting on a shelf or table or something and accidentally knock one over or bump it out of place, you'll probably have to go through room setup again because the chaperone will be off.  That doesn't sound like a huge deal but where you set the boundaries is usually how big the games you play will expect you to be able to move.  If the guards get moved into the wall, there could be items or locations in game you can't get to because there's a real wall in your way.  I can't think of any way around this problem though, so I'm not knocking points off for it but it is relevant to my next issue.  And that is even though there are two different modes to set up for; standing/sitting and roomscale, problem being you have to redo the room setup each time you switch.  Thankfully not very many games require sitting or standing mode.  In fact I've only come across one, and it was just a random "throw it in the cart" buy on day one and I never cared enough to go through the trouble to try it.  But still, sometimes I would like to play Minecraft but not be standing and flailing my arms.  Just using the headset with my mouse and keyboard in my chair would be nice sometimes but I don't want to redo my room setup.  I technically can just walk to my chair and sit down, but the chaperone walls will have to be turned off or they won't disappear in-game as I'm technically out of bounds.  It's not that hard to do the room setup and it is fairly fast.  But I don't want to do literally anything to play different games except close one, then open the next.  Saved presets would be close enough.






Now that stuff is all minor.  This part is probably what some of you are worried about, with the Vive being made by HTC and all.  And I'm sorry to say that yes, the Vive lives up to HTC's wonderful standards of quality.  Which is to say that pretty much every single HTC Vive is a lemon.  Not the headset itself, it's solid af.  The wands themselves are faulty.  Under the touchpads there are rubber rings, and over time these rings will either break or move out of place.  This causes difficulty in clicking on certain points of the touchpad.  The touch portion itself is fine, you just can't click.  I screwed myself over extra bad by buying a used Vive.  Not only was I only like a month and a half away from a price drop where I could have gotten a brand new one for the same amount I bought the used one for, but one of my wands is almost unclickable on certain parts of the touchpad.  The other is getting there.  You can buy new wands...for $130.  Individually.  Or if you buy a Vive new, and this happens, HTC *should* be willing to replace it for you.  I'm out of luck unless I either learn how to fix it or get new wands.  I have not done that yet because it's actually not that big of a hindrance.  The only game where it prevents me from doing anything is in H3VR, and the functions I lose are not game breaking.  As long as I make sure I have the good wand in my right hand, I can even still do everything.  At least for now.  Keep in mind that it's been out over a year, and the Vive I bought I'm pretty sure was from shortly after it came out.  Meaning you should get a good year's worth of use out of them before having serious problems.  Or so.  Depends on how much use it gets, I suppose.  I guess I can't say that every single one is a lemon, but this sort of design flaw reminds me a lot of the Xbox 360's RRoD.  It was almost never a matter of IF your console would red ring...it was always a when.  I'm sure there are like three consoles out there that were bought in 2006 and still work today with no repairs but that is not the norm obviously.


With all of this being said, I do not regret buying it.  I do still regularly play it and don't see myself stopping like I did with the Oculus DK2.  Whether or not it's better than the Rift?  Well, I haven't used a Rift or its new controllers.  I have heard and seen reviews saying they're better...but that doesn't mean the Vive's Wands are bad controllers at all.  I do know you can flip things off with the Rift.  Spec wise they are identical, and the Rift is lighter/has included headphones that are also reportedly very acceptable quality and comfort wise.  It all comes down to price, and game library.  I don't know how many games are exclusive to either one off the top of my head, but I do know the Rift is much cheaper even though the Vive is now on sale for $600.  It's a difference of $200, so you'll have to decide for yourself if having your VR system integrated in Steam and Steam's VR game library is worth it.  For all I know, the Rift could even play Steam VR games.  Like I said, if you're on the fence then that's what you want to look into before deciding.  If you're hankering for a VR headset, you really can't go wrong with either one.


Final Verdict: If you crave the (one of the two) best VR experience(s), have a free credit card, a beefy computer, a decent amount of clear space, and appreciate the best immersion you've ever experienced in a home setting, then yes.  It is worth the current $600 price tag.


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Played around with a Demo setup at a microsuck store. It really is an incredible experience. Good to hear a report from someone who's spent more time with it.



this sort of design flaw reminds me a lot of the Xbox 360's RRoD.  It was almost never a matter of IF your console would red ring...it was always a when.  I'm sure there are like three consoles out there that were bought in 2006 and still work today with no repairs but that is not the norm obviously.


Unrelated, but interesting, is that my brother has such a console.

Edited by Sunstriker7
Skeezix the Cat and Puddin like this

Kavawuvi: one of these days these glutes are gonna squawk all over you

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