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Valve’s answer to the gaming revolution that is VR. The HTC Vive has made a name for itself as the top VR headset for walking around room-scale experiences as well as direct, intuitive interaction using the pair of included motion controllers.
View all of our available Vive deals and PC bundles below.
For long-time PC gamers, the HTC Vive is the obvious choice. Not only does it run using Steam - the PC gaming platform that just about everyone already uses - but its development has focused on traditions such as openness and customization. Indeed, Valve have an impressive reputation in the industry as not only the single largest and most powerful entity, but also one of the most consumer-friendly. While Oculus are making a name for themselves as the Apple of first-gen VR, the HTC Vive remains more loyal to its PC roots.
It's also a hell of a piece of hardware.
Entering the race long after Oculus started it, HTC and Valve managed to deliver an extremely impressive first-gen headset. Slightly bulkier and marginally heavier than the Rift, but still designed to be comfortably used for multiple hours at a time.
While subjective, for the majority of face shapes the HTC Vive will also provide a higher field-of-view, opening up virtual environments to a more engrossing experience. The lenses are standard Fresnel (as opposed to the Rift’s hybrid lenses), and while this may make for a slightly less clean image, these lenses produce fewer light artefacts which some people can find distracting.
Not content with simply experiencing VR from your seat, HTC and Valve have been huge innovators in room-scale experiences. Being able to get up from your chair and walk around a space as large as 6 square metres has really brought the Vive to a whole other level of immersion.
All this walking around can make bumping into real-world walls a problem. The HTC Vive, however, has that covered with the Chaperone system. When you’re close to the boundaries of your physical play area, clear virtual walls appear in whatever VR experience you’re in. On top of that, the headset has a front-facing camera that can be activated to get a live feed of your room without having to lift up the headset, making the jump between real and virtual completely seamless.
The HTC Vive has been the only VR headset to launch with proper VR-designed motion controllers, and as a result has been paving the way when it comes to fully interactive VR experiences.
The controllers pair perfectly with the room-scale focus described above, allowing the player to not only walk around large virtual spaces, but feel like they are physically interacting with them.
These wands also open the door to many other kinds of VR experiences not possible with a mere gamepad, such as painting in 3D or playing catch with a friend on the other side of the planet.
The headset is modular, allowing parts to be swapped out in order to enhance the overall headset as time goes on, without needing to buy an entirely new one. For an additional fee, you can grab a much more comfortable headstrap to swap in, as well as Oculus Rift-style headphones that attach to the device itself.
Beyond that, HTC are also developing a number of additional peripherals to help customize your experience further, including additional motion sensors that can be attached to real-world objects for even more authentic interaction with the virtual world.
SteamVR seamlessly translates the regular Steam experience into 3 dimensions. It uses similar layout to Steam BigScreen (using large console-style buttons) and is fully interactive by pointing and “shooting” with the Vive wands.
You can open up SteamVR from any VR experience, much like the Steam overlay while playing normal 2D games. Combined with the Chaperone system, this means you don’t have to lift up your headset at any point while gaming. You can even view your regular desktop view, play 2D games or watch films in a moddable virtual theatre.
The following PC specs are recommended for the full Vive experience:
|Video Card:||NVIDIA 1GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater|
|CPU:||Intel Core i5 4590 or AMD FX 8350 or greater.|
|RAM:||4GB or more.|
|Video Output:||HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, or greater.|
|USB Ports:||1 USB 2.0 or faster port.|
|OS:||Windows 7 SP1 or newer.|
The Lighthouse base stations track your headset and controllers in 360' across a large area. They sync wirelessly and just need a power cable: no wires running across the room to your computer.
Chaperone provides you with a real-world awareness. The front-facing camera blends real-world objects into the virtual world so you always know where you stand.
The wireless controllers have HD haptic feedback and are fully motion tracked for an unprecedented level of precision. Pick up items, fire weapons, paint in 3D or just wave your hands about with uncanny accuracy.
Trust that any VR games you buy for the Vive will sit happily on the most stable and fully-featured PC gaming platform there is. If anyone was to bet on which digital distribution platforms will still be alive and kicking in 10 or 20 years, Steam would absolutely be up there with the best odds.