HTC Vive's Reality Experience: Slighty Behind the Curve

HTC Vive's Reality Experience: Slighty Behind the Curve

Mike sees how Valve views virtual reality for the first time.

At E3, I saw Oculus' virtual reality experience at its zenith. I played with the the near-retail version of the Oculus Rift, combined with the Oculus Touch controller, as led by the founder of Oculus VR itself. At PAX Prime 2015, I finally had the chance to mess with the one of the many competitors to the Oculus Rift's ascendance: the Vive, developed in collaboration with Valve and HTC.

The HTC Vive and matching controllers. [Via NeoGAF]

I've had the chance to see the HTC Vive in action and while its demo has more life to it, the Oculus Rift remains the VR system to be beat. The Vive headset itself is largely the same at the Oculus Rift, but the Vive controllers are distinctly different and the Vive software is still very much in beta.

The pair of Vive controllers work similar to their Oculus Touch counterparts with one major addition. Not only do they have sensors to measure each controller in physical space, buttons to measure physical grip, and a trigger to measure finer pointer-finger actions, the Vive controllers also include two circular touch sensitive pads. Within the Vive software, these pads allow you to change the color of random balloons you can blow and release, but outside of that, you can definitely see their use within menus and other game systems. While Oculus Touch is thinking about mapping human interactions to controls, the Vive shows that Valve is thinking about finding a middle ground between normal human interactions and game controls.

The Vive software demo was patterned after Valve's Portal series, featuring the Aperture Science division and Glados at various points. While it had more humor overall than the same Oculus demos I experienced at E3 2015, there were definitely more rough edges. I have no idea if I was interacting with the Vive demo correctly. At some point, I was manipulating the insides of a robot that looked alot like Portal 2's Atlas, but I have no clue if I was doing the right thing or just flailing around in VR. It looked great - powered by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti - but the demo overall wasn't as elegant as the Oculus demos I'd tried months earlier.

The truth of the matter is Oculus is the first company within the VR space. While Valve and HTC have semi-solid hardware and software, Oculus has already done the major legwork for VR. That means Oculus has access to games that are further along to completion, while also having demo software that really pushes the VR experience forward. In contrast, the HTC Vive is playing catch up. I think Valve will reach parity, but the company isn't quite there yet.

That's a bunch of words to say that I came away from the HTC Vive demo more impressed with where Oculus currently is. At the very least, tere is competition in the VR space. If you're not excited about the Facebook-owned Oculus dominating, then you can feel confident that Valve is close behind when it comes to full-fledged VR gaming.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

Related articles

What Video Game Romances Should Have Remained Friendships?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | On Valentine's Day, we want to hear who you don't ship.

The Ups and Downs of Tim Sweeney’s DICE Keynote

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney delivers mixed messages in a DICE keynote roller coaster.

You may also like

USG Notebook: The Spectre of StarCraft: Ghost Haunts Its Leaked Build

Seeing the game playable again is a good time to reflect on the strife that bore it.

Cyberpunk 2077 Will Also Launch on GeForce Now, Nvidia’s Stadia Competitor

There'll likely be a showdown between Google and Nvidia in Night City.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker Is a Blue-Collar Space Sim From the Studio Behind Homeworld 3

Grab your plasma cutter and get ready to punch the clock.

Vince Zampella is Tired of Respawn Being "Pigeonholed" as a Multiplayer Shooter Studio

Backstage at the 2020 DICE Awards, Respawn studio head Vince Zampella reflects on Respawn's year of breaking out of its comfort zone.