In the studio I had the opportunity to test out the HTC Vive and an app called Google tilt brush, which if you are not aware is an app which allows you to paint in 3d space. But before I talk about the app I want to dig a little further into the Vive, how it feels and handles, but also whether this could be the future in how we experience apps and games.
The headset itself is comfortable and light, which if you were to look at it you may think quite the contrary.
The screen has a resolution of 2160×1200 which equates to 1080×1200 per eye and looks very good in testing, though due to your eyes being so close it may be as clear as you like or expect. Still, it is good enough to fool you into thinking you are in a different space which is key and works well. The motion tracking is also great and responsive, due to two large sensors tracking your movements within your environment – allowing it to pick up you crouching, laying down and moving in all directions. The controllers are also ergonomic and after five minutes I quickly learned where all the buttons were located, resulting in fast and fluid actions within the app.
Using Tilt brush for the first time was an incredible experience, unique in every way, your senses are enamoured by being transported to somewhere you believe you are in. Creating your own art in the space and walking around it is somewhat mesmerising, and I cannot quite put it into words the experience until you have tried it yourself.
They have also done a great job with the controllers, using one controller as a palette and the other as a picker feels natural and intuitive allowing me to be immersed without it pulling me out of the experience with frustration, which could have easily happened.
I also had the chance to try a game called space pirate trainer which I fell in love with. The game has you defend a platform against drones which come in waves as it inevitably gets harder as time goes on, a simple concept but one that is executed very well. You have a wealth of weapons to choose from and can quickly change your weapons from the Vive controllers. You could use one controller as a grenade launcher and the other as a shield, so you are waving your arms about aiming, deflecting but also dodging and moving, ducking and weaving past the lasers that are flying by. From my little time playing I wanted to go back and play some more, there was something addicting about this game being fueled by the Vive. I have not experienced a game which uses my body the way in which this game does in the immersion it provides, possibly the Nintendo Wii when that first came out in the way you interact but this is an experience above it.
As for its downfalls It has a few, it is to be expected however due to it being a first generation product. The screen is still a little blurry and not as high resolution as it needs to be. The wires do break the immersion and can make it a little awkward at times, as you can get tangled quite fast if you are not careful. The price is very high at £759 and requires a pretty powerful pc to run it, which means for general consumers it is largely out of the range at the moment. But of course this is a 1st gen, I expect the price to come down in the next few years dramatically, along with tech improvements to the screen and hardware advances VR will be extremely accessible and attractive in the future. Even now, they are still alternatives such as the PlayStation vr, which comes in at a significantly lower price of £350(though you need the PlayStation camera), or many phones can run vr such as the Google pixel which have baked in a feature called Google Daydream. Though, you do need an expensive phone to run it. Overall virtual reality seems to have a bright future ahead of it, with its unique experiences and unparalleled immersion as time goes on it can only get better.