I recently got my hands on a VR Headset: the Valve Index, which is something I wanted to try and experience on my own for quite some time.
Previously, I only got the occasion to try VR three times in total (and that was at the time of the Occulus Rift, so quite old. One was in a professional setting in which VR was used to design and test parts inside of a 3D modeled plane and the other two at various gaming-related conventions (the Savoie Retro-Games to cite the most well-known).
First off, getting VR to work is quite the setup (at least with this headset).
You will be handed:
- A headset (duh)
- An adaptor for the headset cable that has inputs for USB 3.0, DisplayPort and the power brick (and you really really don't want to break that cable)
- Two controllers
- Two base stations
The first step I did was to install the base stations and there was one of the first problems. The official guide recommends you to drill holes to screw the stations directly to the wall which would be the best method, but, problem is that I do not own a drill capable of the diameter required for the stations and buying a drill only for that seems a tad expensive (also, laziness).
Instead of that, I used plain old double-sided tape which does its job wonderfully (even though the setup looks very cursed now).
Each base station has its own power brick and does not needs to be connected to the computer.
After that, you need of course to plug the headset into your computer, start SteamVR and begin the calibration.
Those steps are really easy and the calibration is basically outlining your room using one of your controllers.
After this step, everything should work as intended... if you're not running on Windows 11.
Yup, that's what I did at first. When waiting for the headset to arrive, I installed Windows 11 on another disk, naively thinking "Oh, it's not that different from 10, it should work correctly", suffice to say, it doesn't.
Basically, SteamVR (same with the beta) would sometimes ask you to recalibrate everything, during gameplay, you would start clipping through the floor or just speed through spacetime without even touching your controllers.
I then downgraded to a Windows 10 installation which fixed all the annoying problems.
Now, let's get to the best part: the games.
Basically, the first game I ever launched in VR is Half-Life: Alyx, one could say I bought VR mostly for this game and I wasn't deceived.
As of now, HL:A is the best VR game I have ever played. Weapons are usable easily and all have their own quirks that makes them useful, environments are very diverse, detailed and will reward those who will look a bit further than the surface level with some plans, drawings or even books that add even more depth to the world of Half-Life. The story itself? Well, it's a Valve game.
Even though the game itself is very short (could finish it under 10 hours of playing), you find yourself stopping often just to observe the environment or the landscape. The best example of this is when you launch a new game, the scene feels real but isn't too overwhelming.
In the end, if you want the best VR title so far, go for it, it's worth every single second.
Other notable games are VRChat which can seem boring at first but you end up growing a liking to it.
H3VR (Hot Dog Horseshoes & Hand Grenades) is also a nice game if you like to shoot stuff. The gunplay in this game is more focused on realism and throughout gameplay, you can see how much effort has been put in every single weapon even though the game itself is made by a very small team.
Here is a small video of me shooting hot-dog targets to demonstrate the game:
In the end, VR is probably the one of the greatest things I ever used.
Sadly, the entry price for it is still quite high and cheaper options such has Quest headsets are owned mainly by Meta.
Hopefully, Open headsets such as the Relativity will become more widespread and cheaper over time.
I'll write an update when I will have taken some time to install a Linux to test VR and see if it works as well as on Windows.
Until then, I'll see you next time!