I feel I should be honest up front, a disclaimer of sorts. Previously I was skeptical of all the talk about all the virtual reality systems being the future of gaming.
Two weeks ago I ate my words. At a special demo to the press during this years Wizard World Comic Con Sacramento on June 17-19, we got to have a hands on experience with the HTC Vive thanks to the awesome folks at Newegg.
Entering the curtained off area near the back of the convention hall, we were able to have the headset strapped on and the controllers placed in our hands as were given instructions on how to use the weapons and shield in the shooter game Space Pirate Trainer. Right away it was truly impressive how immersive the world is, no matter which direction you looked you were in the game. There were no places where you could see the real world and get taken out of the game.
While you knew you were in virtual reality, it felt like you were standing on a platform staring out at the vastness of space, two futuristic weapons securely in your hands. With just a move, I was able to dip and dodge out of the way of lasers fired from the enemy drones that flew all around. The weapons could be changed from a beam like setting to a more rapid fire machine guy like style. Reaching behind the back with your hand would pull out a shield that could be used in place of one of the weapons.
While the game itself was something simple, a good way to test out the system, the implications of the technology are the truly exciting part. Imagine one day being able to pull on the headset and grip the controllers as you stroll through the open world environment of Grand Theft Auto or The Elder Scrolls. Instead of just pushing buttons to pull a person from a car to steal or swing your sword at attacking dragons, you would actually be moving in the real world to make those actions happen.
Just think about being able to actually stand there in a crouch and having the ball hiked to you as quarterback in Madden or swinging the bat in MLB The Show. The possibilities are almost limitless.
Immediately after leaving the demo, and raving about it with my colleague, I was determined that I would own one of these headsets in the future.
One downside is that being a newer in demand technology, the headsets and the type of hardware you would need to run such a system are not cheap. The HTC Vive runs for around $799, while the other typical popular headset the Occulus Rift goes for around $599, and is just one of multiple options. Choosing a system depends on what the user is looking for and what they are willing to pay, just like with most game systems overall.
In the long run the headsets themselves are not much more expensive then what we all play for new consoles and cell phones, so it’s not too bad. As the technology continues to expand, there will be likely cheaper options that will pop up.
Newegg has an article on their site that is a guide to getting into Virtual Reality, that is a good thing to check out for those interested in entering this future of gaming. They also sell a lot of the PCs that are powerful enough to handle VR.
With just one demo at Wizard World, I’ve truly become a believer that the future of gaming has already arrived.