We all knew this was happening thanks to Valve’s blasé announcement last week, but a Sunday reveal ahead of GDC has taken the Internet by surprise. Valve’s VR headset is called the Vive, and they have partnered with Taiwan-based, smart phone and tablet company HTC to bring it to market by the end of this year. Yep, we already have an expected release date for the consumer version of the Vive; that gives Valve and HTC a significant advantage over Oculus and their Rift, as well as Sony and their Project Morpheus; both Oculus and Sony have yet to provide a release date for their consumer versions.
So what’s in this thing? The hardware specs are, to be frank, really damn impressive. It features two 1200 x 1080 displays that refresh at 90 frames per second, essentially removing all concern of “jitter”.
More interesting however is Valve and HTC’s claim that the Vive provides a “full room-scale” VR experience. In other words, the Vive allows you to “get up, walk around and explore your virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with your surroundings.” It does this through the inclusion of a “Steam VR base station”.
The Base station is still largely a mystery, but with GDC kicking off this week you can bet there will be a ton of news hitting the Internet shortly. During the Sunday reveal it was said that pairing two Steam VR base stations with one Vive will give you a space of 15 by 15 feet in which to move around. That is, of course, assuming you have a space that large in your home.
Finally, HTC has developed a set of wireless controllers that will allow you to interact with virtual objects. What these look like is open for speculation at this time, but they’ve been designed so that they can be used in a number of different VR experiences, from picking things up to shooting weapons.
With Valve is firmly behind this you can expect some fantastic VR experiences hitting Steam. You will, of course, need a pretty beefy PC to run two displays at 1200 x 1080 with 90 fps refresh rate. In addition to games, the Vive is being backed by media creators like HBO and Lionsgate. Google is also firmly behind the product.
A developer version will be available during our autumn, which is pretty much right now. With the consumer version promised within the year, Valve and HTC’s Vive is looking like a serious piece of competition for Oculus and Sony.