I own a Samsung Gear VR Headset and I’ve used Oculus Rift’s and HTC Vives at trade show’s before so I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for. I’ve played a number of demo’s and tried many simple experiences so I thought I was ready. I’m still in the first flush of enthusiasm but I’ve got three conclusions so far.
Firstly it’s amazing how much space the setup needs if you want to go room scale. It’s probably obvious but for room scale VR you need a full and nearly empty room of a decent size. You can make do with less but it’s not as good an experience. You also need to consider vertical space – reaching up to grab a shotgun in VR I managed to punch the hanging ceiling light.
Second, setup is all important. The normal package that ships with the Rift has two sensors in it that need to be positioned perfectly to get a decent experience. The software included works but it’s a case of making a guesstimate, setting it up in the software and then testing to see if it works. Once you’ve found the right position you have to keep the sensors from moving and uncovered. There are ways to mount them on the ceiling but if you’re like me they’ll probably have to perch vulnerably on a desk. I was playing RoboRecall and all of a sudden started having serious problems with tracking. I managed to stumble on and get to the next load screen, taking off my headset to discover a cat watching me interestedly – sat right in front of the sensor.
Finally – it’s amazing. Systems like the Gear VR are interesting but they aren’t a patch on what a full-scale VR system like the Oculus Rift can do. Even my few interactions with the Rift at gaming shows haven’t let me get into it properly. The Oculus Rift when paired with a fast enough machine and a decent game or program genuinely feels like you’re there and a part of what’s happening. There are rough edges and problems but they fade into the background. I’m actively trying to get more and more time in-game and that’s something special for me.