Virtual reality isn’t new. In fact, the technology has been present as early as the 1960s in a somewhat archaic form: the Sensorama. Then VR attached itself to video gaming sometime around the ’80s, but it wasn’t until recent years that the relationship bloomed.
On August 1, 2012, the Oculus Rift—a VR headset and arguably one of the industry’s essentials—started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The campaign reached its $500K goal in less than a day. The rest is history.
As you can see, modern VR gaming hasn’t yet reached its ten-year mark. Thus, it’s perfectly fine if you’re not overly familiar with it yet. In fact, now may be a great time to get into VR gaming, what with all VR games already released.
If you want to play with virtual reality, then here’s a starter’s guide as a basis for what you’ll need.
Regular games usually only need sixty frames per second (FPS). Their VR counterparts, however, must consistently run at ninety FPS. If your frame rate is lower than that, then the stuttering experience can disorient you.
Actually, it’s not a matter of frame rates but, rather, the response time between you and your VR device. Your system needs to track and transpose your movement into the game. A higher frame rate than normal will make that transition smooth.
Otherwise, your brain will perceive a “disconnection.” For example, you move your hand in front of you, but in your vision through the VR headset, you (consciously or subconsciously) notice a slight delay in your movement. This will usually give you a painful headache, which takes away the fun.
Therefore, you may want to get a VR-ready PC, which are high-end PCs built with VR support that can reach ninety FPS easily. With one, you’ll never have any migraines from playing with virtual reality.
You will need peripherals to see through the looking glass and interact with the virtual world.
The Oculus Rift is the original headset and is still considered the best overall. It now comes with two Touch controllers, two Oculus sensors, and seven free VR apps (if you purchased it from the Oculus’s main site).
Alternatively, you can also check out the HTC Vive, the Oculus’s closest rival and one that has a good chance of dethroning it. Again, the Oculus gives the best overall VR experience by a narrow margin. On the other hand, the Vive has room-scale VR, meaning it can detect how big your room is, which can enhance your gaming experience.
That’s just one advantage for the Vive. It’s a big one but may not always be necessary. In fact, if you weigh the pros and cons between the Oculus and the Vive, they’re generally almost equal. Maybe the only aspect that makes the Oculus better than the Vive is its lighter weight.
On the third side of the VR rivalry triangle is the PlayStation VR. The Oculus and the Vive are better, but the PSVR is the cheapest.
However, the PSVR, without using third-party tools, is exclusive only to the PlayStation 4. You can use it on the PC via the Steam VR, but many PC VR games are compatible only with the Vive’s or the Oculus’s controllers, thereby limiting the PSVR’s usefulness.
How Deep Does This Rabbit Hole Go?
Thanks to the Oculus’s launch and success, a new wave of VR spilled into the gaming industry, with games developed as standalone VR titles and VR ports of currently popular games.
Yet VR gaming is still at its prepubescent years, evident by the lack of proper hardware to equate experience between regular games and virtual reality.
However, programmers are finding creative ways to improve the VR experience. For example, the horror game Bring to Light uses a heart rate monitor to check its players’ fear level and adjust scares accordingly. It’s the first VR game that incorporates biometric feedback; hopefully, it won’t be the last.
Aside from that, there are many other exciting innovations being developed in the VR industry. If you want to be prepared for them, then get your VR gaming starter kit ready.