I have to admit. My Vive is gathering dust. And it upsets me. $800 dust magnet. Please suggest a game or something to make me dust it off. The wife is giving me shit about it. :) It’s that or Ebay.
DCS World, IL-2 Sturmovik, Aerofly FS2, Elite: Dangerous.
Install Revive and get Lone Echo from the Oculus store. So great.
<- what he said
and Senua’s Sacrifice.
But really, DCS should be all you ever need. Get yourself the A-10A and F-15 if you just want to fly and make things go boom as quickly and easily as possible. Just bite through that initial bitter crust of setting up your controls. Get the F/A-18C or AV-8B if you want to learn all of that pilot shit.
So a few days ago I got an acer mixed reality headset and controllers for the equivalent of $185 USD brand new delivered.
I am really impressed. VR gaming is no gimmick, neither is VR video watching, VR exploring, or VR simulation. Given how cheap the price is, at least for these mixed reality doobies, I don’t know why anyone with a video card doesn’t now jump on the bandwagon. Here are some impressions I have on various aspects:
The acer headset looks pretty cheap. It has a light blue front visor, no integrated headphones, and everything is very plasticky. Your mileage may vary, but to me that is almost irrelevant (especially given the price). I am really happy with every other aspect of the headset. It is really light, I don’t have alot of experience with other VR headsets but this one doesn’t weigh the head down and I don’t feel much discomfort at all even from extended use. Adding good headphones over the sides mostly works fine.
One big advantage of mixed reality (MR) is you don’t need external sensors. There’s no hassle setting up anything around the room, no cables running around, just the headset connection to the PC. Instead, they have cameras on the front of the headset that detects movement in the controllers. This works really well for me, for everything I have tried I get virtually 1:1 controller performance. Apparently some games cause issues as they require you to put your hand behind your back, which the cameras can’t pick up, but other than that it works fantastically from my short experience. The controllers themselves are to me very comfortable and have alot of functionality. Apparently the joysticks aren’t on the Vive controller, so (apparently) when playing SteamVR games you have locomotion options that other headsets don’t.
Image quality / immersiveness
There are three main drawbacks to the (cheaper) MR headsets relative to the Vive/Rift. Apparently the field of view is a little lower, which I think I can see in that you kindof feel like you’re looking into the virtual world through a large ski mask. This might sound lame, but you really don’t notice it much when playing or watching something, you get used to it very quickly.
Secondly, there is no IPD adjustment mechanism, it’s fixed (this is different to the Samsung Odyssey MR headset which costs more). You can adjust via software but I have heard mixed things about its effectiveness. This was the thing I was worried most about when buying the headset, but it turns out I can see things clearly so no problem. Apparently the sweet spot is a little narrower than in the Vive/Rift, but I can’t compare. I am very happy with the quality here.
Thirdly, It’s a LCD panel not OLED. The colours here don’t look vivid or like my OLED TV downstairs, it does feel exactly like a LCD monitor in that regard, but again without a direct A to B comparison I can’t comment on the relative difference. It looks fine to me. One benefit (apparently) of LCD over OLED is that the sub-pixels are arranged in a way that reduces the screen door effect. I don’t notice much of a screen door effect at all. While I can see individual pixels if I look hard at one spot, it never affects immersiveness. So that might be a big plus relative to the Vive/Rift.
Another benefit is that the resolution is higher than the Vive/Rift. The resolution looks good to me, like all VR headsets you have to accept resolution loss coming from a flat screen (especially my 4k screen!) but it isn’t that bad. The fact you are inhabiting a 3d world more than makes up for the loss in visual fidelity.
And wow, VR is incredibly immersive. It is so much fun doing almost anything in VR, even putting a 2d Netflix stream onto a large cinema VR room. I am very happy with the image quality of the headset.
Mixed reality software
Another compromise of mixed reality is that less games natively support it. Microsoft has its own VR home which you can launch games/apps out of, but really if you’re a gamer most of your time will be spent running mixed reality through SteamVR. It works almost seamlessly. You run a VR game in steam which will load up the mixed reality program (which starts up your headset) and then loads up SteamVR which then loads up the game. It sounds cumbersome but once you’re used to it, it’s fine. Most of the time there are no hassles and SteamVR works flawlessly with the mixed reality set.
I use a 1080 video card, although I am also going to try it on my laptop which has a 1050 Ti. One big advantage of mixed reality, to my understanding, is that recent updates to the MR software has brought in a very advanced reprojection tech. This means that for especially demanding VR games (IL-2 and DCS I am looking at you) you only have to run the game at 45 fps and then reprojection will interpolate to make it feel like 90 fps. In my short experience this works really well. You also get automatic reprojection, so if you are capable of running the game at 90 fps reprojection stays off until you start dipping into choppy frame rates, so you can just set the option once and forget about it.
What that also means is that you can supersample less demanding games even higher and rely on reprojection to give you the smooth frames. I have no experience of the other headsets, but I have read it works better here than on the Vive/Rift.
So far I have tried:
- the Lab: Fantastic set of mini experiences, I had alot of fun with this one even though it was short. Hard to complain since it’s free for everyone.
- Beat Saber: This is great fun, it does live up to the hype! The game makes you feel cool and rhythmic. My wife said I looked so embarrassing playing it though.
- Google Earth VR: A mix of amazement and disappointment. It’s a fantastic app, the problem is that my backward Australian internet is too slow to really enjoy it. I get about 15 Mbps and 3d scenes take ages to load to acceptable fidelity.
- IL-2 Sturmovik: This took awhile to set up properly, but when I did it it works great. Relies heavily on reprojection to get a good combination of performance and visual clarity. The 3d cockpit is really great, flying feels great in VR, but I need to spend more time with it.
- DCS World: This took even more time to set up properly, and relies even more heavily on reprojection to get good performance! The 3d cockpit of the Viggen plane is just spectacular. I spent a good 10 minutes moving my head around and admiring the different details which I never noticed on the flat screen. It really feels like you’re in a cockpit!
- Minecraft: This is cool. I have played alot of Minecraft over the years, and am not sure that VR is enough of a pull to get me to go back and do it all over again. It is really nicely implemented though, you can play with the motion controllers and the game is very immersive. It also taught me that I can handle moving smoothly in VR without feeling sick. It did make me feel a little wobbly at first but no motion sickness came on, this bodes well for Skyrim VR!!
- VR 3d video: This is amazing. 10000x better than 3d blu rays.
TLDR: All in all, if you’re on the fence about VR I would seriously consider getting a mixed reality headset. They are very cheap nowadays and the software has come a long way from release, so most of the criticisms you’ll find in launch reviews are irrelevant now. Most importantly, it does not feel like a gimmick like 3d movies in the theatre. You perceive depth in virtual reality almost as well as in real life, and the immersiveness this creates is amazing. In a plane you feel like you could rest your arm on the canopy if you wanted. VR interaction with the controllers also is not like the Wiimote, it’s the real deal. I really hope VR continues to mature and grow as I am now a firm believer that it’s the next wave.
Mixed reality offers a comparable experience to the Vive/Rift, but at a fraction of the cost (at least where I am)!
- Not having to set up external sensors. This was a dealbreaker for me with the Vive/Rift.
- Advanced reprojection tech helps give a major performance boost
- Headset is very light
- Screen quality. It’s a tradeoff between slightly lower FOV and less vibrant colours vs. higher resolution and less of a screen door effect.
- A bit more fiddling required to set up some games.
Thank you for your review.
For il2 it might be a good idea to seek out the mod that removes the propeller disc. This is rendered in a way that drives the VR driver up the wall. So far just hacking it out has been the most effective solution.
In DCS, you might want to play a bit with all the different settings. Do you need all sliders at max? Try turning MSAA off in that, as that really bites into your framerate especially in VR. Also check the VR tab in the options page. Be sure to fiddle with IPD until scale is right and put gamma right.
Also, check this out:
Now head over to Beat Saver and install the Mod Manager to seamlessly download and play user created tracks in game. I recommend Gangnam Style for further embarrassing the wife.
The game has a healthy mod community and there’s lots of other neat additions and tweaks you can find in the manager too.
At this point, modded Beat Saber is quite possibly my Game of the Year.
I keep forgetting to figure out what happened with my version. I installed the mod, downloaded some tracks, played them, and everything was great. Then I came back a couple weeks later and it doesn’t work at all. Need to remember to go back to Beat Saver and redo it all. A hell of a lot of fun with the user tracks.
Is that a usb camera strapped on the front of the vive?
-That’s not a Vive, but a Rift.
-I think it’s a leap motion.
It looks like it but actually its a custom jobbie the guy intends to sell to flight sim nuts like me for about 150 dollars.
Fallout 4 VR and Skyrim VR are fantastic if you enjoy their pancake versions at all. Fallout is glitchier and runs poorly compared to Skyrim (though it has improved quite a bit since release) but I find the gameplay a better fit for VR than Skyrim. Skyrim VR has enjoyed better mod support though, with a VR version of SKSE and recently, an official(?) VR version of SkyUI. If you go for fallout 4, definitely get it from Steam for the refund option.
I brought the Rift solely on the promise of these two VR ports and I don’t regret it.
Oh wow, that looks a lot easier than last time I looked into custom songs. Awesome.
It’s very cool. Speaking of extra means of immersion, do you know of a way in DCS to use voice commands to interact with ATC?
They look great, as soon as they hit 33% off they are both mine. The nice thing is that I haven’t played Fallout 4 yet.
Has anyone tried Doom VR?
I’ll definitely do that! I was getting a little tired of hearing “hundred dollar bills” in my head over and over.
It’s super easy now. Once the mod manager is installed you get a new Beat Saver option in the main menu in-game which seamlessly lists all the songs available to download, lets you sort them, search and so on. Songs take seconds to download for me, so you can just grab a ton of them and then start playing right away. All without ever leaving the game.
Yeah it’s pretty great, I tried it this morning.
Ashamedly, my favourite custom song so far is Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. I had only downloaded it because I thought it would be a song that might get my wife to try the game!
Ars reports on the Vive wireless adapter
Seems like us ITX (or laptop) guys are out of luck for this one, though I guess it’s something else you can use a TB3 enclosure for
Even desktop folks may be out of luck or have to workaround the pci-e slot requirement. I have a giant case, and even so my cpu cooler looks to be blocking my ability to install the required card in my available pci-e slot. Some googling suggests I may be able to use an adapter of some sort, but we’ll see once it gets here - I preordered before realizing the slot may be blocked.