Valve Index Is a Powerful VR Headset Even Without HalfLife

first_imgStay on target Whatever your thoughts are on virtual reality (for me the best it’s really good for is quick cardboard gimmicks) you can’t deny that Valve has been all in trying to push the tech to its furthest potential with its boatload of Steam money. It’s not like they were spending that cash on game development or Steam Machines or moderators or more generous developer cuts than Epic. The proof is in the hardware. While competitors like Oculus pivot more towards more accessible and affordable standalone headsets, the HTC Vive Pro with the SteamVR software delivers the most intense VR experience your monster gaming PC can muster.And that was back when Valve had to work with an outside partner in HTC. Now the company is ready to reveal its first fully internal VR hardware solution. Even without a Half-Life game, the Valve Index sounds pretty impressive.The Valve Index aims to provide the highest fidelity VR experience imaginable. So you’re going to need some outside components to make it realistically work. You just can’t strap it on your face and go. For starters, these are the “minimum” required specs: Windows 10 or SteamOS or Linux, 8 GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970+ or AMD RX480+, Dual Core CPU, and some USB 3.0 ports. For the most beautiful, smooth VR experiences though you’ll want to push your PC much further than that.The Valve Index also encompasses a range of hardware. The upgraded base stations (also compatible with Vive Pro) increase your potential play area by multiple square meters and track your motion more accurately. You can get away with just two but additional base stations increase the fidelity of the large-scale room tracking with laser scans picking up headset and controller positions “100 times a second.”And speaking of controllers, the 87 new sensors in the controllers can now map your hands to the point where games recognize what your individual fingers are doing. Actually grab objects instead of pressing a trigger. Give enemies the finger. Throw objects with the motion sensor. There are still buttons and analog sticks as well for when more traditional inputs are necessary.But the star of the show is the Valve Index headset itself. The display features a high-res 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye with enhanced LCD subpixel rendering techniques to increase sharpness and reduce the “screen door effect.” The higher resolution along with shorter image persistence and refresh rates as high as 144Hz should also reduce motion sickness.The physical design puts the lenses closer to your eyes, while still maintaining comfort, to increase field of view for more immersive peripheral vision. High quality speakers sit outside of your ears so you feel more like you’re in the environment. And the hardware can be modded in all sorts of ways after the fact.To get all of this, you’ll be paying $999 for the whole Valve Index suite, and that’s before the PC. That’s not cheap! And it’s an even tougher price to swallow when the announced games are typical VR mainstays like Job Simulator and Tilt Brush, or games also coming to the modest PlayStation VR (albeit in lower quality) like No Man’s Sky and Trover Saves The Universe. This really would’ve been a great time for Valve to announce the rumored Half-Life VR prequel.But if you want the absolute cutting-edge in VR tech, get ready to pre-order the Valve Index starting May 1st. For more on VR check out these hidden messages in Oculus controllers and read about Sony’s patent for potential new ways VR headsets can work better with glasses. Valve Steam Link App Brings Your PC Games to MobileEpic Gives Free Games, GOG Gives OG ‘Diablo,’ Steam Gives Ap… last_img

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