HTC Vive

We find out how Valve’s room­scale VR plan will change change homes for­ever – for bet­ter and worse


Well, if you thought clear­ing off the coffee ta­ble for a Wii Sports ses­sion was an in­con­ve­nience, or that 20 min­utes of pre-party Rock Band kit setup was too much like hard work, you’re in for a heck of a shock. The prob­lem with HTC Vive’s am­bi­tious, of­ten bril­liant room-scale VR is that, as the term im­plies, it needs an en­tire room.

Rarely has the phrase ‘dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy’ been meant so lit­er­ally. You’re not clear­ing the coffee ta­ble, but pick­ing it up and tak­ing it out of the room; ev­ery piece of fur­ni­ture and po­ten­tial ob­struc­tion must be pushed right up against the perime­ter of your cho­sen play space, or re­moved from it en­tirely. Vive re­quires full floor-to-ceil­ing cov­er­age, too, so any lo­ca­tion fea­tur­ing fancy light fit­tings is a no-go.

You also need two high, di­ag­o­nally op­po­site sur­faces on which to mount its base sta­tion sen­sors – if you’ve no book­shelves, you’ll need to get your drill out to in­stall the pro­vided mount­ing brack­ets. Oh, and we as­sume you’ve got at least three spare power points in the right places – one for each base sta­tion, and an­other for the junc­tion box that sits be­tween HMD and PC. And if you con­nect your PC and TV over HDMI, and your GPU only has one HDMI slot, you’re go­ing to have to re­think that, too, be­cause Vive needs it. The ar­rival in the home of room-scale vir­tual re­al­ity means half a day’s head-scratch­ing, fur­ni­ture-mov­ing and ca­blechas­ing, a dis­pleased frown from your sig­nif­i­cant other, and dis­ap­pointed off­spring ask­ing why their play­room’s been trans­formed into a health-and-safety night­mare. Sorry, kids, but the fu­ture comes at a cost, and we’re not just talk­ing about the hefty £689 price tag.

Things im­prove markedly once ev­ery­thing is in­stalled, though the work­flow for Valve’s browser-based setup tu­to­rial could do with some im­prove­ment. If we’re be­ing kind, per­haps the de­ci­sion to not have you down­load 2GB worth of SteamVR files un­til af­ter you’ve re­ar­ranged your en­tire liv­ing room is Valve ac­knowl­edg­ing that you could prob­a­bly do with a sit down. (If only we had any­where left to ac­tu­ally sit.) Once that’s done, though, the fun be­gins, as you use a wire­less Vive con­troller to trace the perime­ter of your play space – the hap­tics in­side rum­bling near solid sur­faces like a Ghost­busters PKE Me­ter – and show SteamVR where your floor is by sim­ply putting the

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