Virtual Reality in the Home
I bought an HTC Vive on the day they started pre-orders. It’s led to getting a lot more exercise than I used to get, and a massive improvement in my hand-eye co-ordination.
The Vive uses lighthouse trackers that sweep the room with lasers from opposite corners.
Sensors on the headset and controllers make the system aware of exactly where the headset and controllers are in the room. Unity and Unreal plug-ins allow developers to easily incorporate this tracking into games and experiences.
The base video card requirement is a GTX 1060 or RX 480, but you’ll have a much better experience with a GTX 1080, or better, a GTX 1080Ti. They also require a high-end CPU, so between the Vive and the computer to support it, you can easily spend $2500. Keeping in mind this is both a gaming device and an aerobic exercise device makes that price more palatable.
When I started playing VR games, I’d sweat and get out of breath easily. It now takes a lot more to wear me out.
Valve and HTC say the play space should ideally be 9’ x 9’ , but I converted my living-room to a 12’ x 9’ VR room without any problems. You do need to use the sync cable for a large space, instead of using optical sync.
There are hundreds of VR games and experiences. I’ll just cover some of the best.
Raw Data $39.99
This is a first person co-op shooter/sword game where you must fight off enemies and dodge lasers while downloading data at various locations. You can play as a character that uses a shotgun, which is exhausting to pump for each shot. Another character uses handguns. The third and most-fun-to-play character uses a sword that may be thrown.
I use this to get a lot of exercise playing with a friend who lives 2,000 miles away as if we’re in the same room. It really works the arms and legs.
Arizona Sunshine $39.99
This is a co-op zombie shooter with a simple voice-over story-line.
It’s another game that you can play with distant friends as if you were in the same place.
The Brookhaven Experiment $19.99
This is a single-player wave-shooter with a voice-over story-line.
It looks great and has seriously scared some people.
Bullet Sorrow $19.99
This is a single-player FPS with a time-slowing mechanic. Hide behind crates, popping out, slowing time to kill the opposition. Enemies are human on this, so some people may want to avoid it. There’s also a zombie level, but it too includes enemy soldiers. It’s great exercise for the legs.
Sairento VR $19.99
This is a leaping sword and gun game. You can slow time as you leap through the air to take out your enemies. The enemies are human. Really good exercise for your arms.
Budget Cuts Demo $free
Work your way through a facility, destroying robots with knives you pick up and carry.
A Chair in a Room Greenwater $24.99
This is a room-scale psychological horror game. Solve puzzles to solve a mystery.
Island 359 $19.99
Hunt dinosaurs on an island, using guns and knives.
The Lab $Free
This is the most polished of the games and experiences. It’s several mini-games from Valve.
Portal Stories VR $Free
A puzzle game in the Portal universe. There is no flying through portals, since that could cause vomiting in VR.
VR Racquetball. Great exercise for the arms and legs.
Space Pirate Trainer $14.99
This is a wave shooter, shooting down flying robots.
Serious Sam VR (multiple games)
Serious Sam in VR.
Unseen Diplomacy $2.99
A simple espionage game that sizes itself to your room, simulating a large facility by reusing space.
Pinball FX VR $14.99 + $5.99 for The Walking Dead table and $24.99 for the Season 1 pack
Very realistic pinball with features that would be impossible on a real pinball machine.
New Retro Arcade: Neon $19.99
A simulated arcade where you can load your own arcade and console ROMs.
Pierhead Arcade $9.99
A pier arcade simulator with non-video games.
VR Funhouse $Free
Carnival games showcasing Nvidia’s latest technologies.
Google Earth $Free
Mind-blowing view of Earth. Zoom from space to your house.
Pyro VR $8.99
Make your own fireworks show, or blow up the entire facility.
Everest VR $14.99
Tour Mt. Everest without freezing.
The Blu $8.49
Stand on the ocean floor, see many sea creatures.
Waltz of the Wizard $Free
Cast spells in a wizard’s castle.
Tilt Brush $29.99
Paint in a 3D space with optional animation based on music.
The Night Cafe $Free
Walk inside the Van Gogh painting.