The HTC Vive, the Steam-sponsored entry into the emerging virtual reality market, ships to consumers today, and the reviews are just starting to roll in. By most accounts, the Vive is a fantastic piece of hardware, but there are some caveats.
First up, the HTC Vive ships with Google’s amazing 3D virtual reality art studio called Tilt Brush, which FastCompany is calling VR’s first killer app and the breakout star of the HTC Vive consumer package. Tilt Brush makes use of the Vive’s unique motion controllers, giving players control of a 3D painter’s palette in one hand, and a brush in the other. A visually stunning experience, Google’s Tilt Brush app brings an experience that can only be found in VR.
The HTC Vive ships with Tilt Brush, but it’s not the only experience that has Vive reviewers clamoring for more. Engadget reports that virtual reality company Wevr has released its content platform Transport for the HTC Vive, allowing users to, among other things, swim with a 100 percent size-accurate model of a blue whale.
Transport, which debuts for consumers today with the HTC Vive, contains three main content modules, all of which are free. The first, the aforementioned blue whale experience for the HTC Vive, is an underwater odyssey called “theBlue: Whale Encounter.” The other two, a surreal space experience called “Irrational Exuberance,” and a shifting music video called “Crown,” accompany the Transport title.
Although the HTC Vive came out today and the reviews are generally positive, putting it a cut above its competitor the Oculus Rift, there’s still not a whole lot for users to do with the VR headsets. The HTC Vive, like the Oculus Rift, is definitely a piece of hardware for early adopters only, as this is just the beginning of next-gen consumer VR. VentureBeat reports that there’s just not much to do with the Vive just yet.
“There’s no killer app just yet, but there are a lot of experiences that turn VR into a real social experience as you’ll have a lot of fun playing these games with friends,” said VentureBeat in their review of the HTC Vive hardware today.
The HTC Vive was released in partnership with Valve’s popular game platform Steam, which gives the Vive a bit of a leg up over the Oculus Rift, which is backed by Facebook. The Vive shipped to players today, and it comes bundled with a few games in addition to Google’s Tilt Brush. The Vive’s Fantastic Contraption allows players to build and solve VR puzzles in a surreal 3D space, and users build life-sized machines and bring them to life using the HTC Vive’s touch controllers.
The Vive’s controllers also put the Steam-backed platform a bit ahead of the competition, whose own touch controllers won’t ship until later this year. Immediate availability of the touch controllers has allowed for experiences like Tilt Brush to come player-ready right out of the box. The Oculus Rift is currently limited to control via a single remote and an Xbox One controller.
The verdict on the HTC Vive seems to be pretty straightforward: a great piece of hardware with some truly innovative and unique experiences for early adopters, but other than a few demos and a handful of fully-realized games, it might be better for players to wait a little while for the competition between the HTC Vive, Sony’s PlayStation VR, and, of course, the Oculus Rift to heat up to the point where all three companies are bringing their A-game to the new virtual reality market.
The HTC Vive is currently available for order and begins shipping pre-orders today, April 5.
[Image via HTC]