You Have Questions, We Have Answers
Virtual reality is here, and it's amazing. But if you're feeling overwhelmed by virtual reality, don't worry, we're here to help.
Everywhere you turn, it seems like some new VR system is angling for your attention. Let's break it down:
HTC Vive and Oculus Rift: The two premium VR experiences are the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Both run on PCs, both play the top VR PC games, both are jaw-droppingly fun. These systems include headsets, a variety of controllers, and sensors to track your movements. If you're a dedicated PC gamer or want the absolute best virtual reality will have to offer in 2016, these are the ones you want. For more details, check out our Vive vs Rift Guide.
PlayStation VR: An alternative to the Rift and Vive is PlayStation VR which requires, obviously, a PlayStation. The hardware specs on the PlayStation VR aren't quite as high as the Vive and Rift, but it still qualifies as a solid VR experience. Only PlayStation games will work on PlayStation VR.
Samsung Gear VR: The Gear VR is a phone-based system. There are a number of phone VR systems on the market that are more gimmicks than legitimate VR experiences, but the Gear VR uses Oculus technology to deliver one of the top experiences in the class. To use Samsung Gear VR, you need one of the latest Samsung phones.
Bargain Systems: There are a number of other players in the VR world, with new niche headsets being announced all the time. As of right now, though, we don't know much about these systems or what sort of support they will have long term.
Not exactly. Where an Xbox is a complete package with exclusive Xbox games, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are bundles of a headset and controllers. You still need a regular PC. Additionally, most VR games will be playable on either the Rift or the Vive.
Yes, both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift need some serious computing power to do their VR magic. You can either buy a VR-ready desktop, VR-ready laptop, build your own VR rig, or upgrade your current system. Sorry Mac users, VR is PC only for now.
Newegg Recommended VR PC Specs
Official Oculus Rift Recommended Specs:
For more, visit Newegg's full spec requirements
Bad VR can make people motion sick. In bad VR experiences, the frame rates fluctuate like a flickering TV and cause motion sickness. Good VR systems (Rift, Vive, PlayStation) prevent motion sickness by forcing the frame rates to stay at constant high level. If you get sick in a car, airplane, or elsewhere, don't worry, you probably won't have any problems with the Vive and Rift.
No, but a big room makes for big fun. The Oculus Rift is designed to be used primarily sitting down, while the HTC Vive allows for movement in room up to 15x15ft.
If you only have the space around your desk or living room, don't worry, that's enough space for both systems. In the future, the Oculus Rift will allow you to move around an entire room.
Additionally, the movement requirements will vary by game. Racing and flight games will require you to sit in a chair, while other games like shooters will allow you to move around, duck, and jump..
Not unless you try really hard. The HTC Vive includes their "Chaperone" system that detects the room around you. As you move in virtual space, the Vive will display a virtual wall where the real wall is located so you can avoid collisions.
Like any new technology, it's up to the parents to make smart decisions. Currently, there are no children-approved VR systems or long term VR studies.
Regarding the Oculus' 13+ age limit:
"We put a warning on right when you put it on and the age of 13 was something that made a lot of sense when we became a part of Facebook, their age is 13 as well. And so we just felt 'let's start at 13, let's evolve the technology more, let's build more confidence, in the health and safety side of it. And eventually, one day, we definitely want to have Oculus for kids, especially for all the educational use of this." - Brendan Iribe, Oculus Rift CEO
Yes, to a certain extent. Most games will be playable on either system. The only differences between the systems are the accessories and room tracking. Accessories made for the Vive won't work for Oculus, and vice versa. Additionally, the room-tracking sensors only work with their specific system.
Yes, there are a number of multiplayer games in the works. Some games will allow you to play with two people in the same room while others will work like traditional multiple games.
While nothing is confirmed, the Oculus and Vive systems are both based on PCs, and are flexible enough to be upgraded every year. But much like phones, the upgrades will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. Meaning each year should see slightly improved screens, controllers, etc.
Additionally, as game graphics continue to improve, the necessary upgrades will be around your PC graphics, not the VR headsets themselves. It's possible that in late 2017, the minimum specs for the latest VR games won't support the current GTX 970 level, but only run on higher-end cards.
Yes and no. With time and volume, every electronic device becomes cheaper. In a year, the first generation Vive and Oculus will drop in price. But the next-generation Vive and Oculus will probably have a price similar to the current model.
The same holds true for PC specs. In a year the PCs will be cheaper, but if you want better graphics, expect to pay a similar amount for a top system.
Yes. Yes, it is.
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