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We are developing games of various levels of complexity. Among the areas of our work is the creation of software products in virtual reality. And today we will look at one of the most controversial VR helmets that allows you to plunge into the world of VR - Valve Index.
The release of a virtual reality helmet from VALVE was eagerly awaited by the fans of the company. VR technology was in stagnation, many hoped that it was Valve who would turn the industry around.
There was no powerful media campaign to advertise the helmet. Valve have been targeting players who are already familiar with VR technology. The main feature was the "high fidelity" technology. This innovation was supposed to provide the player with maximum immersion through accurate and fast response. It is also worth noting that VALVE developed a virtual reality helmet alone, without collaborating with well-known technology companies (as was the case with HTC Vive before).
Despite the high cost of the set, Valve's virtual reality helmet sold out in large numbers. In 2019, more than 149 thousand copies of virtual reality helmets were purchased. At the same time, interest in devices grew significantly only after the announcement of the game Half-Life: Alyx. This made the Valve Index VR helmet one of the best-selling VR devices. Before the release of Half-Life: Alyx in 2020, the Valve Index helmet was completely disassembled in many stores. But this was due not only to increased hype, but also to a decrease in production capacity associated with the pandemic.
Prices per device are higher than the market average. But at the same time, the device offers unique features. In the US, the cost of devices is as follows:
- The helmet itself (with VALVE emitters) - $499.
- Helmet with controllers (with VALVE emitters) - $749.
- One base station (motion emitter) - $149.
- Complete kit - $999
The cost differs depending on the country*
In Russia, this VR KIT cannot be officially ordered.
There are many innovations in the Valve Index that have allowed it to gain popularity among the players. A year and a half later, the device is still the top solution in the field of VR.
The devices have two LCD panels. An image with a resolution of 1440 x 1600 is transmitted to each of them. At the same time, the screen refresh rate is 144 Hz. Prior to the release of the Valve VR kit, the standard frame rate was considered to be 90 frames per second, and in more budget devices it could have been 60. Players who compared helmets with different frame rates noted that due to the increased frame rate, it was better to immerse themselves in the game, although it was the improvement in the picture at the same time not very noticeable.
The device also has an increased field of view (FOV). The horizontal FOV is 130 degrees. This was achieved thanks to two features:
- The ability to change the location of the lenses and place them as close to the eyes as possible.
- The displays are not parallel to each other, but at a slight angle.
The audio system in the Valve Index helmet is at a decent level. Bass is not lost, and the volume, twisted to the maximum, is even higher than the required level. Sound immersion in Valve's virtual reality helmet is excellently implemented. The player can accurately determine the direction of the sound source by sound.
There is also a drawback, which lies in the design of the helmet. The device does not have headphones, but speakers. And because of the shape of the helmet, the sound leaks out. The loud sounds of the virtual world will be heard not only by you, but by everyone around you. But the ears will not be very tired, as when using ordinary headphones.
If you need no one around to hear the sounds from the game, then you can use ordinary vacuum headphones. The corresponding 3.5 mm jack is located on the inside of the helmet.
Included with the helmet, of course, are controllers for managing the interface. At the time of release, these were the most technologically advanced controllers, and even now they have no worthy competitors. In total, there are 87 different sensors that strive to track the location of each finger and the pressing force as accurately as possible.
The controller is configured for each person individually, depending on the hand. So in large companies, where a lot of people want to play VR games, you will have to spend a lot of time on calibration.
At the start, not all games were able to use the full functionality of the controllers. But at the moment, all major VR games are required to support the controller from Valve. And when playing with this controller, you can get the most immersive experience in terms of tactile sensations.
But in the event that you do not want to use the controller from Valve, then you can replace it with another device. Valve Index also supports controllers from Vive, Primax and other manufacturers.
Computer requirements depend on the content that the user plans to consume. But in general, there will be no sky-high requirements for a PC. It is desirable to have a video card from 10xx GeForce and at least 8 GB of RAM. It is also highly desirable to have an SSD in the computer for faster performance. If you do not have a very powerful computer, you can lower the frame rate in the game settings, but recently released games may not work at all.
The device can be called comfortable, Index keeps well on the head. Special overlays are designed for tight contact with the skin. The microfiber parts, designed to be in contact with the skin, are not only pleasant to the touch, but also absorb moisture well.
Unfortunately, so far there are no wireless technologies that can work smoothly with a high resolution. Therefore, wires play a significant role in the convenience of the design. The solution chosen by the Index designers is more elegant than the Vive Pro and HTC Vive. The VR Valve Index kit has few ports, and their placement is well thought out. But Oculus still wins in terms of connectivity and ease of use.
The Valve Index vr virtual reality helmet is the standard in the gaming industry. Pretty much every VR game out there on PC now supports this device. But despite the huge number of releases that come out every month on Steam, big projects appear extremely rarely. Of course, interesting games that can entertain an evening or two are enough.
But still, there are not enough full-fledged AAA games that give dozens of hours of story passage and exciting multiplayer projects. Of course, big VR games were coming out in 2020:
- Half-Life: Alyx
- Medal of Honor: Above & Beyond
- The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
- Marvel's Iron Man VR
- After the Fall
But the list is quite small, and some of the games turned out to be of questionable quality. VR still loses a lot in terms of the number of players and the scale of projects to full-fledged PC games. Therefore, ordinary gamers often hesitate to buy helmets. And large companies, in turn, see a small audience of VR devices and do not dare to develop large projects.
Valve's virtual reality VR helmet is an excellent device that provides maximum immersion in the gameplay. Valve Index has revolutionary controllers, which have no analogues even now, high-quality sound and good image. When developing games and applications for virtual reality, they always focus on this helmet. But an obstacle to buying a device can be a high price and a small number of large projects. The future popularity of the device depends primarily on major games from well-known developers.