The gaming community has gone VR mad. With consumer releases of Oculus, Samung Gear, Google Cardboard and the upcoming Playstation VR (formally known by a much more badass name; Morpheus) I decided it was time to dip my toes into the VR pool. As a current owner of a Samsung 6 Edge Plus, I chose to begin my VR journey with the Samsung Gear VR. Retailing at $100 USD it wouldn't break the bank if I decided this was a bandwagon I did not want to ride on. After a fun few days, these are my thoughts;
Set up and Installation
Setting up the Gear VR couldn't be easier. Once unpackaged, all I had to do was pop my phone into the headset. I was then prompted with the first set of instructions. After installing the required software, I was able to configure the headset while wearing it. Running through the setup and tutorial was hassle free and easy. With no wires to plug in or computer hardware to upgrade, any pleb could set this up.
Design and Comfort
As soon as I popped this bad boy on my noggin' I was surprised at just how comfortable it was. The cushioning of the eye pieces made it fit like a glove. It was light too! With the straps attached, it felt no heavier than wearing a hat.
I was most impressed by the design of the eye holster. Even when I was sitting outside in the sun, the fabric was designed so that not one ray of sunlight shone through onto the lenses.
The only real issue I had is one that all VR headsets currently face; I look like an idiot wearing it. Unless you are surrounded by other gaming enthusiasts people will point and stare. Audible laughing at my expense occurred in the work staff room, and people felt it was OK to start pointless conversations with me when I was "finally back in the real world". This makes it awkward to use in public, especially when surrounded by strangers. Introverts beware.
Look and Feel
Exploring the interface itself is an immersive adventure. Using your head to navigate around quickly becomes a smooth process. With the aid of a touch pad on the side, you can navigate menus with speed and precision. The biggest question people ask me is "Does it make you feel sick?". For navigating the menus and downloading games the answer is a solid "No." While playing games is another story...
For me, the game selection is the biggest let down of the Gear VR. As a gamer I like to fully immerse myself. While games like Dreadhalls allow you to walk around, pick up items and check your inventory, the majority available are "sit and experience". I want to feel involved. I want to interact with my environment. I want to cause things to happen. While the opportunities are there, they are either gimmicky or few and far between.
Due to the limitations of the headset, I can understand why there aren't more interactive games. The lack of head tracking makes people prone to motion sickness while in VR. Personally, I have yet to experience this to a large extent. Games that don't allow you to move, or have you move by teleportation gave me no motion sickness at all. Dreadhalls, however, made me feel a little weird when I finally took the headset off after playing for 20 minutes. Not enough to make me want to stop playing (The scary demons did that) but enough to notice some discomfort in my stomach later that night.
The Gear VR is definitely worth it for the price (so long as you have a compatible phone already). It is a solid virtual reality headset, that really does give an amazing VR experience. While it still needs a lot of fleshing out, the potential of VR as a genre can easily be understood after experiencing the Samsung Gear. I am really enjoying my headset, and my flatmates are enjoying watching me flinch, jump and squeal my way through some of the scariest games available.
Have you tried a VR headset yet? What were your thoughts?