Do we finally have it, this famous virtual reality killer app? In any case, it will be tough to get closer to it. By choosing to launch a new episode of its legendary Half-Life series exclusively on VR PC headsets, Valve had put everything on its side to create the event. Half-Life: Alyx has been available since Monday, March 23rd, and while it’s still too early to gauge its commercial success, it’s already won its bet hands down with unanimous praise from critics – and we’re excited to add our voice to that praise. After all these years, Alyx has returned to the “Valve legacy” with insolent ease, combining brilliant level design, thrilling sensations, and a gripping and wonderfully well-paced adventure.
The hybrid standalone/ PC solution: Oculus Quest with Oculus Link
Since last November, Oculus has been deploying the Oculus Link (in beta) feature on the Quest standalone headset, allowing users to simply connect their headset to their computer via a USB 3 cable so that they can use it mainly as a Rift. The solution may seem ideal: only one headset to buy, and a reasonable expense to open the doors of both the autonomous virtual reality, wireless, and the “high-end” RV as it exists on PC.
Headsets with internal tracking: Oculus Rift S is the best value for money, Vive Cosmos is lagging.
While the Steam VR system is handy, not everyone has the ability or the desire to install the accompanying base stations permanently in their homes. The solution? Headsets with “inside-out” motion tracking, locating themselves in their environment thanks to cameras mounted on the headset itself. There are two of them on the market today: the Oculus Rift S and the “standard” HTC Vive Cosmos.
The second best option, but at a price that’s hard to swallow: HTC’s Steam VR headsets (Vive, Vive Pro, Vive Cosmos Elite).
Based on two laser beacons to be installed at two corners of our game room, it provides reliable tracking that is almost impossible to a fault – which is, of course, of considerable importance in a shooting game like Half-Life Alyx. So, if you want to take advantage of this system, apart from the Index Valve, which headsets can you turn to? Three references from HTC are available: the venerable Vive, its successor the Vive Pro, and the young Vive Cosmos Elite, officially available since March 18th.
The best choice (theoretical): Valve Index
What better way to play the Valve event game than with a headset designed by Valve? Obviously nothing – on paper at least. In theory, the device has everything for him. First of all, its technical specifications are equal or superior to those of its competitors: Steam VR motion tracking with impeccable precision, very comfortable definition screens (1440 x 1600 px per eye), adjustable refresh rate between 80 and 144 Hz… And then, of course, there are the famous controllers, formerly known under the code name “Knuckles,” full of advanced features that Alyx does not hesitate to exploit. If the individual tracking of each finger has finally no other use than to allow us to majestically raise our middle finger to the attention of the cartel guards – they will, however, remain sadly indifferent to it -, the pressure sensor of the handle can be used to release a Xenian grenade by pressing it in his fingers, to crush a can picked up on the ground… Nothing that transcends the playing experience, of course, but some little extras that are always appreciated for the immersion.