Virtual Reality has been a holy grail in gaming for years.
Nintendo have attempted it, SEGA almost attempted it, and Sony are one-step-in-one-step-out attempting it.
However, as PC's become faster and more powerful, it's allowed for VR games to be a tangible offering, and only in recent years, it's reached a consumer market.
This is where a plethora of headsets have arrived that have allowed a whole new take on how we interact with games.
The lovely folks at HTC sent us a headset to review, and over the last month we've been trying many games out to see if you should use your savings on a headset and its wand-controllers for VR. Keep on reading for our thoughts...
Design - Score 90
In its huge box, you have the headset, the two joysticks, two sensors, and many wires for each to make sure its plugged into your PC correctly.
Once you wire everything up and make sure that the two sensors are spaced well-apart from one another, you have two joysticks and a headset to wear. As I'm short-sighted, I need to wear my glasses in order to see things clearly, and wearing them with this headset had no issues for me.
Setting it up through the PC was very laborious; installing the drivers for each wand, sensor and the headset, alongside the software packages required took a good half hour for everything to be ready for use. If you're expecting a quick pick up and play when you unbox this, brace yourself.
Using the wand-controllers felt natural, with the triggers, buttons and touchpads all in the right places, while the battery lasted a good week of intense use between charges, it's just a shame that they're micro-USB, not USB-C.
Adjusting the headset takes some getting used to; you have to make sure that it's tight enough so you can move without it going out of focus, while the strap at the top is comfortable enough that it doesn't take the immersion out.
While the integrated headphones were loud and clear when needed, making sure that the 'click' occurred so that they wouldn't pop out, was something that I would need to do repeatedly. Sliding them up, sliding them down, it required just the right amount so that they fit on your ears. It's the one negative from this headset; they feel flimsy, and if you're in a game and these pop out, it instantly breaks the immersion.
However, apart from the flimsy headphones, everything is made at a premium here; from the unboxing of everything to using them in a 'Half Life Alyx' playthrough. Everything works well, and the headset is light enough that you don't feel like you've got a vice on your head.
Games Library - Score 95
If you've watched the 'Masterchef' tv show, you will come to discover the 'signature dish'. This is a Chef's plate of food that defines them; their career and what they understand about food. It's the justification to why they are in this career in the first place.
When it comes to VR Gaming; if you had asked me what its 'signature dish' was before March of this year, I'd have struggled to give you an answer in less than five seconds. Possibly Fruit Ninja VR, or Beat Saber.
Here's the system requirements for the Elite:
- Processor - Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 equivalent
- Graphics - Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB, AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB equivalent
- Memory - 4GB of RAM or more
- Video-out: DisplayPort 1.2
- USB ports: 1 x USB 3.0
But after March, it became an easy answer; 'Half Life: Alyx'.
As I was trying out the massive plethora of games available on the Vive library and Steam VR, all of them did the job of being 'VR'; waving the joystick around and feeling as if you were in that world, but the majority you could do sitting down.
When I began Half Life Alyx, it had me sold in the first 10 minutes of VR and its potential impact of games in this space even more. I was grabbing pens to write on a whiteboard, or ducking down to look through an old-style camera in an abandoned apartment.
When it came to the 'Gravity Gloves', I spent the good part of an hour just playing around in a small area throwing and catching different objects. It's an incredible game, and it easily defines VR as a justifiable medium that can grow this decade. Obviously, the Elite VR had a massive help in this, with its controllers easily simulating hands and picking up objects. Not just in 'Alyx' though, but in 'Star Trek: Bridge Crew', 'Beat Saber', and 'Saberfight VR'.
Even with games that have a 'VR mode' such as 'Star Wars Squadrons', looking around the X-Wing or TIE Fighter as you're using a controller to fly around is simply incredible.
' software is also a great place for VR games. They also offer a subscription called '
', which, at £12.99 a month, enables you to access a huge library of games, such as 'LA Noire', 'Space Channel 5', 'Superhot', and many more.
It's a great price for what you get, if you're reaching dead-ends in what you want to play.
In 2020 there's a huge amount of games that will be able to justify a purchase of the Cosmos Elite. That's not even going into the VR apps that communities have created for it either.
Price - Score 70
This is what it will come down to if you're now convinced.
With the two controllers, the two sensors and the headset,
For just the headset if you want to upgrade, it's
Let's get this out of the way now; it's high. It's almost the value of two PlayStation 5 consoles, and this is something that is certainly going to require a lot of thinking.
Especially when there's other, cheaper models that achieve the same job, it may be difficult to justify the cost. But when you factor in the motion-tracking and the quality of the overall package, it may sway you to just go for it. However, if you're able to try out the Elite before you buy, we strongly recommend this before you drop £800 on it.
- High resolution screens
- Coupled with Half Life Alyx, it's incredible
- Very accurate tracking
- Very Expensive
- Integrated Headphones are very fiddly
- A hefty PC will be required to use this
It's only in 2020 that VR as a whole has matured, and most of that has been down to 'Half Life: Alyx'. This will be the game that will help convince a majority whether they want to have VR as an option for their PC.
However, they will need to factor in the space required, the heavy specs to make sure the majority of VR games will run well, and above all, the cost.
But if you have your heart set on this, you won't be disappointed. You'll be laughing throughout 'Bridge Crew' and ducking in panic when you're in 'Half Life: Alyx'.
However, if there was one thing we would change, apart from the price, it would be the integrated-headphones. They're the only part that felt cheap and tacked on; most of all they let down the experience when sound was needed for that immersive experience. If there's another model that has integrated 'earphones', lifted from Apple's AirPods instead, that could really help in this area. But for now, they do need more work.
Overall, if you've got the specs needed in your PC, you're in for a fun ride. The whole package and their 'Infinity' subscription will tide you well for the coming year. Just be aware of the cost required for a headset like this.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Reviews page.