So which VR headset am I going to buy?

Ben Parfitt
So which VR headset am I going to buy?

Following the confirmation of PlayStation VR's launch details last night, we now have a pretty clear picture of what virtual reality has to offer punters this year. Which means for many people it's decision time. But what am I going to opt for? The only way to find out is to ask myself, I guess…

So, you're going to buy a VR headset this year then?

Yeah, I reckon so. Looks sweet.

And do you have a clear idea about which one you want?

No, not really. That's pretty much the problem. I was hoping this exercise might help to clear that up.

What, asking yourself questions like some kind of self-obsessed lunatic?

Don't say that, you're making me sad.

No, you're making you sad.

That's even worse.

OK, this is going terribly. Let's start over. So we're trying to figure out which VR option is best for you. Right?

Right.

So let's start with the basics. What kind of gamer are you?

A PC gamer, basically. I made the jump to PC a couple of years back. Taught myself how to build one and stuff. Which was horrifically stressful the first time but now two or three builds down the line it's all good. I also own a PS4, which I don't play with that often but do for some exclusive things like Bloodborne, or online multiplayer stuff where I want to be able to play with my peeps. Star Wars Battlefront for example. It's also used to play games with my daughter, like LEGO Dimensions and Noby Noby Boy.

Noby Noby Boy?

Yeah, she loves it. That, Animal Crossing, Minecraft and Goat Simulator. Odd girl.

So you don't own any other machines?

I have a PS3 mainly for Blu-ray but also for some older stuff I love. I have an Xbox 360 purely for my collection of PAL and region-free Japanese Cave shmups. I love Cave. I even have an arcade stick. Espgaluda II is life.

Espgawhat? Never mind. Have you owned any other consoles?

I've probably owned most consoles ever made at some point. Used to be a big retro fan but sold off everything a few years back when I moved house several times in quick succession and got tired lugging around boxes of crap I never actually used. I did have an Xbox One. I've had two Wii Us.

Two?

Yeah. Got one at launch. Sold it. Bought another to play Super Mario 3D World. Played that then sold it again. Didn't really get on with the hardware or most of the games.

What about handhelds?

Again, I've owned them all at some stage. I tend to do my portable gaming on iPhone and iPad now. Love me some Hearthstone, I do. I've had two 3DS'. Again, got one at launch, sold it, got another when everyone told me that Zelda game was amazing but I hated it so I sold the second 3DS in a fit of anger.

You're not a Nintendo fan, then?

I was raised on Nintendo but I've not really liked anything the company has put out since Wii Sports. Mario platformers aside.

Ok, so what games do you like?

I'm pretty eclectic really and will try most things. I absolutely love the Dark Souls series. Best game. Although typically those aren't the sorts of games I'm into. As in, hardcore action RPGs. I'm finding as I get older I'm enjoying fewer and fewer triple-A releases, too. Might just be because I don't really have the time to devote to them.

Hmm, I'm still not sure I really understand what you're into?

Well, my favourite three games of last year were probably Her Story, Rocket League and Grow Home. Right now I'm really enjoying The Division, which I didn't expect. Loving XCOM 2 as well, which again was something that was never on my radar.

God this is painfully self-indulgent. So that all sounds as if really you're best off with a PC VR headset?

Yeah, that's my natural inclination. The PC VR scene is surely going to be where it's at? That's where you'll find the more experimental indie titles, which are going to rock in the early days of a new technology. Plus PC games are cheaper. Can you imagine the first Steam VR sale? Carnage.

That's that then, surely?

Well, no, obviously not. The HTC Vive costs 690.

Yes, I know. I'm you. I know what you know.

And I'd need to upgrade my graphics card. I'm running an overclocked GTX 780 at the moment, so I'd need a 970. That's another 250.

I know that as well.

Don't start.

Yeah, sorry. What about the Oculus Rift? That's only 500.

ONLY? 500 is still a shit load of cash.

But still 200 fewer cashes than Vive.

True, but you're not getting the controllers, which you're going to want at some stage. Plus, for gamers it's really starting to feel as if it's a choice between Vive or PlayStation VR. Steam or Sony.

How about that AMD all-in-one headset?

You know, that does sound like a good option, providing they manage to make wearing an actual computer on your head comfortable. But looking at the specs, it falls below Vive and Oculus, so I worry that a lot of early VR games will struggle to work on the thing anyway. Could be motion-sickness central.

This just all sounds as if really you already know you want PlayStation VR.

I mean, it's tempting, right? 350 is just about affordable.

Don't forget about the camera and the Move controllers.

Actually, I have those. My girl uses the Move for Wonderbook and EyePet on PS3 so I never got rid of them. The PS4 camera is sitting on top of the TV where it's lived since the PS4's launch.

Have you ever used it?

Genuinely, I don't think so. Not once. But I'm feeling pretty smug about having not traded it in at CEX.

Sounds like you're all set and ready to go. Why the hell haven't you already pre-ordered one?

Because, like I say, I really do think PC is where the best VR is going to be at.

Ok, Vive then.

At the same time, Rez is one of my all-time favourite games. Can you even begin to imagine what playing Rez in VR will be like? That shit is literally gonna fuck with your mind. That's some proper higher state of consciousness shit. And they announced Star Wars Battlefront VR last night. Star Wars. In VR. Next they'll announce a Doctor Who VR game and I'll actually just die on the spot with excitement.

This is feeling like a tough decision.

It is. I guess it comes down to the experience. The HTC Vive will undoubtedly be ‘better', what with the higher spec headset, the controller, the walking around and objects ghosting into view thing.

So the question, really, is whether Vive is going to be three times better to justify three times the price (when you factor in a GPU upgrade)?

That's not the only question. It's not just about value for money in tech terms. I'm a busy guy with a family and a house to look after. I get an hour or so at the end of the day for gaming, and even then not every night. 900 on something that I will, in all honesty, use probably not all that often feels pretty hard to justify, even if we are able to budget for it

But if you're gonna ‘do' VR, best to go for the very best, you'd think?

If I was genuinely convinced VR was going to change everything and I knew I was going to play for a few hours a day most days then I think I'd probably be all in on Vive. But my life's not like that. I can probably live with the guilt of looking at a 350 PlayStation VR sitting unused on the shelf. I fear a dusty 700 Vive will give me nightmares.

Decision made, then?

Yeah, perhaps. Although Vive is out next month. Which might be hard to resist.

Maybe hold on as long as you can, and try a mate's Vive. Then the closer you get to PlayStation VR's launch the better idea you'll have about the software lineup.

And really it all comes down to the games, right?

Right. You're a clever guy.

Why thank you. You're not so bad yourself.

Maybe you should just buy a Nintendo NX instead?

Get out.

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