Last month we put out some initial impressions of Valve’s new Index virtual reality headset. I’ve now used it off-and-on in my home for about a month, and the first units are going out to consumers, which means it’s time for a proper review.
It’s a bit odd though, reviewing the Index. Valve’s hands-off approach to its hardware, its lead-and-the-developers-will-follow mindset, means the Index’s first few steps into the limelight are more tepid than I would’ve liked. The hardware is great. The software support so far? Less so.
The knock-on effect is that at release, the Index headset feels like a great investment, an incremental but significant step forward for those who want the best fidelity money can buy. The so-called “Knuckles” Index Controllers are supposed to be the draw though, and are undercut by the fact few games support them. They may become must-have peripherals eventually, but you’re going to have to take on faith that developers will do the work.
This review’s long, and the Index Controllers can also be used with HTC Vive headsets, so I’ve split it in two parts. Keep reading for my impressions on the Index Controllers, or click here to read about the Valve Index headset itself.
Here’s the thing: The Index HMD is great, but will likely be supplanted by a newer and better headset in a year or two at most. The Index Controllers are a bolder bet, forward-thinking and future-proofed peripherals that if successful could change the way people interact with VR.
“If successful” is a huge caveat though, and the obstacles are myriad.
The first obstacle is personal. Adjusting to the Index Controllers takes time. It takes patience. And I think that applies even more to people who already own a VR headset and have grown accustomed to the status quo. The Vive wands and Oculus Touch controllers essentially work the same way: You hold onto them. Button placement varies, and the Oculus Touch…