E3 2018: Heads-on Vive Wireless Adapter

Virtual Reality feels like it’s making less of a splash at E3 every year. While we’re still seeing it on the showroom floor, high costs and little innovation seems to largely keep it in the realm of gimmick with great potential. Some claim that the limitations of being tethered to your computer breaks immersion, but I wasn’t convinced. Even so, when given the opportunity to test out DisplayLink’s Vive Wireless Adapter, I figured I’d give it a fair chance. My demo was short and didn’t induce nausea, but the thought of the potential price for a small convenience might trigger it.

While at #E32018 we got our hands on the co-op mummy puzzle game Strange Brigade. #StrangeBrigade http://www.mmogames.com/gamearticles/e3-2018-hands-on-rebellions-strange-brigade/

To be clear, I own an Oculus Rift myself. It’s less about the specs than the fact that the Rift also has lighter, more intuitive motion controllers. Lucky for me, my demo had me using a fake Gatling gun controller. While cool, it did nothing to help my demo. Ignoring that for a moment, it should also be noted that DisplayLink is looking into using their wireless tech for other headsets, but for now they’re only working on the Vive. Each generation of headset is being made lighter, has better resolution, and even the cables are getting better, though my demo was supposed to be about getting rid of some of those.

Unfortunately, my demo did nothing to really show the power or use of wireless headsets. One of the biggest reasons I don’t embrace VR more isn’t because I’m tethered, but because I lack enough space for moving in VR. Even when I’ve done it, I’ve never had a wire situation except for when I’m taking off or putting a headset on.

htc vive

The game, Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope, was a simple wave shooter with all the enemies coming from the front of the player. The heavy Gatling gun controller combined with the gameplay had few people moving about the demo area. I specifically tried walking around and dodging as to get a feel for VR without wires, but again, I’m not someone who usually has a lot of space or wire issues. I will say that I didn’t notice the extra addition to my headset, which plugs in where the other cables in the back of the headset usually go, so I didn’t have to deal with the usual hassle with wires while putting on or taking off my headset. However, putting the headset on is already a bit of a hassle and a strike against VR any time I know I may have to answer the door or phone. Combined with the fact that movement felt detrimental to my demo, I didn’t walk away feeling like the adapter is a must buy.

To note, there’s still no estimated price on the adapter. If it’s anything like the TPC Cast Wireless Adapter, you may be looking at something around $270. You can buy a lightweight, mobile VR experience for less than that, and honestly, most of the good VR experiences are already fairly short and sweet. Wireless VR gaming certainly feels like a luxury peripheral for those able to afford a luxury gaming experience. While there are some VR games I enjoy, I almost feel like it’s easier to recommend someone to check out The Void VR experiences, as the cost is still a bit expensive (depends on when and where you go), but significantly less than a headset. While not wireless, there’s a deeper attention to not only immersion but free-roaming VR. Unless we get adapters that also include virtual smell or games that know how to take advantage of movement without making people sick, even the unobtrusive lightless of the Vive Wireless Adapter doesn’t make a big enough impact for me to recommend it to most readers.

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