Steam took the wraps off their new SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode technology late last week, as a tease leading into the Game Developer’s Conference for 2016 being held this week in San Francisco. SteamVR allows gamers to have VR-like experiences in traditional non-VR titles. Today, live at GDC, we got to see first-hand what the new technology was capable of, as well as see what Valve Software is cooking up for full-fledged VR experiences powered by HTC’s Vive.
Diving into the true-VR experiences Valve was showing in booths powered by HTC’s Vive VR headset and VR ready systems, HotHardware’s Editor in Chief Dave Altavilla strapped into what he describes as the best VR gaming experience he has seen yet.
Valve was demo’ing a Portal 2-based Lab demo that lets you play with bots and tools in a virtual world and then grab a sphere and transport yourself to other virtual worlds and experiences, from medieval archery battles to shooting bad guys in space ships with hand-held lasers. The immersion and game fidelity was about as good as we’ve ever seen.
There was even a very cool Star Wars simulation where a battle-worn Millennium Falcon lands, and R2-D2 rolls out to help you repair the ship. Eventually, you have to fend off advancing Stormtroopers with a lightsaber.
Valve’s SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode essentially takes any standard non-VR game and renders it in a VR headset, presenting what is essentially a 150+ inch theater-size, slightly curved screen in front of you. It offered a wonderful big screen effect that added a huge fun factor to traditional gaming and made even classic, pixelated arcade titles that much more fun.
Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about the prospects that VR holds for the future of gaming, especially with respects to the HTC Vive. Preorders for the $799 VR headset opened up late last month, and units will begin shipping to customers on April 5th.