While the HTC Vive is known for its ‘room-scale tracking space, the company maintains that it works just as well for seated VR experiences. At CES 2016, HTC showed just that, using Elite Dangerous running great on the new Vive Pre.
Somewhere in the marketing messaging between the Rift and the Vive, it seems to have been largely lost that both systems are capable of seated and room-scale experiences.
Oculus has focused on the seated and standing end of the VR experience spectrum for what they say are reasons of practicality, not functionality, as founder Palmer Luckey explained to us back at E3 2015.
“[Focusing on seated and standing VR is] not necessarily a technological limitation, I mean all these optical systems have similar limitations in terms of occlusion and in many cases range. It all comes down to what developers are going to make, and we’re not trying to push people to make large room-scale experiences.”
For Vive’s part, HTC has pointed to its room-scale tracking as the highlight of the system, though never said that seated VR was out of the question. We saw the first official demonstration of seated VR gameplay on the original Vive development kit at EGX 2015, and now HTC is showing seated VR in action on the new Vive Pre at CES 2016.
One of the cool things about Vive’s Lighthouse tracking is that multiple headsets can use the same tracked volume; at HTC’s CES 2016 Vive Pre showcase, two Lighthouse base stations covered three seated VR rigs running Elite Dangerous, equipped with gaming chairs and HOTAS controls. The base stations were mounted up high on the wall that I was facing, pointed down at the chairs below.
It all worked exactly as well as you’d hope. Having played Elite Dangerous with the Rift DK2 for many hours, and in the Rift CV1 on occasion, I couldn’t tell any difference in the headtracking performance between the two. The Vive Pre handled the seated experience flawlessly in my short time with it.