The HTC Vive is here, and we’re finally allowed to show you The Lab, Valve’s Portal-themed playground of VR demos that gives you a beautifully cohesive tour of what’s possible with room-scale VR. To get a better look at just what it had to offer, we popped into four of our favorite (and also patently ridiculous) demos.
First shown at GDC 2016, the Hub was introduced to us as the heart of The Lab, a place where dioramas and corresponding ‘portal spheres’ take you to a wide array of mini-games and experiences. Because we weren’t allowed a step further into the Hub, we didn’t get a chance to play with all the cool toys slayed out on the table. Road to VR‘s Paul James gives us a demonstration of his drone flying skills, plays fetch with the cutest little robot dog in the world, and deftly shoots arrows at nothing in particular.
Intro and Vesper Peak ‘Postcard’
Pop through the ‘portal sphere’ and onto Washington’s Vesper Peak, where a our robot dog awaits us. Created using photogrammetry, Vesper Peak is incredibly real-looking, and offers a number of places to teleport to, including a beautiful vista overlooking Copper Lake. When large-scale photogrammetric scenes are captured, they typically only allow you to point and click to move around, but using the hand controllers to teleport, which may seem like a subtle change, is actually so much more satisfying and immersive.
While Valve could have let us simply explore the experience, the addition of our robot doggie (that loves to play fetch) really makes the space come alive, like it’s a real destination that we’re visiting and not just a hollow, static rendering.
Download Valve’s ‘The Lab’ On Steam
Shoot the bad guys, dodge the oncoming lasers. Although the shootem-up trope has appeared since the early days of 2D gaming with Asteroids (1979) and Galaga (1981), Xertox 26XX gives it a new 3 dimensional twist. Something happened we didn’t expect popping into the demo.
The second the ship goes into your hand, which is about the size of a Matchbox car, the instinct to go ‘woooooosh! bang bang bang!’ comes right back from your childhood. Although it’s a demo for now, Xertox is begging to be made into a full game.
Slingshot – Core Calibration
With voices provided by Rick and Morty‘s Justin Roiland and a number of other fully sentient ‘cores’ to listen to, there’s something instantly fascinating about the Slingshot demo. Playing the demo, you really get a sense of each ‘personality core’, or the spherical robot parts designed to house Portal’s artificial intelligence. If you play a few times through, you’ll hear a lot of other voices and personalities to match, including a number of personality cores that fit Roiland’s gross and delightfully weird comedy style.
The full demo list includes:
Use your archery skills to defend your noble castle gate from a rampaging but adorable and equally noble horde of attackers.
Are you a bad enough dude to become a Xortex ace? Relive the golden era of gaming — only this time, it’s all around you.
Visit exotic, far-off locales from the comfort of your own head.
Human Medical Scan
Explore the intricate beauty of the human body through a highly detailed model created from a series of CT medical scans.
Why watch shows about the vast majesty of space when you jump in and see it for yourself? Have educational space-fun while putting Neil Degrasse-Tyson out of business.
Can you repair a robot? Good, because Aperture Science’s Human Diversity Outreach Program is now hiring.
The fantasy equivalent of a twenty-four-hour convenience store is now open for business! Peruse artifacts, shop for familiars and cast a spell or two at Dota’s Secret Shop!
We’ll be capturing more HTC Vive videos throughout the week, so check back for more news, reviews and previews of your favorite Steam VR games and experiences.