Road to VR https://www.roadtovr.com Virtual Reality News Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:30:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 https://www.roadtovr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/cropped-road-to-vr-logo-for-social-media-54aabc8av1_site_icon-32x32.png Road to VR https://www.roadtovr.com 32 32 HP ‘Reverb’ is the New High-res Headset on the Block, Starting at $600 https://www.roadtovr.com/hp-reverb-vr-headset-announcement-price-release-date/ https://www.roadtovr.com/hp-reverb-vr-headset-announcement-price-release-date/#comments Tue, 19 Mar 2019 13:59:48 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86583
HP today announced Reverb (formerly codenamed ‘Copper’), the successor to the company’s first Windows VR headset. Reverb’s high res displays raise the bar on pixel density among consumer VR headsets. Sporting a design that’s a significant departure from its first Windows VR headset, HP says that Reverb will launch in late April starting at $600. […]

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HP today announced Reverb (formerly codenamed ‘Copper’), the successor to the company’s first Windows VR headset. Reverb’s high res displays raise the bar on pixel density among consumer VR headsets. Sporting a design that’s a significant departure from its first Windows VR headset, HP says that Reverb will launch in late April starting at $600.

Reverb is HP’s second Windows VR headset. Though it will hook into the ‘Windows Mixed Reality’ platform at its core, it will also support SteamVR through an official plugin, just like other Windows VR headsets.

Image courtesy HP

Compared to HP’s first Windows VR headset, which has a 1,440 × 1,440 LCD display for each eye, Reverb bumps the displays up to 2,160 × 2,160, which is 2.25 times the total number of pixels. With the same 90Hz refresh rate and a similar field of view, the increase in resolution translates directly to greater pixel density, bringing a huge boost to sharpness and text legibility.

It’s an even bigger leap in resolution from the first generation of consumer VR headsets, like Rift and Vive, which use 1,080 × 1,200 displays per-eye, giving Reverb 3.6 times the total number of pixels in those headsets. The fidelity seen through Reverb’s lenses is further enhanced by the fact that the LCD display uses full RGB-stripe sub-pixels (which generally have a better fill-factor than OLED displays) which means less screen door effect than an OLED display of equal resolution.

Reverb will be the highest resolution headset in the ~100 degree consumer class when it launches in late April, followed behind by Samsung Odyssey and Vive Pro (both with a pair of 1,440 × 1,600 displays).

Read our hands-on with the latest Reverb prototype to learn more about what it’s like to use the headset.

SEE ALSO
Understanding the Difference Between 'Screen Door Effect', 'Mura', & 'Aliasing'

HP says that Reverb is primarily built for the enterprise sector, but they’re also making the headset openly available to consumers. The Reverb Consumer Edition and Pro Edition (let’s call them CE and PE) are identical in design and specs and both include controllers). The Reverb CE is priced at $600 and will have a washable fabric face cushion and one year consumer warranty, while the Reverb PE will be priced at $650 and come with a leather-style face cushion, an additional 0.6M cable (for use with VR backpack PCs), and one year commercial warranty that covers the headset in non-consumer settings.

Image courtesy HP

Reverb has new fresnel lenses which the company says will offer a wider field of view and a larger sweet spot than its predecessor. There’s no hardware IPD adjustment on Reverb; the nominal setting is 63mm, and software adjustments range from 55mm to 71mm, according to HP.

HP quotes the Reverb’s field of view at 114 degrees diagonally, but has somewhat confusingly told us that this isn’t the actual measurement, but instead represents what they believe is “indicative” of the headset’s field of view. From my hands-on with the headset, it feels in the same FOV class as the Rift, Vive, and PSVR, but maybe on the lower end of the group. I’ve reached out to the company for further clarification on their FOV figures.

Image courtesy HP

Aside from resolution, HP says that a major focus of Reverb is comfort. While the original HP Windows VR headset uses a ‘halo’ style headband and lacks integrated headphones, the Reverb has a decidedly more Rift-like look with an overhead strap, semi-rigid spring-loaded side straps, and compact headphones built in. The headphones are removable with a flat-head screwdriver, and a 3.5mm cable dangles from the back of the headset for easily connecting third-party headphones.

The Reverb headset weighs in at 500 grams (1.1 pounds), excluding the cable—just above the Rift and Vive’s ~470 grams.

Image courtesy HP

While the design overhaul seems like mostly a win for Reverb, it has come at the expense of the convenient flip-up visor functionality on HP’s first Windows VR headset.

Like all Windows VR headsets, Reverb makes use of inside-out tracking via on-board cameras. The cameras calculate the position of the headset by looking at the environment around the user, and also track the movements of controllers by looking at the glowing LEDs. In our experience, tracking performance is good with this system, but it’s not uncommon for controllers to get momentarily ‘lost’ when looking away from the controllers (because they may momentarily exit the camera’s field of view). Reverb uses the same Windows Mixed Reality controllers used by other Windows VR headsets.

SEE ALSO
HP Wants to Enhance Traditional CAD Workflows with "VR Snacking"

HP says that Reverb’s inside-out tracking system is virtually unchanged from the original, with the same placement and resolution of tracking cameras. For that reason, we expect that tracking performance will be mostly unchanged from other Windows VR headsets.

While the first HP Windows VR headset uses HDMI and USB 3.0 plugs, the Reverb uses DisplayPort 1.3 and USB 3.0, and also includes integrated Bluetooth which means that the host PC doesn’t need its own Bluetooth connection.

Image courtesy HP

In the enterprise space, where the company expects the headset to be most appealing, HP says the Reverb is well suited for engineering product development, design reviews, architecture/engineering/construction reviews, location-based entertainment, and maintenance/repair/overhaul training. While the Reverb CE will be sold ‘as is’, HP is trying to define itself as a VR solutions company, and says it is ready and willing to work closely with enterprise customers to equip them with the hardware, software, and services to make VR a valuable part of their workflow.

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Hands-on: HP’s Pixel-packed ‘Reverb’ Sets a New Bar for Windows VR Headsets https://www.roadtovr.com/hp-rever-hands-on-impressions-pixel-packed-new-bar-for-windows-vr-headsets/ https://www.roadtovr.com/hp-rever-hands-on-impressions-pixel-packed-new-bar-for-windows-vr-headsets/#comments Tue, 19 Mar 2019 13:58:55 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86686
HP today announced Reverb (formerly codenamed Copper), its new VR headset which aims to deliver enhanced resolution and comfort. With a more thoughtful design and pixel-packed displays, Reverb sets a new bar for Windows VR headsets. Having jumped into the VR space back in 2017 with a handful of others under Microsoft’s watch, HP’s first VR headset […]

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HP today announced Reverb (formerly codenamed Copper), its new VR headset which aims to deliver enhanced resolution and comfort. With a more thoughtful design and pixel-packed displays, Reverb sets a new bar for Windows VR headsets.

Having jumped into the VR space back in 2017 with a handful of others under Microsoft’s watch, HP’s first VR headset was pretty much identical to the headsets which launched from Acer, Dell, and Lenovo.

With Reverb—which will succeed the company’s first VR headset—HP is driving the design much more directly, though it is still building atop the Windows Mixed Reality platform (and inside-out tracking technology).

To that end, the company officially announced Reverb today, which will be sold as a Consumer Edition ($600) and a Professional Edition ($650), and launch in late April. For more details on the headset’s announcement and the difference between the two versions, see our article on the Reverb reveal here.

HP’s first VR headset (left), Reverb (right) | Photo by Road to VR

I recently visited HP at their Palo Alto campus to check out the latest Reverb prototype for myself; this is an updated version compared to what I saw back in February.

Let’s skip right to the fun stuff: the displays. Reverb has a 2,160 × 2,160 resolution display per-eye, which is a big step up in resolution even from current class-leading headsets like the Vive Pro and Samsung Odyssey which tout 1,440 × 1,600 displays. We’re talking about twice as many pixels as those headsets.

And while twice the pixels in roughly the same field of view would typically mean about half the visible screen door effect (SDE), Reverb actually gets an extra boost in SDE reduction (compared to the aforementioned headsets) because it uses RGB-stripe sub-pixels which tend to have a much better fill factor (less space between pixels) than the OLED displays used in many other headsets. So not only are you getting a boost in fidelity and pixel density, but fill factor is also going up because of the change to RGB-stripe.

SEE ALSO
Understanding the Difference Between 'Screen Door Effect', 'Mura', & 'Aliasing'

That’s a long way to say that Reverb offers class-leading visual fidelity and text legibility. The screen door effect isn’t invisible, but it’s getting surprisingly close—at this point I can’t make out individual sub-pixels at all, and even truly spotting just one whole pixel (in a sea of identically colored pixels) is a difficult task. Crucially, HP is achieving this clarity and limited SDE without using a diffuser (as Samsung has done on the Odyssey+, which attempts to hide SDE at the cost of sharpness).

Photo by Road to VR

Resolution aside, the latest Reverb prototype that I got my head into did show a few subtle artifacts, though HP claims these will be cleared up by launch.

First, compared to the prior prototype I tried back in February, the little grey dots have been significantly reduced, but still manifest in what looks (to my eyes) like mura (inconsistencies in color/brightness between pixels).

Second, the latest prototype display shows some red ghosting, which is interesting because I don’t recall seeing this in any other headset (usually it’s just white or black ghosting). HP said this is because the current display has slower red decay than it should have, meaning that red pixels can’t change as quickly as other colored pixels.

Third, at the extreme top and bottom of the field of view it’s possible to see some reflections at the edges, caused by the display reflecting off the plastic inside the headset.

As mentioned, HP says these will all be cleared up by the time the headset ships, and the progress I saw with the headset from just a few weeks ago bodes well for them being able to deliver on that claim.

Continue Reading on Page 2 »

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Pimax’s Answer to Rift’s Asynchronous Spacewarp ‘Brainwarp’ to Exit Beta This Week https://www.roadtovr.com/pimax-to-release-brainwarp-version-1-0-software-this-week/ https://www.roadtovr.com/pimax-to-release-brainwarp-version-1-0-software-this-week/#respond Tue, 19 Mar 2019 13:58:54 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86609
Pimax today announced their Brainwarp software will be coming out of beta soon with the official launch of Brainwarp version 1.0. Like Oculus’ Asynchronous Spacewarp, Brainwarp was designed to reduce the massive hardware requirements needed to run the headset’s high resolution displays; it’s also touted for its ability to improve latency and maintain acceptable refresh rates. […]

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Pimax today announced their Brainwarp software will be coming out of beta soon with the official launch of Brainwarp version 1.0.

Like Oculus’ Asynchronous Spacewarp, Brainwarp was designed to reduce the massive hardware requirements needed to run the headset’s high resolution displays; it’s also touted for its ability to improve latency and maintain acceptable refresh rates.

The 1.0 release will include three main tools, all of which were seen in the previous Brainwarp beta first released in January. Pimax says the official release “will ensure a smooth and optimized VR experience.” Brainwarp 1.0 is said to release sometime this week, although the exact date isn’t certain at this point.

SEE ALSO
Pimax to Launch Ruggedized "8K" VR Headsets for Business This Year

The tools include: Smart Smoothing, Fixed Foveated Rendering (FFR) and Refresh Rate Switching (RRS). The company says these can be enabled or disabled individually by the user as needed.

Here’s a quick roundup of each tool, and how they’re positioned to improve the user experience with Pimax’s headsets, including Pimax “8K”, “5K” Plus, and “5K” XR (ex-“5K” BE).

  • Smart Smoothing: compensates for low frame rates by halving the effective frame rate to 45 fps and filling with synthetic frames as necessary, much like Oculus’ ASW or Valve’s Motion Smoothing. Pimax says you can use GPUs such as the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 or GTX 1070 to play most VR games with any of its headsets thanks to Smart Smoothing.
  •  Fixed Foveated Rendering (FFR): renders the center of the lenses at full resolution and progressively diminishes the resolution outward toward the user’s peripheral vision. Pimax claims performance gains of a typical VR game are between 10-30%. Compatibility with this feature is currently limited to NVIDIA RTX GPUs.
  • Refresh Rate Switching (RRS): can be used in conjunction with Smart Smoothing and FFR. With different mode options for the refresh rate (5K Plus: 90/72/64Hz, 8K: 80/72/64Hz), users have the ability to select the mode for their desired use with different games to achieve the best experience.

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HTC Planning Lip-tracking Module Dev Kit for Vive Pro https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-pro-lip-tracking-module-gdc-2019/ https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-vive-pro-lip-tracking-module-gdc-2019/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 22:13:05 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86657
Today at GDC, HTC announced plans to make available a lip-tracking module for the Vive Pro. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to consumerize the device, but instead wants to make it available for research and experimentation. HTC Vive America’s Vice President of Product and Operations, Vinay Narayan, today at GDC revealed that […]

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Today at GDC, HTC announced plans to make available a lip-tracking module for the Vive Pro. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to consumerize the device, but instead wants to make it available for research and experimentation.

HTC Vive America’s Vice President of Product and Operations, Vinay Narayan, today at GDC revealed that the company is plans to make available a lip-tracking module for the Vive Pro headset which will accurately gather data about how the user’s mouth is moving. This data could be used for a variety of purposes, like more realistically animating an avatar’s facial expressions in real-time, motion capture recording for NPC animations, or a variety of research uses involving speech, body language, and more.

HTC has revealed very little about the lip-tracking module so far, but we’d venture to guess that it will consist of a camera mounted underneath the Vive Pro visor which faces the user’s mouth. The module could tap the Vive Pro’s hidden USB port for power and data transfer, or could have its own on-board power and communicate to the host PC wirelessly.

SEE ALSO
New Procedural Speech Animation From Disney Research Could Make for More Realistic VR Avatars

Wit the upcoming Vive Pro Eye, a version of the headset with built in eye-tracking, the lip-tracking module would be even more powerful as it, combined with eye-tracking data, could animate both eyes and mouth together, leading to a richer avatar representation.

HTC has said that it doesn’t presently have plans to turn the lip-tracking module into a consumer product, but wants to make it available as a development kit for research and experimentation. The lip-tracking module will tie into a Vive facial tracking SDK that the company will make available.

So far the company hasn’t said when the lip-tracking module or the facial tracking SDK will be released or what the the module might cost.

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Viveport to Support Windows VR Headsets Later This Year https://www.roadtovr.com/viveport-support-windows-vr-headsets-later-year/ https://www.roadtovr.com/viveport-support-windows-vr-headsets-later-year/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 18:00:07 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86655
HTC’s Rikard Steiber today announced at GDC 2019 that Viveport, the company’s digital distribution platform for VR games, is going to support Windows VR headsets later this year. The company first opened up Viveport to Oculus Rift in September 2018, having originally only supported the company’s two PC VR headsets at the time, the original […]

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HTC’s Rikard Steiber today announced at GDC 2019 that Viveport, the company’s digital distribution platform for VR games, is going to support Windows VR headsets later this year.

The company first opened up Viveport to Oculus Rift in September 2018, having originally only supported the company’s two PC VR headsets at the time, the original Vive and Vive Pro.

Many VR games on Steam have native Windows VR support, although those that don’t can benefit from a Microsoft-built Steam plugin that allows Windows VR users to play games originally created for Vive & Rift only.

SEE ALSO
OpenXR Standard Ratified, Microsoft, Oculus, & Others to Release First Implementations

It’s uncertain at this point how HTC will go about supporting Windows VR headsets, be it through a similar ‘catch all’ plug-in or by simply allowing developers to add support on case-by-case basis. Steiber also didn’t mention when this will come, only saying that Windows VR support is set to come “later this year.”

This comes as a larger push by HTC to further proliferate the Viveport platform, which is set to launch their Netflix-style, unlimited download subscription service Viveport Infinity early next month.

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Breakout VR Hit ‘Beat Saber’ Confirmed as Oculus Quest Launch Title https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-oculus-quest-launch-title-gdc-2019/ https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-oculus-quest-launch-title-gdc-2019/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 14:50:58 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86606
Beat Games is getting ready to take their massively successful block-slashing rhythm game to new heights, as Oculus today announced that Beat Saber (2018) is coming to Oculus Quest at launch. According to an Oculus blog post, the Quest version of the game will deliver the entire Beat Saber experience, including all of the songs currently available on Rift, […]

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Beat Games is getting ready to take their massively successful block-slashing rhythm game to new heights, as Oculus today announced that Beat Saber (2018) is coming to Oculus Quest at launch.

According to an Oculus blog post, the Quest version of the game will deliver the entire Beat Saber experience, including all of the songs currently available on Rift, Vive, and PSVR, as well as “maybe more to come,” an Oculus spokesperson tells us.

The game originally launched into Early Access on Steam (Rift, Vive, Windows VR) and the Oculus Store (Rift) in May 2018. A few months later, the game then made its way to PSVR, quickly landing a decisive hit on the platform by becoming PSVR’s second most-downloaded VR game for the entire year; it was live on the PlayStation Store for only six weeks before vaulting past every PSVR game except the perennial favorite Job Simulator (2016), which came in at number one.

Beat Saber most recently celebrated an important milestone too, namely the revelation that the game has sold over one million copies, generating between $20 – $30 million in gross revenue across all platforms.

Image courtesy Oculus

Outside of Beat Saber, Quest launch titles already confirmed thus far include Robo Recall, Moss, The Climb, and Dead & Buried (Superhot VR is also very likely). At Quest’s Oculus Connect unveiling last year, Mark Zuckerberg also said there will be some 50 launch titles planned for the Oculus Quest launch.

At the time of this writing we still don’t know when the company’s $400 6DOF standalone headset is due to hit consumer doorsteps, although Oculus hasn’t changed their Spring 2019 launch window expectation, putting launch hypothetically anywhere between March 20th and June 21st. Whatever the case may be, Oculus has started a ‘Quest Countdown’, so we’re bound to learn more at GDC this week.

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OpenXR Standard Ratified, Microsoft, Oculus, & Others to Release First Implementations https://www.roadtovr.com/openxr-0-9-provisional-release-microsoft-oculus-collabora-implementations/ https://www.roadtovr.com/openxr-0-9-provisional-release-microsoft-oculus-collabora-implementations/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 12:59:13 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86644
OpenXR is a royalty-free standard for cross-platform VR and AR development. It’s backed by many of the biggest names in the VR and AR industries and has been in development by the consortium for two years now, organized by Khronos Group. The group today announced the ratification of OpenXR 0.9, a provisional version of the […]

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OpenXR is a royalty-free standard for cross-platform VR and AR development. It’s backed by many of the biggest names in the VR and AR industries and has been in development by the consortium for two years now, organized by Khronos Group. The group today announced the ratification of OpenXR 0.9, a provisional version of the specification, which is now available for feedback from developers and implementers.

OpenXR is a work-in-progress standard that aims to unify the underlying connections between VR and AR hardware, game engines, and content, making for a more interoperable ecosystem. The standard has been in development since April 2017 and is presently supported by virtually every major hardware, platform, and engine company in the VR industry, including key AR players like Magic Leap. OpenXR’s ‘working group’, under which representatives from member companies are actively developing the standard, is facilitated by Khronos Group.

Image courtesy Khronos Group

Today the group announced the ratification and release of OpenXR 0.9, a provisional version meant for evaluation by developers and implementers in the industry. The OpenXR working group plans to gather feedback to put the finishing touches on the standard before releasing OpenXR 1.0.

Along with the provisional release of the specification, Microsoft is releasing an OpenXR runtime for testing, which can enable OpenXR content compatibility with Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Oculus says they plan to provide runtime support for apps built for OpenXR on Rift and Quest later this year.

Collabora, an open-source consulting company, is today releasing Monado, an open-source SDK and runtime built for OpenXR on Linux.

Image courtesy Khronos Group

OpenXR has both an application interface which sits between an XR app and platform, and a device interface which sits between the platform and the headset. Building apps, platforms, and headsets which target the OpenXR standard (instead of a proprietary interfaces) makes for a significantly more interoperable ecosystem.

For instance, it means that an app built for one OpenXR headset should run on an entirely different OpenXR headset with zero changes to the underlying code. Additionally, it means that a new entrant to the game engine market could swiftly add support for all compatible headsets by implementing support for OpenXR.

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VR's Biggest Players Back New 'VirtualLink' Connector for Next-gen Headsets

Granted, OpenXR does not necessarily mean that apps and content from one platform will work with a headset from another. Each company, even if a supporter of OpenXR, still has control over where their content is made available and which platforms support which headsets. Simply put, OpenXR is a technical foundation for interoperability, but business decisions still dictate content, device, and platform strategy.

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Pimax to Launch Ruggedized “8K” VR Headsets for Business This Year https://www.roadtovr.com/pimax-ruggedized-re-8k-2019/ https://www.roadtovr.com/pimax-ruggedized-re-8k-2019/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2019 01:40:17 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86581
Today Pimax announced it’s introducing a new business-focused ruggedized line of its “8K” series virtual reality headsets, set to release sometime this year. According to an MRTV video interview with Pimax’s head of US operations Kevin Henderson, Pimax says it will produce ruggedized (RE) versions, dubbed Pimax “8K” RE, “5K” Plus RE and “5K” OLED RE, the […]

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Today Pimax announced it’s introducing a new business-focused ruggedized line of its “8K” series virtual reality headsets, set to release sometime this year.

According to an MRTV video interview with Pimax’s head of US operations Kevin Henderson, Pimax says it will produce ruggedized (RE) versions, dubbed Pimax “8K” RE, “5K” Plus RE and “5K” OLED RE, the latter of which is patterned after the Pimax “5K” XR (ex-“5K” BE).

The company says the new line will offer numerous hardware ruggedization features intended for high-traffic venues such as location-based entertainment (LBE) facilities, and education/training institutions.

Henderson told MRTV that ruggedization features include water resistance, a new foam insert, rigid headstrap, and thicker cabling.

Pimax consumer version, Image courtesy Pimax

Henderson additionally told Road to VR that the new RE line will feature greater shock tolerances, more robust components, metal buttons, higher lifespan switches, and accessories including a cover that can go over the front of the headset for greater protection in high-traffic environments.

There’s no word at this time on exactly when the headsets will be available to businesses, or at what price, although Henderson tells MRTV it will be due out “in the coming months” and that they’ll be priced “around $500-ish more on the per-unit basis.”

The business-focused headsets are said to include the same wide field of view and modular ability as the respective consumer versions thanks to the two USB Type-C accessory ports. The ‘RE’ headsets feature the same fundamental specs as the consumer counterparts (seen below).

SEE ALSO
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Pimax is also currently in the production phase of the long-awaited SteamVR 2.0 base stations. Henderson tells MRTV that it’s “very likely the Lighthouses will beat the controllers to market,” although he admits its unclear how the company will proceed, be it through a staggered release or a controller/basestation hardware bundle. Henderson expects to release more info in the next few weeks, and that the company plans to fulfill backers first, then open up to general consumers at a later date, although the bundling issue is still undecided at this time.

A Pimax-built basestation would represent the first opportunity for consumers to purchase a 2.0 SteamVR basestation, as HTC doesn’t actively sell them individually.

Specs (Consumer Version)

Pimax “5K” Plus – $700

  • Screen: CLPL(Customized low persistence liquid)
  • Resolution: dual 2,560 × 1,440
  • MTP: <15ms
  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz,Brainwarp Support
  • FOV: 200° (diagonal)
  • Audio: 3.5mm audio jack, integrated microphone
  • Connection: USB 2.0/3.0, DP 1.4
  • Sensor: SteamVR tracking, G-sensor, gyroscope, hand motion(Option)
  • Fit: Adjustable headset strap/headband(Option)IPD adjustment, VR frame
  • Content: SteamVR and Oculus Home
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 and AMD equivalent or above

Pimax “8K” – $900

  • Screen: CLPL (Customized low persistence liquid)
  • Resolution: dual 3,840 × 2,160
  • MTP: <15ms
  • Refresh Rate: 80 Hz, Brainwarp Support
  • FOV: 200° (diagonal)
  • Audio: 3.5mm audio jack, integrated microphone
  • Connection: USB 2.0/3.0, DP 1.4
  • Sensor: SteamVR tracking, G-sensor, gyroscope, hand motion(Option)
  • Fit: Adjustable headset strap/headband(Option)IPD adjustment, VR frame
  • Content: SteamVR and Oculus Home
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and AMD equivalent or above

Pimax “5K” XR (previously BE) – $1,000

  • Screen: OLED
  • Resolution: dual 2,560 × 1,440
  • MTP: <15ms
  • Refresh Rate: 85±3 Hz
  • FOV: 200° (diagonal)
  • Audio: 3.5mm audio jack,integrated microphone
  • Connection: USB 2.0/3.0, DP 1.4
  • Sensor: SteamVR tracking, G-sensor, gyroscope, hand motion(Option)
  • Fit: Adjustable headset strap/headband(Option)IPD adjustment, VR frame
  • Content: SteamVR and Oculus Home
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 and AMD equivalent or above

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‘Beat Saber’ Sells Over One Million Copies https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-sells-one-million-copies/ https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-sells-one-million-copies/#comments Sat, 16 Mar 2019 19:31:49 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86576
Beat Games, the Czech Republic-based indie developers behind Beat Saber (2018), announced they’ve sold over one million copies of their popular block-slashing rhythm game—a figure calculated across all supported VR platforms. Beat Games CEO Jaroslav Beck announced the news in a video blog, saying he optimistically expected the game to reach 150,000 copies before its […]

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Beat Games, the Czech Republic-based indie developers behind Beat Saber (2018), announced they’ve sold over one million copies of their popular block-slashing rhythm game—a figure calculated across all supported VR platforms.

Beat Games CEO Jaroslav Beck announced the news in a video blog, saying he optimistically expected the game to reach 150,000 copies before its release, a number three times larger than the team’s pre-launch estimation.

“What happened, nobody could have ever predicted. Even guys from the industry who we spoke with [including advisers and long-time industry professionals] told us we’re freaks if you think we can get this number,” said Beck.

Speaking to Variety, Beck further said Beat Saber’s success wasn’t the result of a prolonged PR campaign, attributing its popularity to word-of-mouth.

“We did zero PR whatsoever,” Beck told Variety. “We didn’t expect that it would blow up that crazy.”

SEE ALSO
Within 'Beat Saber's' First Music Pack Lurks a Beast Worth Taming

The one million figure includes consumer sales only, the studio confirmed with Road to VR, and not sales from location-based facilities. Beat Saber is available on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR headsets (early access), and on PSVR.

We haven’t heard specific numbers from other VR developers for comparison, although it’s possible Beat Saber could be the first VR game to reach the one million sales mark.

Notably, Beat Saber was ranked the second most downloaded PSVR game of 2018, vaulting to the slot within only one month before the close of the year. It’s also been featured in a bespoke PSVR hardware bundle with Borderlands 2 VR (2018).

The announcement came alongside the studio’s recent release of Beat Saber’s first paid DLC music pack, dubbed ‘Monstercat Music Pack 1,” which adds 10 EDM songs to the game across all platforms.

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Report: New Oculus ‘Rift S’ Headset to be Revealed at GDC Next Week https://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-rift-s-headset-reveal-gdc-2019-report/ https://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-rift-s-headset-reveal-gdc-2019-report/#comments Sat, 16 Mar 2019 07:26:12 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86558
According to a report by UploadVR, citing emails sent from Facebook to Oculus developers, the rumored Rift S headsets will be revealed next week at GDC. Rift S was first brought to light in a TechCrunch report last year about the leadership shakeup at Oculus and purported shifting product plans. The report said that Facebook/Oculus […]

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According to a report by UploadVR, citing emails sent from Facebook to Oculus developers, the rumored Rift S headsets will be revealed next week at GDC.

Rift S was first brought to light in a TechCrunch report last year about the leadership shakeup at Oculus and purported shifting product plans. The report said that Facebook/Oculus had decided to cancel a larger ‘Rift 2’ overhaul in favor of a more modest product refresh called the ‘Rift S’.

An UploadVR report this evening cites an email sent from Facebook to VR developers which “suggests ‘Rift S’ will be formally revealed at GDC 2019,” the annual Game Developers Conference hosted next week in San Francisco. Oculus is already confirmed as attending the event but hasn’t said anything about the potential of a new headset being revealed. Oculus declined to comment on the UploadVR report.

Origin of the Rift S Rumors

In the TechCrunch report last year, citing “a source familiar with the matter,” it was stated that the Rift S would likely bump the resolution of the headset and move to an inside-out tracking system which would ditch the external sensors—which the headset needs to track its position—in favor of on-board cameras which could do the same job while simplifying setup and usage of the headset. Oculus has already demonstrated its inside-out tracking technology, which it calls ‘Insight’, on its upcoming standalone VR headset, Quest.

SEE ALSO
Oculus Quest Hands-on and Tech Details

Last month, UploadVR uncovered code in the Oculus software referencing the Rift S explicitly. Rumors of the updated headset have further been stoked by spurious availability of stock for original Rift headset in recent weeks, as well as a quiet price drop on the headset from $400 to $350 back in January.

Original Rift Going Strong Despite Age

Image courtesy Oculus

The Rift is Oculus’ first, and so far only, PC VR headset. It was released back in 2016, and sports a 1,080 × 1,200 resolution and a ~100 degree diagonal field of view. At launch, the headset was priced at $600 and included an Xbox One controller as the primary input device, with content primarily designed for seated gameplay.

The Oculus Rift original shipped with an Xbox One controller in the box for seated gameplay. | Photo by Road to VR

It wouldn’t be until the end of 2016 that Oculus would launch the now standard ‘Touch’ motion controllers for $200, which have become the headset’s primary input device (with the Xbox One controller eventually removed entirely from the package) and pivoted the vast majority of content toward standing ‘front-facing’ gameplay with motion input.

The Rift supports ‘room-scale’ tracking, but requires an optional third sensor and requires routing a USB cable from the far corner of the playspace back to the host PC.

While the default setup for the two included sensors offers front-facing gameplay, the system supports standing 360 gameplay with opposing sensors, or full ‘room-scale’ gameplay with an optional third sensor placed in a corner of the playspace. As the sensors need to plug into the host PC, adding a third sensor for a larger playspace can be a pain because it means running a cable across the room. Inside-out tracking— which does away with external sensors in favor of cameras mounted on the headset itself—would make room-scale tracking the default, while simplifying the setup and usage.

Microsoft and its hardware partners were the first to debut consumer PC VR headsets featuring inside-out tracking back at the end of 2017, with many agreeing about the improved ease of use; compared to headsets with external tracking equipment, the Windows VR headsets simply plug into the PC from a single tether and are ready for room-scale tracking out of the box. However, controller tracking is made more difficult with inside-out tracking because players can more easily block the on-headset cameras from seeing the controllers. This can pose challenges for certain games which ask the player to move their hands close to their body (or in some cases behind their back or over their shoulder).

Despite its age and lack of successor three years later, the Rift is among the leading consumer VR headsets overall, and the most popular headset in use on Steam. Oculus has steadily cut prices on the Rift from the initial $800 price point (for the headset and Touch controllers) all the way down to the $350 as of January, 2019. While the Rift’s industrial design has held up well, three years on there are a handful of headsets offering higher resolutions and wider fields of view.

Rift S Expectations

Pictured: Oculus Quest. Rift S is expected to look similar to Quest, with cameras on headset for inside-out tracking, and ‘reversed’ Touch controllers which better position the hidden IR LEDs to be seen by the headset’s on-board cameras. | Image courtesy Oculus

The Rift S isn’t expected to be a sequel to original Rift as much as a refresh. Aside from the inside-out ‘Insight’ tracking, it’s expected that the headset’s resolution will be bumped and that newer optics will be used, possibly the same (or similar) as those used in Oculus Go or Quest, which the company has called their “best ever.”

In the resolution department, it seems likely that the Rift S will wind up with the same display as Quest (1,600 × 1,440), which would be a nice step up, and put the headset on par with the Vive Pro and Samsung Odyssey in terms of resolution. Alternatively, Oculus could try to get ahead of the competition by adopting even high-res displays, like the 2,160 × 2,160 panels seen in the upcoming HP ‘Copper’ headset, though this would mean a move from OLED to LCD; so far Oculus and others have mostly chosen OLED displays for higher-end headsets, though there remain pros and cons to consider with regards to LCD.

SEE ALSO
Valve Psychologist to Explore Brain-Computer Interface Research at GDC

What isn’t expected to change (at least not by much) is the headset’s ~100 degree field of view. While Oculus itself has shown off the ‘Half Dome’ prototype headset with a 140 degree field of view, expanding the field of view would require more significant changes to the headset’s optics and displays, likely being out of scope for a ‘Rift S’ refresh. Pimax is already offering an ultra-wide FOV VR headset, but other consumer headsets remain largely in the ~100 FOV class. No improvement in field of view could leave many early adopters wanting, as resolution and FOV are among the most vocally requested improvements.

Eye-tracking is another feature which is up in the air for Rift S. On one hand, eye-tracking is a game-changing technology that’s expected to play a big role in the future of VR—and having eye-tracking in a real product could provide Oculus with real-world data to further hone the tech—but on the other hand the company might withhold eye-tracking until it can provide a complete package with varifocal displays, as seen in Half Dome.

And then there’s wireless, another oft-requested feature but one which has yet to permeate the VR landscape of high-end tethered headsets. While there are at least two wireless add-on accessories currently on the market (from TPCAST and HTC), they are fairly expensive and add significant bulk and additional setup complexity. Especially considering that the Rift S is likely to increase resolution (which raises the bandwidth requirements for a wireless solution), and seems aimed at reducing setup complexity with inside-out tracking, wireless seems unlikely for a refresh.

– – — – –

GDC 2019 is being held next week from March 18th to 22nd in San Francisco, CA. Road to VR will be on the ground to bring you the most important news from the event. Stay tuned.

Update (March 16th, 2019 – 11:22AM PT): Added an additional paragraph discussing the potential for wireless in the ‘Rift S Expectations’ section, and added Oculus’ response to the report (‘no comment’).

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SVVR’s 6th Annual VR Mixer Event Comes to GDC March 20th https://www.roadtovr.com/svvr-vr-mixer-gdc-2019/ https://www.roadtovr.com/svvr-vr-mixer-gdc-2019/#respond Sat, 16 Mar 2019 07:00:24 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86569
SVVR, one the leading VR community groups in the Bay Area, is hosting its 6th annual VR Mixer event during GDC next week. The event is a gathering of the VR and AR community featuring the ‘demo dungeon’, and entire floor dedicated to showing off independent XR projects. On Wednesday, March 20th, the 2019 VR […]

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SVVR, one the leading VR community groups in the Bay Area, is hosting its 6th annual VR Mixer event during GDC next week. The event is a gathering of the VR and AR community featuring the ‘demo dungeon’, and entire floor dedicated to showing off independent XR projects.

On Wednesday, March 20th, the 2019 VR Mixer will be hosted at the Temple night club in San Francisco, two blocks from GDC. There the vibrant VR/AR/XR community will gather at the futuristic 20,000 sqft venue to enjoy two floors of VR/AR/XR demos, games, experiences, and hardware from partners and indie developers.

Tickets to attend are available at the VR Mixer website. Those looking to demo or sponsor during the event can reach vrmixer[at]svvr.com for details.

Image courtesy SVVR

In addition to the demo dungeon, SVVR will be showing off its ‘Reality Portal’. The main floor of the event will be connected to the High Fidelity social VR app via SVVR’s virtual-to-real-world telepresence window, allowing people to virtually interact with attendees of the event by visiting the SVVR space inside High Fidelity (direct link: https://hifi.place/svvr).


Road to VR is a proud media partner of the 2019 VR Mixer.

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Upcoming ‘Sniper Elite’ VR Game Likely Headed to PSVR With Aim Support https://www.roadtovr.com/sniper-elite-vr-ps-aim-support-playstation-aim-psvr/ https://www.roadtovr.com/sniper-elite-vr-ps-aim-support-playstation-aim-psvr/#comments Sat, 16 Mar 2019 04:05:35 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86553
Yesterday Rebellion Developments, the studio behind the Sniper Elite series, announced that a Sniper Elite VR game is in development in partnership with studio Just Add Water. Details have been kept to a minimum, with a full announcement planned for later this year, but a short glimpse of the game shows that it’s likely headed to […]

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Yesterday Rebellion Developments, the studio behind the Sniper Elite series, announced that a Sniper Elite VR game is in development in partnership with studio Just Add Water. Details have been kept to a minimum, with a full announcement planned for later this year, but a short glimpse of the game shows that it’s likely headed to PSVR with Aim support; support for other headsets and platforms is unclear at this time.

Rebellion dropped a bunch of Sniper Elite news yesterday, confirming that the studio is developing Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition for Switch, and the “next major title in the Sniper Elite series,” as well as “a new, standalone Sniper Elite game for VR devices.”

Almost no details on the game were given—except that it will be set in the same Mediterranean conflict as Sniper Elite 4—even falling short of saying which headsets or platforms the game will support.

Though “a full reveal” of the game is promised to come later this year, a very brief clip of the game was shared in the studio’s announcement video which showed it being played on a PSVR headset and with a PS Aim controller:

That’s great news for PSVR fans who own the Aim controller accessory; the lauded device isn’t exactly widely supported, but tends to be an immersion booster for games that make use of it, like Farpoint (2017) and Firewall: Zero Hour (2018).

Photo by Road to VR

Of course this quick clip isn’t a guarantee that Aim support will be included; the studios could still be prototyping and things could change. But for a game which focuses on two-handed rifles, Aim sure seems to make a lot of sense considering how it couples both hands together, which increases aiming stability (important for high zoom optics).

So it seems probable that the Sniper Elite VR game is headed to PSVR with Aim support, but now we’re curious to know if it’ll be an exclusive on that headset or come to other platforms too. In the past Rebellion released Battlezone as a PSVR exclusive in 2016, and eventually brought it to PC VR headsets in 2017. The studio’s latest VR release, Arca’s Path (2018), debuted simultaneously on most major headsets.


Shout out to @AJRendere for the tip!

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Within ‘Beat Saber’s’ First Music Pack Lurks a Beast Worth Taming https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-dlc-review-monstercat-music-pack-volume-1/ https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-dlc-review-monstercat-music-pack-volume-1/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2019 09:23:48 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86543
Bust out the sweat bands and tighten your wrist straps. A big update to Beat Saber yesterday added a slew of new content to the PC version. Alongside that update, the game’s first paid DLC, Monstercat Music Pack Vol. 1, is now available on both PC and PSVR. The pack includes 10 strong tracks, one […]

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Bust out the sweat bands and tighten your wrist straps. A big update to Beat Saber yesterday added a slew of new content to the PC version. Alongside that update, the game’s first paid DLC, Monstercat Music Pack Vol. 1, is now available on both PC and PSVR. The pack includes 10 strong tracks, one of which stands out as the most challenging—and rewarding—of the bunch.

When I set out to slice my way through the new Monstercat Music Pack Vol. 1 for Beat Saber, I thought this article was going to be a general overview of the songs and beat maps, but for me, one song in particular completely stole the show. Before I delve into that, here’s the breakdown of the ten new tracks (mapped in all difficulties) in the Music Pack:

To my ear, the setlist—which leans more toward techno and club music—doesn’t have the same level of musical intrigue and variety as OST I, OST II, and the bonus tracks. Still, the mapping is solid throughout, with a handful of interesting ideas.

On Expert difficulty I enjoyed “Till It’s Over” for its interesting tonality and a string of notes which felt ‘spatially challenging’ (sort of like a solo). “Stronger” was also fun, and gets more mechanically interesting in the last half of the song.

SEE ALSO
How to Fix 'Beat Saber' Custom Songs and Mods After an Update

“Overkill,” however, was the immediate standout. What I thought initially was going to be a somewhat generic heavy metal track ended up mixing in elements of dubstep and synthwave which kept things interesting. The beat map makes great use of this variety, with the notes alternating between following intense guitar riffs, drums rolls, and dubstep flairs.

“Overkill” on Expert – Challenge and Intrigue

On Expert, “Overkill” offers a considerably more unique beat map than most of the other tracks in Monstercat Music Pack Vol. 1, with an emphasis on same-direction paired notes (swinging with both hands at the same time in the same direction), with a lot of up and down energy (effectively capturing the feel of the heavy drums and guitar):

“Overkill” on Expert+ – The Song to Beat

When I cranked things up to Expert+ for the new Music Pack, “Overkill” again stole the show, and revealed its potential as the new ‘song to beat’ among the officially mapped tracks.

On my first playthrough I was met with a frustrating mess of notes that I couldn’t possibly sight read—I typically play at the Expert+ level, but this was far more complex than most other tracks. Rejecting the knee-jerk ‘this beat map sucks’ reaction, I dove into Practice Mode to play at 50% speed so I could start to understand what “Overkill” on Expert+ was actually asking of me. What I found was a crazy, awesome, powerful beat map which is a blast to play, on top of being one of the most challenging and interesting of the official Beat Saber tracks yet released.

Luckily a speedy and skilled YouTuber already has a good playthrough posted, so in the video below you can see the full official beat map and I’ll use it as a time reference so you can see what I’m talking about:

On Expert+, “Overkill” takes the guitar and drum runs up to the next level (0:49), with tons of up and down energy and same-direction paired notes that end up being surprisingly mobile, especially when you need to cross your arms to hit a handful of them (1:07).

Then there’s the set of three huge ‘break’ swings (0:59) that not only ratchet up the song action, but do so in a way that has you swinging upward into a ‘power pose’ at the top of each note which makes you feel like a total badass. Another ‘rising’ moment in the song has a similar effect, but instead of swinging upward into a power pose, you’re alternating quickly left and right across the center with both hands as the notes steadily rise up on either side of you (1:40).

And just when you think it’s time to wind down, the song comes at you with a crazy string of same-direction paired notes which are ever so challenging and satisfying to keep up with (2:59) and to chase when they start going in every which direction (3:10).

While “Overkill” on the Expert difficulty was already fairly challenging, Expert+ might as well be Expert++ compared to many of the official tracks. I’ll admit that I’ve still only been able to complete it at 85% speed thus far, but I can’t wait to dive back in and finally master the song at full speed.

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https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-dlc-review-monstercat-music-pack-volume-1/feed/ 23 Road to VR Overkill album cover | Image courtesy Riot, Monstercat
Rebellion’s Brutal ‘Sniper Elite’ Series is Getting Its First Made-for-VR Game https://www.roadtovr.com/sniper-elite-vr-game-rebellion-developments/ https://www.roadtovr.com/sniper-elite-vr-game-rebellion-developments/#comments Thu, 14 Mar 2019 21:11:16 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86527
Sniper Elite is coming to VR. The gritty sniper-focused shooter developed by Rebellion Developments is known for its brutal depictions of long range sniper combat and stealthy action. Now the studio says it’s working on a standalone made-for-VR title for the series in partnership with developer Just Add Water. The Sniper Elite franchise kicked off […]

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Sniper Elite is coming to VR. The gritty sniper-focused shooter developed by Rebellion Developments is known for its brutal depictions of long range sniper combat and stealthy action. Now the studio says it’s working on a standalone made-for-VR title for the series in partnership with developer Just Add Water.

The Sniper Elite franchise kicked off in 2005 and now spans eight titles, with the latest, Sniper Elite 4, released in 2017. Today developer and publisher Rebellion Developments announced that four new Sniper Elite projects are in the works including, for the first time, a made-for-VR game.

The studio confirmed development on Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition for Switch, and the “next major title in the Sniper Elite series,” as well as “a new, standalone Sniper Elite game for VR devices.”

‘Sniper Elite V2 (2012)’ | Image courtesy Rebellion Developments

Details are thin on the ground, but Rebellon says that the Sniper Elite VR game is being developed in partnership with studio Just Add Water, known for their work on Gravity Crash (2009) and the Oddworld series.

Rebellion promises “a full reveal” of the new Sniper Elite VR game later this year, but hasn’t said when the game might launch or what platforms it will be on. With significant PlayStation experience under the belts of both studios, PSVR seems like a likely bet, but with Just Add Water’s expertise in mobile development for PlayStation Vita, Oculus Quest could be a smart play too. There’s a good chance the game will reach PC VR headsets too, as Rebellion’s other VR projects have all made their way to PC VR platforms.

‘Sniper Elite’ games often toe the line between long range precision shooting and stealthy up-close action. | ‘Sniper Elite 3 (2014)’, Image courtesy Rebellion Developments

Rebellion released the fully VR compatible hover-tank shooter Battlezone as a launch title on PSVR back in 2016, and brought the title to PC VR headsets in 2017. The studio also launched Arca’s Path (2018), a VR third-person platformer-puzzler for PSVR, PC VR, and Oculus mobile headsets.

Sniper Elite however is a totally different beast from the cockpit-based Battlezone and third-person Arca’s Path. The game title will need to take a completely new approach to VR game design, now incorporating motion input, first person embodiment/movement, and item interactions.

The Sniper Elite series is well known for its signature slow motion depictions of bullets blasting through the skulls of bad guys, often slinging the camera hundreds of meters across the landscape to see the action up close.

Exactly how (or if) this kind of visualization mechanic makes it into the Sniper Elite VR game is unclear, but if they can figure it out, the immersiveness of VR would surely make it a sight to behold.

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‘Beat Saber’ Gets First Paid Music Pack, Update Brings Previous PSVR Exclusives to PC https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-first-music-pack-psvr-pc/ https://www.roadtovr.com/beat-saber-first-music-pack-psvr-pc/#comments Thu, 14 Mar 2019 15:29:39 +0000 https://www.roadtovr.com/?p=86511
Beat Games today released Beat Saber’s long-awaited first DLC music pack, an effort created in partnership with electronic dance music record label Monstercat. A new update on PC also brings it up to speed with the PSVR version, now featuring full mode and track parity between both platforms. Update (12:10 PM ET): It previously appeared that […]

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Beat Games today released Beat Saber’s long-awaited first DLC music pack, an effort created in partnership with electronic dance music record label Monstercat. A new update on PC also brings it up to speed with the PSVR version, now featuring full mode and track parity between both platforms.

Update (12:10 PM ET): It previously appeared that only the individual songs and a bundle featuring both the base game and the 10-song pack were available at launch. It seems there’s been a fix in the meantime, as Steam now shows the bundled songs correctly.

Dubbed ‘Monstercat Music Pack Vol. 1’, the paid DLC contains 10 tracks priced at either $13 for the entire pack, or $2 individually. Beat Games says all levels were mapped by hand and are available in all 5 difficulties: Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert and Expert+ mode.

Here’s all the tracks coming in the first music pack; you can preview each track below by clicking on the title:

1. Till It’s Over – Tristam
2. We Won’t Be Alone (feat. Laura Brehm) – Feint
3. Boundless – Aero Chord
4. EPIC – Tokyo Machine
5. Stronger (feat. EMEL) – Stonebank
6. Overkill – RIOT
7. This Time – Kayzo
8. Emoji VIP – Pegboard Nerds
9. Rattlesnake – Rogue
10. Feeling Stronger (feat. Charlotte Colley) [High Maintenance Remix] – Muzzy

The music pack will be available for purchase for both PSVR and PC VR users, including Steam (Rift, Vive, Windows VR) and Oculus Store (Rift).

Additionally, PC users now have complete parity with PSVR after today’s update, as the PC version now features two previous PSVR exclusives: campaign mode and five tracks from OST Vol. II.

SEE ALSO
Valve Updated SteamVR Tracking Because 'Beat Saber' Players Were Too Fast

Beat Saber also now features a new UI, something Beat Games says was designed so players can “browse packs easily and add tracks to their music library comfortably with just a few clicks and with their headsets on.”

The new music pack is decidedly a step in the right direct in terms of more high intensity music, although we were definitely hoping for some more variety in genres (I personally was hoping for some K-POP and metal). Going with a single record label does have its advantages though in terms of navigating usage rights; it seems Beat Games is still playing it safe in order to provide a quantity and quality of music to further support one of top-performing VR games as of late.

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