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E3 2015: StarVR and The Walking Dead Hands-On

by: John -
More On: E3 2015 StarVR

Starbreeze was on hand at E3 to demonstrate their brand new VR headset and The Walking Dead game they've been working on. The StarVR is the headset with the incredible field of view and incredible picture.

Weight wise, the StarVR was pretty light. It didn't feel heavy when placed on my head and there were a few straps that adjusted the fit. These headsets are prototypes though, but they still sat well. Once placed over my eyes, the 210 degree field of view really made the display second to none. (I haven't tried the latest Oculus Rift yet.) Just not seeing any border in my peripheral vision was amazing and made the experience so much more immersive. Looking around, the tracking system did a good job at keeping up with my quick head movements. It used a camera system to track some points on the headset.

The shotgun handed to me had tracking points on it as well and being able to aim in the game by pointing a fake gun made for such a fun experience. It had a pump action so to make it even more immersive.

For the demo, your character is in a wheelchair so you have an NPC pushing you around. The Walking Dead demo was a seated experience where the only movements tracked are your view and your gun. As you are lead around, walkers come out of different areas to attack you. The game played like a tech demo, with some of my shots not even doing anything to the walkers and many scripted events on rails.

But, you take the StarVR and the physical shotgun and you get an incredibly immersive experience even if it's a very early build of the game. The screendoor effect of the StarVR was very, very minimal and the wide field of vision is something that you just need to see to believe. Now, it might be the positioning on my face or that I couldn't adjust the distance of the lenses, but I did see a soft line down the middle of my view that would indicate where the two screens on the StarVR "met". For now, I've attributed to that as part of the prototype and something that I would expect to not be on the final version of the hardware.

I did have a minor problem though and that's mostly because of how warm the area was. After a few minutes, I was perspiring just a wee bit and that got into the screen making it very hard to see at the end. Also, my demo didn't start off on the right foot as the logo was stuck on my screens for a good minute at the beginning.

For its first public showing of StarVR, I think Starbreeze and InfinitEye showed great potential. The VR headset, the shotgun, the presentation all gelled together offering up a truly unique experience.

Starbreeze's The Walking Dead and StarVR demo was really, really fun and used some really nice hardware. The screens ran at 60Hz, but I heard they were aiming for 90Hz for the final. We're a while away from a consumer release and the hardware needs refinement for that to happen. It's got a lot of potential and it's great to see another good VR HMD out there to compete with the likes of the Rift and the Vive.