Think you know what it’s like to be a VR gamer because you own an Oculus Rift?
Pah, you aren’t even close. If you want to go full Lawnmower Man and dive body — and soul — into the pantheon of the cyber gods, you need to kit yourself out with much more than just a headset and a pair of motion controllers.
Today’s modern VR world is rife with all manner of accessories and augmentations that transform you from a digital lamb happily ambling about the virtual world, to a cyberspace assassin who sees no difference between a living room and a far-flung virtual battlefield.
Augment your optics
The first step to becoming a laser-sighted gaming soldier of fortune is to make sure that you’re seeing better than everyone else. While modern science might be able to laser away your astigmatism, in the virtual world you need the most advanced lenses and displays money can buy. While the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive might have given the world a taste of what consumer VR can look like, it’s not even close to what you need for true gaming dominance.
If you want to have the keenest of eyes on the virtual battlefield, you’ll need to acquire yourself a StarVR headset. With a resolution of 5,120 × 1,440 spread across both eyes and a 210-degree field of view, it’s arguably the best VR viewport that money can buy. It’s not on sale right now, but if you’re half the gamer you claim to be, you’ll find a way to get one.
For those of you without the connections to get a seat at the big boy table, consider a Pimax 8K headset. Available now on Kickstarter, the headset features a total resolution 7,680 × 2,160 across both eyes, and is one of the best ways to get your head in the game. Literally.
Take the hits
Most VR systems offer basic haptic feedback in their controllers, but a little vibration under your fingertips doesn’t make you feel like you’re part of the action. For that you need something a bit more…involved.
The Kor-FX fits the bill nicely. It lets you feel the hits in game, using the experience’s own audio to deliver punches, kicks, explosions, and bullets right into your body. What’s the point in putting your digital life on the line if you can’t feel the shotgun blast you’re heroically taking to the chest?
If that’s too tame for you, then there’s always the Hardlight suit. From all those hours gaming you’ve no doubt got a rockin’ bod, so it’s important to make sure you can admire it in the in-game mirrors, too. The Hardlight suit makes that possible, and guarantees you’ll feel every inch of the action as you take the fight to those t-shirts wearing serfs.
When you’re looking to unwind at the end of a hard gaming session, make sure to slip into your full feedback body suit for some private time with your virtual partner.
Feel the wind on your face
Feeling bullets and punches is all well and good if you’re planning to get your ass kicked – that’s not you, is it? More fitting for a gamer of the highest caliber is a way to feel the near misses that will be flying all around you as you dodge every shot opponents send your way. That’s not something a vest can handle, of course. For that you need something like the ZephVR.
Available on Kickstarter, this little contraption whacks a couple of high-powered fans a few inches from your face to simulate the whoosh of air as you swing through levels, or the whistling of shots as they skim past you on your latest dominant killstreak.
It can keep you cool in the moment, too, which is hardly a bad thing. It takes a lot to keep a high-performance gaming machine in peak condition, and remaining cool is part of that. As advanced as your DNA is, your innate ability to regulate your body can only go so far.
I love the smell of noob sweat in the morning
As a gamer who’s well ahead of the curve, you’re aware of how important it is to remain on the cutting edge, because if you’re not looking into the abyss as you win another chicken dinner, you’re not a real gamer. The latest innovation to hit the virtual space brings one of the most important sensory organs into the equation — smell.
Although technologies like ProjectNourished would have you believe the tech is only good for smelling steak while eating cardboard, as if you’re living a boring spin-off of The Matrix, we know where this technology is most important — smelling the fear on your opponents, and making sure they smell you too.
While you’ll be smelling the virtual gunpowder as you pump another slug into your alien adversaries with a Feelreal mask, those VR peasants falling at your feet in rapture and death will get a taste of the custom cologne you’re wearing for the occasion. You’ll need to make sure you contact your olfactory representative to guarantee everyone has stock of your chosen musk, but making sure that’s the last thing your enemy’s smell before they drop dead is as important as your next choice of gun skin.
Turn your hands into lethal weapons
Although you probably weren’t around to master the Power Glove in its heyday, we’ve been preparing for the virtual reality revolution for decades. Now that it’s finally here though, you can’t expect the mainstream developers to cater to the specific needs of the world’s most immersed gamers. For that, you need to turn to third parties.
If you want to timidly dip your fingertips into the world of high-end tracking and feedback, the ManusVR glove might be for you. These washable gloves bring full finger and arm tracking to a handful of games. The real excitement, though, begins when the VRGluvs start shipping. Not only do they make you look like Batman when you wear them, but they give you full force feedback when you grab things in game.
When you aren’t fighting hand to hand and need to pick up your gun-saw, you really need the Delta Six. While this VR assault rifle might lack that sweet gold camo skin you just unlocked, it does give you full point and shoot action, so you can transform it into whatever you want depending on the game.
Boots on the ground
All the above accessories will get you most of the way into your favorite VR game, but it’s useless if you’re just standing still, pressing buttons or touchpads to move around. For those of you who haven’t made their millions at the pinnacle of professional gaming and don’t have cash for a custom-tailored VR space, you’ll need a way to interpret your leg movements into the game itself.
You could opt for something like the Virtuix Omni, or the Infinadeck, but let’s be frank here — those systems limit your movement. They either surround you with a safety barrier like you’re some kind of child, or put you on a cord that prevents you falling over. Like a child.
If you’re happy to admit that, fair enough. For those who want to take a stride in the right direction and open up their gaming possibilities, you need a pair of VR shoes, like the Vortrex . With a pair of those you’ll be able to run, jump and crouch all within your limited roomscale space, making sure that you’re the top of the VR foodchain.
Of course, the accessories themselves will only take you so far — but when you’re seeing, feeling and perhaps even smelling, the virtual world around you, you’ll have every opportunity to be a wolf in a field of lambs. Don’t let your guard down.