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Vive – First Impressions & Reviews

It’s Here

If you’ve been following VR news, you know that valves Gabe Newell announced at the vision summit that they’d be giving all attendees a free Vive PRE.
Today, it arrived, and I have to say it’s pretty amazing.


It came in a giant box that contained many more boxes





The packaging was great and definitely kept the Vive safe.


Once it was all opened, you can see there is a whole lot included.

One key differentiation from the Oculus is the inclusion of hand controllers.  They’re extremely accurate, even showing the exact point on the touch pad that you’re touching.

During the tutorial, you can get a great feel of how well they’re tracked, while you inflate colored balloons and smack them around.

The Games

Some of the games/experiences were not playable with my current video card.  This isn’t the fault of the games as I’m using an AMD 280x which is at the low end for compatibility.  I plan to upgrade to the 970gtx soon and re-try those ones.  If you plan on getting a Vive, make sure to also budget for a high end video card to keep the experiences enjoyable.

Valve also included a Steam key for a set of games to try out.

This is a list of the games included free with the Vive.

I’ve included a quick description of each game and a little feedback for each.


8i – Gladiator / Message To the Future / The Climb / Wasteland


These unfortunately all ran too slow and choppy for anyone to enjoy.  This is probably because the video card (Radeon 280x) is a bit too slow.  It’s time to upgrade and try again next week.  It does seem like they have a streamlined video player though and could be promising.

Abbot’s Book Demo

I only tried this once, but the control scheme (warping around in the direction you’re facing) just didn’t feel right to me.  I understand what they’re trying to do, it just didn’t feel too natural in VR after so many other experiences where I walk around freely.

greenthumbupArpeture Robot Repair

Arpeture Robot Repair

Arpeture Robot Repair

[Warning: Complete spoilers] http://www.roadtovr.com/this-full-video-of-valves-aperture-science-vr-demo-is-wonderful-and-spoilerific/

This was made by Valve and quite a bit of fun.  It’s a fun/funny experience where you “attempt” to fix a robot and fail miserably.  It requires a bit of space or some awkward controls if you don’t have the space, but overall everyone who tried it thought it was enjoyable.

Cloudlands: VR Minigolf


This game also appeared to suffer from my weak video card.  Nobody was able to even hit the ball.  It seems like a neat idea, but not until I upgrade hardware.

greenthumbupFantastic Contraption

Vive is Here - Fantastic Contraption

Fantastic Contraption


This was my wifes #2 game.  In it, you build contraptions in 3D as the name implies.  One of the first things she built was a car which was fun to watch.

Felt Tip Circus


This was an interesting set of mini-games where you start above a play sized circus in a room, then dive down into it and experience parts from inside.  The mini-games were pretty fun, but the interface for moving between them could be simplified / less confusing.

greenthumbupFinal Approach

Final Approach

Final Approach


This is a VR take on the Flight Control game that was popular on mobile/steam.  It also mixed in some mini-games (putting out fires, removing seagulls) that made it interesting.  There was a bit of humor, and it was pretty forgiving on failures.  It’s definitely one of the most polished experiences available with the release.  Overall it was a hit with everyone who tried it.  The menu system however isn’t very intuitive (hold the trigger before touching buttons if you want to click them).



This is a scifi shooting game.  It’s got decent graphics and some interesting mechanics, but performance with my system was too slow to be enjoyable.  Once I’ve upgraded, I think this may be a great game.

greenthumbupJob Simulator Demo

vive is here - job simulator

Job Simulator


I saw the guys who made this do a presentation at the Vision Summit.  They’ve done a great job really polishing the experience and making it fun / hilarious.  Everyone who played it wanted to do a repeat, so I’d say it was a hit.

greenthumbupNinja Trainer Vive Demo

Ninja Trainer

Ninja Trainer


It’s fruit ninja in VR…. This so far has been the most popular and requested game played.  We’ve had competitions for high scores (110 is the current btw).  I’d rate this as the #1 game/experience included.

Sisters – Scary


This was a horror/jump experience.  It’s really polished and scared two teenagers out before the halfway point.  My wife is the only one who made it through the entire thing so far, and she even let out a scream & jump at the end.  Just be sure to actually look around at stuff as it seems progression is based on interaction not time.

greenthumbupSpace Pirate Trainer VR – The boys loved it

Space Pirate

Space Pirate


You shoot at space pirates with guns.  With shields and time scale adjustment there’s enough to keep the 2 boys playing over and over.  Definitely worth a shot if you want to aim and shoot at stuff.



An underwater experience where you see beautiful imagery of sea life swimming around you.  It seems to be a relaxing passive experience with really nice art.

greenthumbupTilt Brush

Tilt Brush

Tilt Brush


This was a pretty amazing art experience.  It turns your controllers into a 3D paint brush and a pallet.  You can draw whatever you want in 3D.  While the creations we made weren’t anything impressive outside VR, when you see them in the headset it’s mind blowing.


And the Reviews

I let my family go through the experiences and gathered some feedback.
Here are their ages and favorites:

Boy #1 – 7 years old

Favorite – Space Pirates

Runner Up – Ninja Trainer

Boy #2 – 13 years old

Favorite – Space Pirates

Runner Up – Job Simulator

Girl #1 – 15 years old

Favorite – “I don’t know stop asking me”  (I think this means Final Approach)

Runner Up – “OMG I don’t know stop asking me”  (Could not translate this one)


Favorite – Ninja Trainer

Runner Up – Fantastic Contraption


Favorite – Ninja Trainer

Runner Up – Tilt Brush


Unity Integration

This post won’t cover Unity integration with the Vive, but an upcoming one will.  If you’re interested in learning how to create your own Vive games, sign up now to be notified when the first sample is available.