E3 this year has showcased a lot of VR material, from Oculus’ big debut of its new hardware – both HMD and “Touch” controls – to Sony’s Morpheus headset, which has been tearing it up at its booth. However Starbreeze Studios, the developer behind Payday 2 and A Tale of Two Brothers, announced recently that it too was working on a piece of VR gear, called the StarVR headset. If it turns out to be as good as they say, it has the potential to really change the VR market.
The biggest selling point of the StarVR, is that its hardware is far in advance of what both Oculus and Sony are offering. It has dual displays, each offering 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolutions, bringing the total resolution to a whopping 5,120 x 1440, more than twice that (horizontally at least) of Oculus’ CV1 Rift headset. It also has a 210 degree viewing angle, which is far in excess of what other developers are working with as well.
This does mean that the headset is larger than others, but it is easily the most highly detailed VR headset in the world right now. Physically, this does make the StarVR larger and heavier than its competitors, since it needs to fit in twin 5.5″ displays, rather than the smaller ones being used by others.
Much like what was introduced with the Oculus DK2, StarVR will also come with positional tracking through “six degrees of freedom,” thanks to the use of fiducial markers. This are picked up by a separate sensor rig, which gives the headset wearer a full 360 degree optical tracking, which works at the submillimetre level to guarantee the highest quality of movement within the CVR experience, making it comfortable to take part in.
We have no word on cost as of yet, from any of the big VR makers for that matter. However, due to the StarVR’s high resolution screens, we can assume it will be more expensive than that of its competitors. We estimate the final cost to be in excess of £500.
As much as cost may be a problem for StarVR, being able to actually run games on it may be harder still. The Rift CV1 already requires a hefty GPU, this one would need something even more powerful, which very few people have. It has also been described as heavy and having problems with ghosting and stuttering. Clearly it needs more work before it’s consumer ready.
Although it’s good that someone is offering a really competitive product to Oculus, with features that they don’t have, I’m not sure StarVR is really going to challenge for the crown. It has the potential to offer a high-end alternative, but it won’t reach the same sort of mass market appeal that Oculus is aiming for.