Have you had a chat in the pub which included the sentence “Wouldn’t it be cool if they did that”. My take home message from trying the Wizdish manufactured ‘ROVR’ VR treadmill is, be careful what you wish for. ‘ROVR’ is a fully immersive VR experience where you pop a VR headset on, step onto a motion sensitive surface and your foot movements and motion are picked up on the screen. The floor surface sends messages to the PC through the use of special shoes that the player wears – they look something like Crocs or dad sandals though different more comfortable versions are expected to be available – and shuffling in the direction you want to go.
I had a go on the intro section of ‘Fallout 4’ and it really didn’t work very well at all. The biggest problem is the slight lag in body to screen motions – very, very, small lag but noticeable nonetheless – and the rather disorientating physical foot movements to walking on the screen. It’s hard to explain, imagine shuffling your feet in a very restricted way, and the feeling of being in an ice rink combined. The speed you move your feet at does not correspond well to the speed shown on the screen with there being very little tangible motion differences between walking to sprinting. My tiny foot shuffles equated to a full on sprint on screen, my brain could not handle this miscalculation and I felt proper rough.
I am giving it a hard time, but I think it is important to. If you are going to do the immersive experience then it can’t make you sick. I know people will say you have to get used to it but quite frankly this is not currently a viable way to play video games. For now the tech is too in its infancy and feels like there’s a long way to go to alleviate the issues and make it a more intuitive experience.
I’m really not sure who would buy one either? Even Richie Rich would have a hard time justifying getting one. The model with the dad shoes will set you back £499.99, that’s not bad you say? Well that is just the walking floor, you’ll still have to get a VR Headset such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and a kick ass PC to run it all.
I think VR in general is great, but this whole immersive experience just left me feeling a little confused and a bit sick. This kind of VR experience will do well at trade shows and Game shops for certain but it’s likely to have a very limited attach rate for the home market. The idea is solid, I get it, you have to try these things out. If I had a tech company would I try something like this? Maybe, but I would also really iron out the kinks before showing it off.
It’s important to note that the model we tried was an in development unit so it is likely that the final version may use more solid materials and be more intuitive. Only time will tell if the team at Wizdish can take the ROVR from a good concept to a piece of good hardware.
Jake Buchanan | @HDD_Heart