The Valve Index VR Headset will begin shipping June 28th for $999.
In what can only be described as a giant middle finger to Oculus, Valve officially unveiled its highly-anticipated Valve Index VR headset earlier this morning, just ahead of the Facebook F8 developer conference.
The Valve Index headset will feature 2880×1600 “fast-switching” LCD panels, refresh rates of 90Hz, 120Hz, and an experimental 144Hz; and a 130-degree field-of-view (20-degrees larger than the Vive Pro) with an integrated FOV “eye relief” knob that allows the user to manually position the inner lens further or closer to their face within a 30-degree range. As previously reported, the Index will include manual IPD adjustment, squashing any concerns regarding software-based IPD optimization.
In terms of audio, the headset features 3D directional earphone technology with a built-in mic, as well as a front trunk design complete with dual front-facing cameras. This “frunk”—as Valve calls it—houses a USB 3.0 outlet hidden behind a removable visor that will support for a variety of future accessories.
The Index will come bundled alongside upgraded “Knuckles” controllers—opening up a new range of interactive capabilities—and will be compatible with not only the original Vive wands, but existing SteamVR 2.0 base stations and, of course, any and all SteamVR games.
Available for pre-order tomorrow, the Valve Index headset, controllers, and improved base stations will ship June 28th, 2019 for $999. Each component will also be available separately, with the Index headset selling for $499, the Index controllers for $279, and individual 2.0 base stations for $149 a piece.
The Valve Index, while not necessarily a revolutionary step in VR technology—there is no inside-out tracking, no standalone functionality—is still a major step-up current VR technology. The Index Controllers alone provide a new level of in-game interactivity that’s impossible to obtain using conventional motion controllers.
Confirmed Index titles, such as Stress Level Zero’s Boneworks, showcase the endless possibilities that come with being able to control individual finger movements, as well as the tightness of your grip. Combine this with the improved field-of-view and higher-quality visuals, and you have a significantly more immersive experience.
This customizable front trunk modular design also brings its own possibilities, such as future hand-tracking functionality or even asymmetrical gaming experiences.
While this unexpected reveal is a pleasant surprise for fans, it’s a shame the announcement couldn’t come with any news regarding the long-promised trio of VR games Valve has been teasing. While it has been confirmed the headset will launch with the Aperture Hand Labs—a demo experience set within the Portal universe that’s designed to acclimate users to the controls of the Index Controllers—we still have zero information in regards to these three original titles.
One can only hope we’ll see one of the companies legendary franchises arrive on the headset. Portal VR anyone? How about Left 4 VR? Hell, I’ll even take Ricochet VR!