PAX East 2017 IMPRESSIONS: VR Technology from Newegg

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

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Newegg had a big presence at PAX East this year, with both a booth on the show floor and their own room featuring lots of giveaways, tournaments and a blindfolded PS4 assembly competition for prizes. They also had a panel on the state of PC Gaming, the archive of which you can view here. Newegg invited us to check out the latest cutting edge tech for VR, and I got to try two different devices that utilized it.

Newegg | Acer Predator 21X

The first was an Acer Predator 21X laptop, and this thing is a beast of a machine. It features two NVIDIA GTX 1080 cards configured in SLI, five fans, a Cherry MX Brown mechanical keyboard, an Intel i7-7820HK Kaby Lake processor, tobii eye tracking technology, and 4 Dolby speakers with two subwoofers. The Predator 21X was first unveiled at CES 2017, and the MSRP is a whopping $9000. Yes, you read that right, this thing is bloody expensive! Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to try out just how well the eye tracking technology worked on this machine. The demonstration we ran placed me in the cockpit of a space starfighter, as I tried to target enemy ships just by looking at them. At first, I instinctively moved my pupils to where I saw the ships moving, but after a time I realized I didn’t have to make too much movement to do that, as long as they were in my field of view. I easily shot down many enemy ships, and it gave me a sense of power, as if I actually had lasers for eyes (but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?). It was a brief but highly enjoyable experience, to be sure. I believe this technology, if it were to go mainstream, could offer many new ideas for game developers to play with and improve accessibility for those who might not be able to play games through traditional means.

Newegg | HTC Vive

After that, I headed back into a private press area where I got to try out the HTC Vive. This was admittedly my first time trying out a VR headset, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had some concerns about getting motion sickness, but thankfully that wasn’t a problem at all. The game used for this demo was Space Pirate Trainer, which is available now on Steam. Space Pirate Trainer is designed for use with the HTC Vive’s controllers to provide a fun arcade shooting experience. The player uses the left controller to block shots with a shield, and the right controller to shoot down enemy drones. It was quite an immersive experience, a bit disorienting at first but something I got used to with time. I can’t say I was all that great at the game, but if I had more time with it I could probably rack up some high scores.

Newegg | Space Pirate Trainer

All in all, these demos gave me a glimpse at what the future of gaming might be like, perhaps in just a few years’ time. Computer parts manufacturers, especially GPU giants NVIDIA and AMD, seem to be invested in virtual reality for the long term. I believe the only things holding it back are the high cost of entry and the lack of a must-have title. But once these hurdles are overcome, the future of virtual reality in video games looks like a bright one.

About Joe Sigadel

Joe is the reporting manager for oprainfall, he is also a broadcaster on Twitch and loves showing off many of the games we report about on his channel. He has also been known to defended Senran Kagura from those who only want to accept it at face value.