If you’re thinking of buying the Valve Index VR headset, but aren’t sure if you’ve got enough free playing room for it, then you’ve come to the right place!
THE ROOM SPACE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE VALVE INDEX:
- Standing Only or Seated Experiences – as little as 1m x 1m (3.2ft x 3.2ft)
- Minimum Space for Room-Scale Gaming – 2m x 1.5m (6.5ft x 5ft)
- Recommended Space for Room-Scale Gaming – 2m x 2m (6.5ft x 6.5ft) or more
- Maximum play area – about 4.1m x 4.1m (13.7ft x 13.7ft) with two base stations
In this article, I will tell you about the physical requirements to set up your virtual world. Towards the end of the article, I will share with you some tips that I found useful in preparing a room for VR gaming.
GAMING SPACE BOUNDS
The Valve Index comes with two SteamVR 2.0 base stations which are used for tracking your head(set) and controller movement. Setting them up properly at the right spots is important for a smooth VR experience. You can learn more about setting up base stations here.
For room-scale VR experiences, you will need at least 2m x 1.5m (6.5ft x 5ft) of free space and the two included base stations function perfectly in up to about 4.1m x 4.1m (13.7ft x 13.7ft) of space!
Valve recommends that you have 2m x 2m (6.5ft x 6.5ft) or more free space reserved for gaming. But don’t worry. Not meeting this requirement does not necessarily give you a worse experience. As a matter of fact, the kind of games you play directly impacts the ideal space you’ll need!
HOW VR IS AFFECTED BY SPACE
The beautiful thing about virtual reality is that it is your virtual reality. I have categorized space requirements based on two ways of using the Index:
- The Couch Experience – as little as 1m x 1m, or 3.2ft x 3.2ft needed
- The Room-Scale Experience – the recommended 2m x 2m (6.5ft x 6.5ft) works here
THE COUCH EXPERIENCE
Opting for the couch experience reduces your space requirements drastically! You really only need a chair or sofa, and enough room to move your arms and legs around. What’s the best the Index has to offer in this space?
First of all, movies. If you’re watching a movie in VR for the first time: buckle up. You’re in for a ride. Here are some of my personal recommendations for movies to watch in VR. Go for the 3D versions if available, because here is where VR really excels!
- Ready Player One
- IT: Float
- From Nothing
- Ghost in the Shell
But if you’re not gaming on the Index, you’re not getting your money’s worth, are you?
Games such as the highly-successful Moss, Lone Echo and Elite Dangerous are very suitable for a limited play area and help you get most out of your couch experience! You can also find loads of more seated VR game ideas from Steam search and my previous article “11 Best Seated VR Games“.
Some of the VR games on the Index can even be played with a single base station and without the knuckle controllers. These include various racing simulators (Assetto Corsa, iRacing, Dirt Rally, etc) and Flight Simulators (X-Plane 11, DCS World, etc)
THE ROOM-SCALE EXPERIENCE
Immersion. Movement. An escape from reality. These are but a few of the many ways to describe the essence of VR. All of which are found in room-scale experiences!
When it is time to become the game, you should have a slightly larger playing area (2m x 2m (6.5ft x 6.5ft) or more) to really be able to be fully immersed.
Is it worth it? Once you’re in the game, you’ll know for yourself! If later on, you are looking for some ideas for games, I would recommend you try out the following ones:
- Half-Life: Alyx – the revolutionary title by Valve! Experience to believe.
- Blade and Sorcery – yes. Steel and magic, but in VR!
- Boneworks – combat and puzzle-solving takes a whole new level.
TIPS FOR SETTING UP IN LIMITED SPACE
Games such as “Beat Saber” or “Half-Life: Alyx” work well both while sitting, or standing and moving. Try and create more space where possible so that you can experience the best of both worlds.
Here are some tips for managing your space:
- Clear the playing area of objects you might bump into. Remember, the virtual is only reality if you manage to forget about where you actually are.
- Pay special attention to breakables around the room. Try and make the space as clear as possible.
Extending the Maximum Play Area
As stated earlier, the two SteamVR 2.0 base stations are able to effectively cover a playing area of 4.1m x 4.1m (13.7ft x 13.7ft). If you have more space than you actually need, then there’s great news waiting for you too!
You can expand your gaming experience to epic proportions with the use of four base stations instead of two! That’s right. You would need to purchase two SteamVR 2.0 base stations separately for this to happen.
The use of four Steam VR 2.0 base stations can extend the maximum play area for the Valve index up to 10m x 10m (33ft x 33ft)!
So if you happen to own or live in a warehouse or a mansion, you can prepare your very own gaming nirvana, and let the Valve Index do the rest!