After a long time away, virtual reality is back and ready to take over the world.
The new crop of VR headsets have some serious backers, from Facebook to Doom creator John Carmack, to PC gaming overlords Valve, to PlayStation, Google and Samsung have already released affordable VR kits for smartphones.
So get ready for VR to be everywhere really soon.
When all these VR headsets arrive, you’re going to want to know about them. And if you’re thinking of buying one, prepare for a tricky decision on which is best – by reading our round-up below.
Release date: Expected early 2016
Extra equipment needed: A PC with i5 CPU, NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD 290 or better, 8GB RAM
Oculus pretty much kicked off the new wave of VR in 2013 with their famous Kickstarter, in which anyone could buy an Oculus Rift PC development kit. They were then bought by Facebook, and the rift is arguably still the highest-profile VR system.
Trying the first version of Oculus Rift made me feel a bit sick – but it was still amazing, and it’s improved a lot since then!
PlayStation VR (PSVR)
Price: Rumoured to be around $400/£280
Release date: Expected Autumn 2016
Extra equipment needed: A PlayStation 4
PSVR could turn out to be the most accessible VR headset. After all, there are already nearly 36 million PS4s in the world – probably a lot more than there are high-end PCs. And PS4 + PSVR is going to be much cheaper than buying a fast PC and a Vive/Rift.
It’s won enthusiastic hands-on reviews too. It’s been called mid-range compared to Oculus and Vive, but it’s still an impressive bit of kit.
Vive by HTV and Valve Corporation
Release date: Unknown for the consumer version. ‘Pre’ developer version pre-orders open Feb 2016.
Extra equipment needed: A PC with quad-core i7, 16GB RAM and NVIDIA GTX 980, according to speculation
For me, the most exciting thing about Valve and HTC’s VR collab is its Lighthouse tracking system. Using laser base stations, it lets you walk around any room (above a minimum size) while using VR – and you won’t bump into anything.
The downside is, you have to cover mirrors in the room and set up a fair bit of gear to make it work. Which sounds like a faff – but reviewers are still loving HTC Vive so far.
Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR
Price: Cardboard around £10, Gear VR around £100
Release date: Out now
Extra equipment needed: A recent smartphone
If you want a cheaper entry into VR, and you own a smartphone, Google and Samsung have you covered.
Google Cardboard is a – you guessed it – cardboard headset you can use with iPhone 5 and up, plus loads of other smartphones.
Samsung VR Gear is pricier only works with recent Samsung Galaxy handsets – but it’s a better piece of kit.
That’s not all!
Which VR headset do you fancy?
That’s our VR roundup. Let us know which headset has your backing in the comments – it’s going to be an exciting year for gaming!
Featured image: “Oculus issues a retort to claims made by ZeniMax” by Michael Bowles is licensed under CC BY 2.0.