I’d hoped to have had this review written back in December, but unfortunately my headset has been temperamental to say the least.
I pre-ordered my headset back in July 2020 and it all looked promising. The website said mid-September 2020 release date and the reviews of the pre-production versions said it was a big improvement over the original Reverb and a massive jump up from my Rift-S. The original Reverb was already recognised as being excellent for simming enthusiasts so I had very high hopes. Anyway, delay followed delay, and as with pretty much every tech launch in 2020 demand far outstripped supply. However, I was in the lucky bunch that would get one of the first headsets in the UK…
Delivery day…I knew it was coming I was growing impatient, but I did remember to take pictures of the unboxing this time!
First impression when I put it on and loaded up DCS…OMFG WOW! Ok, it was stuttery as hell without any tweaks and running on my Rift-S settings, but WOW! It looked so sharp, so clear, colours were so much better. The anti-aliasing actually made things look smooth and rounded, not jaggy. Then, I tried IL2 BoX. Wow again, didn’t even have to tweak the settings. It was superb, for all of about 15 minutes. The screen cut out. I didn’t know why, but it came back on 30 seconds later so I carried on playing, then it happened again. Then again and again and again, except the last time it didn’t come back on. I came out of IL2 and tried to relaunch Windows MR. I kept getting error messages that the PC could not connect to the headset. Ok, so it has a detachable cable, I’ll make sure it’s plugged properly. It was. I’ll try it in different ports on the back. Ah! We’re in business. Five minutes later screen shuts off again. Argh! This time it didn’t come back on.
I scoured the internet but obviously not many people had the headset at this point so there wasn’t a lot, but I did find a few posts relating this happening. The posters were able to get their headsets replaced by HP no issue. Argh! So I’ve set about finding out who to contact, got in touch with the UK authorised reseller and was put on to HP. They were very helpful and told me that they would declare the headset DOA (Dead on Arrival) and that I needed to go back to the UK reseller for a replacement, I would have one in two weeks. Ok, annoying but this can happen. Except, no. UK reseller has no stock, I need to go to HP they tell me. They won’t have stock until at least February because of the backlog of orders. I go back to HP and they say the responsibility is with the reseller HP can’t do anything. Anyway, this has gone on up to this point (9th March 2021). I haven’t had a replacement headset.
I have managed to get the headset to work at times, but not without problems. There is a definite connection issue, but I don’t know if it is a dodgy cable or the connector on the headset, but I have had to cable tie the cable into position with velcro straps and even this doesn’t stop the screen cutting out. I’ve not been able to get a replacement cable and I’ve not been able to get a replacement headset, both HP and the UK reseller keep passing me backwards and forwards. I have had a £50 cashback ‘reward’ that came from HP to all customers, but nothing to reflect that I’ve have a broken headset from day one.
While the headset is working I’ve been able to tweak the settings so that things run smoothly and well in DCS. They’re not quite as “WOW” as before but they’re still better than my Rift-S.
- intel i7 9700K
- Nvidia GTX1080Ti
- 32GB DDR4 RAM 266MHz
Windows MR is nowhere near as intuitive or simple to use as Oculus Home, I’m going to put that out there straight away. I’m also no fan of Steam VR, I find it slow, clunky and hard to navigate. Oculus wins hands down against those two; and I don’t like Oculus Home that much either. However, it’s not overly relevant. I bought the Reverb G2 for flight simming.
It has taken tweaking and fettling to get this to run smoothly and reliably and there are an increasing number of guides out there to help with this, but the biggest thing I found was turning off motion reporojection. I understand why this is useful in a VR game like Half Life Alyx, but it destroys the immersion in DCS or IL2. It’s designed to help keep frame rates at a certain level to help prevent tearing and motion sickness and keep a smooth experience. However, in a flight sim it doesn’t work out that way, neither with the Reverb or the Rift or the Rift-S. When I used to roll the F-5 in DCS the wing tip would look like it was repeated three, four, five times and was being refracted as though I was looking at it through water. If I flew a prop plane the motion of the propellor would cause the gunsight to tear all over the place and looks like it was being projected onto a shower screen with water running down it.
Finding this setting in Windows Mixed Reality was a fruitless search. I found it in Windows MR For Steam after finding a completely unrelated post in a forum. Once this was off DCS ran well, it’s taxing my system, no doubt, but it’s looking good and it’s running smoothly for the most part on all maps except Normandy – which for some reason is a stuttery mess while flying low – which is most inconvenient as that is the only way to spot the ground targets that I’m normally after when on that map. Syria, which most though would be very taxing, runs nicely, Persian Gulf, great, Georgia no issues. The Channel Map is also fine, but I hardly touch it as no servers seem to run it.
IL2 Great Battles:
As I said earlier on I didn’t need to make any changes to settings for IL2 it ran beautifully out of the box. I was very impressed. I can now tell whether an aircraft is coming towards me or flying away, not always simple in the Rift or Rift-S but kind of crucial! Spotting ground targets is easier too. It’s smooth, the resolution is high, the colour reproduction is excellent. It doesn’t seem to struggle with the clouds, rain or water droplets on the canopy when you get too close to the water. I still have the constant battle with the controls that is always going to frustrate the hell out of me, but that’s not what this review is about. (BUT PLEASE SORT IT!)
Star Wars Squadrons:
This looked great in the Rift-S so I had high hopes for the G2. I was not disappointed. It looks great. My only regret is not having enough time to play it. I’ve not even completed the campaign – though I really like it. Again, the control set up in that did my head in and put me off, but once it worked I really liked it.
The HP Reverb G2 fits my head and face better than the Rift-S did, I’d put it on a par with the original Rift, which was excellent. I’m back to having the annoying ‘Oculus Head’ with the band of flat hair straight down the middle of my head, it just seems unavoidable with VR! It can sometimes feel as though it’s ripping a few hairs out of the back of my head too, when taking it off. The face pad is comfortable and removable. One issue I’ve had with this headset that I’ve not had with either Oculus set is that there is not quite enough room for my glasses. I’ve got a couple of scratches as a result and I’m trying out contact lenses. I’ve looked at the prescription VR lenses but I’m not sure whether I’d have to pay high import taxes now, as a result of Brexit. No one seems to be able to give a clear answer, but a further £80-£120 seems a bit steep to pay in taxes when I’d already be paying in the region of £120.
The sound is excellent, it uses the same speakers as the Valve Index and I can’t fault them. I still only use them for voice comms though as my set up puts me right in the middle of my 5.1 system so it doesn’t make sense to play all of the sounds through them. They’re much much better than the speakers in the Rift-S which were poor, but did allow you to hear what was going on around you. The Reverb G2 speakers sit away from your ear, so you can still hear what is going on but they also sound great. The good thing is that you can also remove them or push them back, or up, out of the way. They’re adjustable and removable, so if you have a really good headset you can use than in their place.
Issues with the headset:
Would I recommend the headset? Yes. On the following conditions.
- You’re mostly going to be using it for simming
- You’ve got a powerful PC with a high spec CPU and a 1080Ti or better. If you want the best performance out of it you need better than a 1080Ti and that is a right pain at the moment. I’ve been waiting for an RTX3080 for months on the waiting list and the numbers only seem to be going down about 3-5 a week, so I’ve got about a two year wait at this rate.
If you want to do more than just simming I’m not sure that this is the best headset all round. The hand controllers are inferior to the Rift and the Rift-S, the Valve Index has the best hand controllers. People have complained about the hand tracking on the Reverb G2, but I’ve not experienced an issue. However, I also barely use them. They’re useless in DCS, as are the Rift and Valve controllers. Get a HOTAS, don’t use the hand controllers. The dream scenario is still VR gloves with haptic feedback, but they’re still not readily available at least not at a reasonable price.
I’ve got Half Life Alyx and a couple of other VR games but I confess to only having played half an hour of HL at the beginning of lockdown in 2020 on the Rift-S and I’ve not had the time, or space, to go back to it. I’ve not tried it in the Reverb, I’ve seen the reviews on YouTube and it’s meant to look excellent. There is no doubt that this is the best screen that you can get in a consumer headset. It’s less expensive than the Valve Index and it doesn’t need all the base stations or over £1,000 in spending to get it. Having said that it’s not cheap and there are a lot of people using the Oculus Quest 2. If I was going to do more than flight sims then that is probably where I’d be looking. Being able to detach from the PC and play stuff like HL Alyx, Vader Immortal and the ever present Beat Sabre mean there is nothing like it for VR gaming. However, there are issues with Facebook forcing people to have accounts and privacy that some people are concerned about. If this doesn’t worry you and you want more than just a simming headset then this is certainly good competition for any other headset out there.
As for my headset, I’m about to try and call HP again and see if I can get a resolution as it’s been four months and I’m getting tired of never knowing when the headset is going to cut out. This has not been a widespread issue as far as I can see after following a number of channels on Discord, forums and YouTube, so I am still happy to recommend the headset, I just think I have been unlucky with it.
I will create a separate post with my VR settings for DCS, IL2 and Nvidia control panel so people don’t have to scroll through all of this to find them.