Get your hands on Valve’s The Lab. Literally. Well, virtually. Literally virtually. Whatever, Valve has updated its classic virtual reality toybox with some new features and optimisations based around its latest VR hardware, the Index. We’re huge fans of the Valve Index; it’s the finest virtual reality kit you can buy for a number of reasons… and those reasons are all being placed front and centre in The Lab’s new update.
The Hands-On update, as you will probably have guessed, is primarily going to allow you to use the excellent Index controllers in The Lab properly, offering full per-finger tracking as well as support for other controllers, such as those with binary grips. But it will also feature support for new physical interactions, new audio goodness, and a little extra fidelity too.
The new update should be live as you read this, so it might be time to restart Steam if the update doesn’t automatically run, and get yourself back into The Lab. Personally I love me some Longbow action and with the new controllers it could get even better. Sweet.
Valve has highlighted the new features of the Hands-On update to The Lab in a Steam Community post today where it goes into the full details of the changes that have been made to the eight VR experiences that are available to you. Unfortunately there don’t seem to be any new ones to add to the collection, so there aren’t any new locations for you to go and pet your Portal-y virtual doggo, or throw sticks for him, however good a boy he has been.
But you do get improved controller interaction “thanks to the tight integration with SteamVR’s new skeletal input system.” That means “future-proof hand presence is available for all,” and if that doesn’t have you running home to strap into your VR system for a fresh look at The Lab I don’t know what will.
Though maybe improved support for the higher refresh rate of headsets like the Index might do, as well as the new physics-based interaction improvements. Along with the hand presence controller update “nearly all interactable object can be freely poked, thrown, bashed against each other, stacked, toppled, and smashed.”
In our experience, one of the most impressive parts of the Valve Index headset was actually the audio. And the Steam Audio improvements to The Lab’s Hands-On update will help make it an even more immersive experience too.
Chances are that, if you’ve already got yourself some VR goodness in your life, you’ll already have a copy of The Lab on your virtual shelf. If not, then now if the perfect time to treat yourself to a new free VR experience and go throw some planets around in a virtual space. It really is quite cathartic.