It’s safe to assume that the Valve Index 2 headset could be in development. While there’s no verified confirmation yet, the success Valve has had in the VR space since 2019 says it all. However, we’re already seeing hints of what it could contain before the official unveiling.
For example, it might be a wireless, standalone virtual reality headset, and there’s growing evidence that Valve is iterating on its next VR product. At the moment it is difficult to find the best VR headset. This isn’t like choosing a new phone or headphones — there aren’t many options available. But the Valve Index VR headset is one of the best VR headsets you can buy – and one of the best VR experiences in the home.
According to the official Steam Hardware Survey figures for October 2022, more than 17% of all Steam VR players use the Valve Index. That makes it the second most used virtual reality headset right now after the Oculus Quest 2. With that success, we expect Valve to want more with a follow-up that improves on the great original. But since the original Valve Index is only two years old, we may have to wait a while.
LED indicator 2: cut to chase
- What is this? A rumored follow-up VR headset from Valve
- When can I play? TBC
- What can I play on? TBC, but almost certainly on PC
Valve Index 2 release date
There’s currently no official information on when the Valve 2 Index will be released, so guesses are just stabs in the dark for now.
We know that the original Valve Index came out in 2019, so since other iterations of the headset have been around for at least two years, we can expect an announcement later this year. However, thanks to the disruptions caused by Covid-19 in 2020, an announcement is likely to come in 2023. A release date next year seems like the best we can hope for.
LED indicator price 2
Again, there’s nothing solid about how much a Valve 2 benchmark costs but we can make some educated guesses. Given that Valve has a benchmark price of $999 / £919 (about AU$1,425), we’d expect an improved headset to cost at least as much – although we wouldn’t say no to a price drop if possible.
We also know that the Oculus Quest 2 — the much cheaper VR options — is the most popular headset on Steam. It’s current 41% share of the SteamVR market is one Valve would likely want to eat, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it launch a budget competitor.
This could mean that Valve will launch two separate headsets – one aimed at high-end hardware and the other a more accessible portable all-in-one. But while rumor has it that’s not out of the question, we won’t know what he’s up to until an official announcement.
Valve Index 2 features: rumors, leaks, and official information
Here’s where we begin to build a picture of what Valve Index 2 and other Valve VR products could look like, based on patents and some SteamVR files that seem to point to a standalone VR headset.
Patents filed in early 2021 show that the Valve Index 2 could be wireless, with wired capabilities being optional for some versions of the headset. The patent shows three different headsets that explore different options between being wireless and standalone (like the Oculus Quest 2), or connecting wirelessly to a computer.
The patent also details new comfort options, such as new ways to more effectively distribute heat and weight for each VR headset design.
With all the patents, we have to take the information with a grain of salt — there’s no guarantee that this means Valve will produce a headset with these features — but it does show that the company is continuing to advance VR technology.
Proof of a model under development
The latest rumor comes from VR reporter and YouTuber Brad Lynch (Opens in a new tab)which has been reported codenamed “Deckard” in some public SteamVR files, which appears to refer to a VR headset under development at Valve.
Lynch points VR enthusiasts toward the “Lighthouse Driver File” citing the “Deckard POC-A” device in a filing released back in January, the POC likely referring to “Proof of Concept” – and the “POC-C” model mentioned in the instead June documents indicate that Valve has been working on optimized iterations for its hardware over the past six months, and ensures SteamVR stays up-to-date with its support.
There are other tidbits to dive into in Lynch’s video, including the mysterious “Prism” function and a VR Link file that hints at a Wi-Fi 6 connection for a wireless headset — along with VR headset patents we reported on last March.
Valve Indicator 2: What we want to see
While the Valve Index is a great VR headset, it is by no means perfect. Here are some areas we’d like to see improved in the Valve Index 2.
Best game selection – straight from Valve Teams
While this isn’t a direct issue with the latest Valve Index headset, gaming is nonetheless an important factor for all gaming hardware. There are some great VR games like Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx, but the platform can’t be built on just a few titles.
If Valve wants to commit to VR, not only do we want to see a great rig, but we want them to make more games to play on. Be that Half-Life: Alyx sequel, or a VR adaptation of another IP like Portal, or a brand new IP from the studio. Gaming quality will also be important, but a slightly larger quantity won’t spoil it.
In an interview with TechRadar, the Half-Life director Alex Robin Walker He mentioned wanting to make an XCOM VR game – so maybe we can have something like that to look forward to?
Facebook recently revealed its plans to Control-less AR experience with manual tracking, and we’d love to see similar technology come to virtual reality as well. The hand tracking feels like it was ripped straight out of the realm of sci-fi and we’d love to see something like this introduced in every VR headset from now on.
While it’s likely we’ll see it in future Oculus hardware — like the rumored Oculus Quest 3 — Valve could be developing its own version of the technology for a future headset.
No more base stations
Base stations are devices that help the Valve Index, and other headsets such as the HTC Vive, keep track of users, their headphones, and their controller in a room-wide virtual environment. While they made the headset work well Our reviewhopefully the valve indicator 2 will drop it.
Base stations aren’t the worst things in the world, but if you want to change your room—or dust it off and shove a sensor in—you have to do the whole recalibration process again. It’s boring and we can do without it without having to put up with it, especially since other headsets like the Oculus Rift S do just fine without base stations thanks to the inside-out tracking.
The Valve Index used two screens with a resolution of 1440 x 1600 pixels – one for each eye. Although the picture is crystal clear, better screens wouldn’t be unexpected, especially considering that the Apple VR headset is rumored to use dual 8K screens – that’s 7680 x 4320 pixels.
We feel 8K is a little overkill, but there’s a sweet spot between that and what we currently have that would be nice to see in Valve Index 2.
Customizable headphone volume
All people are built differently, so it’s hard to pull off a one-size-fits-all headset and make it comfortable. With that in mind, we’d like Valve to dig deeper into the ergonomics of Valve Index 2, adding new straps and features to make it more customizable. This will allow everyone to adjust the headset according to their needs, and ensure that they can enjoy more virtual reality experiences.
Valve’s cursor controls have included some haptic feedback and clever designs to make the virtual world feel more real. While it’s a good thing, we’d like to see it go even further in the future.
Apple has patented haptic socks that can be compatible with its VR and AR devices, so we know some companies are already thinking about these things. Some additional tactile peripherals for Valve Index 2 could be a great way to connect to the realism of VR up to 11.