Roto VR review: An expensive gimmick that can be quite fun

September 18, 2020
Roto VR

The rise of virtual reality as a gaming platform has led to one of the least accessible forms of gaming there’s ever been. Not only do most VR games require an expensive PC and a less-than-cheap headset, but the majority of virtual reality experiences require a solid amount of movement to truly experience. That’s the one area where VR chairs like Roto VR can help.

For those with mobility issues, quickly swivelling around in virtual reality to take out that cheeky player trying to sneak a shot at you in Pavlov VR might be a huge strain. With Roto VR, that issue is a little bit alleviated: once the chair is properly set up a simple press of the left or right paddle on the chair’s footrest – or even a glance at the direction you wish to turn to – will cause the Roto VR to spin around and face the direction you need.

Of course, actually constructing the chair and then properly setting it up to work for PC VR gaming is a huge pain. Our lender unit wasn’t too difficult to put together outside of its hefty, unwieldy base; a selection of bolts and screws keep everything together and a small helping of Alan Keys are included for construction. However, while manual assembly was simple, proper calibration for the chair’s software is far more cumbersome. Thankfully, once the chair was set up, it rarely required additional tinkering outside of the occasional recalibration.

Check out the tutorial construction video:

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As a VR chair, the Roto VR is exactly what you would imagine it to be – a decently fun gimmick that takes up far too much room. However, as an actual chair, it’s as good as most gaming seats albeit with a constant uncomfortable wobble despite us fastening the chair as tightly as possible to its gargantuan base. With a $2000 price tag, you’d expect more stability, but apparently it’s the chair’s features that are more important.

The Roto VR comes with more than just its base chair and support. While a steering wheel, HOTAS and pedals aren’t included – that would be extremely expensive – the package includes supports for mounting these attachments rather effortlessly. These plates and pillars are hefty; the included attachments feel more sturdy them some of the main chair’s components. If you have the ability to fully kit out the chair for a VR simulation experience of Project Cars or Microsoft Flight Simulator (when that mode arrives), then this is an awesome experience.

Seated virtual reality experiences aren’t really the most popular VR games. The freedom of movement given to you through standing games are often far more immersive and, dare I say, fun than those that see you sit in place and interact around you. However, there are a few games that I’d say felt perfect for the Roto.

When first booting up the incredibly immersive Star Trek Bridge Crew, the Roto VR made it feel that I was placed firmly in the Captain’s Seat aboard a Starfleet Federation starship – the dream was complete. With a tilt of my head, the chair would move me around, helping any potential neck strain from constantly looking around at the marvel of virtual space travel. It was a dream come true. The same is true of games like Elite Dangerous which can be played in VR.

Roto VR

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, those two choice experiences failed to sell me on the Roto. For the couple of months that the chair was lent to us, there were only a few times where I felt that VR gaming would benefit from having the chair lugged back into my living room, set up and then calibrated.

For $2000, I can’t see a reason to buy the Roto unless it’s a device you need for accessibility reasons. As a lover of virtual reality, I hope those that need the benefits of a fully kitted out can manage to get their hands on it. As it stands, after months of using and thinking about VR chairs, I can’t think of many practical uses for them. In the end, it’s an extremely expensive gimmick that takes up a lot of room, but it is alright to sit on.

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