During E3 we had the chance to test both the latest virtual reality headset from Oculus and its direct gaming rival, Sony's Project Morpheus, but there was one forthcoming device we didn't get to check out at the show.

That's why when we were offered the chance to sample a couple of new demos on the HTC Vive during Gamescom we snapped it up. And considering that we also got extended time with the consumer model of Oculus Rift and the opportunity to play two VR games we'd not seen before, it seemed natural to compare the two based entirely on our experiences.

The HTC Vive was originally touted for release pre-Christmas, but there are still no indication as to its price and we doubt it will be 2015 in the end. The consumer Oculus Rift headset will be available in "early 2016" and that's more likely for the Vive too.

Again, its price is yet to be announced, but rumour has it that it will cost around the $300 mark (roughly £200, we would expect). The HTC Vive is tipped to be priced similarly.

Both devices will require a decent PC set-up too, so that will have to be taken into consideration when it comes to cost. Oculus is the only company to release minimum specifications for a computer to run its device and you are looking at anywhere up to a £1,000 outlay if you don't already have the correct hardware.

READ: Project Morpheus vs Oculus Rift: Which VR experience won E3 2015?

Pocket-lintOculus Rift HTC Vive-5

With time on its side, Oculus has refined its headsets over generations to create a consumer Rift that feels right. So much so that you simply forget you are wearing it.

It's not the weight as such but the structure of the headband that prevents the front section from feeling unbalanced.

To be fair on to Valve and HTC, the Vive is also a comfortable headset, although it feels a little like an older Oculus prototype than the new consumer model. It also requires separate headphones, which add weight, while the Oculus Rift has a pair built-in.

The wire on both is slightly problematic, but is more in the way on the Vive - at least during the Gamescom demos - as you are standing and move about more for the included demos. The consumer model of the Rift is designed for a more seated experience.

Pocket-lintOculus Rift HTC Vive-2

Neither headset is going to win fashion awards and you wouldn't fancy wearing one when out and about, even if you could. But let's face it, you won't give a jot what others can see when you are blasting aliens in a virtual world.

The Oculus Rift is more sleek and has a smaller footprint, but that's because the Vive has the motion tracking makers in the front.

Design is perhaps a little more important when it comes to the controls, and the HTC Vive's angular paddles have plenty of different elements for functionality within games and the VR experiences. They look odd but feel intuitive.

The Oculus Rift will initially work simply with an Xbox One controller plugged into a PC, but Oculus' Touch controllers will be released later in 2016 which offer some of the best virtual controls we've ever encountered. Basically, they provide simple extensions to your own hands, allowing you to control forefingers, thumbs and the rest of your digits separately.

Both headsets have very similar displays, featuring 2160 x 1200 resolutions (1080 x 1200 for each eye) and 90Hz refresh rates. That latter statistic ensures that frame rate is high enough to prevent sickness and ensure that the Rift and Vive each present a smooth experience.

The screen technology used on both is OLED, which is vibrant and well defined and while we could see pixels when we were really looking for them, most of the time the image was super sharp and clear.

READ: Forget Oculus Rift, the incredible HTC Vive experience will blow your mind (hands-on)

They say the proof is in the pudding and that is never more true than with VR hardware (apart from when tasting an actual pudding). The kit is all well and good, but if the experience when wearing it is a horrible one, you'll never return. Thankfully, our times spent with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift were equally great.

We had tried both separately at different times - the Vive during its unveiling at Mobile World Congress and the consumer Rift at E3 - but this was the first occasion where we could sample each almost back to back. In addition, there were new demos and games to try out and explore.


Although we were equally as amazed by the same HTC Vive tech demos we encountered before, such as the sunken pirate ship (with giant blue whale) and 3D art experiences, the Secret Shop segment was new.

Based on Valve's hugely popular multiplayer game, Dota 2, the shop in question was a magical wonderland that featured spell locations that once found and enabled shrunk us down and placed us in different, often scary situations - including being faced by one of our major fears in the shape of a giant spider.

Where the demo was a magical as its theme was in its interactive denizens. A small, friendly dragon, for example, followed you around the room as you explored - recoiling when you approached directly. It made the whole room feel tangible and real, even with a heavily cartoon aesthetic. This is VR gaming at its best, placing the wearer into a detailed environment and giving them multiple options.

InsomniacEdge of Nowhere

The games we played on the Oculus Rift consumer model however were slightly more traditional. Admittedly, there were eight to choose from and we only had time to play two so other styles are more than likely available, but Insomniac's Edge of Nowhere would probably work as well outside of a virtual space on a normal 2D screen.

That's not to say it wasn't as thrilling a VR event as we've encountered before. Indeed, much of the Cthulian survival horror action adventure cleverly used point of view to make us jittery. But we wonder if third-person games are ideal for the format.

The second game we played was a little more VR centric in that it put us in the skates of an ice hockey keeper. In arcade mini-game style, we had to deflect pucks left and right as they were fired at us and it was a great, fun example of the sort of title that will work for release. We were also told that the final game will feature basketball, American football and baseball mini-games too. Sort of Wii Sports for Oculus.

SanzaruFace Off

Truth be told, both headsets are as good as each other in technical terms. The HTC Vive is more like Oculus Crescent Bay concept headset as it has full external motion tracking, made possible through the use of cameras set up in the play area. And we wonder if many consumers and gamers will bother with that specific feature for now.

Not many of us have the space to wander around in a VR headset, even if it has clever "holodeck" obstacle recognition features. Instead, more often than not we'll experience VR in the way the Oculus Rift consumer version caters for - sitting down and with a gamepad in our hands.

When we're used to that, we might move on (and up).