ProTubeVR has always been one of my favorite companies in the industry when it comes to VR peripherals.
Just when I thought I'd seen it all, I got a message from ProTubeVR about an awesome new product they had in the works: the ProVolver.
Disclaimer: Please note that I have not received any compensation from ProVolver for this review or its placement. However, they did send me the product for free to review. Nevertheless, the thoughts below contain my honest review of the product.
This product was tested on the Quest 2, using both native Quest games and PCVR games through VR Desktop.
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From the creators of the VR Rifle Stock, the Magtube and Forcetube, the ProVolver is a haptic feedback gunstock optimized for pistol-based gameplay.
The design looks like a pistol and is weighted heavily at the front of the stock. Without even considering the haptic feedback, the weight alone makes you feel like you're really holding a pistol in VR.
When connected in-game, and you fire a weapon, the device has a kickback and the 'barrel' (sorry if my pistol vocabulary is not correct) cocks back.
See the video below.
Of course, the best games to play with the ProVolver are FPS games.
Here is the list of native Quest games it's currently compatible with:
Recommended PCVR Compatible Games
While the list of native PCVR games is small, you can play almost any PCVR game with the ProVolver using their companion app.
On their website, ProTube VR states:
"For the games without native compatibility, we made a "Companion App", synchronizing your computer and the feedback module.
When used with PCVR/SteamVR games, this application will recognize the signals sent by the games to the headset, and activate the haptic module accordingly. Note : there is no data collected and no impact on the PC or Headset performance. All information are available on our GitHub"
I tried the ProVolver on Pavlov via Steam VR and Virtual Desktop and it worked perfectly.
The ProVolver isn't perfect, but it certainly is an excellent piece of VR hardware.
Ease of Setup
It is quite difficult to find a VR peripheral that I could call 'plug-and-play', but relative to other VR software and hardware I've set up in the past, the ProVolver is incredibly easy to set up. I would go as far as to call it a plug-and-play device.
All you have to do to set it up on the Quest 2 is connect the ProTube to your headset via bluetooth...and that's it. No complicated menu screens to set up, no logins to do.
This is one of the best things about the product making it easy even for casual gamers to set up.
Strength of Feedback
While this is customizable via their companion app, the default settings of the ProVolver have strong feedback.
I've used the ForceTube for over a year now and the difference in strength of feedback between the two is night and day. The ProVolver is much stronger, so if you're looking for more of a kick, this is definitely the product to go with.
You can use the ProVolver for more than just pistol gameplay. The device comes with an attachment that allows you to connect another magcup so that you can use the ProVolver for every firearm imaginable.
I've seen some very inventive users in the ProTube Discord. But this was my go-to setup for using the ProVolver in Pavlov:
By connecting both the ForceTube and the ProTube to my PC I was able to get haptic feedback from both the gunstock and the ProVolver.
Obviously, the most important thing above all else is whether or not it is fun to use. Does it make VR games more immersive? Does it make shooting games more fun to play?
The answer to both questions is a resounding yes.
In Pavlov, I wasn't that interested in ever using pistols, but when using the ProVolver, I just couldn't stop using pistols in my games even though that put me at a disadvantage. It made me feel like James Bond or some sort of action movie hero.
Check out gameplay from Virtual Reality Oasis to get a better look at it:
I mentioned earlier that while this is a very excellent VR peripheral, it isn't without its flaws.
Design (of the controller cups)
I absolutely love the design of the ProTube itself. However, the mag cup that holds the Quest 2 controller seemed like a bit of a rush job.
While they definitely did the job, they felt a bit flimsy, and the way that the ProTube module connects to the cup is quite rudimentary.
It is essentially held together by two clamps that tighten the bolt/screws keeping it in place.
Every time I tightened the device, I wondered how many times I could disconnect and reconnect it before it would give out and I'd have to buy replacement cups.
The other major con (as with many VR gaming peripherals) is the high cost.
The Quest 2 version will run you around $387 USD. That is more expensive than the Quest 2 itself.
However, this is quite staple in the VR peripheral market. Items like the Bhaptics Haptic Vest will run you $499. So while a high price for the casual gamer, those who are hardcore into VR probably won't be too surprised at this high cost.
As far as haptic VR peripherals go, this is one of the best I've had the pleasure of reviewing. I give the ProVolver 8/10 because while the functionality was excellent, the design of the mag cup could use some work and the price is a little bit too high for most casual gamers.
With that said, VR is a bit of a luxury gaming item and more VR gamers couldn't really be considered casual gamers in the first place. Those that are investing into VR headsets normally aren't too strapped for cash, which is why there are companies like ProTube VR and Bhaptics that can run their businesses selling high-priced peripherals like this.
This was just my first review, and I plan to give more thoughts on the product as I have the chance to test it out even further.
What do you think about the ProVolver? Let me know in the comments below!