Valve, the fine purveyor of groundbreaking games that almost never come out, and the platform that transcended what it means to have DRM, has just revealed the newest version of the Knuckles VR controller. The controllers originally came to light in 2016 and were shipped out to developers the year after. But now there’s an entirely new version: the Knuckles EV2.
Right off the bat, you can see a couple changes pretty clearly. The most obvious being that the touchpad that was literally just taken off of a Steam Controller has now been shrunk down to a measly track button which measures touch and the force you apply to it, as well as an analog stick off to the side because every controller should have one of those; the Steam Controller runs with two of those and it doesn’t work well for those who don’t want to play every game like a mobile game.
Aside from that, there’s an adjustable strap that makes it so you can let go of the controls and not have the controller succumb to gravity and break. Couple that with the force sensors giving you the ability to squeeze things in VR, and you can see how it’s trying to be a more advanced controller that tries to get as close as you can get to VR interaction with just your bare hands.
Below is Moondust, a video that Valve made showing off a demo set in the Portal universe, showing off what can be done with the controller.
Of course, when I think about force sensitive controllers I immediately go to throwing things in VR (crushing rocks in your hand is also pretty cool, but less practical). And despite how cool it would be to have a near-accurate baseball-throwing simulator, I can’t think of much that this can be used for. I mean, you’re already pressing a button to pick up objects, how much does it matter with what force you’re holding it with? I suppose it’s just for less rigid movement, more fluid grabbing of things…of which has actually been pretty bad in many VR games in the past. Really, I’m just waiting for the haptic gloves of the future to get here.
There is no release date set for these controllers, nor is it clear if this is the final version of the controller. Knowing Valve, we’re probably going to have a wait a while for these, but with Valve, you always get a certain amount of quality that makes it all worth the wait…most of the time.