A beta update to SteamVR has brought a slew of interface changes which aim to improve ease-of-use and address the software’s dense array of settings.
As Valve prepares for the debut of Half-Life: Alyx and an influx of new VR users alongside it, the company is also evolving SteamVR to be more user friendly.
An update to the SteamVR beta branch (1.9.7) has overhauled the Settings menu, moving it away from a developer-centric power-tool toward something more approachable to end-users.
In addition to modernizing the look and feel of the Settings menu, some settings are now hidden by default and can only be seen when toggling on the ‘Advanced Settings’ option, which also reveals a sub-menu of developer-specific options.
Of equal importance, Valve says that “most” settings can now be accessed both inside and outside of the headset. This will hopefully reduce instances where players need to remove the headset to make small tweaks like adjusting Motion Smoothing, Render Resolution, or Audio Mirroring.
The update has also brought minor tweaks to the SteamVR Dashboard (the in-VR menu), including improvements for Desktop View with multiple monitors.
Additionally, the update allows users to further increase the brightness of Index, as well as change the headset’s refresh rate without restarting SteamVR (so long as the headset has been updated to the latest firmware and users are using NVIDIA GPU drivers of version 441 or higher).
Valve notes that “the new SteamVR settings are still a work in progress,” so we can expect to see more changes before the beta gets pushed out to the public branch of SteamVR. If you want to try it out ahead of time, you can install the SteamVR beta branch by right-clicking on SteamVR in Steam and going to the ‘Betas’ tap and selecting the beta branch from the dropdown menu.
The update marks a trend of steady improvements to SteamVR, including a recent update which overhauled the platform’s irksome audio management. With Half-Life: Alyx on the horizon, we expect to see continued improvements to SteamVR from Valve.