Three HTC Vive experiences that'll make you open your wallet

HTC Vive is $799. That's a lot of money, especially when you factor in a suitably-potent gaming PC as well, so how do you justify taking the plunge? Consumer-level virtual reality is still in its infancy, and given how experiential the whole thing is, it's not hard to see why many people aren't quite convinced by what they see on-screen.

A 2D representation of a 3D environment is never going to communicate exactly how engaging it is. Factor in Vive's intriguing – but difficult to explain – room-scale system, which maps your movements in the real world into the virtual arena you're exploring, and it's a recipe for uncertainty.

Luckily, there are a few Vive games that, after only a fairly brief experience with, should have you ready to open up your money and throw your credit card at HTC.

For the "I don't need to move around"

For some, just the thought of having their own Star Trek-style Holodeck in the comfort of their own home is enough to convince them of Vive's charms. Not everybody feels the same way, though, but luckily you don't have to look far for a great example of why it's fun.

Space Pirate Trainer is on the face of it a simple arcade shooter, but its appeal is clear from the moment you load it up. Look down at your hands and, rather than the virtual Vive controller wands you'd normally see, you're wielding a pair of meaty laser blasters.

Gameplay is equal parts simple and addictive. You're standing on a floating space platform, and waves of flying robots come shooting up over the edge, trying to kill you. It's your job to rack up points by blasting them out of the sky.

So far, so NES Zapper, but Space Pirate Trainer comes into its own when you realize you can physically dodge the attacks. That means not only crouching out of the way of incoming fire – or reaching behind you to grab out your shield, a shimmering panel of protection which makes the Vive controller shiver in your fist – but ducking and diving from side to side, twisting around to return fire in different directions while cackling like a loon.

It's enough to make you wish for twice the room-scale space as you have, but it's also a clear indication of why truly engaging virtual reality takes into account movement of more than just your hands and head.

For the "I like thoughtful" gamer

Virtual reality is great for first-person shooters, where being inside the game fits perfectly with the perspective of the playable character. What, though, if you prefer something more thoughtful, like Minecraft or LEGO?

SculptrVR is a great example of how a title like that can work in VR. You can play with the space limited to a virtual desktop – meaning you can sit down or stand in place while you create – as in this demo video, or unlock the whole room and wander around your creations.

Here, Vive's 1:1 room-to-space mapping pays dividends again, but you can also scale yourself in any way you please: as small as an individual brick or towering over your virtual world.

It's also a good example of how developers are building Vive experiences as they go: the creator of ScultprVR is busy making a multiplayer mode too.

For the "I'm not really a gamer"

I confess, I don't really have the time or inclination to play games that often. The big AAA titles have passed me by; they take too much commitment and I'd quickly tire of being told I how much I suck at playing by foul-mouthed tweens.

Instead it was an art app that really opened my eyes to Vive. Tilt Brush, by Google, is one of the first things I tried on the early developer version of the headset, and it was the first software I loaded when the consumer headset arrived earlier this month.

Basically, imagine you're Bob Ross only with a whole room to paint in, and even more enthusiasm. Tilt Brush lets you draw not only with traditional paint and ink – well, virtual versions of them – but more unusual substances such as fire, neon light, and fog. Just when you think you've got a handle on it, you realize you can duck down or around your masterpiece to add detail from a completely different angle, or step inside it for an entirely new perspective.

It's one of those apps that is simultaneously easy to pick up and dip into, but also has enough depth to keep you coming back time after time. Even if, like me, you're not that much of an artist in the first place.

NOW READ: HTC Vive review

Is Vive an expensive way to get going in virtual reality? Undoubtedly, though not necessarily more so than any of the other recently-announced VR systems. Before you dismiss it as the latest gaming flight-of-fancy, though, don't be so quick to write it off as a one-trick pony.