Valve’s next Index VR headset rumoured to be standalone unit

Is Valve about to cut the cord?

The successor to the Valve Index virtual reality system may be an untethered device, not requiring a physical connection to a powerful gaming PC.

That’s according to a recent datamine of Steam VR files, at least. As reported by YouTuber SadlyItsBradley, a string of data was found pointing to the codename for the Valve Index 2. If true, the headset is being referred to as “Deckard”, and the codename has been buried in the files since “January this year”.

Bradly also highlights that the recent addition of an option called “Standalone System Layer” in a hidden Valve menu, adding he suspects it is “a layer for a standalone headset to use, to do standalone stuff.”

Advertisement

The idea of a standalone unit is further bolstered by a “VRLink” folder, which includes a DLL file relating to WiFi drivers and references to WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 standards. This could mesh with patents filed by Valve earlier in 2021 for various headstrap designs, some of which incorporate twin antennae, “one in the front and one in the back, for standalone use to connect wirelessly to a PC,” Bradley says.

However, “standalone” doesn’t necessarily mean that Valve’s still-hypothetical VR follow-up will be an entirely discrete all-in-one headset like Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2. The latter runs all VR software internally, while the WiFi standards uncovered in the datamine could point to the next Index dropping cords to allow for greater freedom of movement, but still relying on a wireless connection to a PC acting as a base unit.

It’s also worth noting that Valve’s current Index is one of the most expensive virtual reality systems on the market. A full package of the headset, controllers, and base stations – and a copy of Valve’s flagship VR title, Half-Life: Alyx – will currently set buyers back £919. The manufacturer clearly views it as a high-end device targeting VR enthusiasts with powerful systems and open wallets, and it has to be questioned whether Valve would risk delivering a potentially compromised experience by shifting to entirely onboard processing and rendering.

Although nothing has been confirmed by Valve itself, Bradley says in an update that he has “already found some amazing new information since I released this video”, and promises a live YouTube Q&A stream on Friday (October 1) to discuss more.

One piece of hardware Valve has confirmed though is the Steam Deck, its upcoming handheld gaming PC. The company says the device will work as an open PC, allowing users to install software freely or connect with other hardware. If any future Index does emerge, it would be interesting to see how the two devices relate, if al all.

Advertisement

In other news, Netflix has continued its move towards gaming by buying up Oxenfree developer Night School Studio. The streaming giant said it is “in the early stages of creating a great gaming experience for our members around the world“.

Advertisement
Advertisement