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Will the Valve Index 2 be the ultimate VR headset, or another Half-Life 3?

Valve Index
(Image credit: Valve)

Evidence for a wireless Valve Index VR headset is mounting. While Valve has yet to officially comment on the existence of a standalone VR headset – one that would ape the free-roaming and cordless capabilities of the Oculus Quest 2 – it seems pretty certain that something of its kind is being worked on.

The latest rumors come from VR reporter and YouTuber Brad Lynch, who was tipped off as to 'Deckard' codename in some public SteamVR files, which seems to refer to an in-development VR headset at Valve.

Lynch points VR fans towards "a Lighthouse driver file" that cites a "Deckard POC-A" device in a file released back in January, with POC likely referring to 'proof of concept' – and a "POC-C" model cited in June documentation instead, suggesting Valve has been working on refined iterations of its device over the past six months, and ensuring SteamVR stays up to date with supporting it.

Valve "has been retooling Deckard to work with Steam VR over the past year," says Lynch.

There are other tidbits to dive into in the video, including a mysterious 'Prism' function and a VR Link file that points to a Wi-Fi 6 connection for a wireless headset – alongside VR headset patents we reported on back in March. But the important thing right now is that a standalone VR headset is almost certainly in the works – and that a commercial release still isn't guaranteed.

Will Valve follow through?

Valve has a fascinating reputation for not quite following through on sequels – especially when it comes to games with the number '3' in them, as with the never-released Half-Life 3, or Dota 3.

When it comes to hardware, too, Valve's uniquely collaborative working practices mean that R&D devices that the team loses interest in can never see the light of day. And that's a real danger with any Index 2 or standalone VR headset, given both Valve's history of failed hardware, and its push into portable machines.

The Steam Deck is an exciting area for Valve to move into, offering a souped-up Nintendo Switch gaming machine that can take the entire Steam PC game library on the go – with a variety of models that offer superior processing and graphics power to Nintendo's more accessible handheld.

However, there are only so many fronts we expect to see Valve fight an uncertain battle. The original Valve Index VR headset was pretty widely praised, despite its limited availability, but a massive product launch on a standalone version – one that would go head to head with the popular Oculus Quest 2 – won't be guaranteed success either.

The Oculus headset has done well with its very reasonable trade-off of pricing and performance. While a Valve headset could outperform it, if it pursues a higher RRP it could still limit itself to prosumers and serious enthusiasts rather than the larger scale that Oculus is beginning to enjoy.

That said, we're hoping to see what a standalone Index model could offer, whatever the longevity of the range. If it happens, just don't expect to see an Index 3 after that.

Via Road To VR

Henry St Leger

Henry is TechRadar's News & Features Editor, covering the stories of the day with verve, moxie, and aplomb. He's spent the past three years reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as well as gaming and VR – including a stint as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.