I am on a never-ending quest to make playing games feel as real as possible. I’m obsessed with immersion and I think the sooner life becomes more like Ready Player One, the better. VR is obviously the most cutting-edge technology when it comes to creating immersive experiences, but strapping on a headset and waving your arms around isn’t the only way to make games feel more realistic. To wit: Corsair’s new HS60 Haptic stereo gaming headset with haptic bass.
In a sea of mostly identical gaming headphones, the Haptics stand out with one truly unique feature: sound you can feel. It’s no gimmick, the HS60 Haptic headphones add a new sensory layer to any game and have the power to turn a mundane experience into a thrilling one.
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Haptics aren’t anything revolutionary. We enjoy haptic feedback in tons of different devices. When you tap on your phone’s keyboard or feel the rumble in your controller, you’re receiving a physical sensation to connect your body to a digital experience. It’s an important connection: try turning the rumble off on your controller and you’ll see that games just aren’t the same without it. Controllers aren’t the tools we interface with when gaming though, so it’s only natural — and perhaps even more appropriate — that headphones would have the same feature.
The HS60 Haptics works by reproducing all the bass sounds in any game into what can most simply be described as vibrations. This isn’t some kind of Beats by Dre bass boosted headset though, it’s tuned specifically for gaming to amplify bass sounds and create a sensation that accurately represents things like gunfire, explosions, and vehicle rumble. The effect is undeniable, these haptic headphones unbelievably good at amping up the action, and the crazier things get, the more effective they are.
Admittedly, a vibration in your head isn’t quite as natural as a vibration in your hands. It’s not something you’re used to feeling and my first reaction was pretty negative. It made my teeth chatter and something deep in my ears became very itchy. There’s an intensity dial on the headphones themselves, turning them down to 50% strength turned out to be the perfect level for comfort just starting out. Eventually, I dialed it back up to full strength with no discomfort and I’ve been using them that way ever since.
The majority of time with the HS60s has been playing Star Wars: Squadrons in VR with flight stick controls. If you can pull this set up together, you absolutely must. Short of cockpit simulator rides you see at Dave & Busters, this is what I consider to be peak immersion, and the HS60s are doing a lot of the heavy lifting.
Best Kept For Single Player
There’s a couple of reasons I think the Haptics are the best used for single-player games. First of all, there’s absolutely a risk of sensory overload. If you’re the kind of online FPS players that turns your graphics to the lowest settings to get 144 frames per second, feeling your head vibrate a bunch isn’t going to help you click heads necessarily. I love the haptics for narrative games and experiences with varied intensity. There’s definitely some diminishing returns if the headphones are just going full force the whole time you’re playing. You need some ebb and flow to keep things exciting. That way, when a big moment happens and you start to feel the power of an explosion, it’s far more likely you’ll get sucked into the experiences.
The other reason these are best kept to solo play is that the vibration absolutely obliterates communication. I typically play open mic on Discord when I’m gaming with my friends, but unfortunately, the people in my Discord channel could hear a bunch of crazy noise when the headphones were vibrating. I switched to push-to-talk and tried to only chat in between vibrations, but that’s simply no way play.
An Eye-Catching Design
I had to get warmed up to the Hs60s. Even before I put them on and felt my teeth chatter, the monochrome camo-pattern really turned me off. I’ve come around to it, and I think it’s totally appropriate that such a unique headset would have such an eye-catching design, but I’m typically not a camo guy and neither are my friends.
This is a bit of personal preference, but I hate detachable microphones. Microphone arms that swing up or retract into the earcup are fine by me, but what the heck and I supposed to do with a little four-inch microphone that detaches from the headset? Put it in my microphone drawer? I have enough tiny things to lose track of, if I never seen another detachable microphone again it will be too soon.
Much More Than A Gimmick
I love haptics. I’ve praised games that I didn’t enjoy playing just because their rumble design felt so good. I’ve attached a full-blown bass booster to my gaming chair called The ButtKicker and loved every second of it. I’m a sucker for immersive products, but even so, Corsair HS60 Haptics are doing it right. I wish they didn’t interrupt communication so much because that’s the only reason I haven’t kept using them. Any time I jump back into VR or play something single-player, the Haptics will be the only headphones I use.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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