Review cover ProTubeVR ProVolver (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review

Ever wanted to wield AND feel a gun while gaming? While VR certainly makes this possible to some extent, ProTubeVR takes it a step above with the ProVolver haptic gun add-on. Does it amp the ante when it comes to immersiveness?

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France-based VR peripheral manufacturer ProTubeVR is back with another peripheral, the ProVolver, to make you “feel the game”, as its motto claims. Having previously tested the MagTubeVR and ProSaber, the company does seem to have an innovative streak when it comes to enhancing VR experience with their peripherals. As such, I was quite curious to see what they came up with next.

The ProVolver under review today is the Oculus Quest 1 (or Meta Quest 1 if you wish) version, but is also available for Quest 2, HTC VIVE Focus and HTC VIVE 3. They are all priced at €299 at the time of writing. The cost might sound prohibitive and for many it will be, as it costs as much as a Quest 2 headset itself. 

But the ProVolver is more than a piece of fancy 3D printed controller holders. It integrates a haptic module that recoils and vibrates to emulate the feeling of using an actual gun. In fact, the ProVolver is somewhat akin to ProTubeVR’s ForceTube module mounted on the MagTubeVR gunstock; but that set costs €344 (at the time of writing). So the ProVolver is the company’s relatively more affordable haptic VR gun peripheral and a miniaturised version of the MagTubeVR and ForceTube combo. €299 will still be prohibitive to most, and the company could be targeting a more professional audience with this device but if you are looking to add a layer of immersiveness to your VR gaming experience, the ProVolver might still be worth looking into.

If you decide to get the ProVolver, you’ll find the following items out of the box:

  • 1x Provolver Scout module
  • 1x Rear cup 
  • 1x USB-C cable
  • 1x Bluetooth Dongle
  • Accessories/tools

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As for its specs details, these can be found below:

  • HAPTICS: ForceTube patented technology
  • CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 4.0; Dongle provided
  • BATTERY: 2500 mAmpH; 4 hours of normal use
  • CHARGING: 7 hours; USB Type C
  • KICK POWER: 5 Joule max
  • SLIDE MODE: 10mm
  • WEIGHT: 560grams (module + back cup)
  • FREQUENCY: 25hz max

With the ProVolver, it seems like ProTubeVR has refined the finish of its product and general aesthetics. This is noticeable with the packaging which has been improved to look and feel more professional. While the ProVolver is still very much 3D printed, it is still of high quality. The device comes in 2 parts (or 3 if you decide to get another MagCup to attach your second controller). You’ll have the controller holder and the haptic module; where they can be attached to each other with a quick-release clamp mechanism.

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The ProVolver’s controller cup has a much better design when compared to the company’s previous cups. While it still requires you to push the controller in, the contraption feels more secure as there are openings for the controller triggers. These hold the controller fixed in place and further helping to hold the controller in place are the ridged inner part of the cups.

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As for the haptic module, it has the most heft and is designed to make the setup look like a cyberpunk-ish gun. This 3D printed part actually looks the nicest as it bears a shiny finish which I wish was also present on the controller cup.

Mounting the ProVolver parts is a fairly easy process. If you purchase the MagCup for the second controller, you’ll need to screw its attachment to the front of the haptic module but all the tools required are provided in the package. ProTubeVR also has handy instructions to guide you along the way but I wish there were official video guides as well. Once mounted, the ProVolver doesn't look that bulky and can be easily stored in your room without occupying much space.

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There’s also the option to purchase an additional controller cup to fix your second VR controller to the ProVolver on top of it for a double-grip configuration (to, for example, emulate holding a rifle). The second cup is attached magnetically, meaning you can take it off to use for other actions (like reloading) and attach again to get back in action. The magnets are quite strong and require some force to be separated, so no need to worry about the controller falling off while in use.

However, the second controller cup is still the old one and requires you to push the controller in and tie a knot with the wriststrap. It’s not very elegant and I wish they used a clamp mechanism to easily insert/remove the controller in the holder instead.

Moreover, it remains finicky to attach/detach the controllers from the cups. It becomes more of an issue when you need to take the controllers out to charge the batteries or simply want to switch to another game/app. A clamp-like mechanism would have made for an easier process of attaching/detaching the controllers.

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Another gripe that persists is the charging requirements for the haptic module. Just like with the ForceTube module, ProTubeVR recommends charging the ProVolver’s haptic component through a USB port on your computer. It’s not such a big issue in itself but a full charge of the haptic module can take up to 8 hours. This is not very practical, especially if you are using a laptop that you move around often. You can still charge the haptic module with an electric outlet but ProTubeVR says that it might not receive any charge.

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But that said, once attached, using the ProVolver is very user-friendly. Pair over Bluetooth and compatible games can recognise it. I’ve tried it with AIM XR, GunClubVR and ProTubeVR’s tech demo of sorts ProHibition on the Quest 1, and the games work seamlessly with the device; it really does give a better emulated feeling of using a gun. The vibration and physical recoil that the haptic gun delivers hammer in this feeling. Additionally, it adds a weight to the setup, which makes you feel like you’re holding an actual gun. But this can be a double-edged sword as holding it over time can lead to hand fatigue.

There are more games that natively integrate the ProVolver’s haptic module and are as follows (as well in the image below from the official website):

• Pavlov (PC):

• Onward (PC/Oculus Quest 1 & 2)

• Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades (PC).

• Stand Out (PC).

• War Dust (PC).

• Contractors (PC/Oculus Quest 1 & 2).

• GunClub VR (PC/Oculus Quest 1 & 2).

• Virtual Battlegrounds (PC).

• ProHibition (Oculus Quest 1 & 2 via SideQuest).

• GangV (PC)

• SURV1V3 (PC)

• AIM XR (Oculus Quest 1 & 2)

• HONOR AND DUTY D-DAY (PC)

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While the list of natively compatible games is limited, it has grown since I reviewed the ForceTube module. It is encouraging to see that ProTubeVR is pushing to integrate its peripheral in popular games.

Of course, you can still use the ProVolver with non-compatible Quest games if you want to emulate the feeling of holding a gun. The device is pretty apt at that task as all of the buttons are easily within reach and unobstructed. You just won’t feel the recoil effect. 

However, with PC VR games, you can still configure the accessory to work with non-supported games via the companion app. It’s still a finicky process but it’s worth working with to expand the compatibility of the ProVolver. The app also allows you to adjust the rumble and kick of the ProVolver’s haptic module to your liking.

While the app could be more user-friendly, it’s still a laudable move by ProTubeVR to enable the haptic module to be used with virtually any PC VR game. It works by running in the background and relaying rumble requests from SteamVR to your VR controllers to the haptic module. It works well and games that push for immersiveness like Half Life Alyx really benefit from pairing the ProVolver to your system. With the ProVolver in hand, VR gaming sessions are indeed made more memorable and the experience is enhanced overall. 

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However, the €299 cost can be prohibitive and I wish it was more affordable to enable more VR gamers to enjoy the enhanced immersiveness it delivers. And truth be told, it really should be how VR shooters should be played. And while the general consumer might not adopt it right away given the cost, the ProVolver delivers a unique experience that, as of now, only ProTubeVR’s peripheral can deliver.

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Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Fun VR add-on that adds a layer of immersiveness
  • Companion app extends compatibility with virtually any PC VR games
  • Supports modules
What We Didn't Like ...
  • Cost can be prohibitive
  • Finicky process of configuring device with other PC VR games
  • Weird charging requirements
8.5
out of 10

Overall

Adding a layer of immersiveness to VR gaming, the ProVolver from ProtubeVR delivers a unique experience during every gaming session; and gives a glimpse of how VR shooters should be played.
I hope this helps in taking the edge off of having a gun in the hand, so people start having less and less need of having them, preventing the massive amount of shootings around.

Let them turn to knives instead. Close quarters combat is always more enticing.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Marc_LFD and Lather
I hope this helps in taking the edge off of having a gun in the hand, so people start having less and less need of having them, preventing the massive amount of shootings around.

Let them turn to knives instead. Close quarters combat is always more enticing.
Good idea, but no more please.
 
I hope this helps in taking the edge off of having a gun in the hand, so people start having less and less need of having them, preventing the massive amount of shootings around.

Let them turn to knives instead. Close quarters combat is always more enticing.
Its also harder to save stab wound victims than gunshot victims, depending on the blade type and method of entry, so I'm sure murder charges vs. manslaughter charges are easier to determine in court.
 
Interesting as concept, but being realistic, when VR get accessible prices, people will go with plastic toy route instead of high tech, just like happened on wii. Steering wheel and hotas are exceptions, I do not believe that AR guns will go through the fancy route.


Let them turn to knives instead. Close quarters combat is always more enticing.


Interesting thought.

There was a shooting in Las Vegas some years ago. The guy was on a tall building appart of the victims. When they showed the guy on news, man, that piece of turds wouldn't last half second on a close combat.
 
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Reactions: Ottoclav
Pretty cool but if the idea was realistic simulation, 560g is way too light. When fully loaded most fullsize handguns weigh twice that or more.
 
I hate to say, but that's expensive for a toy gun. You can buy one for less than that.

If they want to get folks to get into "GunVR" they need to reduce the price immensely. I prefer my Western games as is.

One of my all-time favorites is Sunset Riders.



25mins, huh. I thought I finished it in 15-20mins myself.
 
I hope this helps in taking the edge off of having a gun in the hand, so people start having less and less need of having them, preventing the massive amount of shootings around.

Let them turn to knives instead. Close quarters combat is always more enticing.
yeah if games makes school shooters then games can also dissuade them huh!?
 
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