I invited strangers to my house to try out a VR treadmill. I survived and they absolutely loved it

I recently had the good fortune to test the Kat VR C2+ omnidirectional treadmill (opens in new tab). It’s a large piece of virtual reality paraphernalia that allows you to step onto a slippery surface in custom-made shoes, buckle into a harness, and walk freely in VR. It’s a unique experience, even for a VR veteran, so I wanted to get a few more opinions on the device besides my own.

To that end, I forced a bunch of friends and some strangers I found on Twitter (opens in new tab) (yes, really) to come to my house and try out the Kat VR treadmill for at least 15 minutes each.

I found Kat VR to be pretty intuitive to use, but since VR is already a very personal experience, I knew this could vary. Also, there are different abilities, body types, and myriad other individualities that could change that. Despite this, the general consensus seemed to be that it’s fairly easy to learn, especially once you get into the game. You have to trust the Kat VR at least as much as you would a stranger, but once I convinced people to relax and lean while walking, everyone seemed to get the hang of it.

If anything, the uncomfortable shoes caused far more trouble than the treadmill.

If this is the future of VR gaming, it’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun!

Despite the initial hurdle of getting people to buckle up and get going, most preferred using the treadmill to their regular VR experiences. Some who suffer from motion sickness have found that actually moving in space essentially negated it for their provings. I’ve often reminded people to take breaks, which just goes to show how deep you can get into VR.

As far as physical limitations go, this was obviously different. Everyone who tried the Kat VR was able for the most part, but we had different fitness levels, body types and health conditions. Some with back injuries who were concerned found that it was actually convenient and possibly even helpful in allowing them to exercise. Everyone agreed that while it’s a bit of a workout physically and with some limitations, it’s a lot less intimidating than it looks.

Guinea pig #1

(Photo credit: Future)Name: CinAge: 38.9 VR Experience: Have played some VR games like Space Pirates (~2015/16) and Beat Saber (2022) but always suffered from a terrible VR sickness so have I never delved much deeper.

Thoughts: Learning to walk in Kat VR was easier once in game. Practicing ahead of time felt a bit awkward and not very intuitive, but once it was in game (and at the correct speed set), it was pretty easy. The reasonable accuracy of the sensors and the inclusion of ways to walk great distances without constantly taking steps was nice. The greater physical connection with what I was seeing seemed to delay the onset of the VR sickness symptoms I’m so accustomed to almost immediately after putting on the headset.

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The suppleness of the harness meant it restricted movement very little and I didn’t feel my back injury was affected by it as it put very little stress on the lower back. However, the next day the muscles were definitely sore and the foot soreness from the unfamiliar shoes came on fairly quickly after about a 40 minute session. I can’t see myself owning one, but I’d love to try more games (I only tried Half-Life: Alyx this time) and see how I walk with my glasses in the headset.

A very cool thing to try!

Guinea pig #2

(Photo credit: Future)Name: Aaron Age: 41VR Experience: Owns a VR headset, played with it early on (Oculus DK1 and DK2) and still plays VR games to some extent.

Thoughts: The Kat VR has a lot of potential but also comes with some barriers to entry. Once set up, it feels good to use. It’s definitely the kind of device that needs to be used in-game to get a real feel for it and understand how it works. The added immersion is great and anyone wanting to use VR as a training supplement will definitely get an increased workout from using it.

I found the usage more or less in line with what I was expecting when looking at it, although it’s a lot more fun in the game, especially once you get used to it and start to “forget” it’s there. For me, the main factor in usage time was often my own fitness, although there were times when a bug in the game caused discomfort and I needed a break through no fault of the Kat VR itself. I liked the different grip levels of the shoes, both for in-game use and to make them easier to put on and take off.

Walking in the game is still not directly the same as walking in real life, but I definitely picked up how to use it very quickly, and as someone who knows games and gaming, I quickly associated this as a simple game mechanic . There’s a lot of freedom in how you approach this, from walking in place to walking full-forward.

Guinea pig #3

(Photo credit: Future)Name: JamieAge: 46VR experience: Bought an HTC Vive shortly after launch and played 100 hours of VR games.

Where was that when VR came out!

Thoughts: Where was that when VR came out! I know it’s a bloody chicken and egg problem, but this treadmill is truly amazing. I absolutely fell in love with VR games when it first came out and have thoroughly enjoyed many games, but any game where the character moves from perspective while you don’t physically move has an easy time with me nausea, and this treadmill absolutely solves that problem.

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It took me a while to trust that I could actually walk freely while using it, but once that issue was overcome it really made the VR experience that much better. It’s light years ahead of the “point controller where you want to go, then teleport” option and it would be incredible to see meatier games like Half Life: Alyx or Arizona Sunshine with it!

If this is the future of VR gaming, it’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun!

Guinea pig #3

(Photo credit: Future)Name: HughAge: 43VR Experience: Have played with VR about 10-15 times over the years and watched the VR progression.

Thoughts: Found this really effective. I wasn’t sure how natural it would feel, but it only took me about five minutes to get comfortable and then it felt immersive very quickly!

I also have lower back issues so was a bit worried about how I was going to get there, but the movement felt stable and my back felt looser, similar to working out, so I would even consider doing this can also be used as an exercise in winter. Overall I liked it and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested.

Guinea pig #4

(Photo credit: Future)Name: IsabellaAge: 19VR Experience: Never had a VR headset but has had some experience playing various games over the years.

Thoughts: Stepping onto the platform felt a bit like Bambi on ice in a way. I was a bit unsure but once my body adjusted to the harness I felt safe. Getting used to trusting the harness and moving in place was easier in game, but still a weird feeling. I’m not used to going with gameplay on something that moves with you. Thankfully, it only took a few minutes to adjust my thinking and movements, and I was free to try what you can and can’t do, and landed on what felt just right.

Overall the Kat VR is quite comfortable, easy to adjust and you hardly feel the harness. If I had had the chance, I could have played for a few hours. I think the only obstacle would be the physical training that comes with it.

Guinea pig #5

(Photo credit: Future)Name: MichaelAge: 39VR Experience: Does not own VR but has experience using Oculus DK1 and HTC Vive in VR gaming companies.

Thoughts: I often get motion sickness in VR, so I was a bit hesitant at first when using Kat VR. When I started groping through the motions in a game, it clicked pretty quickly for me how locomotion is translated across the sensors and how to move.

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Once I got comfortable with the movement, I started experimenting with starting to run and playing around with how fast the prop you’re tied to is moving. It was surprisingly smooth.

I personally couldn’t crouch or kneel while using it and it felt very uncomfortable trying. Even if you’re a bit taller than me (183 cm), the height of the platform brought me dangerously close to the ceiling with the controllers in my hands. So if you are a tall person, this can limit your vertical movement. I’m pretty out of shape and don’t have great cardiovascular ability, but while using the Kat VR I had a blast and absolutely got a workout and loved it.

Guinea pig #5

(Photo credit: Future)Name: Pip Age: 24VR Experience: Dad had an HTC Vive as a teenager and very casually enjoyed it.

Thoughts: For die-hard VR fans, this is a very good investment. Once you trust the treadmill to hold you, it’s a lot of fun to run towards enemies and explore worlds without the challenge of motion sickness.

I found the shoes uncomfortable but they worked very well. It’s too big and bulky for the average person to have. It takes up a lot of space! But at the same time, you’re confined to that space, so you’re less likely to slam your hand on furniture.

Guinea pig #6

(Photo credit: Future)Name: BenAge: 35VR Experience: Owned PSVR since launch. Owns many VR games with many hours of fun.

It’s a lot more fun than it looks in any video.

Thoughts: I watched a handful of videos before trying Kat VR and was very skeptical of how well it would actually work. It looked a bit of a hassle to get the initial setup up and running, but once I got up and running I never had any issues.

Trying to move once in Kat VR was very easy. I had no problems using it and picked it up pretty quickly. The device itself is a large setup, but considering you’re strapped into it, you have more room and feel a little more secure. You can rest assured that no one will run through a window or smash your TV while you’re using it.

After trying the Kat VR I believe every great gamer will own one, the future of gaming is finally here. Last Thoughts; If anyone is serious about buying the device, please test drive it before you buy, it’s a lot more fun than it looks in any video.