Back when I sold televisions, my manager Matt would sum up the importance of a full theater system so perfectly. While the display handled the cognitive side of things, audio brings out the emotional side. This is how older movies accomplished so much by doing so little. The creak of a floorboard, the deafening smash of something breaking and the haunting sounds leave so much for the mind to imagine. For a while gaming has been pushing for better graphics, more realistic pictures and absurd attention to detail but as we near the limit, developers have gotten more creative. Haptic feedback, motion controls, reactive triggers and, most importantly, spatial audio. Sometime back we highlighted the importance of Waves Nx, which is able to mimic your position as if you’re within the 3D space, and since there has been a greater push for this feature. This has resulted in special adapters, hardware, Sony including it with PlayStation 5 and, most recently, a PC program called Immerse Gaming | HIVE. But, with so many programs doing it and so many gimmicks out there, is Immerse Gaming | HIVE worth investing in or does it fall short of expectations?
Before we talk about Immerse Gaming | HIVE, I think it’s important to highlight why spatial audio is important. Like I mentioned in the opening, it brings the core experience to life. For many gamers, their first introduction to the idea was either Resident Evil Village or Returnal, both of which execute the concept extremely well. The idea behind 3D sound isn’t to bombard the senses, but rather, recreate life. This could be as simple as seeing a Lycan coming at you, turning around and having the overwhelming dread wash over you as the sounds pursue you from behind or as complicated as an enemy treading air in front of you. It adds another level to the experience, something a lot of players find simply amazing.
On paper, the idea behind Immerse Gaming | HIVE is to use AI-driven audio software to essentially create this effect. With Embody, a company known for fantastic audio software, it should come as no surprise both the set up and experience are quite nice.
Getting Immerse Gaming | HIVE to work is a relatively easy process. Download the program, make an account, snap a good photo of your ear and Immerse Gaming | HIVE starts the process of customizing the experience to you. After set up, Immerse Gaming | HIVE can further be calibrated a number of different ways.
One of the first steps is finding your headset. Surprisingly, there is a good amount of variety of headsets listed, including Audeze, HyperX, Sennheiser (EPOS), SteelSeries, Razer, Logitech and more. Some of these are as cheap as $50, with others being slightly more than that. Most major headsets, including Cloud II, Pro X, Penrose, Arctis 1 through 9, Kraken and more are listed, though in the event the headset you use isn’t listed, there are universal settings for closed-back, open-back and in-ear.
Following that, there are three different modes meant for specific types of games. Close Combat Mode is designed with RPG and racing games in mind, with Immerse covering first-person shooters, with Awaken covering MMORPGs and MOBA. These settings are not absolutes, using Awaken won’t ruin a shooter, nor will Close Combat Mode destroy an MMO, though I found they generally worked best with the intended genre.
Finally, getting Immerse Gaming | HIVE to work is relatively easy. The actual steps to make it work will vary, though there are a number of helpful guides that the app itself links you to that show how to get it to work with popular games and the best settings for those games. That being said, none of it matters if Immerse Gaming | HIVE fails to deliver an immersive experience.
The tricky thing about Immerse Gaming | HIVE isn’t whether or not it will deliver a difference, it absolutely did, it’s just how much of a difference can one expect. The first factor is how good is the initial game itself. Some titles, like Resident Evil Village, perform well without, so Immerse Gaming | HIVE is more about refinement. It adds a sense of precision that goes a step beyond and is an absolute delight for anyone looking to be immersed in the world.
For games without such features, Immerse Gaming | HIVE helps bring them to life. It didn’t matter what I did, the software would do its best to approximate location and simulate how it should sound. For the most part it did extremely well, though some games won’t have the sonic depth to make the most of this effect.
In addition to what you play and how you play it, the headphones you use has an impact. When I used my Cloud Stingers, the effect was there, but not quite the clarity or detailing. Likewise, Audeze Penrose sounded fantastic and much closer, though not quite the same, as their WaveNx built in Mobius.
Immerse Gaming | HIVE Review Verdict
All of these elements, along with computer performance, will impact performance, though even at its worst, Immerse Gaming | HIVE is pretty good. Whether it’s making the most of what a game has or further sharpening an already great experience, it adds a lot for a small asking price. Given this is how things are at launch, I can only imagine how much further things advance and the experience gets. Add in some nice touches, like the overlay can also give you an idea of where hostile threats coming from and I would recommend giving Immerse Gaming | HIVE a try. Best case your gaming experience improve and worst case, you end up wanting a new headset.
[Editor’s Note: We were given access to Immerse Gaming | HIVE for review purposes.]