So what can you expect if you’re one of the lucky ones to receive an Oculus Rift today? Well for starters you’ll receive minimalist, Apple-like packaging that has in its insides the all important headset, a game-pad and an IR sensor. Note this is not a plug and play product as we’ve explained previously the likes of the HTC VIVE and Rift will require a high spec PC for this to work and we’re not talking about a clearance purchase out of PC World’s bargain basement. What is important to remember is that the Rift is a periphery and not a one-stop shop for VR. However once you’ve updated the graphic card and installed the relevant drivers you’re ready to experience the power of VR.
Oculus Rift headset
Serious time and investment has been put into this technology thanks in part to the cash input FaceBook gave when they purchased this company a couple of years back. There are essentially three key components to the headset. Firstly you’ve got two high res custom displays (1200×1080-pixels) for each eye that create the stereoscopic 3D. It also achieves one of the highest display refresh rates around at 90Hz which will help maintain a realistic effect. If you’re interested in learning how the brain interprets these signals check out our article on how VR works. Secondly you’ve got the integrated on-ear headphones which add to the full immersive experience. They are more impressive than most thought, giving crystal clear, atmospheric sound with no interference. Finally, you’ve got infra-red LEDs dotted around the headset which track your head movements and convert them into the game you’re playing.
So is it comfortable? Well thankfully the designers have made sure the Rift can be played for hours; although you’ll probably want to take a break every now and again. The headset is pretty light (we’ve experience heavier), with removable padding and importantly can be adjusted in all the right places thanks to the Velcro straps and spring loaded sides. Crucially the engineers at Rift have managed to minimise any levels of nausea you may experience when playing games thanks to technology they named ‘Time warp’. In 2015 we tried an earlier version of the Rift and found we could stomach only 15 minutes before feeling queasy so we’re glad they’ve helped minimise this.
Take a look at Oculus Rift’s launch games, as you’ll see there are some gems in there including AirMech, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and Eve: Valkyrie. Bear in mind it’s not only games that purchasers of the Rift will look at. Undoubtedly some of the target audience will want to experience materials for the adult market and we’ve been reviewing VR adult porn for some time now.
So we can see this is an impressive piece of kit, no question about that but what are its disadvantages? Well for one you are tethered to the PC whether you like it or not. This is different to the likes of the PlayStation VR or on a lower end the Samsung Gear. Currently you are also unable to actually ‘interact’ with objects inside the games (like Vive) however Oculus will be releasing its handheld controllers later this year; until then you’ll just have to put up with the Xbox controller you receive. Finally the games that are released with the Rift are good but really (with the exception of a couple) do not really harness the full gaming potential the Rift can bring to virtual reality gaming. This is a shame but let’s face it VR is currently in its infancy and it can only get better.
Summarise the Oculus Rift
If TheRealitySandwich had to sum up this gadget in one sentence it would be … the Oculus Rift is undoubtedly an impressive and ground-breaking gaming periphery that will have your neighbours round in a heartbeat however it manages to distance itself from mass appeal due to both price and requirements; which we believe will be picked up by Playstation’s offering.
It’s certainly a try before you buy gadget.