Oculus Rift VR Review
Gamers may be the most frustrated people in the world. Every time there’s a technological breakthrough which will make the gaming experience more incredible than ever, there’s usually an aggravating wait for the product to actually hit the market. Just ask South Park’s Eric Cartman, who cryogenically froze himself and ended up in the year 2546, just in an effort to deal with the long wait for the Nintendo Wii.
The wait is finally over, though, for the release of Oculus Rift. The consumer version of the highly-anticipated virtual reality machine has launched, and it’s the real deal.
Here’s what to expect when you finally get your hands on one – assuming you have the $600 to lay out.
Oculus Rift VR Hardware
The basics of the Rift hardware have been known for a while, thanks to the development kits which have been reported on extensively. The VR system is a box that mounts on the user’s head, with high-def OLED displays for each eye, and an infrared sensor and other instruments that track the head’s movements. Unlike the developers’ kit models, the consumer release has high-quality headphones and a microphone built in. The Rift looks like an enormous pair of black binoculars (with no lenses) strapped to your head.
'Amazing" is the feeling you have when you put it on, though. The Rift box weighs less than a pound, it’s easy to adjust on your head by means of Velcro straps and a switch that matches the displays to the distance between your eyes, and there’s only one cable running from the headset (to USB and HDMI connectors). It’s comfortable and easy to wear.
The controller is simply an Xbox controller, and there’s a small remote to control the volume of the headphones and to scroll through games. The promised motion controllers aren’t out yet, and as was widely known before release, you need a decent gaming PC to use the Rift.
Oculus Rift VR Software
This part is surprisingly easy. You launch the Oculus desktop app on your computer and buy your games from the Oculus store. You can then either select the game you want to play there, or pop in and out of your choice of games right from the app version you see in your headset; there are thirty titles available now, with tons more on the way. Eve: Valkyrie is perhaps the perfect VR game, both for the sheer beauty of the environment and the absorbing reality of game play. You can also watch buy videos and watch them in the headset, if you prefer. But what fun is that?
Oculus Rift VR Experience
In a word – wow. It does take a little while to adjust the headset to perfect comfort, particularly if you wear glasses, and playing an immersive, interactive game is a lot different than watching the action on a distant monitor. But the learning curve is worth it. Everyone who hasn’t been able to test a developmental version of the Rift has just had to imagine what the VR world would be like, and this trumps expectations.
The VR environment is truly immersive, and on the best-designed games, the graphics are stunning. That’s not to say the Rift is perfect; the sides of the display can be blurry, there is some pixelation at times (hopefully, 4K displays will fix that), and the quality of the overall experience depends greatly on the quality of the game you’re playing. But you’re unlikely to suffer the motion sickness issues some had worried about (Oculus added a feature before release to deal with that possibility), and the only real problems are that you can end up needing a break from virtual reality after a while – and that the Rift can be very addicting.
We can’t wait to see how the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR will compete with the Rift experience – or if they can.