Why Oculus Rift ?
My decision to order the Oculus Rift was to do with price, how I was going to use VR, and wanting to support Oculus for bringing this tech back from the dead. I felt the space needed for room scale VR with the HTC Vive was not something I could accommodate due to my living room area and how I usually play games, which is sitting down with a controller.
However, I will look towards getting the Oculus Touch controllers in the future, if there is enough experiences to support them. Plus, the room scale VR has smaller space requirements vs. the HTC Vive.
Lastly, I didn’t want to be locked into a Steam-only environment and the Oculus Rift offers both their own native store and most Steam games seemed to be compatible with Oculus Rift, and possibly Xbox/Microsoft store in the future. Have discounted the PlayStation VR purely due to supporting a PlayStation-only environment.
The Oculus Rift VR headset seems to be very sturdy, it also has a premium quality feel to it. You can use the included headphones or output via your speakers and separate headphones as well. Upon wearing the headset I have experienced condensation around the screens. This seems to be a symptom of wearing the headset and breathing through your nose. It does calm down after around the first five minutes of use, but seems to be unavoidable and isn’t a massive issue but just a little bit annoying.
All the hype seems to be warranted once you put on the headset. It feels like stepping into a virtual world. Going through the initial setup steps and a few of the tech demos from the Oculus Dreamdeck app makes you understand the power of VR and the head tracking acts as a mouse pointer. The first demo shows you standing on an alien planet with an alien standing in front of you; it feels eerie and you get the immediate sense of scale of the environment around you.
The second demo sees you standing at the on top of a skyscraper building, staring down at the ongoing traffic on the roads below you. It really feels like you are there and being scared of heights I felt quite a lot nausea. The final demo shows a T-Rex walking up to you. You definitely get the sense of size of the dinosaur as it gets closer and closer. When the T-Rex roars at you and breathes on you it will make your hair stand up and you feel its presence close to your head. This demo reminded me of the PlayStation 1 T-Rex tech demo discs many moons ago.
The experience is sublime.
All this talk of motion sickness depends from person to person. I have felt that when I am tired I experience more motion sickness than normal. So far I have spent around 15 hours with the headset, not on one single game but a range of demos and fully fledged games.
What I have found is the more realistic the game the lower the fidelity you are likely to get, due to the resolution and screen tech; which I attribute to the LEDS being so close to your eye. I think in the future this will become a non-issue. There are plenty of free demos on the Oculus store and Steam to experience.
Some of the fully fledged games I dabbled in are:
Minecraft VR – Newly released, the low fidelity graphics seemed to help the experience and again it really makes you feel like you are in a living breathing Minecraft world. Jumping into the sea feels like you are truly deep diving and if you are a fan then this is a must have.
Project CARS – Cockpit view means you feel like you are seated in the car and are able to freely look around the environment due to 1:1 head tracking, which makes the second analogue stick redundant.
Elite: Dangerous – Flying in a spaceship never felt so immersive. Flying close to planets and boarding a spaceport makes you feel like a proper space pilot.
Next on my list will be ADR1FT and The Climb when I can afford to. All in all, just the fidelity of all games seems to be slightly lower than experiencing on a standard LED TV. I am using a GTX 1060 graphics card and I am not sure how much the fidelity would improve using a more expensive setup.
Even if virtual reality doesn’t become mainstream in gaming I think there will be many more uses for it both at an enterprise level and educational level. Things like Job Simulator can only help the younger generation make a more informed decision on what career they would like to pursue.
I am sure there will be many scientific uses for virtual reality. But most of all I hope there are more games that support this format, and it becomes a mainstream mainstay to help connect people around the world.
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