Televisions are cheaper and better than they’ve ever been. Video games have mostly matched the trajectory of televisions, offering better, sharper graphics at frame rates that make some games almost look life-like. The Oculus Rift VR headset aims to change every thing you know about experiencing video games. Forget buying the latest and greatest televisions to feel like you’re living in your titles, Oculus Rift VR wants you to feel like you’re living in your games, but without the huge display. You wear it on your head and the sensors inside detect your movements and adjust the camera accordingly.
This week Oculus, now owned by social media titan Facebook, announced an updated Oculus Rift VR headset that’ll launch in the first quarter of 2016. Here’s what you need to know about the Oculus Rift VR, and why even the most passionate critics of virtual reality headsets in general might need to rethink their position.
The Oculus Rift VR Is Done
Millions of dedicated hardcore gamers and programs have stared at pictures of the Oculus Rift VR for years, wondering if the accessory and gaming platform that first got its big break on funding site Kickstarter would ever make it to store shelves. The virtual reality headset captured imaginations and funding the world-over because it seemed as if its designers were on the cusp of finally putting players in their games, a future almost everyone thinks is coming sooner or later.
Despite early successes, the Oculus Rift VR seemed to stall. Gaming industry insiders were still talking about it and playing with development kits, but there was never a formal declaration that the device was headed to store shelves – until now.
At its press event ahead of the E3 2015 trade show this morning Oculus confirmed that the Oculus Rift VR headset is finished, hardware wise. The final version of the Oculus Rift VR still has a display inside that renders everything the player sees in slightly different perspectives. A redesigned headband and eyepiece make the Oculus Rift VR easier to take on and off. Sensors detect when the player’s head moves and changes the game’s camera to simulate actual movement. Built into the more stylish final version of the Oculus Right VR are headphones for audio. A separate stand like apparatus is also included with the final version of the headset.
A built-in dashboard lets users see who else is online and look at what’s new for the Oculus platform. To be clear, the Oculus Rift VR isn’t fully independent. Players need a powerful PC to use the headset – or Windows 10, which we’ll get to more.
The Oculus Rift VR Launch Date
Pricing for the Oculus Rift VR remains a bit unclear at this point, but we do have a rough idea of when the Oculus Rift VR launch date is coming. The Oculus website says that potential buyers should have their wallets prepared for a launch date sometime within the first quarter of 2016.That roughly places its release very early next year.
Oculus has confirmed that it’ll let shoppers pre-order the Oculus Rift VR later this year for an undisclosed amount of money, but that’s where the availability details stop. ArsTechnica is reporting that Oculus executives publicly confirmed a price between $200 to $400 recently. That amount would make it a relative luxury for most, but right in-line with where competitors in the VR headset space are also expected to come in at. We don’t have official pricing on the HTC Vive headset or Sony’s Project Morpheus headset.
The Oculus Rift VR is the Ultimate Xbox One Accessory
Speaking of Project Morpheus, Sony shocked PS4 owners and gaming industry insiders when it first revealed the accessory last year. At the time, Microsoft didn’t have anything in the space to compete directly with Project Morpheus. Earlier this year Microsoft announced the Microsoft Hololens, a completely self-contained headset that overlays holograms on the environment around the wearer. Many assumed that Hololens was the company’s competitor in the space.
How wrong they were about that. Today, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer revealed that the Oculus Rift VR would act as an Xbox One accessory too, giving Microsoft a device to push in the space. Rather than focus on building only a custom controller, Oculus is including an Xbox One Wireless Controller with every single Oculus Rift VR Headset. The move makes sense as the Xbox One Wireless Controller is already pretty well supported in the PC gaming space.
Through their Windows 10 PCs, Oculus Rift VR owners will be able to stream games from their Xbox One console. This means that Xbox One owners will theoretically, be able to play games like Halo 5: Guardians through the headset without a lot of extra work. That’s a huge boost and firmly puts Sony’s Project Morpheus on the defensive.
There are Exclusive Oculus Rift VR Titles On The Way
Of course, not every Oculus Rift VR buyers is going to want an Xbox One. First and foremost, the Oculus Rift VR is a PC gaming accessory and users will need a pretty powerful machine to take advantage of it. For those that do have a powerful gaming machine, Oculus and its partners will have a ton of new content.
Insomniac Games, the same developer that created Sunset Overdrive has a new game in the works that will only arrive on the Oculus Rift VR. Called Edge of Nowhere, this game will also launch with titles like High Voltage Software’s Damaged Core and VR Sports Challenge from Sanzru Games.
Signal Studios, Square Enix and Harmonix also have games for the Oculus Rift VR planned. Oculus plans to build support for the platform with $10 million investments in indie game projects too.
There are Dedicated Effortless Oculus Right VR Controllers Too
For those who aren’t a fan of the Xbox One Wireless Controllers, Oculus has other things in the works. The new two-handed Oculus Rift VR Touch controller lets users stay immersed in their games. Instead of being a single unit, it’s meant for two hands, with joysticks and buttons for each. Users will be able to move objects and do things in their games using just gestures too, according to a report on the VR Touch controllers from Polygon.
All told, Oculus seems to be a pretty interesting upgrade for anyone who wants to feel like they’re living in their games. Presumably, Oculus will have more to show off at the E3 2015 trade show beginning next week.