Gaming

A Brief Look at the Oculus Rift

VR and me go like chalk and cheese – ever since a kid, I’ve had motion sickness which limited me from playing most FPS games and my last attempt at VR(at IGX 2016) was a disaster – I barely could withstand 30 seconds of VR. Granted the game selection was bad – for me anyway (Driveclub on PSVR) – still I didn’t expect that bad of a reaction.

With that bit of context, the reactions that flew in when I told the folks that I(well Jo, my wife, to be more precise) bought the Rift was expected.

 

So it wasn’t entirely my decision to buy it in the first place, but given the experience with the Rift so far, I think it’s been a great buy.

Unboxing & Hardware Setup

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

 




The Oculus Rift Touch bundle comes with 2 Touch controllers, 2x sensors, couple of AA batteries for the Touch controllers, the headset and a lens-cleaning cloth. There are few things worth mentioning:

  • I really, really liked the box pack. It was well designed, enough space to place all the components safely and pack it away
  • The battery door for the Touch controller has a magnet which means when you push it to close, it automatically snaps. That’s a nice feedback and a feature well thought of
  • USB Ports: This is something that I didn’t bother to check but Oculus recommends that you have a minimum of 3 USB 3.0 ports and a USB 2.0 ports. Some discussions on Reddit suggest that they may work on USB2.0 ports, but for best tracking and results, I think it’s better to get PCI-E cards which offer USB slots. My desktop had only 2x USB 3.0 ports, but luckily noticed this and grabbed an Anker 4 port USB 3.0 Hub which works very well.
  • GPU support: VR requires a fairly beefy CPU & GPU. The Rift also requires a free HDMI port on the GPU. While this may not be a problem, some of the GPUs might come with only one HDMI and the remaining DisplayPort ports + DVI ports(which was my case) – and you need to have both the VR headset as well the monitor connected – at least for the initial setup. Not having a second HDMI port was a big problem – thankfully I managed to find a spare DVI cable and connected my monitor via DVI and plugged the Rift into the HDMI. If you’re using multiple monitors – remember this and grab the required adapters as well.
  • The initial setup is a fairly involved process but this is not mentioned anywhere on the box(which doesn’t come with a manual) – yes software install is a breeze but when you have USB and HDMI ports dangling like a Hydra not knowing where to plug what was bit weird and had to search Oculus’ support site for the instructions. I’m not sure why they didn’t make a leaflet out of this. I realized later during the software setup that they prompt you to plug-in the required components – I guess I’m just too used to the old style of plug the hardware in and then do the software install

Software Setup and First Launch

Once you have the Rift hardware setup properly, Oculus will start the first time setup. This involves things like entering your height(to calibrate the ground height), touch sensor calibration, mapping out the play area, setting up the Guarding system(which is basically a wireframe “wall” indicating you’re about to exit the safe area). This doesn’t take too long and is a one-time thing, even if you have multiple people using the headset.

Where Oculus has nailed the VR experience is their first launch app, called “First Contact“. It’s basically set in a spaceship(or a room?) with a robot where the robot keeps giving you “programs” in a floppy that you “grab” it and push it into a 3D printer and then pick it up. It sounds like no big deal, but the detailing and the way the robot is done is incredibly awesome and will evoke a great response from all.

Comfort

The headset is far lighter and much more comfortable than the PSVR and the Vive. Also, something the other headsets don’t have – the Rift actually comes with over the ear headphones – and these actually sound really awesome. It sounds strange/trivial about the over-the-earphones, but putting on the headphones over the VR headset(or earphones before putting on the headset) when you can’t see a lot is a pain and the built-in headphones makes the whole experience seamless.

The Touch Controller is crafted very well, fits your palm nicely and doing gestures such as pointing, grabbing, making a fist feels so natural, you don’t feel that you have a controller on both your hands. The Touch Controller has some other neat features – when you have your hand in the field of view of the sensor, you see a pair of virtual hands so that you know how to grab the sensor. This seems easy but when you have your eyes covered by the headset, it’s not as straightforward as it looks.

Games

I haven’t played a whole lot of games – among the ones that I did play – Robo Recall came with the bundle and is regarded supposedly one of the best VR games and I can see the acclaim. You pick up the guns from the holster. You can catch bullets and throw it back. You can catch robots and throw them back. You can grab them and pull them apart. You can grab them, throw them in the air, grab your weapons and shoot them. All this while doing gestures just like how you’d do it in real. And while you’re doing all this, you’re reactively ducking to avoid gun fire, bending your knee to pick up guns or other things on the ground – it’s quite an experience and makes me why even on this date, the VR demos are the crappy low res Rollercoaster ones.

RecRoom is another great VR experience – it’s basically a big social club with some great mini games such as VR Paintball, 3D charades and so on. RecRoom is in early access, but is free for now.

I’m yet to pick up Unspoken(which basically made Jo purhcase the Rift) and will also pickup Diner Duo when it goes on sale. I did give Project Cars a go(again!) but yeah didn’t last long – the motion sickness made me uncomfortable before I could even say the word.

Summing up

If you’re still on the fence about VR, have a decent system capable of VR, I think the Rift bundle, especially with the US pricing of $400 is a great purchase. There’s loads of VR games – both free and paid and some of them are just that good to make the purchase worthwhile.

Have any questions? Drop a comment below or send me tweet, will reply.

 

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