Oculus Rift is starting to ship — apparently. Probably the most well known of all VR headsets currently doing the rounds, the Rift by Facebook-owned Oculus has been a rather large talking point for a lot of people for quite sometime now. And now we get to find out whether or not this headset was worth the wait?
The Rift will be joined by HTC’s Vive and the Gear VR in 2016. Microsoft is betting big on augmented reality with its awesome HoloLens, while Apple and other Android OEMs are tipped to be cooking up competitor devices to the Rift and VIVE, which we will likely see land throughout the year between now and 2017.
For even more Oculus Rift news, opinion and insight, head over to our sister title Alphr.
What is certain, though, is this: VR — and headsets in general — will be a big growth trend between now and 2017. All of tech’s major players will have devices in this bracket within the next 18 months and, yes, that includes Apple. But unlike smart watches, I don’t think Apple will be required to make this trend popular; VR will be driven by gamers and hardcore mobile users.
Facebook reckons VR is the future. This is why The Zuck bought Oculus Rift back in 2014.
“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR, Brendan Iribe, said in a statement, “We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world. We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning.”
The application of VR headsets is virtually unlimited, but most will be using them for gaming where the changes to how you interact with a game will be stupendous! VR and gaming is basically what we’ve been waiting for since, well, forever. In just a few years, when games have taken full advantage of VR, the in-game experiences will just be phenomenal.
This guide is designed as a primer for Oculus Rift, a quick overview of the product, what it does, and why you might want one for those that aren’t 100% sure whether VR and devices like the Oculus Rift are for them.
Oculus Rift: What is it?
The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality device consisting of headset, sensor, remote, and controller. There’s no traditional console box because you wear the device on your head. The device acts as goggles that immerse you in a 360 degree virtual reality experience. The included sensor and controller allows you to interact with whatever app or game you are playing.
In a blog post Oculus described the latest consumer version of the Rift: “The Oculus Rift builds on the presence, immersion, and comfort of the Crescent Bay prototype with an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as a highly refined industrial design, and updated ergonomics for a more natural fit.”
Oculus Rift: Release Date & Price
Well, the good news is you can preorder the Oculus Rift now. It’s US price is $599 plus tax and shipping. In the UK it’ll set you back £500. For that price you’ll get the Oculus Rift headset, an Xbox One controller, a remote, the Oculus sensor, and two games: EYE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale.
Oculus Rift: Where did it come from?
The current craze of VR headsets can be tracked back to one person: Palmer Luckey, the man who founded Oculus. When he was a teenager he has a fascination with relatively primitive VR tech, which has been around since the 1980s. This lead him to creating his own VR headset—the Oculus Rift, which was successfully funded on Kickstarter and then shortly after received a massive $2 billion buyout from Facebook.
Oculus Rift: What do I need to use the Rift?
The Oculus Rift works by plugging into your PC’s USB port and tracks your head movements by the built-in and external sensors. It will not work as a stand alone device. The Rift will support a range of PCs. The minimum specs you’ll need are a 2.4GHz quad-core CPU and a 64GB HDD, and a Nvidia 9800 or AMD 4870 graphics card, which each requires 1GB of dedicated RAM.
However, in order to get the full experience with the best graphics, a PC with an NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, an Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM is recommended.
Despite the fact that the Oculus Rift comes with an Xbox One controller, you won’t be able to plug it into the Xbox to play games. You’ll still need a Windows 10 PC. However, the Xbox One is expected to gain functionality that lets it stream some games and content right to the Oculus Rift.
Oculus Rift: Is Microsoft involved?
Eh, a bit. Not in the sense that they own or make the Oculus Rift in any way. Instead they have been partnering with Facebook to support the Oculus Rift via things like Xbox One streaming and adding support for the Xbox One controller. However, you can tell Microsoft sees Oculus as an important partner since Playstation is coming out with their own VR headset, which will require a PS4, later this year.
Samsung’s GEAR VR is also powered by Oculus. You can read about how good Samsung’s effort is in our Samsung Gear VR Review.
Oculus Rift: Operating system
Like any other gaming device, the Oculus Rift will have its own OS, called Oculus Home.
When you put on the goggles you’ll see a home screen that resembles the Xbox dashboard. It will have different sections for content, storefronts, social media, and tiled previews.
Oculus Rift: What apps and games are supported?
No doubt more and more games and apps will be announced closer to when the device ships. For now Oculus Rift users can expect to see game titles including EYE: Valkyrie, Lucky’s Tale, Chronos, Edge of Nowhere, Damage Core, VR Sports Challenge, Esper, and AirMechVR.
Project CARS, Elite: Dangerous, Euro Truck Simulator 2, and Dirt Rally, as well as a number of indie games such as Aaaaa! and Ether One now ALL support Oculus Rift. And with the release of the headset now upon us, you can expect to see a load more titles added very soon.