Everyone is getting their name in the lights before E3 actually kicks off this year, and the guys behind the Oculus Rift were no different. Hosting a special conference before E3, Oculus was expected to make some big announcements about the Rift. When was it coming out exactly? How much would it cost? And will it work on something other than a PC? None of those questions were answered – but that doesn’t mean it was a complete waste.
To kick things off, we finally got a look at the retail model of the Oculus Rift. Featuring two OLED screens, ample space for glasses and a slider to adjust the lenses according to your abnormally large spaced eyes, the Rift is a considerable upgrade to the prototypes that have been on sale for so long. The biggest change comes in the strap, with the thick, single elastic strap replaced by an all-over head mount – not too unlike what Sony has on the Morpheus.
The Rift will also feature on-board 3D sound via integrated headphones – but will also allow you to easily remove them should you have a nice fancy pair that you’d rather use. The Rift is also much lighter and more comfortable to wear, making long gaming sessions an actual possibility finally.
One of the more surprising announcements at the show was a partnership with Microsoft and Xbox. All Rift headsets will ship with an Xbox One controller and wireless dongle (which only works on Windows 10, hint hint). Phil Spencer was also present to reveal that the Xbox One will, through your PC, stream games to the Rift directly – creating a virtual living room for you to enjoy games in. Microsoft doesn’t need their own VR solution now, because they’ve just buddied up with the best in the industry. Smart.
But impressive hardware is absolutely nothing without solid software to back it up, and that’s where the Oculus is a bit hit or miss at the moment, We got to see EVE: Valkyrie again at the show, which still stands as the most promising Rift experience I’ve seen to date. Insomniac also revealed a third – person survival thriller, Edge of Nowhere, which will be exclusive to the Rift.
Chronos was also a standout title, taking many hints from games like ICO. In the third-person dungeon crawler/RPG, your character ages over time. This affects your abilities and attributes in big ways – and it’s a pretty novel idea for a game that’s throwing in all the chips into VR.
The best was saved for last, however, with Oculus finally revealing their very own set of controllers to help you intuitively interact with virtual worlds. Oculus Touch is a pair of small controllers you hold in each hand – with Constellation motion tracking, thumbsticks and cleverly placed button inputs. The controllers are said to allow Rift users unparalleled control over their virtual worlds. See a gun? You can pick it up, fire it, and the toss it aside – like you would in real life.
Oculus Touch is, however, a separate product to the Rift – and thus shipping at a later date. It’s a weird, fragmenting move that is rather confusing, especially when it could easily be bundled along with the Xbox One controller. Oculus also never nailed down a date or price point for either Touch or the Rift – but hopefully we won’t have to wait until Oculus Connect 2 for that.
Last Updated: June 12, 2015