During E3 last week, we were able to play around with much buzzed about gaming accessory that's poised to turn the video game world on its head. The Oculus Rift is a pair of virtual reality goggles that use stereo imaging and head position recognition. That means when you turn your head left you see what's to the left of you as if you were using the right analog stick on a controller. The entire experience takes some getting used to as your brain will have to adjust to the new perspectives. Yeah, it's a little weird at first and if you're prone to motion sickness, beware.
In our demo we were placed in top of a snow covered mountain with nothing but an open door and a corridor leading to a hulking demon surrounded by molten lava. Looking upwards there was snowfall that looked so realistic, it was tempting to reach out and try to touch it. Inside the mountain, the demon warrior sat resting on a throne with lava pouring down in streams surrounding him. The flowing lava looked amazing and while that isn't usually something to get so excited about, it was interesting to see how the Oculus Rift was able to render graphics that detailed, with such accurate depth perception in an early build. While it's still in a heavy beta state, it already looks good enough for the consumer market. But that's not going to happen anytime soon as the Oculus Rift is still months away from being ready. The team plans to improve on the weight of the device, along with a few tweaks to the video quality. While no one at Oculus could tell us exactly who has games in development for the Oculus Rift, they did confirm that there will be mix of both indie and triple A games coming out that support it. “We don’t really like to talk about who is doing what for us before it happens,” says Vice President of Product, Nate Mitchell. “We’d rather let the developers announce what’s coming and then we piggyback off of them.”
So far, we can expect quite a few video games to support the Oculus Rift including the space shooter, Strike Suit Zero, EVE Online, the mech first person shooter, Hawken and the classic Doom 3. According to Nate, there a tons of other devs whipping up some love for the Rift but he’s not at liberty to say yet. The team at Oculus have also made it easier for video game developers to support the device by adding in a system that makes it as easy as checking a box and throwing in about five minutes worth of code.
While demoing the Oculus Rift, Nate Mitchell also showed us newer version called the Oculus Rift HD which boosted the definition and made viewing a lot clearer than the original. If you were wondering about watching movies, yes you will be able to watch movies on the OR. A developer and fan of the device even created an app that simulates the experience of being in a movie theater with chairs and isles. Turn your head towards the back and you’ll see the flickering light of a projector above. That’s the type of cool stuff in the works for the Oculus Rift HD.
When asked how far they are from having consumers able to get their hands on it, Nate Mitchell only replied with “in a few months.” The designers are still working on reducing the weight, making the visuals cleaner, killing the little bit of latency it still has and getting rid of some of the physical bulk. Although it was a little of a buzzkill to know that we won’t be getting it sooner, it’s evident that these guys are really focused on quality instead of novelty. When the Oculus Rift is ready for consumers it will be PC only but we didn’t get a definite yes or no about console compatibility. So there is the slight chance that we might see something down the line for Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 if things go right. Until then, we’ll be wringing our hands in anticipation and stacking our chips for pre-order day.
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