This promising Virtual Reality device – the ‘Oculus Rift’ – has travelled from its successful Kickstarter project, to becoming a step for the future of gaming. It’s gathering a lot of attention from the press, and has made appearances in videos showing off some exciting experiments with the device. However because it does not even have a retail release date yet, many people will have a faintest idea of how much are they going to be astonished by the Rift. Well now I have tried it at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, so I’m going to offer my verdict on this special headset.
Joining the queue for the Oculus Rift booth was the first action of my second visit to the expo, which turned out to be a very good decision. The queue extended over the course of the morning, as I have waited for about an hour, which shows that everyone is interested to see how this baby works. The games showcased at the booth include the amazing Hawken, and Bossa Studio’s popular title Surgeon Simulator 2013, but when I finally got the chance to wear the Rift, I ended up playing the forthcoming MMO title War Thunder, using an Xbox 360 controller. As soon I put on the Headset, I was inside the cockpit of a fighter plane and I’m in a dog-fight against other players.
The display of the device covers most of my eye sight, apart that I can still see black borders; so, yes, there is a little peripheral vision from the Rift, which makes it look like as if it’s viewed through the goggles. It features a screen for each eye, which eliminates the ghosting between lenses, giving out an impressive 3D view of a game (or movie). It features head tracking too, allowing anyone to ‘look’ around the game world. I was able to turn my head to explore the cockpit and see the action from many angles, without having to turn the plane around. It’s kinda hard to get used to it, but once I made a habit out of it, I was able to look sideways or at the target, as I turned the vehicle around.
It was all good, but I noticed a problem where the image from the Rift contained jagged edges, which hurts the immersion a bit. That means someone, who may own the device in the future, would have to optimise the display quality for high anti-aliasing, in order to get the smooth view from theirs. It also features motion blurring while head turning, though I wonder if this can be fixed, or remedied via settings, before the retail release of the headset.
Oculus Rift is very comfortable to wear and its screen quality is good. It’s worth mentioning though that it offered me a very immersive experience. I was placed into the whole action, took control of the plane, and had a breath-taking time flying around the country landscape. As soon as the time’s up, the Rift was removed from my head and I quickly noticed that the booth became much darker than I have imagined. I have yet to know the main consequences of wearing the device, on whenever it’s likely to cause nausea, sore eyes (without checking outside the display), or leaving the user to be disturbed by their irritating person nearby. But since I tried it, it’s really something that I badly want to own, enough to buy a lock to place on my own room door.
Nevertheless, I still look forward to seeing the Oculus Rift hit the streets and sell for a sub-$400 price. But because they haven’t even shown the actual launch date, it’s likely that it will be months, or worse, years before the device reaches any household, and revolutionise PC gaming by a huge margin. For me, it seems waiting for Rift news is an only way for me to do now.