Is This the Dawn of a New Era in Virtual Reality?
Art and Experience: Virtual reality hit a major milestone today with the official release of Oculus Rift. Released by Oculus, the VR company that Facebook acquired for nearly $2 billion two years ago, the gear represents the first high-end consumer VR system to hit the market, beating other packages from HTC and Sony that are expected to be ready for release later this year. The system includes a headset, camera and game controller, among other devices, and costs $599, which has many questioning whether or not the latest dive in virtual reality will make a mark since not everyone will be able to afford it.
Now that Oculus is officially on the market, numerous publications have weighed in with their reviews, and it appears the pricey system really is as revolutionary for the medium as Oculus said it would be. While some of the inherent kinks of virtual reality are still posing a problem for some reviewers (mainly motion sickness), the Oculus units have taken serious measures in constructing the headsets to reduce any motion issues the user may experience. Head over to the Oculus website for all the information you need about the system, and check out a roundup of the buzziest reviews below.
“Oculus Rift is the 2016 product you hope your neighbor buys. You’ll definitely want to try it, but there’s little reason to own one unless you’re a serious gamer. I’m not talking about Candy Crush addicts, or even most of us with a PlayStation at home. Oculus Rift only works with high-end gaming PCs—the recommended Asus model I tested costs $1,449 and requires not one but two power plugs. Neither laptops nor any Macs will do.” The Wall Street Journal, Geoffrey A. Fowler
“But comfort is more than weight. It’s experience. And in that, the Rift more than delivers on its promise. The many technical issues that have plagued VR over the years—latency, image smear, judder—are, if not gone, imperceptible. I’ve been using the Rift for a solid week now, and I’ve had one moment of real discomfort.” Peter Rubin, Wired
“This is not like having a tiny TV strapped to my face. Nothing like the Google Glass or Virtual Boy of yore. This feels like I’ve inserted my head into another world. Admittedly, it’s a world where I’m wearing a big, black goggle-cap that keeps me from seeing as clearly as I’d like. At least the straps are fairly comfortable and you only have to adjust them once.” Sean Hollister, Cnet
“I can report that while the Rift is a well-built hardware system brimming with potential, the first wave of apps and games available for it narrows the device’s likely users to hard-core gamers. It is also rougher to set up and get accustomed to than products like smartphones and tablets.” Brian X. Chen, The New York Times
“The Rift is something I’d be happy to have in my living room, and compared to the developer-focused Oculus devices of years past, it’s a breeze to set up…The biggest problem is that it’s impossible to tell where that space ends until you step outside it, causing a sickening jerk as the world stops responding to your motion. Right now, it’s not particularly noticeable, because almost none of the Rift launch titles ask you to move.” Adi Robertson, The Verge
“Having spent a week in Oculus and Facebook’s vision of virtual reality, I can say with certainty that this is something you need to experience for yourself. You may not like it. You may even get sick! But you absolutely must try the Oculus Rift. Love it or hate it, the Rift is capable of creating a unique and incredible experience unparalleled in modern times.” Ben Gilbert, Tech Insider
“But after spending a week with the Oculus Rift, I have no doubt that its approach to virtual reality is indeed the real deal. It’s well built and easy to set up, and there are already a few games and apps that’ll make VR believers out of the most ardent naysayer. The only problem: It’s $600 and requires a powerful gaming PC. Just as with every new technological milestone, it has the potential to change the world. But at this early stage, only a few can afford it.” Devindra Hardawar, Engadget
“The Rift was really designed as a gaming device, and this is where it shines. After sampling a few titles, it’s clear that the simpler the controls for a game, the more enjoyable and immersive I found the experience. I had the most fun playing the whimsical and childishly simple Lucky’s Tale, in which you play a cartoon fox hopping along in the world, racking up points, evading enemies, and completing challenges.” Mario Aguilar, Gizmodo
“One thing that you’ll notice right away is that the headset isn’t seamlessly sealed off from the world. I found that the space for the nose in the viewport leaked quite a bit of light in. This was a bummer as it often broke what VR folks call “immersion,” the idea that you’re actually existing in the world you’re viewing. It isn’t all bad, it did make it much easier to eye the notifications on my phone, but I really just wish the problem didn’t exist to begin with.” Lucas Matney, TechCrunch
“Over the course of a week using the Rift, I found that experience beguiling and thrilling at times, uncomfortable and awkward at others. Overall, entering the Rift is expensive, unnatural, and utterly addicting. Virtual reality is often talked about as a revolution, a paradigm shift, a really, really big deal. Using Oculus Rift proves this kind of talk isn’t hype.” Lisa Eadicicco, TIME Magazine