Oculus Rift Breaks Ground in VR Gaming

Image Credit: Skydeas via wikimedia commons

Image Credit: Skydeas via wikimedia commons

If you still recall the movie Johnny Mnemonic, then you were old enough to live in the 90’s and know what the movie was all about. In the film, The Matrix actor and former sci-fi hottie Keanu Reeves, acted as a protagonist in a dystopian world dominated by virtual reality (VR). Interesting enough, the plot’s time frame was set in 2021 (which is five years from now), and it is a world where internet data is stored in people’s brains through microchips.

Johnny’s brain could hold up to 80 GB as mentioned in the movie. (Perhaps the scriptwriters did not realize that human technology could reach the terabyte level so soon.) And with that capacity, he is asked to store confidential information of certain “mega companies.” What’s eerily familiar however, is that he was using a VR headset which closely resembles the ones we see today.

Such is the case of the Oculus Rift.

Oculus offers a visual delight

Gamers and tech enthusiasts alike rejoiced when the release date for the Oculus Rift was announced to be within the first quarter of 2016. The company opened pre-orders and finally dropped the device to the consumer market last March 28 in 23 countries: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and Switzerland.

The Oculus Rift is the first of three highly anticipated VR releases to be launched this year with the HTC Vive expected to be out by April and Sony’s Playstation VR by October. Priced at around 600 USD, the Oculus Rift offers gamers a “partially immersive” experience of virtual reality through a headgear hooked to your PC.

What’s in the box?

  • Oculus Rift VR Headset with built-in headphones and microphone
  • VR sensor
  • Remote control
  • Xbox One controller

The Oculus Rift is pretty simple to set up now versus its previous developer versions which had an additional box to process graphics. The VR cable and sensor hooks up to your PC while the remotes connect wirelessly to the device. Leveraging on its partnership with Microsoft (thus the Xbox controller), the Oculus Rift relies on the video processing capabilities of your PC.

PC Requirements

In order for the Oculus Rift to operate properly, it requires the following minimum PC specifications or or a computer with an “Oculus-ready” logo.

  • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • Memory: 8GB+ RAM
  • Video Output: Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • USB Ports: 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer

The Oculus Rift currently has 50 games in the Oculus store and more than 100 compatible games from others. You can check out the list here. On purchase, the game Lucky’s Tale comes in bundled with the package. If you listed for a pre-order, it comes with the space simulation game, EVE Valkyrie.

Image Credit:  Ats Kurvet via Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Ats Kurvet via Wikimedia Commons

The gaming experience

The Oculus Rift offers an experience of what it is like to be in a virtual reality world through the games offered. Interestingly, due to the nature of VR, a ‘comfort rating’ is added to the game. The classification is as follows:

  • “Comfortable” experiences are appropriate for most people, although this rating does not confer that an experience is going to be comfortable for everyone. These experiences generally avoid camera movement, player motion, or disorienting content and effects.
  • “Moderate” experiences are appropriate for many but certainly not everyone. These experiences might incorporate some camera movement, player motion, or occasionally disorienting content and effects.
  • “Intense” experiences are not appropriate for most people, especially those who are new to VR. These experiences incorporate significant camera movement, player motion, or disorienting content and effects.

The content of the games vary as well. There are first-person detective games where gamers are asked to solve mysteries by investigating rooms and looking for clues. Some are pretty much harmless except for those with horror themes. One such game is Private Eye VR.

There are a bunch of simulation games like EVE Valkyrie where players experience what’s it’s like to be a space pilot. Some are also racing games and flight simulator games offering a sense of realism in interacting with the device.

There are also role-playing games and observer type-games where characters can be controlled from an outside perspective. One such game is Gunfire’s Chronos, an adventure RPG that lets you control the main character set in a medieval time.

More games are slated for the Oculus Rift this 2016, as well as the release of the highly anticipated Oculus Touch, which intends to make the VR experience more versatile versus the use of a remote.

But as early as now, the Oculus Rift has already made waves in the world of gaming. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t contain his excitement, he even streamed a live video of him unboxing the Oculus Rift. And he intends to build a social site out of VR as well, one of many ways to use VR outside gaming

With a gadget like the Oculus Rift, what was only once possible in the movies is now a reality.

Read the Time Magazine review of the Oculus Rift here.