Oculus Rift | Review round-up
The headset that kicked off the latest drive for VR is here – but what do people make of it?
This week marked the arrival of the long awaited Oculus Rift headset. The hype train has been gathering momentum ever since Oculus VR’s incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and Facebook’s acquisition of the company back in 2014 for US$2 billion.
Over the years journalists, trade show attendees and Kickstarter backers have got their hands on pre-production development kits to try out the tech, but what do people make of the consumer headsets now they’re available to everyone?
The Verge’s Adi Robertson found the Oculus Rift to be “a breeze to set-up”, with a simple Windows application running you through the whole process. Robertson notes the headset’s sleek design, several good seated VR games and the promise of things to come with the Oculus Touch controllers to be released later this year as the highlights.
Devindra Hardawar from engadget thinks that ultimately the high cost of the headset and PC is worth it in his review. Hardawar says that even at this early stage, the solid ecosystem of VR apps and games will work to win over newcomers, and the comfort of the headset is a major benefit. He did note that there might be some mild discomfort for glasses wearers though.
Gaming website Polygon’s Ben Kuchera says that Oculus Rift “was worth the wait”. He also noted that a major plus point for the headset is that high end titles like Lucky’s Tale and Eve: Valkyrie come effectively free with the purchase of the headset, and that these, along with other games in the launch line-up, do an effective job of demonstrating just what VR is capable of, “existing games can not only work in virtual reality but can be improved by playing in that format.”
Brian Chen from the New York Times wasn’t as enamoured with the look of the Oculus Rift, “it looks like a pair of black ski goggles with air traffic controller headphones built into the sides”. Chen also says that using the gear itself is tough, “I felt mentally drained after 20-minute sessions. My eyes felt strained after half an hour, and over a week I developed a nervous eye twitch.”
TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney found some issues with the VR experience, “Queasiness can be an issue with VR, especially when your head movements aren’t matching up with the head-tracking.” Other downsides included the fit of the headset itself, “the space for the nose in the viewport leaked quite a bit of light in” and the fact that the Oculus Touch motion controllers are not available at launch, “The Xbox One controller included with the Rift… is just daringly unimaginative and really restricts the launch potential of the device.”
With the headline exclaiming “Oculus Rift… Isn’t ready for the mainstream”, citing glitches, the huge cost of a high-end gaming PC to run the headset, plus the complexity of actually setting everything up as the largest drawbacks. The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey A. Fowler says, “Oculus Rift is the 2016 product you hope your [sic] neighbor buys. You’ll definitely want to try it, but there’s little reason to own one unless you’re a serious gamer.”
All in all…
Across the board the critical reception for the Oculus Rift has been positive, with a few notable downsides here and there. Even the more negative opinions are delivered through a few early launch glitch frustrations and a high price point, rather than endemic issues with the technology itself.
The consensus is that the Rift marks the start of the Virtual Reality revolution, and the promise of what’s to come is keeping excitement levels high in the tech community.
- Thomas Wallis
Get in touch with the author of this article on twitter: @ClacTom