Oculus Riffed

Going along with the trend this year of announcing things before E3, presumably to get more dedicated attention rather than be lost in a sea of announcements, Oculus held their own press conference to show off the consumer version of the Rift. They didn't go into much detail with regards to the tech itself, and they didn't mention pricing at all. A release date? Well, the first quarter of 2016 is as good as they could get.

                                                                             Rawr

                                     

                                       Rawr

A bunch of the stream seemed aimed at people who haven't been following VR at all, with the presenter trying to convince the audience how scared they would be if the static image of a T-Rex behind him was in 3D and moving, and had audio, and made the seats shake.. For those that already know what Oculus is trying to do they showed the final headset which seems very light, has a cool strap, a slider for adjusting the inter-pupil distance, and is apparently covered in some kind of felt? The Rift also comes with removable headphones. They seemed to be super impressed that they have positional audio, but didn't mention if that's just software to stereo headphones or real 5/7.1 speakers. They look pretty small so we'll have to wait and see. They've called the IR spatial tracking 'Constellation' which uses a camera that's included with the headset.

A surprising amount of love shown Microsoft's way culminated with Phil Spencer on stage. Every Rift will ship with a wireless Xbone controller (which recently got announced to be Windows 10 only..) From the way they worded it, it sounds like you get no choice, Kinect style. At a recent Windows presser that Phil was also at they announced streaming Xbone games to other Windows devices. Well with a Rift you can sit in a virtual room with the streamed game put on a virtual TV! It's hard to imagine someone with the budget for a Rift and the PC to run one, along with the Xbox, and not having a nice large TV to appreciate the games on already. Hopefully some creative people can have fun with it and make that feature seem worthwhile.

Actual game developers turned up, with CCP not being a surprise showing the same EVE Valkyrie trailer again. Insomniac showed a Lost Planet looking but first person game for the Rift called Edge of Nowhere. Nothing amazing to see, but I'm sure there will be some cool stuff at E3 for people to report on. Chronos looks like a third person action game which seems like a weird fit for VR but with a lot of this stuff it doesn't really make sense until you try it for yourself I guess.

Oculus Touch - Not included with the Rift

Oculus Touch - Not included with the Rift

Oculus also introduced their own storefront and of course mentioned how you will be very connected to your friends because you must be nowadays. All I was thinking is I'm going to need to register and remember another new account and manage another friends list? Super. This may also be why Valve hitched their wagon to HTC instead of Oculus, if they were adamant about having their own store.

Finally Palmer Luckey, the guy who started this crazy train off a few years ago, arrived on stage wearing flip-flops. He showed a prototype of the VR input system that will ship sometime in the first half of 2016 (pre-orders will start at the same time as the Rifts) He held two devices each with an analog stick, a couple of buttons and a trigger. The large ring has the emitters to interact with the camera, giving spatial tracking of your hands.

Again no costs or firm release dates, but they are still over 6 months away from any of that. I'm sure once pre-orders start the marketing campaign behind this will be huge with all that Facebook money. Hopefully everyone is impressed with what they see at E3, and nobody gets pinkeye.