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Oculus Rift: What You Need to Know

The long awaited Oculus Rift is finally with us, ushering in a new era of virtual reality (VR). But with it come great demands of the consumer; not just the expense of the head-mounted display (HMD) itself, but the hardware required to run it also. VRFocus has dug down deep to bring you all the info you need to get started in this brand new medium with the HMD that kicked it all off.

Despite Oculus VR having previously shipped two iterations of the Oculus Rift development kit, the consumer version is an altogether different beast. Significantly overhauled in terms of both cosmetics and components, the Oculus Rift is very demanding when it comes to the cost of entry. This applies to both the financial investment in the HMD itself as well as the PC required to run it. VRFocus has all the essential details – and much more besides – wrapped up neatly for you below.

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Oculus Rift Purchase

The Oculus Rift itself will be hard to acquire for several months. Pre-orders are backed dated for months after the official 28th March 2016 launch date and the inevitable influx of auction website listings will invariably overcharge consumers. The official price of the HMD is $599 USD/£499 GBP (plus shipping), and the launch bundle comes equipped with everything you’ll need to begin – including 2 videogame titles – aside from the PC to run it on.

In addition to the Oculus Rift HMD bundle – which includes both a remote and official Xbox One controller – Oculus VR’s own motion-control device, Oculus Touch, will launch later this year. No price or release date has yet been announced for Oculus Touch, so stay with VRFocus to keep updated with all the latest details.

 

PC Hardware

As stated above, the Oculus Rift requires some hefty PC hardware behind it. Thankfully Oculus VR has launched its own compatibility tool, so you can see if your hardware is up to scratch right now. And if the result is negative? Well, there’s a series of Oculus Ready PCs from big brands such as Alienware and ASUS. Oculus Ready PC bundles begin at $1,499 USD and will ship alongside the HMD. However, no European release date/pricing has yet been revealed for the range of Oculus Ready PCs.

 

Set-Up

Oculus VR has always insisted that the Oculus Rift is intended for seated VR experiences, despite having frequently demonstrated it in standing arrangements over the past year. Coupled with the eventual release of the Oculus Touch (see above) Oculus VR suggest that a similar movement volume to the HTC Vive will be possible, but for now the HMD won’t demand much additional space than your traditional PC set-up.

The constellation tracker used to detect the motion of the HMD can be desk mounted, but aside from this there are very few additional requirements. The revelation of the Oculus Rift’s cable length, however, suggests that in time more physical space may be a good investment option.

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Xbox One Compatibility

The Oculus Rift is compatible with the Xbox One, albeit indirectly. Through direct streaming to a Windows 10 PC (via the official Xbox app included with Windows 10) gamers will be able to engage with any and all Xbox One content within the Oculus Rift HMD. A ‘virtual cinema’ has been proposed, allowing for gamers to effectively view their videogames and/or video content on a virtual screen potentially several times the size of the television in their home.

 

Top Titles

The Oculus Rift is not going to be stranger to videogame software, with an impressive line-up of titles stretching far into 2017. However, for early adopters there are a few choices that rise above the others:

EVE Valkyrie – An Oculus Rift launch title offered free with all pre-orders, EVE Valkyrie has been the poster child for VR videogames for some time. A multiplayer-orientated space combat videogame, EVE Valkyrie features a comprehensive arrangement of ships, weaponry and gameplay modes, in addition to a progression system that is nothing short of commanding.

ChronosThe Legend of Zelda in VR? It has that much potential. Chronos, developed by Gunfire Games, is a launch title published by Oculus VR themselves. The team behind the videogame also worked on Herobound: Spirit Champions – another Oculus Rift launch title that also appears on Gear VR – but here they offer potentially the most enduring VR experience set to be available this year.

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Edge of Nowhere – Having gone through many iterations, Edge of Nowhere is finally looking like the experience we were all hoping it would become. Some early misgivings have given way due to a much more atmospheric experience, pushing the horror envelope without relying on jump scares. Insomniac Games are a studio that rarely lets their audience down, and Edge of Nowhere is most certainly an Oculus Rift exclusive to keep an eye on.

Damaged Core – Another early showcase for the consumer edition of the Oculus Rift that didn’t quite live up to expectations but has since been taken back to the drawing board, High Voltage Software’s Damaged Core is now chockfull of promise. A first-person shooter (FPS) that avoids the pitfalls of inducing simulation sickness through motion by using a very interesting possession mechanic, Damaged Core has gone from a no-hoper to potentially becoming High Voltage Software’s greatest achievement.

Oculus Touch – So, this one’s not a videogame. It’s an input device. So, why’s it listed here? Because of the huge gameplay potential that Oculus Touch will unleash. Experiences such as Dead & Buried, Arizona Sunshine and Rock Band VR could only be possible with Oculus Touch. Yes it’s coming late, and yes it will bump up the price of the Oculus Rift; but right now, it’s looking like a very exciting addition to the VR experience.

Oculus Home Screen on Rift

Oculus Store

So where are you going to buy all these software titles? On the Oculus Store of course. The Oculus Rift will benefit from a newly revised edition of the Gear VR’s Oculus Home software which will include a digital storefront for people to purchase videogames and other apps directly, either through the desktop app or while in VR. The pricing strategy for videogames has been revealed recently and is relatively generous, as is the quantity of experiences available as part of the Oculus Rift launch line-up.