If you’re a fan of virtual reality (VR) technology, get excited. In a press conference this morning in San Francisco, the makers of the Oculus Rift VR Headset made several announcements about their upcoming hardware.
Oculus showed off the final look of their headset, complete with a small sensor to monitor your movements and sleek, built-in detachable headphones. The headset has been given an official release date of Quarter 1, 2016.
The small screens inside the headset are high-resolution OLED displays designed to eliminate motion blur. This final headset is also more lightweight than ever, which should help the user forget that they’re wearing it. Plus, a small dial will allow users to adjust the lenses to match the distance between their own eyes. The new headset will be accommodating for glasses-wearers (woo hoo!).
Thanks to a partnership with Microsoft, the Oculus Rift will be compatible with Windows 10 and Xbox One, and will come bundled with a wireless Xbox One controller. You will be able to stream your existing Xbox One games like Halo and Sunset Overdrive directly to the headset. Although the games will display in 2D, you will feel as if you’re sitting in a fancy home theater as you play.
Oculus Rift will be released simultaneously with several games that were built from the ground up for VR.
EVE: Valkyrie, by the makers of EVE Online, will be a space combat game available for Oculus on release. Chronos is a fantasy RPG with environmental exploration and puzzles. The main character actually ages over the course of the game, and by the end of the game you play as an old man. Edge of Nowhere by Insomniac Games is a surreal adventure game with horror elements. It takes place in the arctic. VR Sports Challenge will be a sports simulator. There will also be a first-person shooter called Damaged Core, a telekinesis simulator called ESPER, a kid-friendly game about a fox called Lucky’s Tale, and many more.
Oculus will be compatible with Unity and Unreal Engine, so indie developers can experiment with their own small VR games at low cost. And with Oculus Share, those developers can upload their games directly to an online space and reach an audience immediately. Oculus announced that they would be investing $10 million in indie game development. This is a smart move, because as an expensive piece of hardware, Oculus is going to need a lot of games to convince players to invest. This will also make Oculus more competitive with Valve’s own VR headset, Vive. Valve is the company that owns Steam, which is currently one of the most accessible platforms for indie game developers.
Oculus Home is the name of Oculus’s main menu. With Home, users can watch VR previews, buy VR games, or interact with their Xbox friends online without ever taking the headset off. Alternately, players can browse the store and manage their games without putting the headset on. This feature is important because it will make it super easy to access the software’s main functions without taking the Rift on and pulling it off again over and over.
Oculus Touch was their last big announcement of the day. Codenamed Half Moon, Oculus Touch is the company’s new controller interface, designed specifically for virtual reality. Oculus Touch controllers are two small devices held in each hand. They are mirror images of each other, and they are designed to make it feel natural to interact with virtual environments. They are equipped with joysticks and buttons for traditional gaming, but also with motion control and haptic feedback for a more natural experience. Oculus Touch is currently still in the prototype phase, but it will allow for natural motions like giving a thumbs up or waving.
If you want to learn more about virtual reality technology, check out the official Oculus website or read some of our articles about the technology. You can also watch the full presentation yourself right here (skip to 35 minutes).