Oculus Rift and Touch controllers – rapid evolution of VR

Having primarily engaged in console gaming the past few years I thought it was about time we had a decent spec PC in the house again. I decided on a high end MSI laptop with a glowing keyboard and UHD screen to level up the house tech. The predlets have been enjoying it too, getting to use a mouse (A high end logitech gaming mouse) to engage with some different types of games has been good for them. The Mac’s and Minecraft are one thing but it seems the high end Windows 10 stuff seems to be more reliable than my previous windows experiences. The Upgraded 10 from 8 on my older laptop (which was a good spec a few years ago) was appalling and crashy. It did work a bit though for the early access Kickstarter for Elite Dangerous and my original Oculus headsets the 1 and the DK2 did work (with a bit of faffing). Watching these original headsets evolve into todays product has been fascinating
Dk1 and dk2
SO with a new PC in the house I took the plunge and got the Oculus Rift and also the Touch controllers. It was the latter that really elevates the Rift from its previous incarnations. Now, with two sensors, it can triangulate the position of the headset and the controllers in a much bigger space. In fact it is more space than we have free even in the relatively open kitchen area. You don’t have to have a big space, some things are designer to be seated to standing in one place, but being able to draw the boundaries of the space and be notified of them in the headset (with a virtual mesh wall that appears) takes this much further than my previous home experiences, even with the PSVR.
The screen display resolution and refresh rate as you turn and move is much more comfortable than the PSVR, reducing some of the the nausea inducing effects of VR.
But what about the content? Well… As an old hand at VR and virtual it is still great to be able to put a headset on and just laugh or gasp at the impact these things can have.

Robo Recall – Comes with the setup, bright city environments and sneaker robots running at you. Using the Touch controllers you grab pistols from your side or shotguns from your back and blast away. You can catch and deflect incoming bullets, and if the bad guys get to close, drop the guns nd grab the machines and pull their arms off. You play in a single place, but turn a lot (risky with the cable) and teleport, which takes some getting use to as you have to orientate. It sees you ducking an dodging firing two directions at a time or putting 2 guns together and blam! Its very good!

SuperHot VR – This is even better! The original console SuperHot with its stylised orange characters and minimalist whist building structures sees you only have time progress when you move. The same applied in VR but you have head and body movement combined with both hands to deal with the incoming attacks. If you want to feel like John Wick, play this. Dodging, punching, catching guns dropped by bad guys and turning and dispatching those behind you is just superb. You have to be very careful of the swinging punches and and the gaming area border. It’s great defence training for my martial art, just a pity I can’t kick too.

Facebook Spaces – I created my avatar, I have a table in a room, at a fixed location, I can take pictures with a selfie stick and video called the family from there. It was very exciting, in many ways a backwards step from Second Life experiences but with a honed physical experience due to the headset. Roll on getting the two principles fully working, free moving, construction in virtual space with social interaction. (Yes I know there are few trying it 🙂 ) I also have bot tried the Oculus Rooms.

Google Tilt Brush – This is a beautiful experience. Painting and splashing colours and effects around in a full 3d Space. My attempt is not going to win any prizes but it felt very good. The Dobok should be white but I had picked a blue like white but in a white lit environment I did not notice

The Climb – This was a favourite for Predlet 1.0, 2.0 had a go too but VR is not good under 13’s according to the blurb. Reaching up and across with the touch controllers is very physical.

Predlet 1.0 rock climbing #vr

Elite Dangerous – It is a lot better with the higher resolution, it was hard to read the screens on DK2 and with the early betas from kickstarts of the game. Now, Wow! Also the Xbox controller schema on a headset is a lot easier to deal with than when I had my fancy stick but couldn’t see all the buttons. Elite still stick in my memory from the early release in VR when my screen cracked and I was on reserve oxygen, and found myself regulating my breathing in real life. That is a gaming moment I will remember for ever and is an example of the impact this level of immersion can have.

Star Trek Bridge Crew – Well I have that on the PSVR, but I am tempted to get it for the Rift too as there is cross play and I can friend myself of PSVR and see if we can get a 2 player team going 🙂

There are more experiences and games to explore of course but this cross section is pretty cool. I need to clear some more space for SuperHot VR and I did destroy the kitchen notice board with a side fist, but I caught the bad guys wagon and turned and used it on those attacking from the other side, with destroying the fridge too. Another memorable gaming moment too 🙂

I had a few issues getting the Rift to play movies, I used the virtual desktop but Amazon and Netflix didn’t want to stream out to another HDMI device. All very old school copy protection, or a setting I missed.

What’s missing is fully body, lets just hook a Kinect up so we can see legs too ? The dynamics of physical gaming come back into play, but in a tethered and potentially dangerous way, despite the boundary protection. The solution is far from ideal, but if it was about practicality…

My biggest problem is having to pack away and set up again each time with both sensors, it’s a barrier to entry even in a house that has quite a lot of room. It would also be handy if my phone and sms alerts that appear on my apple watch popped up in the view too 🙂

The proper games though are fantastic. The “Experiences” are usually way too short though Spiderman (free) is way way better than the utterly appalling Martian one (Paid) from a few years ago. Onwards!

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