Wednesday, June 17, 2015

E3 2015: Oculus Rift Prepares Gamers For A Whole New World

You aren't going to care how stupid you look.
A couple of years back, Oculus VR made massive waves at E3 with a very early prototype of their VR headset, and while they still haven’t launched just yet, the success of their prototype VR headsets have inspired a lot of excitement and a lot of other companies to get involved in virtual reality in a big way. This year there are at least five different VR headsets on show at E3, and that’s not including Microsoft’s own augmented reality concept, the Holo-Lens.

Oculus are at the show with their own booth and a bunch of demos showing the Oculus Rift with a model very close to what they’ll finally be launching to consumers early next year. Building on everything they’ve learnt, the final version of the Rift is going to come with two high resolution screens that refresh 90 times a second. Removable built in headphones are a new addition, allowing people with expensive headphones to swap in their own, but guaranteeing everyone has good sound as a baseline. They’ve partnered with Microsoft to bundle the popular Xbox One controller with every headset, and to ensure that Windows 10 will offer simple plug and play support for the headset.

The Rift is going to require a high end PC to run the content, at least for the next few years. That high cost of entry looks like less of an issue as Oculus show off more and more games and software, such as "Edge of Nowhere", an exclusive title from "Ratchet and Clank" developers Insomniac. Take a look...

"Edge of Nowhere" surprised a few people by being a third person game, but having gone hands on with a number of similar experiences already, I can tell you that VR works wonderfully for third person games. This atmospheric horror title is set in the Antarctic and VR adds a physicality and scale to everything, and frees the player up to just look around as they please and focus on moving the character. Insomniac have made some major exclusive titles for Microsoft and Sony in the past (most recently Sunset Overdrive on Xbox One), and seeing a major AAA developer offering up a slice of exclusive content really demonstrates the excitement behind VR in the development community.

Games are just one part of what’s to come with the Rift, as atmospheric experiences that let you explore imaginative environments are also coming. We've already seen some content based on "Game of Thrones" and "Interstellar", which will hopefully get expanded upon and released to the public. Even original stories are coming from incredibly creative people that have worked on some of Pixar’s and Dreamwork’s best movies, the first being an interactive movie called "Henry".

This guy is likely to prove VR stories can tug heartstrings.
"Henry" is an interactive 3D movie about a hedgehog on his birthday. Viewers can peek into his home as he gets ready for his birthday party and stresses about whether or not any of his friends are going to show up, moving their heads to follow him around the different floors and rooms in his house, like peeking into a dollhouse. Something as simple as seeing a hedgehog look the size of a real hedgehog is surprisingly impactful, and pairing that with a heart warming short animated story is hopefully going to open a lot of eyes towards VR, not just as a gaming medium, but as a whole new medium in and of itself.

Gaming is currently the focus of VR, mainly because it takes a high end gaming PC to run these experiences at the resolutions and framerates needed to avoid the nausea and headache inducing failed attempts of the past. Something tells me people with the required hardware will be popular amongst their friends next year.

It’s cool to play a game like Star Wars Battlefront and put yourself into a famous scene from the movies, but it’s something else entirely to truly feel like you’re inside a cockpit of a space ship in the middle of a giant battle in games like "EVE Valkyrie".


Oculus want to ensure that the hardware is as light and comfortable as possible, that the headset is as simple to use as plugging into your PC and placing a single sensor next your monitor, and that when it launches next year, it offers not just the type of first person atmospheric games hardcore gamers play, but that it also offers colourful third person platformers like "Lucky’s Tale" and interactive story experiences like "Henry". They’re really dedicated to the future of VR as a form of mainstream entertainment and it’s exciting to see how far they’ve already come.

In just over half a year, we'll get to experience all this in our own homes and decide for ourselves if this really is the next important form of entertainment, or just an expensive doodad that'll give us headaches before it gathers dust. From what I've seen already, let's just say I'm a believer.

No comments :

Post a Comment