5 Oculus Rift Demos You Need to See
The latest buzz around Oculus Rift is the rumoured time of the consumer release. At CES 2015, when questioned about a release date, CEO Brendan Iribe said he was very excited about 2015. While this sounds promising, it’s important to remember that there is currently no finished controller to accompany the headset. Nevertheless, this hint at an upcoming release is sure to get developers motivated to get their software ready for when the big date arrives.
Usable and affordable virtual reality is just what the gaming industry has been waiting for, but the uses of the Oculus Rift don’t stop there. For example, there are massive implications for the travel industry and some brands have already begun experimenting with try before you buy VR experiences, sending customers to far-flung destinations without leaving the shop. And educational and training applications create environments for the learner to really immerse themselves in the topic in a way books and videos could never do.
The potential for Oculus is massive, and the best way to get an idea of what the capabilities are, is to explore the available demos. With Oculus Rift DK2 landing in the SimpleUsability offices this month, we’ve had the chance to do just that. Here are five, which showcase its different strengths.
Sightline – The Chair
Probably the best demonstration of the unique immersiveness of Oculus Rift, ‘Sightline – The Chair’ introduces you to a dynamic virtual reality where your surroundings transform as you explore by moving your head to look around. With no gamepad necessary, there are no real-world distractions from the VR experience. The start of the demo gives the user a simple and engaging introduction to The Chair and really helps to set the scene and get you in the right frame of mind to experience everything it has to offer. The pace of the demo is just right, and the newest version provides the options to move through at your own pace, or even stay floating in Space mode for as long as you want. The strangest part of The Chair experience has to be taking off the headset and re-entering a reality after travelling through time and space, whilst everyone else carries on as normal.
A game built ground-up for VR, Vox Machinae puts you at the helm of a fighter robot, called a Grinder, on a mission to locate other friendly Grinders, whilst destroying enemies. Before starting the mission, you’re able to go through a tutorial to get to grips with the controls (which can be done on joystick or keyboard and mouse) and the feel of virtually sitting inside a massive robot, shooting lasers out of its arms. It’s amazing just how quickly this all feels normal, especially with the way the weapons systems move with your head, making aiming smooth and simple. There’s a lot of buzz around this game, and after having a play on the demo, it’s easy to see why. When Oculus Rift is finally released to consumers, Vox Machinae is likely to be a strong favourite.
Titans of Space
This demo shows us the potential of virtual reality in education. What better way to really understand the scale of our solar system than by getting up close and personal with each planet and moon, looking up at the sheer enormity of Jupiter and looking back at our relatively tiny Earth? The graphics are not realistic, but they’re super clear and the movement around the planets feels smooth and comfortable. Titans of Space is not only visually stunning, but the extra facts about each planet, moon and star create a truly interactive and immersive learning experience. Developer Drash plans to release several sequels, encompassing different aspects of space. There is no estimated release date yet, but already the next launch is highly anticipated.
Don’t Let Go
This demo is genuinely uncomfortable but that’s what makes is so impressive. The aim of the game is to keep both hands on the keyboard all the way through, whilst things happen around you in the virtual room. The use of sound is very clever and adds to the discomfort, aiming to make you let go of the keyboard to scratch your head and ears! Although the graphics are unrealistic, the experience feels very real – this is helped by the positioning of your avatar sat a desk with hands on the same keys, and a shadow of your head cast on the desk. This is the demo for anyone who thinks VR could never feel real enough.
With no need for any controller, this demo lets you experience flying over an Icelandic environment, taking in everything going on around you. Whilst not real footage of a destination, Iceland shows us a glimpse of what the travel industry could achieve with the use of VR. Virtual holidays will never replace actual holidays, but allowing potential travellers to immerse themselves in a virtual foreign land could revolutionise how holidays are sold, and really help to promote new destinations.
The demos currently available for Oculus Rift are enough to get you totally sold on virtual reality. The next few months are likely to see big advancements in the amount and quality of content available for Oculus Rift, getting ready for the consumer release, and going by the standard of what’s available already, the launch of the headset is bound to come along with some revolutionary applications.