With the European release of the Oculus Rift, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my thoughts on the HMD. Having been one of the first developers to get our hands on the CV1 prototypes when I was at Crytek, and now handling the actual consumer version, I hope to be able to give you some insight on what you can expect.
Build Quality – Early handmade versions of the headset were fragile at best… Sorry Oculus for the returned busted prototype headsets. I can honestly say now that it appears as if many of the issues that plagued those headsets have been ironed out for rugged consumer use. This is evident by the attention to detail around the quality of the cables and streamlining of the strap system used to tighten the Rift.
Look and Feel – The Oculus Rift CV1 is a slick piece of kit. From the look and feel of the packaging right down to the remote, the team at Oculus really hit it out of the park. The sensor looks like some minimalist sculpture that Dieter Rams designed himself. Make no mistake that anyone who gets close enough to see your VR setup will immediately zero in on the headset just based on its coolness factor.
Controllers – When you unbox your kit you will be happy find an Xbox-one controller that needs no introduction, plus a wireless dongle to make it easier to stand if you feel so inclined. Additionally there is a small remote control device that has been crafted so that you can feel the button shapes, making it easier to use when you’ve got the device strapped to your head. Whether you’re gaming or just navigating menus, Oculus has it covered…for the most part (see Con’s).
Installation – It’s quite evident that when you first install the rift that a good deal of effort has been put into the installation process. The directions are clear and easy to understand and there is a really handy checklist to make sure that all of the devices are plugged in and calibrated correctly. It even updated the drivers and installed them during the initial installation process. For us PC people we know that it’s the little things that make life easier. As a caveat, make sure your graphic drivers are all up to date before starting.
Headset Stand – There is none. This might not seem like a big deal, but having just shelled out a good chunk of cash to buy this piece of kit, I really wish there was something to put it on. This is important because there are only a couple of ways to lay the headset down. One way is on the face down and the other is face forward. Both ways have the potential to wear down the headphones or scratch the front bit. The best example of this is when you buy a set of nice wireless headphones they give you a base to put the headphones on that also charge them. The headset doesn’t need charging obviously, but the repeated use and placement means that a nice secure spot would be great. For me I just make sure to keep the box handy and place it back inside when I’m not using it.
No Touch – Why is this a con? To be perfectly honest, the Oculus Touch, for me, is by far the best controller I’ve ever used and it is a bit sad to see it not available to the public at the time of this writing. When you use the touch on a daily basis, you quickly realize that this is the missing link. The ergonomics, ease of use, and extra dimension of control in VR makes the experience. I can’t stress enough how much of a game changer it is, and as a developer, it would be great if it were already out in the wild.
- Keep alcohol wipes handy because everyone will want to try it, and you will want to keep the foam padding on the face mask clean for obvious reasons.
- Soft Lens cleaning cloths are a must for making sure you don’t have smudges on the lenses. *See the first pro-tip above.
- Find yourself a good swivel chair where you can lean back if you like to sit during VR experiences. Having demoed hundreds of times this really makes the experience much more comfortable for most people.
- Use large paper clasps to wrangle your cable to the chair back or your desk. This gives the cables some freedom to move around and rotate while you’re in VR.
Patrick Esteves is the former Creative Director of VR for Crytek and was directly involved with the development of their two recent VR games: The Climb for Oculus Rift and the upcoming Robinson – The Journey for Playstation VR.