It’s highly possible that video games are on the cusp of a virtual reality revolution, and leading the push into gaming’s VR era are the makers of the Oculus Rift headset. While speculation about the device’s performance and specs has been a hot topic in the industry for quite some time now, it seems as if the company is close to being ready to reveal most, if not all of the gadget’s potentially game changing features.
Today, Oculus VR CEO Palmer Luckey helmed a pre-E3 press conference for the Oculus Rift, revealing a brand new input apparatus designed specifically for virtual reality immersion called Oculus Touch. The new devices—as there is a “controller” for both hands—allow players to interact with objects, and manipulate them within virtual landscapes. Plus, the tools let gamers use communicative gestures like being able to point or give a thumbs-up.
Luckey has laid out the projects’ goals that range from traditional inputs to rather ambitious components. While the former is modeled after familiar game controls, like dual analog sticks, A/B buttons, and two trigger inputs, the latter is angling for something VR-oriented, such as haptic feedback and a matrix of sensors that track each hand for a more precise experience of manipulating virtual items.
Regarding the Oculus Touch’s proprietary designed properties, Luckey has said:
“Once you have your hands involved, you really need tracking to be perfect or you’re going to feel like your hands are dead. . . . You need to be able to pick up a gun from a table and then fire it, throw it, or drop it, effortlessly.”
The conference’s reveal of Oculus Touch has also provided news of Oculus Rift’s partnership with Microsoft to have streamable Xbox One games for the units, as well as an included Xbox controller with each individual VR headset. And should that not be exciting enough for gaming fans anticipating the Oculus Rift’s arrival, Insomniac Games has announced a third-person arctic-expedition adventure game for the device called Edge of Nowhere. Details for the game are slim, but the exclusive science fiction-esque title will send players in search of a lost arctic expedition that will eventually have them encountering eerie, supernatural elements along the way.
While Oculus is dominating the virtual reality conversation for the most part, the company isn’t without its competitors. Sony, for instance, is looking to wow virtual reality fans as well by showing off their own headset with a demonstration of Project Morpheus at E3. Plus, despite the announcement of their recent collaboration with Oculus, Microsoft has an impressive VR unit of their own with the HoloLens, which could give the Rift a run for its money.
Speaking of which, with such stiff rivalry already encroaching upon Oculus’ turf, the company’s success will ultimately hinge upon whether or not quality content will always be available, and if gamers can afford paying for the headsets upon their release. And with firm CEO Brendan Iribe suggesting an estimated all-in cost of $1500 for the Oculus Rift, it’s feasible that the price point might deter fans from making the investment.
Regardless, a lot of people don’t even know if there’s longevity in virtual reality headsets yet, so the significance of VR gaming’s current concepts could be a moot point in the near future. However, the results in the medium thus far have been tantalizing to say the least.
The Oculus Rift is expected to be available for consumers during Q1 of 2016.