So yeah, I did it… I pulled the trigger and shelled out C$549 for an Oculus Rift bundled with two sensors and the new touch controllers.
Let’s go back in time just a couple of years ago.
I wasn’t a huge believer in virtual reality (which we will now refer to as ‘VR.’) Don’t get me wrong; when we first started seeing the concept on the internet, I was super excited. I immediately dreamt of a future in which you could be anything you wanted to be in a virtual space. It’d be like a portal into another world; your world. However, as time went on, the slow progression of VR lead me to believe that the system was doomed to end up as being nothing more than a gimmick or impractical in a home; just like 3D televisions.
Although progress was slow, VR did improve steadily. One of the biggest barriers was its price; it was simply unaffordable to the masses. A couple of years ago, you’d have to spend more than a thousand bucks for just the headset itself. Then you’d need to spend even more building a PC up to spec for the games. That leads us into the next issue; the games. There weren’t enough “great” titles. When people thought of VR, they probably thought of PewDiePie playing Amnesia or something of the like. Additionally, the experience itself wasn’t as immersive as people had hoped for. Playing VR with a mouse and keyboard is lame, Xbox controllers are barely any better.
Fast forwarding to today, the circumstances have certainly improved. The Oculus Rift’s summer sale brought the headset down to C$544/U$399. The price drop on its own will undoubtedly help drive the system into mainstream. Powerful PC’s are also getting cheaper. My $600 almost-five-year-old GeForce GTX 780 “doesnt meet the minimum requirements” for VR, but a new <$200 GTX 1050 will do just fine. Games have come a long way too, now we have plenty of fun games to enjoy in VR. Titles such as Robo Recall, Gorn, Super Hot, Pavlov and Onwards are just a few of many shining examples. What really helps to makes these games immersive are the new controllers; Oculus’ Touch Controllers and HTC’s wand controllers.
VR started to pop up in public settings; shopping malls, Microsoft stores, tech fairs, there are now even VR cafes for people who want to experience an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive in a social setting! A few months ago, I had my first experiences with the Vive and the Rift at the NCIX tech fair. My experience with the headsets were much better than my previous experiences with a couple of different Google Cardboard models. It had me interested in VR, but not interested enough to spend all that money to get myself a system in my home. Then, a few months later, I went to the Microsoft Store with a friend who insisted I had to try the VR game they were demonstrating. So I went, and I was blown away. I played Robo Recall on their Oculus Rift with touch controllers, the hand motions just felt so natural, it was almost perfect. I ended up beating the store’s high score, according to the Microsoft employee who was running the demonstration, but my friend beat my score shortly after. When we left the store that day, I knew that now is the optimal time to be an early adopter of this new technology.
A week and a half into owning the Rift.
It’s been a week and a half since the Rift arrived and I feel like I have the system figured out pretty well. Now, I inviting friends over to let them experience proper VR for the first time, and their reactions are always priceless. I also play often in my own spare time. My favourite games so far are Robo Recall, Holopoint, and Pavlov. In my opinion, seeing the videos about VR doesn’t do it justice. You have to put yourself into a proper system and experience it for yourself.
Is VR for you?
So after reading about my excitement, you may be wondering to yourself if VR is something you would enjoy. Like I stated above, VR is something you really have to try yourself to form a good judgement on it. However, up until then, you can ask yourself the following:
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I have ambitious plans for VR in my future. If everything goes according to plan, I will transform our dining room into a VR room. It’ll be an environment put together for the optimal VR experience. There will be giant beanbags for friends to lay on while waiting for their turns, a large 43″ TV to spectate the current player’s game, a custom built PC, and excellent cable management, with the main cord running from the back of your head up into the ceiling. Also, green screens for next-level videos.