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The Oculus Rift is coming out Q1 2016. In a presentation, the company explains how much has improved with the headset and what the future holds for this product. There is also the debate between whether Unity or Unreal Engine is the better engine for the VR experience.
Virtual Reality is the future of gaming and Oculus is right at the front lines with its new headset that is coming out early 2016. Previously, it was extremely heavy and bulky causing much discomfort to users, making one wonder how Oculus expects people to buy this and use it comfortably. The Oculus Rift of today actually feels and looks like something the consumer could buy.
Improvements to Headset
- Smaller size and lighter weight, allowing the consumer to hold the hardware in one hand
- Higher-quality plastics and fabrics
- Now wearable with glasses (perfect for someone like me who has horrible vision)
- A pair of removable headphones that can be mounted onto the headsets adjustable side rails
The one thing that hasn’t changed however, is that the headset still requires a cable and a powerful gaming PC to handle its games.
Because the space between everybody’s eyes have different distances, the final Oculus Rift will allow you to adjust the IPD (interpupillary distance) of the optics. Underneath the headset there is a little slider that lets you change the distance between the lenses.
Inside the headset is a pair of low persistence OLED screens for each eye. The CEO of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, said that “there’s no motion blur, no judder, no pixels. It feels just like you’ve put on a pair of glasses.” That’s great news to me because with the previous headset, it felt like I put on a pair of 5 pound glasses that I had to struggle to keep on my face. Another change is tot he optics display, it is completely removable now – allowing installation of lenses that fit your face more comfortably (also so you can fit your glasses inside). There is also a sensor that you can place in front of you that is designed to track you whether you’re sitting or standing.
Xbox One Controller
Every Oculus Rift comes with a Xbox One controller which comes with a wireless adaptor to connect to your PC. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, announced that Xbox One games such as Halo, Forza, and Sunset Overdrive can be streamed onto the Oculus Rift. The games aren’t optimized for Oculus though so it will just feel like you’re playing the regular games on a large big-screen TV.
The company is working on a motion controller as well. There is one for both hands and each controller has an analog stick, two triggers, and two buttons. Did I mention they are wireless?
The Oculus Rift can track the controllers in a virtual environment with the sensors and camera. The most impressive thing is that they can actually register hand gestures such as a wave hello or a thumbs-up. They will arrive the first half of 2016.
The interface includes a built-in store, friends list, and status update indicators for wi-fi and battery life. If you’re plugged into a laptop you can see if the battery is dying without the hassle of taking off the headset.
VR Optimized Games
Games made for VR will be releasing in the future:
To be honest, I really wasn’t a fan of the games that are coming out, but it looks really nice for space-sim games like Eve: Valkyrie. I’m excited for this one.
Oculus Funds Indies
Oculus made an announcement saying they will invest $10 million to assist indie developers in the creation of games for the Oculus. This means a variety of new and exciting games are in the possible future.
Unity Vs. Unreal Engine
Unity Technologies came out with a new update, Unity 5.1, which brings a new unified development experience for VR platforms.
The new update to Unreal Engine (4.8) includes support for the latest VR hardware which includes Oculus. Most of the first-party VR games and apps that were demonstrated at Oculus Connect were built with Unreal Engine 4.
The debate between whether Unity or Unreal Engine is better for Oculus, is still in the air. Some say Unity has the advantage due to a higher frame rate performance, which is critical for VR because it reduces nausea and sickness. Others might say Unreal is better because it has a higher fidelity which makes it easier to create more realistic worlds and for customization of visuals. You can join the debate on Reddit and come to a conclusion yourself.