As if to follow in the footsteps of the masses before me.. I decided it was time to give virtual reality a try, and with that, and honest review. I went out and bought myself an Oculus Rift (CV1). Mostly I just wanted to see what it was like and during a promo I picked up the full package for under $400.
First things first!
I’m sure someone will try to debate me on the differences of the HTC Vive and Rift. The long and short of it is, stop listening to Twitch streamers. Of course they will tell you one is better than the other when they get a commission for selling it to you.
So which is better?
Trick question. Both have pro’s and cons. Shall we compare differences?
- Every single game on the Oculus store works flawlessly. No bugs, no render errors.
- The touch controllers are much better in terms of feeling natural.
- Much more affordable.
- Most Steam games using SteamVR work just fine. After configuring sensors correctly.
- Requires 3 USB 3.0 ports. A powered USB 3.0 HUB can be used.
Full Package Cost: $389
- Not owned by Facebook.
- Front facing camera so you can “see around you” without taking the headset off.
- Better resolution (less blurry, more on that below).
- Full Steam Support.
- No support for Oculus store/games.
Full Package Cost: $799
The major differences? Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Both will work just as well as the other for the intended tasks. You may be asking if I am biased because I already own the Rift, and that may be true.
But just remember, my main goal was to experience “virtual reality” and I have. What about the other Virtual Reality systems, you ask? Don’t bother. Now that we have that out of the way. Let’s move on to the actual experience.
What’s it really like?
I won’t lie, it’s breathtaking the first time you put a headset on and experience full motion gaming. Videos will do it no justice. Just to give an example, no horror movie or game has ever scared me much.
With that in mind, a very simple, and free, VR game (Face Your Fears) had me turning it off after a few minutes. I came back later to try and man myself through it and noped out again within a few minutes.
What about side effects? Headaches, dizziness, and all those other things…
The first time I put on the headset I got a headache within 20 minutes and I stayed away from it for a full day. I’m not sure if that was my brain adjusting to the experience or maybe I just got a headache from something else. Every other time I have messed with it the only downside is my legs hurting from using them more than normal.
There is one issue that effects all Virtual Reality headsets and that has to do with eyesight. If you wear glasses, everything will be a bit blurry just like in real life. Don’t get me wrong, the resolution on headsets is pretty poor so some things are blurry natively.
It is, however, much worse if you need corrective lenses. I highly suggest contacts. You could also attempt what I did and wear your glasses under the headset, be prepared for a mass of fogged lens after a few minutes and an uncomfortable feeling around your entire face.
Are the games actually good?
Not really, developers are still learning how to use the new technology. Most games are very simple, straight forward, and short. There are only a few games out of the few dozen I have tried that make a mark, those are:-
Aside from those, there are also the games not made for VR that have been adapted. Most will use an Xbox One controller or the like. While I will admit they can be fun, they don’t give the full experience.
What about the space needed?
This was one of my concerns. I only have around 3 square feet in the living room without moving some furniture around. I assumed this was going to be a problem with some stuff. It’s not. As long as you have enough room to stand or sit in a chair, you generally have enough room.
You will have to trick the sensors of this during setup though as they will try to make you set at least a 5×7 area. You can see the previous article on my setup for an idea of my room size.
Okay, makes sense. Do you suggest it?
Yes! Absolutely! Let me put this into perspective. I have reached that age where gaming in general has gotten boring and repetitive. I often want to play a game but after 20 minutes or so, I turn it off out of boredom and go do something else. With my now 2 month old Oculus Rift, I can play until my legs start giving out (I don’t use a chair, that’s cheating).
The experience is something you truly do have to feel for yourself. There is no possible way you can understand it by watching a video or listening to someone talk about it (like me). The good news is, prices are getting lower and what most would consider a “mid-range gaming PC” can fully handle Virtual Reality.
Update: May 2018
Buy any VR you like as long as Beat Saber is available for it. It makes the cost worth it entirely. No kidding, just search some YouTube videos.