If you have not used it, the Oculus Rift could look like a gimmick. The idea of wearing a strange looking device on your face when playing games sounds really funny, and the revolutionary way it promises to change gaming seems far fetched. At least, that’s what I thought.
Now that I have experienced the Oculus Rift first hand, I can see the potential. While I will always have a hard time explaining to people what the Oculus Rift looks like, explaining how it could change gaming is a no-brainer.
The ability to look around and absorb the game world by physically turning in a full 360 degrees is amazing; it’s something we could have only dreamed of 10 years ago. It adds another layer of immersion and there is potential for extra strategy when playing shooters or games that require good situational awareness. Just imagine being able to hold you gun in front of you, but at the same time be able to quickly glance back to see if anyone is trying to sneak up on you. What about if you were playing a sports game like Madden, for example? Playing in a first person view as the Quarter Back and being able to physically look around for an open receiver or a gap in the defence.
For my playtime with the Oculus, I was given an open world driving game. The first thing I thought when I put the goggles on was that it did not look that good. The game looked like a slightly improved 64 bit game, but that was probably just for the purpose of the tech demo (I do know a 1080p version is in the works). Once that thought left my mind, there was nothing but amazement. I could drive, but look around at the same time. I have never, ever been able to do this in any game – using the analog stick to look around in racing games does not count. Albeit, it is important to keep your eyes on the road because, like normal driving, you will crash if you cannot see where you are going.
In this profession, it is my job to use words to describe what I saw, but the words are difficult to find. I was going to get you to close your eyes, but then I realised that would not work.. so just imagine this. You are playing a game like Forza or Gran Turismo, racing through a city circuit. As you pass under a bridge, you physically turn your head and see the bridge in all its glory, basking in the sun. Then you turn back and continue racing. That’s what you would be able to do with the Oculus Rift, and it’s simply phenomenal to think that it could be possible in the next year or so.
While the experience was surreal, I did find myself developing a small headache after a few minutes. I was told that my eyes would adjust to it eventually, but I have a feeling that it could have been my eyesight that caused the issue. I have astigmatism, so one of my eyes is not as strong as the other one. Since the Oculus transmits the same image into each eye, it’s possible what I was seeing was a little off because one eye may not have been seeing it as well as the other. This could prove to be a problem for some, but there is not really a way for the developers to work around that anyway.