Oculus Rift Consumer Edition first impressions

Oculus Rift Consumer Edition first impressions

UPDATED: We play EVE: Valkyrie and Toybox with Oculus Touch and spatial audio
Eyes-on Oculus Rift Consumer Edition

Oculus Rift isn't ready yet. But we know that the final consumer version will arrive in early 2016 and we have joined the lucky few who have got to try out some actual gameplay on the latest Rift headset.

We played the latest build of CCP Games' upcoming EVE: Valkyrie space shooter on both an Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 and Crescent Bay earlier this year and then experienced Oculus' Toybox demo, complete with Oculus Touch controllers, at E3 2015 in June and again at Web Summit in November.

This updated hands on combines comments and impressions from all of these encounters with the Rift.

Oculus Rift: Design and Build

Oculus Rift review

The consumer edition Rift is very similar to Crescent Bay in everything but design. Covered in fabric, the fascia is removable and the headset has been refined for users with glasses. Oculus has also improved the balance of the headset and it features an adjustable dial to account for the differences in distances between gamers' eyes.

It feels much lighter than any of the previous iterations that we've tested and it definitely feels more 'product' than 'prototype' now.

It's still essentially a big black box with a strap but it looks heavier than it is.

The straps around the side have been altered too with a refined design of the sort of harness wrapping round and over your head. It still looks dorky and yes, it's still wired, but it feels much more natural and we moved our head around more as a result. The new 360-degree tracking was fluid and fast - not to say that it was awful before, just that the consumer edition does it better.

A fair amount of the heft of an Oculus Rift experience comes not just from the bulky headset but also from your headphones and now with the on-ears are actually integrated into the headset - these can be swapped out for your own cans if you prefer.

Oculus Rift: Display

Oculus Rift review

The main difference between the DK2 and Crescent Bay was how much clearer, crisper and convincing the VR world presented by Crescent Bay looked.

The Dev Kit 2 uses a display from a Galaxy Note 3 which works out as 960 x 1080 per eye. In smartphone terms that seems high res but if there's one thing VR needs to feel 'real' it's pixels and pixels and pixels. Try out a Gear VR to see exactly what we mean.

Read this: VR game design problems and how to fix them

The consumer edition Rift actually offers a 2160 x 1200 resolution; one resolution over the two OLED displays on board, working at 233 million pixels per second, with a 90Hz refresh rate.

It's not real life, by any stretch, and the HTC Vive actually seems more impressive even though, on paper, the display hardware is on par. However, it's definitely 'real' enough for you to get lost in the virtual worlds you're thrown in to.

Oculus Rift: Spatial sound

Oculus Rift review

EVE: Valkyrie is one game which takes advantage of the new Head Related Transfer Function tech for 3D spatial audio that builds more immersive sound into the game.

At the risk of getting shot down, we moved our head around to take advantage of this and really got the sense of missiles flying past us to attack enemy ships in our space dogfight.

Oculus has already been showing off specific demos with easy to spot 3D sound such as pipes whistling overhead in a submarine and some heavy breathing dinosaurs but it's an entirely different experience when you're in a game with the audio reacting to your head movements and controls.

Oculus Rift: Oculus Touch

Hands on with Oculus Touch at E3

The Oculus Touch controllers strap over your wrists like a Wii remote but are much more advanced than any other motion controllers we've used, except perhaps the prototypes used with the Valve/HTC Vive.

On each is a clickable thumbstick, a trigger for your forefinger and a button for your three remaining fingers to grip.

Read this: In depth hands on with Oculus Touch at E3 2015

Gripping virtual objects can be tricky at first but after a few tries, we figured it out - it's especially odd as you are already gripping the controller. In Oculus' Toybox demo we used the Touch controllers to pick up and throw blocks, light Roman Candles, play keepy-uppy with a table tennis paddle and even picked up a catapult with one hand and pulled back the elastic band with the other.

Overall, picking up and manipulating objects with the Touch controllers can be a really charming experience - it's not all shooting guns.

The race to VR headset launch

Oculus has a lot more competition than it did when it started out - OSVR, HTC's Vive, PlayStation VR - so now it's a good job Palmer Luckey and his team have figured out when to stop tinkering.

Read this: Oculus Rift versus PlayStation VR

Additions such as HRTF and the Touch controllers add a huge amount to the overall Rift experience in terms of immersion. High quality games are ready to launch day and date with the hardware. The display, design and performance of the headset is as good as its first consumer device needs to be.

We'll keep this hands on updated with any further time we get with Oculus Rift before it ships in late March 2016.

Additional reporting by Sophie Charara and Guy Cocker.

6 Comments

  • ElNido says:

    What about those of us who wear glasses? Oculus taking this into consideration for their consumer release?

    • rwarwar says:

      It says right in the article:

      "the headset has been refined for users with glasses."

      At least you have proved you need your glasses! ;)

      • ArmEagle says:

        I think his vision was blurred by the time travel.

        Joking aside. Just one line about something being done is far from enough to make me outright want it (though I'll certainly want some VR set). I'll go look for a review by a glasses wearer.

        • l.prasuethsut says:

          Heya! I wear glasses and have used the Consumer Edition several times. I like the notches that the Vive has for glasses wearers but the Rift is also actually pretty comfy. My frames are pretty large and they sit in the headset well. I just have to adjust the straps so it's comfortable. Though they do get stuck sometimes when I'm taking Rift off. The longest I've used it with glasses was about an hour and it was fine - however it was with Dragon Front (tutorial and an actual game) so I'm not sure how comfy it will be with a game that requires you to move your head more. Hope that helps!

  • shackdaddy says:

    Why is it still wired? Htc vive made there's wireless. 

    • p.lamkin says:

      Erm. Nope. There's a lot of wires with the Vive

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