The Rift Report: 10 of the best VR experiences
Every Tuesday Andy straps on the Oculus Rift and dives headfirst into the world of virtual reality in The Rift Report. Is it really the future of PC gaming? Let’s find out.
The Rift Report will be taking a break until I get my hands and eyes on the higher resolution DK2. But before I go, here’s a list of the games, tech demos, and other oddities I think make the most of the hardware. I’ve been using the Rift pretty frequently for a couple of months now, and it still manages to impress me. But the limitations of the original development kit are obvious, so I think I’ll wait until the fancypants new model lands on my desk before I continue my virtual reality odyssey.
I’ve put this at the top, because it’s my favourite VR game so far. The weighty ship handling and dramatic space battles are fun with just your archaic old eyes, but throw the Rift and a good flight stick into the mix and it’s like being in Star Wars, but with fewer Ewoks.
You’re an astronaut, and you’re drifting through space, away from the Earth, slowly, until you run out of oxygen and die. That’s the setup in this atmospheric and evocative demo that I actually enjoyed more than Gravity. Being able to import your own background music is a nice touch.
You can’t move in this demo. You’re pinned to a chair in a detailed, stylised room, and it seems like nothing’s happening, until you turn around and notice that, outside, Tetris blocks are falling from the sky. It’s like some surreal dream, and the lack of movement doesn’t diminish its impact.
Spirited Away Boiler Room
Someone has recreated a key set from Studio Ghibli’s brilliant, beautiful Spirited Away – the bath house boiler room – and it’s a very weird experience to wander around a 3D version of a 2D environment you know so well from an animated film. Its creator is doing My Neighbour Totoro next.
Solar System Explorer
Another of my favourite demos. This sees you flying around an almost to-scale replica of the solar system. Distances between planets feel vast, and there’s some incredible scenery, from sun flares, to the rings of Saturn, to Jupiter and its icy moons. A remarkable experience.
This amazing demo simulates the experience of being at the cinema. The screen feels genuinely massive, and the lighting in the room dynamically mirrors whatever’s on the screen. You can import most video files, including high-def Blu-ray rips. It’s like having your own personal 500 inch TV.
This is a proof of concept demo that simulates being Bruce Wayne in the Batcave. The holographic UI is really impressive, and I can see this being implemented into mission briefings for games. There’s a batmobile in the cave, but you can’t drive it, sadly. Just stare at its shiny bodywork.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
The genuinely, unironically good Euro Truck Simulator 2 works brilliantly with the Oculus Rift, especially if you have a force feedback wheel. The detailed 3D cabins give a good sense of depth as you look around, and the realistic handling makes for a satisfying sim experience.
Only a single room of this cyberpunk adventure game is currently available, but a Kickstarter campaign will ensure we see more if it’s successful. It’s a bit like being in Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner, and the view of a futuristic city out of the window is particularly impressive.
RedFrame Environment Demo
This is probably the most realistic Rift demo I’ve seen yet. It’s not exciting or interactive, but the quality of the modeling and lighting makes this bedroom (a sample environment from an adventure game) an eerily convincing and uncanny space to explore in VR.