I'd like to issue a formal apology on behalf of everyone who keeps going on about the Oculus Rift. Sorry. It's just that the current development kits are filled with the promise of exciting escapism—even if it is to some deeply strange places. Luckily for everyone not yet prepared to deal with the DK2's current issues, news has emerged of the planned release window of the long-awaited consumer edition.
Oculus Rift development kits have been kicking around for awhile now, and by all reports they've awfully cool. But where are the consumer versions? Will they be meaningfully different from the DK units? And how much are they going to cost, anyway? Read on for answers—sort of.
I’ve been regularly strapping the office Oculus Rift to my head for a few months now, and I’m convinced virtual reality is something special, and not just a daft gimmick we’ll all laugh at in a decade. But there are still a lot of problems with the hardware as it exists today—including the recently released DK2 version—that will have to be ironed out before the thing is ready to appear in peoples’ living rooms. If, indeed, that ever happens.
Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson was not a happy camper when he heard that Oculus Rift had been acquired by Facebook. He was so put off by the news, in fact, that he pulled the plug on early-stage talks about developing an Oculus version of his game, because, as he put it, "Facebook creeps me out." But apparently it was just a passing thing, and now he's more concerned about the state of his socks.
As part of the new SDK, Oculus VR has updated the Rift's "Health and Safety Warning" documentation, and it's pretty great. There's something about the clash of new technology and old legislation that I find deeply amusing. As such, I'm going to highlight some of the highlights—not in an attempt to over-exaggerate the dangers of VR, but rather to celebrate sentences like, "symptoms of virtual reality exposure can persist and become more apparent hours after use."
Virtual reality exposure is a thing now. A thing with symptoms. That's pretty cool.
The space combat sim EVE: Valkyrie is a particularly exciting addition to the genre because it's being built from the ground-up to use the Oculus Rift VR headset. Assuming it lives up to the hype, that will make it one of the most uniquely immersive gaming experiences available, as players will have complete freedom of view through their cockpit windows as they yank-and-bank across the galaxy. But despite that great potential, executive producer Owen O'Brien doesn't believe it will herald a new generation of similarly engaging FPSes.
Oculus VR is dropping the hammer on Oculus Rift resellers by tracking them down through their eBay listings and canceling their preorders for the DK2 version of the headset. But it also warned that anyone who purchases an Oculus Rift "second hand" through eBay or elsewhere will be "on their own" if they run into trouble.
The Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 started shipping this week, but the company has been forced to suspend orders from China because of "extreme reseller purchases." It's now looking into alternative methods for getting the hardware into the hands of legitimate developers, but says it doesn't have a timeline for when that might happen.
As we started planning for E3, the busiest week of the year, we decided that simply covering every PC game we could get our hands on at the convention wasn't enough. We wanted to do something ambitious. Something that would make our lives harder. Something like shooting the first episode of a new bi-weekly series about PC games. We're calling it The PC Gamer Show.
Oculus VR has grown again with the acquisition of the Carbon Design Group, and while you may not recognize the name, you almost certainly know its work: It's the team that designed, among many other things, the controller for the Xbox 360.
Oculus VR has filed a response to ZeniMax Media's lawsuit against it, describing the trademark infringement claim as "a transparent attempt to take advantage of the Oculus VR sale to Facebook." It alleges that ZeniMax omitted and misstated facts in its suit, and repeated its own assertions that "there is not a line of ZeniMax code" in any Oculus VR product.
If it seems lately that everyone under the sun is going to work for Oculus VR, that may be because everyone under the sun is going to work for Oculus VR. The latest addition to the virtual reality dream team is Chris Jurney of Supergiant Games, the studio behind the indie hits Bastion and Transistor.
Developers offer plenty of reasons for 30 frames per second in blockbuster games, but Palmer Luckey isn’t having a bar of it. According to the Oculus Rift founder, not only is it inexcusable in virtual reality, but even consoles and onscreen PC games shouldn’t be let off the hook.
The most surprising, charming game I played at E3 was on the Oculus Rift, but it wasn't bullet-dodger Superhot or fright factory Alien Isolation. It was platformer Lucky's Tale, which looks and plays a whole lot like 3D Mario. But man oh man, does VR make a difference. The sense of depth it adds is immediately helpful and immersive, and I knew immediately VR would have been a killer feature in a game like Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U. But Lucky's Tale will be a PC, Oculus Rift exclusive, launching alongside the consumer version of the Rift at an unannounced future date. The demo was so exciting, I had to find out more.
In my last E3 appointment, I spent 30 minutes talking with creator Paul Bettner about how his studio stumbled onto the idea of doing a traditional platformer in VR, the technical challenges of nailing the VR camera, and the future of Oculus hardware.
Time-shifting indie shooter Superhot is one of the most interesting games to emerge from a game jam. The pitch is simple: when you’re moving, so is time. Bullets hang in the air when you aren’t walking, and moving more slowly gives you time to dodge, aim, and evaluate. It’s a fascinating twist on time and space in an FPS.
The Oculus Rift was one of our favorite things about last year's E3, so we were even more excited to see it at E3 2014. While both Evan and Wes got to try the new Rift DK2 unit and a trio of demos, they also spoke with Oculus vice president Nate Mitchell about the company's big hires—such as Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin—and big plans for first-party content.
Elite: Dangerous continues to impress. From its intricate trade routes to its unbelievably sexy hyperspace jumps, the future of interstellar freight delivery—or theft—looks bright. A new trailer released especially for E3 shows off system navigation, illegal salvage operations, and an improbable amount of whoosh-whoosh sound effects for a game set in space.
Oculus VR is slowly but surely turning into a sort of videogame industry all-star team. Former Steam boss Jason Holtman signed up last week, and before him the Oculus Rift maker gobbled up John Carmack, Michael Abrash, David MeMartini and a slew of others from some pretty big-name studios. And now that list has grown again with the addition of Naughty Dog co-founder and former THQ President Jason Rubin.
The Electronic Three is nigh. Next week, the entire gaming industry will descend on E3 2014, eager for big announcements at flashy press conferences and as many video games as can fit in LA's massive convention center. There will be new PC games and new PC hardware. That's all expected. But what about the unexpected? What E3 announcements will blow our minds? Is this the year Gabe Newell finally walks onto a stage and says "Half-Life 3 is done, and you can play it right now," and we all leave E3 early?
Probably not. As we psyche ourselves up for E3, the PC Gamer staff have made some wild and not-so-wild predictions about Oculus and Steam Machines and the biggest surprises we'll see at this year's show.