My first impressions when hearing about the Oculus Rift years ago was a mix of cautious excitement mixed with a bit of apprehension towards the high price point and rumors that a high end pc would be required to operate it. With those two things in mind, I did little more than to keep tabs here and there with regards to VR as a whole. This past Christmas, my wife had gotten a ViewMaster VR headset which was actually pretty cool for a $30 device that runs through your phone. The Space experience pack was the best of the bunch in my opinion allowing you to jump from the orbit of the planets of the solar system and their moons. Aside from the Experience Packs available for purchase, the device doubles as a Google Cardboard viewer with all of the videos available in that regard, therefore providing a nice cheap VR fix.
A few months later, my friend's wife bought him a PlayStation 4 for his birthday, and PSVR was in his house soon after. They invited me over one Friday to try it out with the few games they had at the time. I don't know how exactly to say it, but it was impressive and unimpressive to me at the same time. Playroom VR was the first thing they showed me, and it was neat, somewhat fun in a Nintendo Land/tech demo kind of way. Not mind blowing though. They also showed me Rush of Blood, which had a creep factor to it, but not overtly scary in my opinion. Anyway, we shut it off after a bit and started playing NHL 17 for a bit before I went home. They invited me back over to play again another time, but really I just didn't have the interest to do so. It didn't sink its teeth into me the way you would hope a new experience would.
Fast forward a few months when I heard of the Oculus Rift going on sale. The Headset and Touch controllers are now bundled together for $399. My excitement for the Rift suddenly started to come back. But, so many people were still saying that you need a $1000+ computer to operate it, so I ran the Rift Compatibility test on my $400 PC and the only thing requiring an upgrade was my graphics card. Now, I was completely sold that I could do this. I ordered the Oculus Rift from Best Buy, which for $399 came with the Headset, the Touch Controllers, 2 sensors, and Eve Valkyrie. I also ordered a 1060 6GB graphics card. I've never upgraded a PC's graphics card despite playing my fair share of PC games over the years, I just never felt the need compared to what I was using my PC for and what games I was playing. But after watching an instructional video on YouTube, I felt ready to tackle it. I ordered a dual fan, and while it was much larger than I anticipated, I rearranged the inside of my PC to make it fit, and eventually got everything running. The tech demo tutorial First Contact starts up, and I am instantly blown away. I have been transported to a computer lab RV where I meet a hovering robot who awesomely looks like R.O.B. from the NES. I am convinced that this is no mere coincidence, because there is a polaroid of the robot in the computer lab labeled "Stack It!" I begin interacting with my virtual environment. Picking-up and tossing empty soda cans. Picking up a VHS tape and sticking it into a monitor. "ROB" starts handing me disks to stick into a 3D printer. The Rocket Disk prints out a Rocket which a pick-up with right hand. There is a string hanging from the back of the rocket, so I pull that with my left hand. This ignites the rocket and off it goes through lab. It was an extremely immersive experience and hooked me instantly right from the demo. It proved that something could be a tech demo, free, and mind blowing all at the same time.
My wife and I were both blown away, and I immediately began downloading other free games and purchasing quite a few as well. Here is what else I have played so far (other than First Contact shown above) POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Disney Movies VR:
Take part in scenes from Disney movies like The Jungle Book, Pete's Dragon, & Beauty and the Beast. I played the "Trust In Me" scene from The Jungle Book where you Ka through Mowgli's eyes. This was really good and pretty intimidating when Ka bares her fangs and lunges at you. There is a Star Wars section with original content, not from the movies, such an X-Wing scout mission that discovers the construction of the first Death Star surrounded by a fleet of Star Destroyers. The content is brief, the videos I played are not interactive, but they are free, and they are enjoyable.
Take part in an expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. I haven't put much time into this yet (I'm only 2 days into my Rift being set up), but what I have seen looks amazing. I went to base camp where you can interact with objects and make an offering in the hopes of good fortune on your ascent. I also traversed a ladder over a chasm at the Khumbu Icefall before I had to go out for the day . This "Experience" is amazing and I look forward to putting more time into it.
Batman Arkham VR:
Play as Batman. See the Wayne's shot right in front of you and have Joe Chill get up close and personal. The graphics on this are extremely well handled by the Rift. The most amazing moment for me, and yet seemingly trivial, is looking at Batman's reflection on a monitor in the Batcave. I have never in my life looked in the mirror and saw someone else staring back at me. It was extremely disconcerting and intriguing at the same time. Again, I haven't put much time into this one just yet. I have urged my friend to get this for his PSVR. When he does, I'll be able to make a comparison.
VR Sports Challenge:
A collection of minigames from 4 different sports (Football, Baseball, Basketball, & Hockey). In my opinion, this game is the Wii Sports of the Oculus Rift. So far, I have only started the Football section. You are transplanted right into the shoes of a QB. You get pep talks from your coach, join your team in the huddle, call plays from a wristband on your arm. Extending your hands out in front of you and pulling the triggers calls for the snap. Cock your arm back and lead a target near a receiver, follow through with your arm and pull the trigger again to throw. While the ball is in the air, you are teleported into the receivers body where you have to reach out and catch the ball with your hands. Catching the ball and scoring touchdowns was extremely exhilarating. I can't wait to show this game off to my friend who frequently comes over to play Madden and Blitz.
I have other games ready go that I am truly psyched to get home from work and dive into. Another thing is the Touch Controllers. They are phenomenal. The way they rest in your hand and use the triggers make you feel like you are really doing what your virtually hands are doing (grabbing, etc). I didn't have that same feeling of immersion with PlayStation's Move controllers that from a company so synonymous with "hardcore gaming" made their controllers look identical to lady massage wands.
The one con is that yes, I have experience the "God Rays" that seem to be an issue with the lens employed in the Rift. It's the only drawback I've experienced so far, but I've heard there is a fix where you can remove the Rift's facial interface and attach a Samsung Gear VR face foam pad which increases the Field of View and decreases the lens flare at the same time. The face foam is sold on Amazon for $15, so I have one ordered and will give this mod a try.
Anyway, that's my take. I had my friend over briefly yesterday before we went out to help my brother-in-law move his girlfriend's furniture. He is the one that owns the PSVR, and from the reactions he was making while I let him use the Rift, I could tell that he was wowed as well. When he asked me how much it cost, he groaned about the Rift going on sale AFTER he already purchased PSVR. I'm extremely happy with my purchase, and just thought I'd share my experiences on my road through the world of VR.