In the past 4 or 5 years, the technology for virtual reality has come an impressively long way. What was once the dream of science fiction writers is now becoming a reality. We have the tech to become fully immersed in a totally virtual world. And we can do it a relatively affordable price.
The Oculus Rift is the pioneering virtual reality headset. It is a high end device that boasts a lot of great features that will let you get the best virtual reality experience possible. It is an investment, though, so you definitely want to do your research before you buy. This review is a great place to start. You’ll get a solid overview of the key benefits and drawbacks which can help you decide whether the Rift is the best choice for you.
What You Get
The Oculus Rift comes in a bundle with everything you need to create a full virtual reality system in your own home. Here is what the basic kit includes:
- The Oculus Rift headset
- Integrated (but easily removable) VR audio headphones.
- Sensor with detachable stand.
- A navigation remote
- An Xbox One gamepad controller
The only thing missing is the PC. But if your PC is up to date enough to handle the Oculus Rift, there’s no reason to buy a new one unless you want a new one. If you need a new PC as well, Oculus also offers a bundle that includes a fully rigged powerful gaming PC.
And if you don’t necessarily want the gaming PC they offer, Oculus also makes recommendations for which models work best with their device. And you can find a breakdown of the exact specs your PC should have—both the absolute minimum specs and their recommended specs.
So they definitely don’t force you to stick with one brand or product like some other companies do. You totally have the freedom to mix and match so that you have your own ideal set up. Oculus is very committed to being as widely compatible as possible.
The advanced technology makes the Rift headset a full-fledged virtual reality system. The display features separate screens for each eye. It also includes VR audio headphones. VR audio essentially means 3D audio. That is, it requires speakers that are able to pitch noises in a way that makes them sound like they are coming from different directions.
The integrated headphones the Rift comes with do just that. It really adds a new layer to the immersive experience that is missing with regular audio or no audio at all. Because of the advanced tech and design, you can enjoy a lot of different features.
Versatility & Customizability
The basic bundle that you buy is already complete but if you want to add more, you can build onto it. For example, if you wanted to incorporate more sensors around the room for more precise tracking and a broader range of movement, you can simply buy extra sensors. You aren’t stuck with buying the whole bundle or nothing.
And the bundle itself is already versatile. If you prefer to use your own headphones, simply detach the ones that are included. If you prefer to use your keyboard over the Xbox controller, you’re free to do so. They give you the high end equipment you need as well as the freedom to use it in the way that best suits you.
One issue you see with pretty much every other VR headset on the market is that they are highly exclusive. Samsung’s headset works only for Samsung. The HTC Vive only has Valve content. The exclusivity isn’t a serious problem in every case but, moving forward, the Oculus Rift has the most room for growth.
They have made their VR software compatible with the 3 major gaming engines that game developers uses. And they have also given free reign for any game developer to make a game for the Rift. Plus, you can use it with the PC you already own as long as it meets the minimum specs.
Right now, the number of games available is a bit limited compared to the Rift’s competitors. However, because they’ve made their software easy and free for any developer to incorporate, they are and will continue to experience rapid growth in the number of titles that are available.
What this also means is that you will soon have a much more diverse range of titles to choose from. When you’ve got games coming from different developers, you get to enjoy the diverse kinds of games that are unique to each of those developers.
The games that are already available are usually of a higher quality than the ones that are out for other headsets. Of course, much of game quality is more of a personal preference so this benefit sort of depends on what your tastes are.
But, the games they put out tend to have more fully developed stories and incorporate gameplay that is optimized for use with virtual reality. They take full advantage of VR functionality and create richly textured narratives and worlds that you will become fully immersed in.
While the features are very impressive, there are some potential drawbacks that should be considered before you buy:
We have to say that the price is very reasonable considering what a high end device this is. But, if you aren’t prepared to pay the price for quality, you might find the cost a bit out of your range. And it does make it an investment that carries some risk in the event that you decide you don’t really like virtual reality. So we recommend going to store or a friend who has the system already and trying it out before you buy it.
This is not totally ready to go right out of the box like some other systems. You do have some set up to do first. It’s not difficult by any means but it will take a little time.
Lack of Motion Controllers
Update: They now have Motion Controllers!
What is most noticeably missing from this bundle are the handheld motion controllers. These would allow you to move your hands in a more natural way which would an extra level of realism to the experience.
Luckily, they are planning to release motion controllers very soon but if you’re getting impatient, soon might not be soon enough. In which case, you’ll want to turn to the Vive or another competitor that already has motion controllers available today.
Limited Motion Tracking
The motion tracking is all done with one sensor. And yes, it is one fantastic sensor. But its top competitor, the Vive, comes with 4 sensors that are mounted around the room so that you have a wider range of movement.
You can still choose to sit or stand with the Rift but you won’t be able to move around as much unless you buy additional sensors. Luckily, buying additional sensors is an option.
Overall, we think the drawbacks are easy enough to overcome. And it is truly a state of the art virtual reality system that will leave you absolutely speechless even if you don’t incorporate any additional parts. The most limiting factor is the price but it is still cheaper than its main competitor in the high end VR market so if you are already set on investing in high end, this is the more affordable option.
If you want the most advanced, fully immersive virtual reality experience available, the Oculus Rift is one of the best choices you can make. With its state of the art tech and comfortable design, you are getting a high end VR system with the Rift.
The main downside right now is that it doesn’t have motion controllers yet. But the Oculus Touch will be out soon enough and even with those, it will still be the more affordable of the higher end options.
And you can buy the motion controllers separately so if you want to get the headset and the rest of the system now, you can do that with no need to buy a whole new set up when the Oculus Touch is released.
With that in mind, the only real reason a person might avoid the Oculus Rift is if it’s simply not in their budget. But, in that case, you would want to stay away from any high end system. Your best option if you’re looking for something cheaper is to go with a less advanced, simpler device. You sacrifice quality but if price is your top priority, you have to be prepared to lose some quality.