The Oculus Rift is here, and with it is the dawn of virtual reality gaming. The headset delivers an exciting new way to experience video games- by actually being in them. Being inside the world of video games is a fantasy for most gamers, and it is hard to believe that starting today, that fantasy has become a reality.
The Rift is a virtual reality headset with a heavy focus on gaming. Oculus has stated that the Rift is primarily a gaming device, and the bulk of its content will be virtual reality gaming. Despite this, Rift has a potential for non-gaming uses including media applications, social networking and professional experimentation by several architecture firms, auto manufacturer Audi, as well as the Norwegian army.
The Rift has been highly anticipated since the beginning of its development in 2012. The headset has felt like a distant dream for gamers, as the Oculus Rift has been released several times in various pre-release models. Most of these prototypes were made for developers that wanted to create virtual reality games. However, none were completely consumer-friendly.
The Oculus Rift prototypes were released several times over the course of the headset’s development, starting in August 2012 with “Development Kit 1”(DK1). DK1 was sold for $300 during its campaign but was criticized for its poor resolution and noticeable motion blur. It was succeeded by an HD prototype that never made its way to the public.
Oculus then released an updated prototype named “Crystal Cove” in January 2014, which came equipped with an updated screen display and a motion-tracking system that would allow the system to acknowledge when players would lean or crouch.
Later that year, Oculus began shipping the Development Kit 2 (DK2). The public had started receiving DK2 headsets in July 2014. DK2 had many key improvements over DK1, including removing the exterior control box, higher resolution, higher refresh rate and positional tracking. By February 2015, 100,000 DK2 units had been shipped to consumers.
The final prototype version, “Crescent Bay”, had even greater resolution than DK2, as well as a lower weight and sleek design. Unlike its predecessors, Crescent Bay had two screens, built-in audio and 360-degree movement tracking.
The final consumer version of the Rift was announced on May 6, 2015, with an expected release date of the first quarter of 2016. On January 6, 2016, the Rift was officially available for pre-order, starting at $599.99. The products shipment date was also announced to be March 28, 2016.
With the launch of Rift comes a new era of gaming- one that allows players to immerse themselves in a virtual environment and experience video games in a way once thought to be impossible. The headset comes with a steep $600 price tag, which covers the headset and all peripherals needed to make it function. To use the Rift, consumers will also need a rather powerful computer.
The first Rift was hand-delivered on the weekend by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. Luckey travelled to Alaska to hand over the device to developer Ross Martin, saying “I’ll be damned if some random guy is going to get the satisfaction of delivering the first Rift. That’s mine.”
Martin was the first to pre-order the Rift, beating out thousands of others by a fraction of a second.