Posted on June 15, 2013 AT 08:08am
As I left the room of CCP Games my arms were covered entirely with goosebumps. In that room I had finally bore witness to something that most of us have been dreaming of since childhood, and someone was able to take that dream and perfect it in real life. That dream was pure virtual reality gaming, and the real-life creation to finally make it happen was the Oculus Rift.
After being instructed as to what would happen when we’d game I sat down and was made comfortable by one of the CCP Games people. They placed the device on my head, handed me a controller, and put on the headphones. (The holiday camp scene from The Who’s Tommy may come to mind if you were to see this in person.) There in my sight was EVE VR, a special edition of EVE Online made from the ground up for the device.
Moving my head around I felted immersed by my surroundings, and thanks to the Oculus Rift unit I was using being the newer HD one my surroundings looked pretty damn good! I looked up and to the sides and I saw the stars and ships around me. Looking down, there was the rest of my body sitting comfortably in the cockpit. Once I got shot into outer space it was like I was there, flying about and taking down enemy ships. Using the left stick to fly and the right stick to aim my weapons I wound up shooting down the opposing ships with relative ease (especially when I finally got it in my head that, when flying, down is up and up is down). Once you’ve done EVE on the Oculus Rift, there’s no other way you’ll want to play it.
Soon after I was done I was informed that the Oculus Rift was also being used to demonstrate a couple titles down at the IndieCade. Once I got down there I was given the chance to try out Buffalo Vision’s Irrational Exuberance. More of a simulator than a game, this had you travel from one miniature planet to another with the help of items you collect on each planet. The first item you find has you create platforms in space to reach the other worlds; the second item destroys the platforms in case you need to make a new path.
It may not have been as visually stunning as EVE Online (mainly because it wasn’t on an HD model), but the concept of the game and the feeling of being surrounded in a whole new galaxy left a smirk on my face. The sounds of the space around me and the way the items react once I gained access to them were simply stunning. There were a couple of framerate issues that happened near the end of my demo, but as this was in alpha build it was to be expected. While I really can’t think of how Irrational Exuberance as it is right now would draw in gamers I can see some of its main concepts being used to further a much bigger title if it was to be realized.
As of right now the Oculus Rift is being made for the PC, with models for Mac and Linux sometime in the near-future. While nothing official has been announced console-wise it is known that Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida has mentioned great things about the dev units the company has in their possession. (A “no comment” was uttered when asked about it being used for PS4, but it’s said a smile was on his face as the words left his mouth.)
The Oculus Rift will not be in stores until 2014, but dev kits are currently available for preorder for those who want to either create their own virtual worlds or tinker with other first-person titles to see how they’d work with it. Until then we can still dream of that virtual reality, but knowing that it will be in our possession soon makes it worth the wait.
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