Its been a long wait but finally our consumer version Oculus Rift (CV1) has arrived and we can now answer the question on everyone's lips....Is it worth it?
To be honest the answer is yes and no, it all depends on why you want it and what you expect to get out of it. I'll elaborate on this a little later but for now let's get straight down to the nitty gritty.
Comfort & Look
The build quality of the Rift is second to none, as soon as you pick up the headset its obvious that Oculus have spent a lot of time and money making sure its flagship consumer VR headset is not only aesthetically pleasing but also comfortable.
The headset itself has a sleek black design and sexy cloth covering over its body, this covering not only makes it pleasing to the touch but also gives it a classy look that some other plastic monstrosity VR headsets are currently lacking.
As far as comfort goes I found the Rift exceptional, it can take a little time to adjust for optimal fit but once you get it just right you'll know. The rift has 2 Velcro side straps that pass through spring loaded side arms, these allow a little give when fitting and prevent the Rift from being rammed into your face if the straps are too tight. Along with the side straps there's a Velcro fastened top strap to allow for vertical adjustment.
The Rift has foam padding which cushions the points of contact with your face. When properly adjusted the majority of its weight is distributed to the back of the head and forehead with the Rift barely touching the face itself. Oculus has also included a large nose gap to accommodate honkers of all sizes and also allows ventilation to prevent fogging.
Glasses can be worn worth with the rift if needed but may be a tight fit depending on the size of your frames.
An IPD slider has been included on the bottom of the headset to adjust for the distance between pupils and covers a range from 52mm to 68mm.
Resolution and FOV:
Rift is powered by 2 OLED panels in a portrait orientation running a resolution of 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over the 2. This is a good improvement over the DK2 although Gear VR users may not notice a huge jump in clarity.
The increased resolution along with Frensel lenses has nearly eliminated the dreaded screen door effect but traces can still be found if you look hard enough.
One downside of the Frensel lenses used in Rift are god rays. These rays can usually be seen when viewing a high contrast image on dark or black background and radiate out from the high contrast image.
Loading screens are a big culprit for God Rays and at times can make the lenses feel smudged even when clean. The effect of God Rays varies greatly depending on the app and I'm sure will be completely eliminated if developers take the time to optimize scenes to avoid it.
Positional tracking comes in the form of Oculus constellation tracking system. This system uses an Infrared camera along with IR emitters built into the headset and strap to allow 360 degree tracking.
The tracking range seemed more than adequate for my needs and easily covered my 2m by 2m play space.
The Rift comes bundled with an Xbox one controller and wireless USB dongle. The controller itself is top quality and does its job well.
Also included is the Rift remote, this nifty little device allows for basic navigation of Oculus home and can also be used with some apps such a Farlands and Defense grid. Its simple design and ease of use is great for non gamers who struggle with a traditional game pad.
Oculus has plans to release a tracked controller in Q4 2016, the "Touch" controllers will allow you to bring your hands into VR and promises to add greatly to the feeling of presence. Hopefully more info on Touch will be revealed at the Oculus Connect developer conference in October.
Sound: The Rift comes with integrated on ear headphones that do a surprisingly good job, sound quality is on par with most mid price headphones and has good clarity and decent volume range.
The headphones can be removed if you prefer to use your own, but with no headphone jack on the Rift you'll need to connect them directly to your sound card on your PC which can be a pain the ass.
Rift does have some hefty entry level system requirements particularly in the GPU department.
Oculus recommend the following :
- NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- 8GB+ RAM
- Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
Setup was a breeze, headset connects directly to graphics card via HDMI and is powered by USB3. Constellation tracking camera also connects via USB3 and the Xbox controllers wireless dongle via USB2.
The included 3 meter cable used to connect the Rift to PC is a little short for my liking and an extra meter would have been appreciated.
There is a fairly hefty download for the Oculus Home software but it can be downloaded before your hardware arrives via oculus.com/setup so not really a problem but more of inconvenience.
Oculus home is the official storefront for the Rift and provides access to purchase official games and apps. Home can be launched directly via PC or will start automatically when donning the headset.
The functionality of Home is currently limited to purchasing and launching games from your Oculus library.
There is a basic friends list to which you can add other Rift users, but apart from seeing their online status their is no way directly interact with them via Home. Hopefully in the future Oculus will implement voice chat and messaging within Home itself.
Games: The current software lineup for the Rift is in my opinion a little lacking, most games are ports of existing Gear VR games or PC games that have had VR support added.
There are a few standout titles built from the ground up for VR that bring new game mechanics and compelling experiences to VR, the standout for me being Cryteks The Climb
There are over 30 titles currently available on Oculus home and we can expect a flood of new innovative experiences when Touch is released later this year.
Verdict: Now to the big question, Is it worth the cost?
If you're a tech/VR enthusiast and already have a PC that meets the system requirements then I would highly recommend the Rift.
Even with the current lack of tracked controllers the overall comfort and build quality is superior to its main competitor the HTC Vive. Once the Oculus Touch controllers are released I believe the Rift will be the overall better product in this first generation of consumer VR.
If you aren't a tech head and don't already have a beefy PC I would not recommend the Rift, that is unless you have more money than sense.
With a price tag of $599 US I cant see this first generation Rift making huge inroads into the consumer market but I could be wrong, only time will tell.