PAX South 2016- Oculus Rift impressions

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As y’all know, your Bro is all about the games. For as long as I can remember (see-approximately age six) I’ve been into video games, and for as long as I’ve been playing games I’ve been doing it with a controller in my hand. Now I am all for innovation and am more than willing to adapt when the times are a-changing, I will readily admit when I first saw coverage of the Oculus Rift I dismissed it as nothing more than a gimmick. Still-I vehemently believe in giving everything a fair shake so I reserved my final judgment until I was able to get some hands on time with this coveted technology. Fortunately at PAXSouth 2016, I was lucky enough to spend a few previous minutes with the technology heralded as the future of the gaming industry.

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Prior to hitting the floor on day two of PAX South 2016 I wasn’t even aware the Oculus was available for hands on time. Suffice it to say this fact can be attributed to my poor planning for my first Con of 2016-TRUST this is not a sign of things to come! Needless to say, once I was aware attendees had the chance to get some hands on time with the Oculus this was the first booth I headed to on the final day of PAX. After sprinting towards the AMD booth and waiting for what seemed like the longest three minutes of my life, I took my seat in front of a particularly gnarly PC set up. While I’ve no allusions that I’m a PC gamer, my first impression was I was going to be experiencing the Oculus on some of the best hardware available-which may or may not be what most gamers use to fire up their copy of Torchlight II (the last game I played on my PC).

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Attendees were given the option of spending their five precious minutes with the Oculus with a multitude of titles. The exhibitor was kind enough to give me a brief rundown of each title and after they did so, I opted to play what I’m told most attendees chose- Eve: Valkyrie. This title puts players smack dab in the middle of a dogfight in space, giving you the reigns of your very own space-age fighter aircraft. Considering the player’s perspective of this title is based out of a ship’s cockpit, it’s easy to see why many of my gaming brethren opted to test out the Oculus using Eve: Valkyrie.

While the game was gorgeous-bright, sharp colors along with an intricately detailed cockpit-since this demo was being conducted by the fine folks at AMD utilizing what I presume was some of their top tier gear, had it been anything but gorgeous the entire experience would’ve been derailed from the start. The device itself was surprisingly comfortable-y’all know I game with a pair of hulking V-Moda headphones draped across my dome and the entire Oculus could’ve have weighed much more than that. While the sound wasn’t fantastic it was clearly audible-I’d chalk up the less-than-stellar auditory experience to the potent combination of exhibitors not wanting to blow their attendees’ eardrums out and the rampant sounds of #ConLife surrounding the demo area.

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I’ve previously stated the physical Oculus device was more comfortable than I anticipated, and the significance on this fact cannot be understated. It doesn’t matter if you’ve the best piece of technology on the market-if it’s cumbersome, clunky to use or just plain uncomfortable, I’m not going to plop down a tremendous chunk of change to purchase it. That being said, if a given piece of tech can add something unique to the gaming experience…well then as they say “at first you had my curiosity, but now you’ve got my attention” or something like that. I’m not too great with quotes.

Although it goes without saying, the level of immersion provided by the Oculus was unparalleled. Being able to turn your head and glance out of a different angle of the cockpit or look down and see your pilots legs does wonders for the suspension of disbelief necessitated to truly immerse yourself in the gaming experience. The “virtual” depth perception also functioned better than I anticipated, making it easy to plan my next move when I saw a squadron of enemy fighters incoming. One quibble I have with the controls was the inability to alter the speed of my aircraft-I would’ve loved to be able to boost my speed momentarily to see how the Oculus handled the quick transition. Not including this ability (although it’s entirely possible I missed the button to do so or the feature wasn’t available during this limited engagement) seems like a peculiar oversight, as not only is it standard in traditional “flying games”, but it’d serve as an opportunity to showcase the unique gaming experience only the Oculus can offer.

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In short the Oculus was surprisingly comfortable to wear, was extremely intuitive to use, functioned efficiently with what limited tests I was able to put it through regarding range of motion and “depth perception” and provided an interesting dynamic which required me to alter my lifelong approach to video games. That being said, the audio did not impress although I will readily admit this can more than likely be attributed to the environment I tested it in. Additionally, while the level of immersion was something I was certainly wowed by, I for one did not come away thinking the inarguably high price was justified by what it added to the gaming experience. I paid $600 for a gaming console (the PS3) the day it was released-am I willing to pay that same price for something which amounts to an accessory for a console?

I for one am not. Still-the Oculus Rift is utilizing its technology impressively and can serve as a new platform for gamers and game developers alike. While as of right-this-second I doubt I’d pony up the cash for an Oculus, the few precious minutes I spent with it at PAX South certainly left me chomping at the bit to see what else the device has in store. So basically, the TruBros jury is still out on the Oculus Rift. Until next time, Bros!

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One thought on “PAX South 2016- Oculus Rift impressions

  1. Pingback: PAX South 2016 Day 2 Photo Wrap Up | TruBros

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