After trying one for the second time at the i50 LAN festival recently, I decided to bite the bullet and get myself an Oculus Rift. Powering my way through the relatively short adjustment period, I've come out the other side Rifting my way into alienation from my wife and I've found a lot of cool tech demos and experiences. I listed some of the most awe inspiring the other day, but I thought it would be worth it to tell you about the ones I've been coming back to time and time again.
These are also the ones I've been using to trial my new VR hardware to a few friends and will be showcased at my upcoming VR party, because there ‘aint no party like a VR party.
While there's only so much you can do with a tech demo other than stand there, slack jawed at how pretty it is (and move your head to look around of course), they're still fun to try out and there's a couple that I keep playing through because they're awe inspiring.
Blue Marble[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUcJyRrskT0′]
I mentioned this one the other day, as it's just simply beautiful in its combination of music and visuals. While not to the same scale as something like Titans of Space, it's shorter, sweeter and has ended up being a favourite because you can import your own music, so changing it up is entirely possible by switching genres.
Deep Sea Demo
This one features a very small amount of interaction, letting you nod your head for it to begin. Unfortunately it's not that sensitive so takes quite a shake, but once you've got it going, it's very pretty and while short, there's a great sense of presence when something enormous brushes past you in the deep.
At over eight months of life, the Rift Coaster can move into the “oldie-but-a-goodie” VR category, but despite there being other Oculus Rift supporting rollercoasters out there, the Cobra one being much longer, the original is still the most visually impressive and is great for those wanting to feel a stomach drop from nothing more than a pair of Rift goggles.
There's a few walk around tech demos out there, including the Rift Island which is quite nice, but this one has a brilliant sense of scale and 3D to it. Walking up to stalgmites and crystals, there's a very real feeling to them, like you could easily reach out and touch them. The sound is also done well, with dripping water and crackling lava that really helps set the scene.
Most of these wouldn't be considered games by the average gamer's standards, but for a Rift experience, they're more than adequate. I wouldn't put them in here if you couldn't get at least 10-20 minutes of gameplay out of them at a time and they need to have at least some method of player input that allows for a measure of creativity. More than just walking around at least.
Epic Dragon[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv5Gkc8Ao48′]
Again I talked about this one a bit the other day and it still gives the best sensation of speed out of every Rift demo I've tried. The camera shakes, the fact that you have a real body under you (yours and the dragon's), the way the environment never seems to get away from you, the atmospheric fog; it's all done very well. It's also quite fun once you get the hang of controlling it, to try and keep going as long as possible by collecting the “sacred eggs.”
Flying In Dreams[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mG4clEfIyk']
If Epic Dragon gives you the best sensation of flight, this one gives you the best sensation of dragon-free flight. The above saurian version feels faster, but this one probably is actually quicker, even if it only feels it when you're getting close to the ground. However, you're alone, which gives you more control. You can barrel roll, do loops, skim the surface of the mountainous terrain and the fact that you jump from a plane to start is a great way to kick it off.
Definitely not one for your first session. Make sure you have your VR legs firmly under you before starting.
Asunder: Earthbound[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyuTh-2crEk']
The only title on this list you have to pay for, this is the closest thing to a full game I've experienced so far with the Rift, with around a 30 minute straight section of gameplay. It's still pretty limited in terms of interaction, but there's puzzles, some gesture controls (nodding or shaking your head in response to NPC questions nets different answers) and there's some great little horror elements too. It also looks fantastic, easily one of the most immersive Rift titles out there and a great indication of the sort of new experiences we can expect with it.
Unlike most of the other games I've mentioned, this one does require the occasional mouse click which is a shame, but if you need input that the Rift can't handle, you've got to use something.
Download it here. (Costs $10)
If you want to really test your VR legs, Zenith is a great one. It doesn't have any visual glitches that give you nausea like some Rift demos do, but its sheer speed and the fact that you jump from platform to platform with little time to orientate yourself, means you may find yourself feeling a little queasy with too many attempts to break your high score. It's all about making it one platform higher in Zenith and you'll have a lot of fun doing it – just don't stay in there too long.
This is another that's fully rift controlled, which really helps with the immersion.
Some others I've tried
Since you guys recommended me quite a few games to try recently, I figured I better have a runners up category, or at least something that explains why some of them didn't make the main list. Here's a quick run down of some other games and what I thought:
- Private eye: While this was a great idea and I liked the implementation, it boils down to a hidden item game which you spend most of the time looking for through binoculars, which kills all the feeling of actually being in the game. A bit of a shame as I like the setting.
- Don't let go: This one is actually pretty fun and good for scaring first timers, however once you've played through it, you're unlikely to do so again.
- Windlands: Another fun title, but I found the grappling hook mechanic a little difficult to get right and often just ended up hanging in mid air. It's great when it works, quite nauseating when it doesn't.
- Alone: Quite scary in places, but the build up was a bit too lengthy if I'm honest. It left me waiting for the big scare rather than letting it sneak up on me.
- 3D Heaven: (NSFW) A really impressive showcase of what sort of VR modelling we can expect some day. Forget CryEngine 3, this is truly visually impressive.
KitGuru Says: I haven't gotten around to trying the third party drivers for any “real” games as of yet, but if there's any other titles you guys would like me to check out, let us know on the Facebook page.
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