When I was about 13 I had my first virtual reality experience. It was at a Dave ‘n Busters in Chicago, and if I recall, it was a crazy low-polygon world where I shot a bunch of arrows at things. It was incredible to move and react in real-time with pixels. At the time I didn’t quite get how this would be a part of my daily life, but 20 years later here we are: The Oculus Rift, which I have, and the HTC Vive.
What can I say? I was a fanboy. I was order #61300002515003 at 7 minutes and 14 seconds into Oculus’ opening day pre-order fiasco on January 6th. The website crashed 9 times for me, I had 4 browsers open and after I dropped the whopping 629$ I felt as if I was part of the future. This is it — The Future. That’s what I told myself while I waited for my pre-order emails to come in. The ordering process was streamlined. Oculus had done their job. They had reserved my Rift, woohoo! But actually receiving it was going to be a hassle. After two pushbacks on release dates Oculus had “component shortages” and other various issues which prolonged my order a little over 2 and a half months. (I pre-ordered in January and didn’t get my Oculus until April 28th). Needless to say I wasn’t happy, but this was The Future, so I sucked it up.
It finally showed up at my door as late as physically possible by UPS, but I didn’t care. (It’s The Future, remember?) I opened it, read the instructions and dove in. My computer setup is pretty beast — and it needs to be for VR. I have an Intel 5820k i7 paired with 32gbs of DDR4 RAM and a GeForce Titan X 12gb. My computer screams and it shows with the insane, mind-bending virtual reality I have witnessed. Installing the Oculus was easy as 1-2-3. Plug and play, a few setup configurations/installations and 35 minutes later I was inside a world, brand new to me, in 100% stereoscopic 3D virtual reality. All I could think of was Bruce Willis in Surrogates.
The packaging was fantastic. It was all tucked snuggly and safely in a very cool, and easily portable, sturdy box. All of the components have their own housing areas as well as storage for wires. The XBOX controller even has its own little nook dedicated to its dongle and paperwork. Very well done, I thought.
The Oculus has its own storefront called blandly, “The Oculus Store.” This is where you get your games, apps and entertainment downloads. It’s presented in a very user-friendly manner as you use head-tracking to guide yourself and the XBOX Controller or Oculus remote as your “double-click.” You can also buy or start any game/app on the desktop first, then putting the Oculus on to get ready to game. The Rift has Velcro straps to get the personalized snug fit for any user, as well as a slider that moves the lenses closer or father apart based on your individual eye distance.
Imagine the first time you flew in a plane, or the first time you went sky-diving. Maybe even the first time you went over 100mph in a car or held your new-born baby. That’s the feeling you get. It’s a rush of adrenaline mixed with fear and excitement that is literally only explained by doing the act itself.
This is by far the most immersive gaming experience I have experienced in my entire life. It is so hard to explain with words or even a video what this new technology is actually doing. It’s tricking my brain so well that I don’t have the vocabulary to provide a decent explanation for you. I’m flying a space fighter having dog fights in zero gravity. I am an ant watching a movie on an iPhone. I am inside the human body learning about arteries and the cell structure of our blood… WTF? Yeah — it’s like that.
The Future is what I call it. Why? Not because of the cool things you can do with it right now. These are games, tutorials, learning experiences, photos and 360 videos. Don’t get me wrong, these things are fantastic and downright badass in their own light, but they are not the future. The Future is teaching a classroom of med students as they hold a beating human heart in their hand while they interact with the flow of blood, in real-time, as a professor teaches them arterial structures — all with VR headsets. The Future is having kids overcome fear and anxiety by letting them discover and play with scenarios that they can stop, pause and understand — essentially tricking the mind with VR to get healthier, mentally. The Future is learning how to golf in your living room with the statistical accuracy of Jordan Spieth – hell, even golf with him and learn from him with only a VR headset on enjoying the nice views in Augusta.
The Future is more than VR gaming. This is a brand new world for the world. Are you VR ready?
Thanks to Roadtovr.com for the use of their images. | http://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-rift-unboxing-gallery/