So after a very long wait the Rift & Touch bundle eventually came thanks to Amazons excellent service. Naturally I was eager to try it out and since moving it around 3 rooms it has now found its place in the bedroom (thanks in part to it being the most open room in the house). So with it all set up and having a few hours in it, what is it like?
Well quick answer is amazing!! The long answer is bloody amazing… although not with what you would think. Without ever having real game time in VR I was surprised by what does and doesn’t work.
The first thing I installed was Spiderman Homecoming – Virtual Reality Experience, a short VR based look at Spidey and his web-slinging abilities. Now this worked flawlessly, even the transition between areas was amazing and made you feel like Spiderman. I only wish that they would expand upon it and create a full game controlled with the Touch controllers and an open world to explore and fight crime in.
The next thing I did was install Goalie Challenge VR, an ice hockey game which puts you in the skates of a goaltender facing 3 shooters (or a single shooter controlled locally by a 2nd person using a gamepad and the PC monitor). The difficulty ramps up nicely and it reacts really well to fast movement , with crisp visuals and easy controls it felt like I was back on the ice and gave me a new appreciation for what I put keepers through during my time playing hockey!
The 3rd game I tried is one of the reasons I wanted to get a VR headset, Euro Truck Simulator 2. I already have the wheel and own the game so you would think this would be a match made in heaven right? Wrong. It is the only game that has made me feel a little queasy. Now I have a feeling it is down to the settings because the visuals were nowhere near as nice as they appear on a monitor. The blurry dials on the dashboard and the text that seems to float aimlessly in front of you at times made for a sickening experience. Now I have only tried it once because of that fact and I will go back to it soon after trawling the forums finding the best settings to use because my stomach can’t handle experimenting with them myself.
I have never experienced motion sickness before and didn’t realise just how bad it is, it took 2 days for me to stop feeling slightly sick.
The last game of the week was Minecraft. Now that really did screw with my head. It was the first time I’d experienced moving and walking in VR and walking at speed at that! It knocked me on my arse!! I think it is something I will adapt and get used to but the mental feeling of walking forwards but non of your body is actually moving is a strange one.
I think both Mincraft and Euro Truck Sim share one inherent problem which is the lack of sensory input. I the real world when you are driving a car you feel the vehicle lean through corners, the nose dip as you brake and pick up as you accelerate. In the VR world there is non of that. The same with Minecraft, when you walk you feel your legs move, you feel differences in temperature, the wind and elements, the VR world has nothing close to that. If Philips has continued work on AmBx back in the day that technology would have a large role to play in VR with the desktop fans and rumble pads.
I think more time is needed to adapt myself and indeed for video games to adapt to VR. The movement issue for the most part has a temporary solution in teleporting but it doesn’t offer a permanent solution for large open world games. My next few games are going to mainly consist of heavy movement games like GTAV, Alien Isolation, Fallout 4 and Skyrim. So I will report back after them!