The Oculus Rift Review

What Can (And Can't) You Do With The Rift

Available VR Games

The Oculus Rift is launching with a catalog 30 titles deep, encompassing a wide range of VR experiences. Fortunately, the games we're aware of don't conform to a typical console pricing model. Only 11 of the initial 30 titles set you back $20 or more, and only four cost $50 or more. The majority are short indie games priced at $15 or less.

The cost is reflective of the types of games we're dealing with here. Oculus doesn’t have many offerings we'd conventionally consider AAA. There are a few, including Project Cars and Elite: Dangerous, but neither game is exclusively VR-based. Virtual reality is simply an enhancement, albeit an impressive one.

EVE: Valkyrie is perhaps the one VR-only title you might consider AAA. For those who pre-ordered their Rift, you get a copy for free. For everyone else, EVE: Valkyrie commands a $59 price tag.

Chronos comes close to AAA status as well. Palmer Luckey tweeted about the game in early March, stating that Chronos offers more depth than any other VR game currently available. Its campaign lasts a solid 13 hours, so you probably won't (shouldn't) finish it in one sitting.

Radial GRadial G

Other games that land at the higher end of the price scale include AirMech: Command, a fast-paced, third-person, real-time strategy game; Defense Grid 2, a virtual reality tower defense game; and Radial-G, a high-speed racing game that could be called Wipeout for VR. Each offers a completely different type of VR experience.

There are plenty of casual games to choose from as well. The launch line-up includes an Adventure Time game, which can be had for $5 (the cheapest launch title) and Dreadhalls, a creepy horror game that was first conceived of for the DK2 and later became a Gear VR game. CCP Games also ported its successful EVE: Gunjack gallery shooter, which debuted in November on the Gear VR, over to the Rift.

GameDeveloperComfort LevelPrice
ADR1FTThree One ZeroIntense $19.99
Adventure Time: Magic Man's Head GamesTurbo ButtonModerate $4.99
AirMech: CommandCarbon GamesComfortable $39.99
Albino LullabyApe LawIntense $9.99
Audio ArenaSkydone StudiosComfortable $9.99
BlazeRushTargem GamesmoderateN/A
ChronosGunfire GamesComfortable $49.99
DarknetE McNielComfortable $9.99
Dead SecretRobot InvaderComfortable$14.99
Defense Grid 2Hidden Path EntertainmentComfortable $29.99
DreadhallsWhite Door GamesIntense $9.99
Elite: DangerousFrontier DevelopmentsIntense $59.99
Esper 2CoatsinkComfortable $9.99
EVE GunjackCCP GamesModerate $9.99
EVE Valkyrei Founder's PackCCP GamesIntense $59.99
Fly to KUMACOLOPLComfortable $14.99
Herobound SCGunfire GamesComfortable $9.99
Keep Talking and Nobody ExplodesSteel Crate GamesComfortable $14.99
Lucky's TalePlayfulModerate (bundled)
Omega AgentFireproof GamesIntense $14.99
Pinball FX2 VRZen StudiosComfortable $14.99
Project CarsSlight Mad Studiosintense $49.99
Radial GTammeka GamesIntense $24.99
RoomsHandMade GamesComfortable $14.99
Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe VRAgharta StudioComfortable $9.99
Smashing the BattleOne-Man StudiosModerate $19.99
Vanishing of Ethan CarterThe AtronautsIntense N/A
Vektron RevengeLudovic TexierModerate $9.99
VR Tennis OnlineCOLOPLModerate $24.99
WindlandsPsytec Games LtdIntense $19.99

Many of the games are short experiences. While there’s not a lot of depth to most of them, Oculus claims there are more than 100 additional titles on the way this year, and many more than that in development for next year and beyond.

In the table above, you'll notice a column titled Comfort Level. This rating is Oculus' way of telling you what kind of experience to expect. The company has a similar system for Gear VR titles, which are labeled "comfortable for most," "comfortable for some" and "comfortable for few," which is vague, but you get the picture. The Rift's ratings are "Comfortable," "Moderate" and "Intense". Really, they're even more vague, and Oculus doesn't get more specific anywhere on its site. Documentation we received for our review helps a bit, but the criteria for each category is fairly broad.

A Comfortable rating means the game doesn't involve movement; most are completely stationary. These shouldn't induce motion sickness, but you may be affected in other ways. The Moderate rating indicates that there's some movement tied to the experience. Of course, this could cause varying levels of discomfort. Intense is reserved for games with complex movements, such as running, racing or flying.

Non-VR Gaming

The Rift HMD is designed to provide a fully immersive experience. Games must have support for VR to run properly on the Rift, and in many cases they're written with virtual reality in mind. But there are ways to play games not yet optimized for VR.

Oculus doesn’t really support playing standard PC games in a VR setting, but through its partnership with Microsoft, you’ll be able to play Xbox One games through the Rift HMD. They won't be rendered in VR; rather, you'll play them on a large format screen inside of a virtual room. The Rift will be able to stream Xbox games using the same process that you would use to stream games to your PC today.

If you want to play standard PC games in virtual reality, there are third-party tools you can use; they're just not supported by Oculus. VR Desktop is one app that promises access to your PC in a VR environment, including playing your existing game library on large format displays. VR Desktop will let you have multiple displays, and it has a feature for curved screens.

Even fancier, Vireio Perception, created by the open source community over at MTBS3D, is a free driver that lets you play a number of games in full stereoscopic 3D. DX11 titles are still a work in progress, though. You could alternatively buy the vorpX driver for getting more DX10 and DX11 games working, but it's still limited to a specific list of 174 titles. Not just any game will work.

Other Entertainment

Oculus also embraces the idea of using its Rift for tasks other than gaming, from entertainment to education to tourist attractions and medical therapies. For the time being, though, you’ll mostly experience different forms of entertainment with the Rift.

One of the most prominent content types is immersive video. Oculus partnered with Jaunt, a leading 360-degree video production company, to provide a hub where you can find immersive live-action video filmed with Jaunt's high-end equipment. You'll find content covering extreme sports, tourist attractions and music in the Jaunt app.

Immersive animated content will also find a home on Oculus' platform. The company created its own 3D animated film company (think Pixar and Dreamworks) called Oculus Story Studio, which will be creating its own virtual reality animated stories. Henry is the first of those experiences, but you can expect more from Oculus Story Studios in the future.

Things You Can’t Do

One of the first things you'll want to try in VR is first-person combat. It seems like a great idea. But shooters don't translate well to virtual reality, unfortunately. Running around in a VR environment when your body isn't actually moving tends to be unsettling. First-person shooters have to be designed around the limitations of this generation's VR hardware. Instead, you’ll find more gallery shooters than games like Call Of Duty for virtual reality.

There are, of course, exceptions. Omnidirectional treadmills like Virtuix's Omni, which we tried at CES and loved, will give you the ability to run around in a virtual environment while moving in the real world, too. You can order an Omni today, but Virtuix acknowledges that beyond its own in-house demos, most experiences for Omni are still a year or more away.

How about getting rid of your monitors altogether? This may become possible in the future, but we're not there yet. Without the ability to see outside of your HMD (the Rift lacks a pass-through camera,) it is difficult to interact with devices like keyboards and mice. We have seen some nifty demonstrations for specific use cases, like the VR scene editors from Epic and Unity. But these are really tools for game designers, though.

Additionally, given the way that graphics drivers treat VR headsets, the Rift is not capable of displaying your Windows desktop natively. The Virtual Desktop software will let you interact with the Windows environment from within VR (you can even set up multiple virtual displays), but you still need a desktop monitor to launch the app in the first place.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

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  • ingtar33
    My main concern about the Rift isn't addressed in this article. And that's if it will become Orphanware. You see, there is a fraction of the gaming public who has a computer able to play games on a Rift, and an even smaller number of those people who will spend $600 to buy a Rift.

    This leaves the game manufacturers in a tough spot. They want to make and market games that will play on the most pcs possible. So my fear is that in 6-18mo we'll see the end of titles that will play on the rift, and nothing new in the pipeline as those titles will prove to be financial duds to the industry, thanks to the tiny install base.

    And then the Rift will become Orphanware, a product without a market or market support.
  • Realist9
    I stopped reading in the "setup up the rift" when I saw:

    1. "you're asked to set up an account..."
    2. "you're prompted to configure a payment method..."

    What am I setting up an account for, why do I have to 'sign in', and what am I setting up a payment for??
  • kcarbotte
    1027081 said:
    My main concern about the Rift isn't addressed in this article. And that's if it will become Orphanware. You see, there is a fraction of the gaming public who has a computer able to play games on a Rift, and an even smaller number of those people who will spend $600 to buy a Rift. This leaves the game manufacturers in a tough spot. They want to make and market games that will play on the most pcs possible. So my fear is that in 6-18mo we'll see the end of titles that will play on the rift, and nothing new in the pipeline as those titles will prove to be financial duds to the industry, thanks to the tiny install base. And then the Rift will become Orphanware, a product without a market or market support.


    Time will be the ultimate test for the Rift, but I don't see that fate coming.
    The companies working in the VR industry are incredibly excited about the prospect of this new medium. When the biggest companies in the world are pushing to bring something to market in the same way, it should be telling of the potential these companies see.

    Facebook and Oculus have not been shy about saying that adoption will be slow. If developers haven't been paying attention to that, then they will surely fail. Most understand that the market will be small, but in the early days of VR the market share will be large, as most people buying in this early will have a hunger to try out as much of the content as possible.

    I've also spoken with several VR developers in person about this issue. Most, if not all of them, are prepared for low volume sales. This is precicesly the reason why you won't see many AAA titles exclusively for VR for a while. The games will be shorter, and inexpensive to produce.
    VR games are mostly being developed by indie shops that have little overhead, and few employees to pay. They are also mostly working for minimum wage, hoping to see bonuses at the end of the year from better than expected sales.

    I don't think we have any chance of seeing the Rift, or the Vive, fall into the realm of abandonware. Tools are getting easier to use (VR editors), and cheaper to access (Unity, Unreal Engine, Cryengine are all free for individuals.) The resources for people to build for this medium are vast, and there's no better time to be an idie dev than now. VR is a new market, and anyone has as much chance as the next to make the next big killer app. It resets the industry and makes it easier to jump into.
    VR will not be dominated by the likes of EA and Activision for some time now. It opens the door for anyone with a good idea to become the next powerhouse. That will be a very compelling prospect for many indipendant, and small development firms.
  • Clerk Max
    No mention of VR motion sickness or kinetosis in this conclusion ? This is a major showstopper, preventing more than a few minutes of immersion for most people.
  • kcarbotte
    1675488 said:
    I stopped reading in the "setup up the rift" when I saw: 1. "you're asked to set up an account..." 2. "you're prompted to configure a payment method..." What am I setting up an account for, why do I have to 'sign in', and what am I setting up a payment for??


    If you kept reading you'd know the answer.
    You are signing up for Oculus Home, the only way to access content for the Rift.
    As soon as you put the headset on, the sensor inside it initializes Oculus Home. Without an account, you can't access any of the content. It's exactly like accessing content on Steam. You need to sign in.

    That's the same reason you need a payment method. There's free games, so you can skip it, but you can't access any of the paid content without an Oculus Home account.
    If SteamVR ends up supporting the final rift, then you may be able to play other games on it, but at this time, you need Oculus Home for everything on the Rift, including existing games like Project Cars.
  • Joe Black
    I get the sense that it is where 3D gaming was right after Windows95 and directX launched.

    That's cool.Believe it or not you actually did need a relatively beefy PC for that back in the day. It was not for everybody yet.
  • bobpies
    Quote:
    What am I setting up an account for,

    to download and play the games

    Quote:
    why do I have to 'sign in'

    to access your games

    Quote:
    and what am I setting up a payment for??

    to buy the games.
  • kcarbotte
    2218418 said:
    No mention of VR motion sickness or kinetosis in this conclusion ? This is a major showstopper, preventing more than a few minutes of immersion for most people.


    Read page 8 if you want to know about my motion sickness experience. Only two games gave me any kind of trouble, and both of them were caused by first person experiences. Its well established that moving around in first person is not comfortable for many people. The motion messes with your brain because you aren't actually physically moving. actually sitting, while your character moves around isn't comfortable at all for me. Some people don't have trouble, but the comfort levels are there for a reason. Both of those games are listed as intense experiences, so even Oculus acknowleges that that some folks will get sick.

    All of the 3rd person games that I tried, and the games with cockpits (Radial G, Project Cars, Eve: Valkyrie) are all very comfortable.

    We'll talk more about motion sickness and effects of being in VR for extended periods over the coming weeks. So far, with the limited time we've had with it, I've only used it for less than 10 hours total. There's plenty of games that we've not even fired up yet, so a full discussion about getting motion sickness seesm premature.
  • kcarbotte
    1353159 said:
    I get the sense that it is where 3D gaming was right after Windows95 and directX launched. That's cool.Believe it or not you actually did need a relatively beefy PC for that back in the day. It was not for everybody yet.


    That's a good comparison.
    I like to use the first Atari console as a comparison. This is the dawn of a new medium that people don't yet understand. It will be expensive, and not for everyone in the early days, but look at where video games are today. If everyone had the same opinion about Atari back then, as many people seem to feel about VR, the entire video game industry wouldn't have existed as we see it today.
    VR will be similar. It will take a long time to get mass adoption, and the road there will have plenty of changes and advancements, but it's definitely going to happen. VR is far too compelling and has far too much potential for it not to.
  • Realist9
    The 'conclusion' page is really spot on. Specifically, the parts about AAA titles and casual audience.

    So, does the release version of the Rift still require graphics settings in Project Cars to be turned down with pop in and jaggies? (read this in a Anand article from 16 Mar).
  • moogleslam
    My ONLY question (for myself) is will the games I want to play make me nauseous or not. If they do, then I have to decide whether I can "train" myself to overcome it, or will it be sold on eBay for a profit and replaced with a 34" 21:9 G-Sync monitor (Predator X34 or PG348Q). I'll find out in a few days.
  • Realist9
    Quote:
    1675488 said:
    I stopped reading in the "setup up the rift" when I saw: 1. "you're asked to set up an account..." 2. "you're prompted to configure a payment method..." What am I setting up an account for, why do I have to 'sign in', and what am I setting up a payment for??
    If you kept reading you'd know the answer. You are signing up for Oculus Home, the only way to access content for the Rift. As soon as you put the headset on, the sensor inside it initializes Oculus Home. Without an account, you can't access any of the content. It's exactly like accessing content on Steam. You need to sign in. That's the same reason you need a payment method. There's free games, so you can skip it, but you can't access any of the paid content without an Oculus Home account. If SteamVR ends up supporting the final rift, then you may be able to play other games on it, but at this time, you need Oculus Home for everything on the Rift, including existing games like Project Cars.

    I set myself up for that one, didn't I :) . Thanks for the clarification!

    This is sad news though, I hope they can make Rift ready titles available without it. The last thing people need is ANOTHER place to log in when there's no reason for it.
  • kcarbotte
    1675488 said:
    The 'conclusion' page is really spot on. Specifically, the parts about AAA titles and casual audience. So, does the release version of the Rift still require graphics settings in Project Cars to be turned down with pop in and jaggies? (read this in a Anand article from 16 Mar).


    I did all my tests with the Oculus Ready PC that was provided to us. It has a GTX 970 and an i5-6400.
    I did not mess with any graphics settings. The default configuration was excellent. It provided smooth framerates, no jaggies, and i did not notice any significant pop-in. I feel like they put a lot of effort into polishing the game.
  • kunstderfugue
    Does Oculus Home allow you to play single-player games while offline?
  • kcarbotte
    Quote:
    Quote:
    1675488 said:
    I stopped reading in the "setup up the rift" when I saw: 1. "you're asked to set up an account..." 2. "you're prompted to configure a payment method..." What am I setting up an account for, why do I have to 'sign in', and what am I setting up a payment for??
    If you kept reading you'd know the answer. You are signing up for Oculus Home, the only way to access content for the Rift. As soon as you put the headset on, the sensor inside it initializes Oculus Home. Without an account, you can't access any of the content. It's exactly like accessing content on Steam. You need to sign in. That's the same reason you need a payment method. There's free games, so you can skip it, but you can't access any of the paid content without an Oculus Home account. If SteamVR ends up supporting the final rift, then you may be able to play other games on it, but at this time, you need Oculus Home for everything on the Rift, including existing games like Project Cars.
    I set myself up for that one, didn't I :) . Thanks for the clarification! This is sad news though, I hope they can make Rift ready titles available without it. The last thing people need is ANOTHER place to log in when there's no reason for it.



    So it looks like there's hope yet. In the documentation that came withe Oculus SDK 1.3 package that was released today, Oculus states that developers can make games and experiences that launch outside of the Home environment. Devs can even sell apps outside of the Oculus Home storefront, and Oculus won't take a cut of those profits.

    You will still likely need an account though, as Oculus said that the home button is a requisite feature, so that players can access the calibration menus.
  • kcarbotte
    Quote:
    Does Oculus Home allow you to play single-player games while offline?


    Yes it does.
    each game will tell you if it's available offline, before you chose to buy it.
  • Realist9
    Kevin, thank you for the replies and additional information. It is much appreciated.

    I want to want to buy a CV1 or Vive, but I see a lot here and elsewhere that gives me significant pause.
  • kcarbotte
    1675488 said:
    Kevin, thank you for the replies and additional information. It is much appreciated. I want to want to buy a CV1 or Vive, but I see a lot here and elsewhere that gives me significant pause.


    What are you concerns thus far?
  • agentbb007
    Great article! Very thorough and hits on all of the main points. Can't wait for my rift to arrive, I got in early and got the Your Rift is Shipping Soon email so hopefully I get it this week!
  • kcarbotte
    64381 said:
    Great article! Very thorough and hits on all of the main points. Can't wait for my rift to arrive, I got in early and got the Your Rift is Shipping Soon email so hopefully I get it this week!


    Awesome. I hope you enjoy it.
    Despite the few issues I had with motion sickness, the Rift is an awesome product and I'm sure you'll be impressed with it.

    Palmer Luckey tweeted this morning that Kickstarter backers will recieve thier kits first. The first pre-order kits will start to be delivered on Wednesday.
  • SVoyager
    I wonder about the FOV. Can you compare it to the DK2 ?? Similar?
  • Realist9
    1943658 said:
    1675488 said:
    Kevin, thank you for the replies and additional information. It is much appreciated. I want to want to buy a CV1 or Vive, but I see a lot here and elsewhere that gives me significant pause.
    What are you concerns thus far?

    1. Return policy, from the Oculus forums, is on a case by case basis. That means you can get a return, if Oculus feels like giving one. No mention on following laws regarding returns. No data on a restocking fee.
    2. I can’t test it properly to determine if the games I want to play with it make ME sick, or look bad compared to non-VR version. I don’t care about resolution, just how it looks. (also, see #1). 5 min testing at Best Buy (when available) isn’t going to solve this...maybe several trips to test out, but not sure what games they'd let me see/test.
    3. You MUST sign in to Oculus Home to access/buy CV1 games/content (obviously not true for ED, right?) and to access the calibration menu. This is really bad. For God’s sake, we have/had: Windows for gaming live (dead), Origin, Uplay, etc, etc. required just to be able to play a particular game. When will they learn? [This will hopefully change moving forward, as you said. I do hope software devs sell outside Oculus Home or at least in addition to. Also, why can't access to the calibration, etc be in the form of a driver type download like video drivers??]
    4. Most of the current content is casual gaming at best. Notable exceptions are ED, Valkarie,and Project Cars. (see #2). ED and Project Cars is almost enough for me to not care about this one.
    5. Graphics in VR are 3 yrs behind where we are (until hardware manufacturers allow software devs to close the gap).
    6. Included audio headphones. You can detach and not use, but there’s no audio pass through connection on the headset, so you’re going to need a 4m long cord to use your current headset. I’m unsure about the experience of a CV1 in a room that has a surround (5.1/7.1) stereo system in it. Do they sync correctly as you move around? A concern is positional audio…I want to know something is behind/left of me by HEARING that it is behind/left of me.
    7. Even though a i7 2600k (my proc btw) performance exceeds the CV1 required modern i5 (i5 4590?), the compatibility tool doesn’t pass the 2600K. No way to tell if the 2600k is good enough without buying/trying (see #1).
    8. There will likely never be a FPS in VR (apparently sitting, while in VR you are running around, generates nausea/sickness).

    All that said, I feel like if I could buy one, set it up, and try it for 7 days or so, I could eat a restocking fee of 10% or so if I decide it's not for me.
  • heinlein
    How usable will this be for someone that doesn't have high speed internet? I don't like the idea of downloading 22 GB at 1 MB/second.
  • agentbb007
    68688 said:
    How usable will this be for someone that doesn't have high speed internet? I don't like the idea of downloading 22 GB at 1 MB/second.


    Most of the launch titles don't look like massive AAA titles like Witcher 3's 30 GB but I would assume most will be at least 5 GB. So if you don't like downloading games from Steam, Uplay, Origin or other game distribution platforms then you probably won't like downloading games for the Oculus store.

    The obvious question would be why you don't have high speed internet? I would assume 99% of people who ordered the Rift are huge tech geeks and having epic internet has been a priority for years. So IMO before spending money on the Rift spend some money on high speed internet, that would be better use of your money.