Virtual Reality and augmented reality are the biggest trend in gaming right now, and the Oculus Rift is perhaps the most well known VR headset slated to operate with both the Xbox One and PC.
The technology is exciting to gamers and even for some non-gamers, but the biggest concern for the hardware was a simple one for many. Price. And Oculus seems to have heavily under estimated what the price was going to be when they suggested anywhere between $250 and $400 back in 2014.
Oculus Rift has been confirmed to retail at $599 — a full $200 above the highest estimations. The package will come with the VR headset, sensor, Oculus Remote, cables, Xbox One Controller, EVE: Valkyrie, and Lucky’s Tale. Perhaps they value the package like this but still value the Oculus itself at $400, but it certainly won’t make it any less frustrating for gamers.
And that $600 price tag is just for United States customers. Canadians will have to pay over $900 to get the headset on its March 2016 release date.
In an interview with eurogamer in 2014, an Oculus rep stated “We want to stay in that $200-$400 price range.” But he did warn, “That could slide in either direction depending on scale, pre-orders, the components we end up using, business negotiations…”
It seems “business negotiations” went poorly for the Oculus Rift.
Preorders have just gone live for the Oculus Rift’s March 2016 release.
Look at how much fun they’re having! It’s all lies! No one maintains this much of a relaxed demeanor with a timer quickly cycling to zero. Today we’re going to take a fresh look at the newly released bomb defusal game, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.
So, what exactly isKeep Talking? Well thematically there’s not much going on. You’re in what looks like a military bomb-testing facility with a suitcase-sized explosive device wired with all manner of devilish puzzles to solve. It’s intended to be a multiplayer experience with the bomb technician viewing the device and giving information to assistants who have access to a manual. I’m sure it could be played single player but what are we, psychopaths?
So, like any normal person, I teamed up with two buddies on stream and decided to save the world over and over and over again.
The puzzles are intuitive in their design giving you the classic “which wire should I cut”, symbols and ciphers, enticing buttons, and freaking Morse Code! Yes, if you’re a sailor or were born in the 1800’s, please contact me, we need help with that part.
Don’t even get me started on the alarms that blare, the gas ventilation, and the lights that turn off at every opportunity. Granted, it’s only for higher difficulties, but the challenge is graciously accepted. I couldn’t help but feel that the room was trying to kill me, and in some cases perhaps my own team was trying to kill me. It was funny, to me at least, when you hear a string of numbers and out of nowhere the deafening cry of an alarm clock shocks you into a state of disarray. It was like calling the ISS inside a herd of elephants, something I would totally do over and over again.
The fantastic heart-pounding action track from the blast end of the timer was even more invigorating as it gave you a solid minute to relinquish fear through your steadily evacuating sweat glands.
It’s all in good fun though. On several occasions we had never dealt with a particular module and decided to wing it. We found, through trial and error, that the instructions are articulated in a way that makes them fair but punishing to those who don’t pay close attention. It can get confusing at times, but perfect play with practice and the ideal adage “Keep talking” both ring true for anyone who plays this several times.
After awhile the initiated quickly develop a shorthand and the vocabulary becomes secondary. At least that was our experience. We love puzzles and couldn’t help but fall victim to KTaNE‘s enticing throes. Perhaps the biggest draw is getting multiple people together and developing a multi-tiered operation. We traded information at everything less than lightning speed all to one source who had to process and execute each order with impunity or else, you know, we all die. It was the people who made the bomb interesting, who added the element of imperfection to a very by-the-numbers experience.
For being a mechanically technical game KTaNE utilizes abstraction and the necessity of interpersonality to do what party games do best: create an atmosphere of raw enjoyment. Time is the enemy, the bomb is the obstacle, and together the engagement of friends or family steps KTaNE above other couch co-ops. One screw up might lead to death, but everyone is responsible. The resets are easy and the time it takes to disarm a bomb is nearly microscopic, so if you fail then there’s no hard feelings. You just move to the next challenge and keep on trucking.
Denying this game any modesty, I can say without a doubt that I’m seriously excited for the next step in Steel Crate Games’ IP. And given that I have yet to master all the puzzles and permutations, I can’t even imagine how many hours I’m going to kill(pun intended) inside that cold and dark concrete-padded room, but at least I know I won’t be alone.
We’ve found Brian! Episode 2 of the The Platinum Achievement Podcast introduces your fifth co-host and includes an extensive discussion of virtual reality amid the recent Oculus Rift news. Also hear our thoughts on our potential game of the year candidates and what it’s like talking video games with non-gamers.
The Oculus Rift has been a long spoken about Virtual Reality head-mounted display. Birthed from Kickstarter around 3 years ago, it has grown at a tremendous pace. This has led to many admirers from all over the tech industry. In July 2014, internet superpower Facebook purchased Oculus VR for a staggering $2 billion.
On June 11, Brendan Iribe led a pre-E3 press conference showcasing the Oculus Rift. The final consumer unit was revealed as well as an array of exclusive titles. Here’s all you need to know:
The Device Itself
The Oculus Rift consumer unit is very similar to what we’ve seen. It is smaller, looks a lot more comfortable and is meant to be far lighter (you can hold it in one hand with ease). It has a custom display and optics as well as two OLED screens that deliver low persistence.
As you look around there’s no motion blur or judder. Visual clarity is very important to those at Oculus and the way Iribe spoke about the device, it was pretty evident.
It features a wireless sensor which sits neatly on your desk. This is designed to measure depth. The Rift itself is covered in fabric and is meant to “slip on like a baseball cap.”
Iribe also mentioned the importance of sound and how the virtual reality experience isn’t just visual but also audible. The Rift comes with (removable) headphones in order to enhance the experience.
Partnership with Microsoft
Then came the news everyone is talking about. Phil Spencer (Head of Xbox) took to the stage to announce that every Rift will ship with an Xbox One controller and adapter. Rift will have native support with Windows 10 and will also have the ability to stream Xbox One games a la Remote Play. You will be sitting in a virtual living room and playing Forza. Great for when the your television is not available.
DirectX 12 has been developed with the device in mind to make sure that using a Rift on a Windows machine will be a seamless experience.
An array of games was shown for the Oculus Rift, including Edge of Nowhere by Insomniac Games. A third person action adventure set in the Antarctic. A grueling test of wits and bravery as you scale across a mountainous terrain using makeshift weapons.
CCP (the brains behind EVE Online) showed a short demo of Eve Valkyrie. A multiplayer dogfighting shooter where you helm a spaceship allowing you to enjoy a fully immersive space war.
Amongst the other games were Chronos (Gunfire Games). A third person adventure RPG with some very interesting gameplay elements. You get to explore an atmospheric fantasy world. The unique leveling mechanic means that as you get older, the way you approach the game changes.
Some other games mentioned included VR Sports Challenge, AirMech VR, Lucky’s Tale and more. The most interesting and arguably most important factor of the game slate was the developers signed up to work with Oculus. Square Enix, Ready At Dawn, and Harmonix are just some of the names on an impressive list.
Anna Sweet (Head of Developer Strategy) reiterated how Oculus have been working closely with Unity and EpicGames. This means the Rift works natively with Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4. Two of the top game engines today.
Also mentioned was the revamping of Oculus Share; the platform that allows developers to self-publish, discover, download and experiment with a plethora of Rift related technologies. More pertinent was the ten million dollars that Oculus have pledged to help the Rift indie developing community. A real push for all the indie developers out there.
Oculus have been working closely with Microsoft, Nvdia, and AMD to make sure the Rift works straight out of the box. As soon as you wear the Rift and activate it you boot straight into Oculus Home.
Oculus Home is the Rift’s dashboard — the portal for everything Oculus related. It puts all your Rift games in one place. You can see what’s new, what’s featured and what games your friends are playing. A neat feature is that before you purchase a game, you get to experience a full virtual reality preview of the game in question.
There is also a 2D interface that allows you to stay in touch with your friends as well as browse, manage, and download games.
The Oculus Touch
Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, made the final announcement of the press conference. As well as having each Rift ship with an Xbox One controller the team at Oculus are constantly working on innovative ways to improve virtual reality input. The latest being the Oculus Touch (prototype name: Half-Moon).
The Oculus Touch is a pair of wireless controllers designed to be held in each hand respectively. This allows for the users to experience “hand presence” – the feeling that your hands are also part of the virtual world you are experiencing.
The Touch lets you interact with the virtual world such as picking up a gun and shooting or throwing it. The precise manipulation of virtual entities is key to creating a fully immersive VR world and this is one of the many pieces of technology that Oculus are offering. The Touch also allows for communicative social gestures such as pointing or waving.
The controllers themselves have traditional buttons, analog sticks and a hand trigger. This trigger allows you to use your index finger to shoot a gun for instance. Oculus are also aiming for a “low mental load.” Low mental load is the idea that we shouldn’t have to think about what we are doing when using the Rift. The user experience should be a natural and fluid understanding. As always with Oculus they are taking massive strives into making virtual worlds a reality.
Pricing and Release Date
Unfortunately there were no pricing or bundles announced for the Oculus Rift. The only remnant of a release date they gave was Q1, 2016. The timeframe we have all really been expecting.
Everything at the press conference will be available at E3 so hopefully we can hear about some hands-on reactions.