Forget the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One – I’ve seen the future of gaming, and it is neither of them. The Oculus Rift is amazing – and with $16 million in fresh funding, the team is hard at work on the consumer version. A few months have passed since the dev kits dropped, and we’ve now seen an explosion of demos. Some are good, some are bad, but some are so cool they ought to blow your mind. If you have a Rift and want to find something else to try out, or if you’re not convinced yet that this is the future - this list of the best Oculus Rift demos is for you.
Sixense Tuscany Demo
Tuscany is the standard tech demo produced by the Oculus team, and as such it serves as a great starting point for letting people get their “VR legs”. It’s pretty mind blowing in and of itself.
However, combined with a Razer Hydra – an incredibly accurate motion control peripheral (we’ll be giving one away next month) – the immersive Tuscany demo goes from “oh, this is a lovely house!” to “ZOMG I can pick up stuff and throw it, and this is totally the future of gaming“. Really, this Oculus Rift demo will blow your mind.
Why this is so cool: Wandering around a virtual environment will only get you so far; add a virtual pair of hands and the level of immersion increases ten fold. It is easy to imagine the next Skyrim, as you (literally) open up chests and rifle through loot, wielding swords and bare knuckle fighting. RPGs are going to be taken to a whole new level.
Since I’m pretty acclimatised to the sensations now, heres a demo of someone’s mother trying it instead!
Why this is so cool: Unlike other Oculus Rift demos that have your virtual embodiment walking around despite the lack of legs, a roller coaster sits you firmly in one place. Your mind expects to be flung around. This alleviates a lot of the initial VR motion sickness, letting you sit back, and scare yourself as you fly over the edge.
Eve-VR is 6 vs 6 space dogfighting game that gained a lot of attention at E3 as being one of the best demos yet, set in the developed world of Eve Online.
Sadly, a downloadable demo is not available, but if you have a Rift you can get a taste of what it’s like by strapping in and watching this video full screen.
Why this is probably going to blow your mind: a cockpit is a natural environment to recreate for someone sat in front of a desk. Plus, most of us PC gamers grew up with X-Wing vs Tie Fighter - enough said.
Half Life 2
Old it may be, but the Half Life 2 dystopian big brother world translates fantastically to VR – it’s the best fully playable and complete game so far, and I’m loving it. This is an official update by Valve, so if you have Steam:
We just shipped a beta for Half-Life 2 that includes Oculus Rift support. To get it, open the properties for HL2 in Steam, set your command line to “-vr”, and opt-in to the SteamPipe beta.
Apologies for the audio – you might be able to hear my commentary if you have good ears, otherwise it is kind of drowned out by the game. Not that you’re missing much.
This also works for Portal.
Why it’s awesome: The experience of being transported to another time and space is quite engrossing, even if you played the original – the Rift is a whole new way to experience games.
Virtual Vertigo Challenge
From Inition studios, thiswas put together in a week, utilizing an Oculus Rift and Kinect for positional tracking.
The user would start their experience in a room complete with Digital Shoreditch Festival graffiti, comfy arm chair and log fire. After being moved towards the exit door, it would suddenly open up, revealing a sheer drop hundreds of feet tall.
A thin plank of wood separated them and the roof of the building on the other side and they were encouraged to walk across, remaining on the plank. For their return journey, an operator would manually send them falling to the ground.
Why this blows your mind: the fan, 3D audio, and ever so slightly elevated red platform you see in the video gives an amazing illusion of actually being that high up. You know it’s not real – but your mind doesn’t, because every sense tells you it is actually happenning and there’s a very good chance you’re going to die today. Moving forwards, I think we’re going to see a lot of see custom VR solutions designed to simulate a specific experience, all based around the Oculus Rift but with a variety of additional immersive technologies and tricks.
There’s so many other Oculus Rift demos I couldn’t list; perhaps not mind blowing, but still very intriguing experiences. Let’s not forget the already funded Virtuix Omni treadmill either, due to land sometime next year. For even more demos and news, check out r/Oculus, MTBS forums, and Oculus Developer forums. Did I miss your favourite demo? Tell me in the comments why you think it’s mind blowing, and link to a video!