The Oculus Rift has arrived.
Years in the making -- almost four years on from its initial Kickstarter campaign, in fact -- Oculus has shipped the first consumer version of its Rift virtual reality headset to its first batch of preorder customers. It's even been two years since Facebook dropped $2 billion on the company.
How did the initial product shape up? And does it presage a healty future for VR technology?
A lot of people tried to answer that question today, as reviews from a variety of sources -- from VR obsessed and highly technical to totally mainstream -- hit the web. We've taken the liberty of gathering some of their quotes here, to capture the essence of this milestone in the march toward VR.
Understanding the range of opinions -- and the consesnus they contribute to -- will help us all comprehend the impact the Rift will have on computing and games. What you read below is a barometer of the VR space as of Day 0 of its most significant epoch.
The New York Times, Brian X. Chen:
When it comes down to it, I don’t disagree with Mr. Zuckerberg that this is just the beginning of virtual reality. With about 30 games and a few apps at Rift’s introduction, there isn’t much to do with the system yet. Oculus will eventually need a larger, more diverse set of content to transcend its initial audience of gamer geeks.
Wired, Peter Rubin
And this is where we get to the crossroads. This is an astonishingly well-made device. It delivers rock-solid, comfortable VR, and it does so easily. You’ll be able to put this thing on anyone and show them the magic. You’ll have friends coming over just to go through the Dreamdeck. (Seriously, you will.) But you’ll have to make your peace with the idea that your $600 -- or realistically, $1,500 or more, if you need a PC to go with it -- is an investment. It’s an investment in the things you’ll be able to do in the Rift, the places you’ll be able to go.
TechCrunch, Lucas Matney
The Oculus Rift is a crazy device that is more than the sum of its parts. As the first consumer high-powered virtual reality headset, it deserves props for just existing, but incredibly it manages to kick ass as well. Whether you should buy now, just try it out or wait until Oculus Touch arrives depends mostly on your patience and cashflow.
The Verge, Adi Robertson
... the Rift makes a good case for seated VR, and it lays a solid foundation for what’s to come.
The Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey A. Fowler
The Rift demonstrates flashes of a brilliant future where we can move freely through countless virtual worlds. But even after I fixed the sensor glitch, a week with the Rift showed me it still needs to dig itself out of some deep holes.
Ars Technica, Kyle Orland
I’d often reach instinctively for the right analog stick or the shoulder buttons on my controller to try to turn the camera. It would take a split second before I realized, “Hey, wait, I can just turn and look for the thing I want to see.” It might sound hyperbolic, but this is a change that requires looking at and thinking about gaming in an entirely new way.
Gizmodo, Mario Aguillar
What Oculus has accomplished is remarkable. There’s plenty that even the completely uninitiated user can enjoy. More importantly, the Rift is truly immersive in most cases. The image quality is mostly excellent, and the head-tracking is nearly flawless. Indeed, perhaps what’s most significant is that there are moments when I can say unreservedly and without caveats that I am enjoying the Rift right in the moment -- not as a device indicative of some desirable future, but as a device to own right now. I still can’t afford the future of virtual reality, but for the first time, I actually want to.
The Atlantic, Ian Bogost
What is commercial virtual reality, anyway, and how does it relate to the decades-old science fictional dreams of VR? The answer is that it doesn’t, but that’s no comfort. We might be in for a far stranger future than our previous dystopic nightmares ever imagined.
Road to VR, Ben Lang
The Rift feels like a near-perfect execution of the device Oculus promised they would make back during their 2012 Kickstarter. ... But a lot has happened in the world of VR since that 2012 vision -- most notably the introduction of high performance motion input controllers which radically enhance the level of interactivity (and in many ways immersion) of virtual reality.
USA Today, Edward C. Baig
Leave it to my enthused 9-year old son Samuel to explain why he thinks Oculus Rift is “so cool” that he wants me to buy it for him. “It makes you feel like you’re actually in a new world.” ... I would like to spend more time with it before deciding whether the high price tag is justified. But Oculus was an early hit in my house.
CNet, Sean Hollister
You simply must try the Oculus Rift. It’s breathtaking. I just wouldn’t buy one right now -- and there’s no reason you should feel the need to, either (especially with its archrival, the HTC Vive, also just days away). The longer you wait to buy, the better it will get. This is just day one for Oculus -- and for the future of virtual reality.
Engadget, Devindra Hardawar
Do I really have to spell this out? Over the next few months, it'll be the Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive, which is powered by Valve's SteamVR platform, battling for VR dominance.
Time, Lisa Eadicicco
What makes the Rift so compelling is that it truly creates the illusion of escape. I now understand why it’s called the Rift in the first place: it creates a colossal disconnect between what’s happening in front of your eyes and what’s actually occurring in the world around you. It literally generates a rift between where you are and where you think you are, what you’re feeling and what your body thinks you’re feeling.
Mashable, Chelsea Stark
The most pleasant surprise of the Rift launch lineup is how many games succeed even without that first-person perspective. Virtual reality adds a diorama feel to third-person platformers like the charming Lucky's Tale, as your head becomes the camera. You can lean all over a scene and feel like you're playing with a sandbox of toy, which is really immersive in strategy games likeAirMech: Command and tower defense titles like Defense Grid 2. Even pinball and air hockey are novel when played in VR, though they’re perhaps not as deep of a playing experience.
PCWorld, Hayden Dingman
So perhaps it’s best to say our rating for the Oculus Rift is based on how well we think Oculus accomplished its stated goals: Creating a device that could (and pardon the VR buzzword here) instill a feeling of virtual “Presence” in the user, here in 2016. ... In that sense, the initial Oculus Rift headset is stunningly successful, despite its high price and missing Touch controllers and first-gen rough edges.