March 30, 2016
After many months of anticipation, Oculus finally rolled out its Rift VR headset into the hands of many eager technology journalists. There have been numerous reviews, and most — but not all — of them are enthusiastic. What they like is that the system is well-made, accessible, easy to set up and comfortable to wear. But a few critics find the 30 VR “experiences” rolled out with the headset to be less than compelling, and others bemoaned the lack of Touch controllers and more VR games and experiences.
Variety surveyed the many critics reporting on the Rift, and summarized some of their praise and critiques, including The Verge’s Adi Robertson who said, “The Rift is something I’d be happy to have in my living room… The headset you can buy today is not Oculus’ most ambitious vision for virtual reality — but it’s a vision that Oculus has successfully delivered on.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler said, “Oculus Rift is the 2016 product you hope your neighbor buys. You’ll definitely want to try it, but there’s little reason to own one unless you’re a serious gamer,” an idea seconded by CNET critic Sean Hollister. The most negative review Variety quotes is from The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen, who deemed the apps and games as “a confusing, disjointed virtual reality landscape.”
Wired gave the Oculus Rift a thumbs-up, however. Critic Peter Rubin calls it, “a remarkably well-made and accessible device,” easy to set up, and “appropriately padded and well balanced” to be comfortable for long viewing sessions.
“This makes it the first high-end consumer VR system to come to market,” he said, noting that the Rift is “leading the charge into super-powered, PC-driven immersion,” in an environment that is “remarkably glitch-free,” offering “two custom AMOLED displays screens running at a combined resolution of nearly 2.5K, presenting images to you as stereoscopic 3D,” and “shockingly good sound.”
Final conclusion: “The Rift more than delivers on its promise. The many technical issues that have plagued VR over the years — latency, image smear, judder — are, if not gone, imperceptible… It delivers rock-solid, comfortable VR.”
The Verge identifies what critics Robertson and Ross Miller consider the seven best games, priced from about $5 to $60. “Adrift” is a first-person narrative game both “deadly and beautiful” set in a disaster-struck space station in zero-gravity. “Chronos” is “one of the biggest, most complex games published so far for virtual reality,” a third-person fantasy RGP. “Darknet” is “one of the oldest VR games around and still one of the best,” a cyberpunk-like hacking title with clever puzzles.
“EVE: Valkyrie” comes bundled with every pre-ordered consumer Rift, was “built from the ground up with VR in mind,” and feels “gorgeous” and “immersive.” “Pinball FX2 VR” is a virtual reality pinball arcade, and “Radial-G: Racing Revolved” is a 360-degree neon Mobius strip with techno music; “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” lets the user defuse a “comically complicated bomb,” working with someone in the real world. Short-story “Lost,” from Pixar’s Saschka Unseld, is “quick but powerful.”