After years of being categorized as a futuristic technology that might one day hit the mainstream, virtual reality is finally becoming, well, a reality.
Today, the Oculus Rift began shipping to consumers who placed early pre-orders and we’re finally starting to see a number of in-depth reviews roll in. Given all of the hype that has surrounded VR in general and the Oculus Rift in particular, it’s only natural to wonder if VR can actually live up to the hype or if it’s destined to become nothing more than a niche product at best or a passing fad at worst.
From what we can gather from early Oculus Rift reviews, the virtual reality headset, which Facebook acquired for a whopping $2 billion in 2014, appears to be the real deal.
Below are some of the more notable Oculus Rift reviews that we’ve seen thus far. By and large, all reviews found a whole a lot to like about what the Oculus Rift brings to the table.
In an extremely extensive and detailed review, Polygon came away impressed with the device:
The Rift headset feels both high-quality and unusually subtle, especially in contrast to almost everything else you’ll find connected to a gaming PC, a line of products which share a long tradition of truly gauche aesthetics. The Rift is, in a word, beautiful.
The Rift’s strong support for both sitting and standing experiences and the obvious quality of the headset, matched with surprisingly strong ergonomics and usage of the remote all work together to create something that feels satisfying and, more importantly, transformative.
For anyone who wants a bit of a primer as to what all of this virtual reality tomfoolery is good for, The Verge’s video review is well worth checking out.
Ars Technica also got to spend some time with the device before launch. It’s review reads in part:
After decades of incremental improvements to the way PC games and apps are displayed on monitors, the Rift feels like an entirely new way of thinking about how we look at the computerized world. It’s unique enough that a lot of the things we take for granted in computing and gaming are struggling to catch up with the new rules necessitated by its entirely new viewpoint. That means this first step still feels a little rough and uncertain in many ways that lessen its sheer impact.
Wired’s Peter Rubin was also taken with the Oculus Rift, but like other reviews, pointed out that the selection of games, while poised to grow soon, isn’t all that impressive just yet.
But even with that many games available, there’s a rift (no, seriously) between what the Rift can do and what you can do with the Rift. Oculus has never been quiet about the fact that it’s depending on software companies to create the compelling experiences that bring people back to VR again and again. But right now? On the eve of release? Many of the best experiences I’ve had in the Oculus ecosystem either aren’t in the Oculus Store yet, or won’t be available until the company’s Oculus Touch handheld controllers arrive later this year.
That’s not to say that won’t change soon—a company rep says the Store will be receiving monthly updates—but it also puts any reviewer in a strange position. The pipeline of games and experiences coming this year is frankly astonishing, and opens the Rift up to many more people: Eagle Flight lets you soar over Paris and band with friends for bird-on-bird aerial warfare; I Expect You To Die is a diabolical room-escape puzzle game; Fantastic Contraption plunks you into a world that’s the offspring of Tinker Toys and Capsella, building just what the title leads you to expect.
Gizmodo’s review champions the notion that mainstream users finally have a reason to get excited about VR.
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.
And last but not least, Engadget, like other reviews, sees a lot of potential for the device going forward, especially if it becomes more affordable.
But after spending a week with the Oculus Rift, I have no doubt that its approach to virtual reality is indeed the real deal. It’s well built and easy to set up, and there are already a few games and apps that’ll make VR believers out of the most ardent naysayer. The only problem: It’s $600 and requires a powerful gaming PC. Just as with every new technological milestone, it has the potential to change the world. But at this early stage, only a few can afford it.
We’ll make sure to keep you posted on what some of the early adopters of the Oculus Rift think of the device as those impressions begin to make their way online.