The Oculus Rift turns one next Tuesday. This time last year we could hardly believe the age of consumer VR was nearly upon us, and now I’m struggling to come to terms with how quickly it’s moving. It really feels like it hasn’t been any time at all since Rift released, but it’s still hard to keep track of all that’s happened over the past 365 days.
I didn’t actually get my own Rift until September, mainly on the account of wanting to spare myself the madness of waiting for a unit to arrive. I was doubly relieved I’d decided to wait when Oculus started to struggle to meet shipping demands. Honestly, I don’t know how some of you coped with having your pre-orders pushed back weeks and months. I’d have gone crazy. Instead I sat back and decided it was best to let things get ironed out and wait until I could make a few simple clicks and have one show up at my door the next day. By then there would be a healthy slate of games to check out too beyond the already-impressive launch line-up.
Waiting wasn’t that hard; though I longed to be able to pull a Rift (or Vive) over my eyes without the ever so pressured feeling of knowing a developer was watching me, I’ve been an early adopter enough times before to know the caveats that come with the dedication, especially with VR.
Watching the first few weeks of launch was a mixed experience, though. It was wonderful to see so many amazed reactions from people that had kept the faith for multiple years, even if the frustrations of not getting a unit understandably drowned them out.
When I did finally get my unit, I played it cool. I knew Touch was mere months away and would be when I really dived in, but there were some games I had to check out on gamepad.
I’m going to remember Rift’s gamepad-only days fondly, even if I only joined the club towards the end of that era. Roomscale VR with position-tracked controls is undoubtedly the way forward, but there’s something to be said about the sheer simplicity of the gamepad game, free from the nagging concerns of the physical space around you. They may not have been revolutionary, but I appreciated the more traditionally thrills of Edge of Nowhere and Chronos. I think it’s important we remember those types of games as we head further into the age of Oculus Touch.
That said, Superhot was a game changer for me like I’m sure it was for many others. It just made so much sense inside the Rift; a unique blend of puzzle and shooter that captialized on VR’s ability to empower better than anything that’s came before or after. I caught glimpses of that in Robo Recall this month, too, though ultimately I agree with our review in that it’s far too repetitive to really be remembered as one of VR’s greatest triumphs.
Still, VR is an emotive powerhouse and I don’t think we’ve really realised how to unlock that side of it yet. We’re scratching the surface with things like Dear Angelica, sure, but the past year’s content was all about gamey excitement and thrills, the likes of which we can get on consoles and in movie theaters already.
My year in the Rift has been fun, if not as consistently mind-blowing as I might have hoped. I’ve seen a taste of what’s to come, though, and I’m confident the second year will be even more impressive than the first.