With Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, HTC Vive on the horizon and Samsung Gear VR already available, I had been dying to try this modern take on virtual reality.
My very first experience with VR was way back in the mid-90s, yep that long ago. I was at a local shopping centre and Lynx the deodorant company, were promoting their latest product, Atlantis. To help with the promotion they had a VR experience you could try out. I put the headset on and held on to the joystick that was handed to me. Instantly transporting me under the ocean to Atlantis to try and retrieve a digital can of Lynx deodorant. If successful, the player won a can of Atlantis and a Lynx face towel.
Back then the experience was cool but the graphics were not.
Present Day Virtual Reality
Skip forward 20+ years with the advances in technology VR has had a huge leap forward. Better graphics, screen resolutions and motion sensors etc. all contribute to the overall experience.
In 2014 I visited EGX Rezzed at the NEC, Birmingham, where I had my first experience of Oculus Rift. I had to queue for about an hour before I finally got to try it out. Ether One was the game that was showcasing Oculus Rift, a first person adventure game for PC and Mac. The game is not action packed so I spent most of the time wondering around looking in all directions at the scenery. Check out the video below to get an idea of the game.
What was VR Like?
It was amazing. Imagine you have a huge curved screen in front of you. When you have the headset on you only see a portion of that screen. You then turn your head in any direction slightly to view more of the screen. You can only look so far then you need to use the joypad to turn around.
At first its a little strange but as my 5 minutes ticked on I found myself becoming more and more engrossed in the game and forgetting that there was a huge queue of other gamers waiting behind me. When you finally take off the headset it takes you a few seconds to adjust yourself and get your bearings. Then you remember that there is a real world out there.
Second Times a Virtual Reality Charm
I was lucky enough to try out the Oculus Rift again at EGX London back in September 2014. This time there was a whole area dedicated to Oculus Rift, which had massive queues. Thinking to myself, I’m not waiting in that queue I walked on by. I thought to myself it’s fine I’ve already tried it and loved it. Then as I was strolling around the Rezzed area I saw a headset just resting on a kiosk. So I walked over and asked the developer if I could try it out.
Lucky me, he said yes. So with a big smile on my face the guy put the headset on my head and plonked some headphone on and away I went. This time the game was a little more exciting, it was called Omega Agent. You play as a secret agent training to use a jetpack. The tutorial was great with helping me get to grips with the controls. Whereas Ether One only had movement on one level, Omega Agent had movement in all directions including up and down. This freedom of movement made it more exhilarating even more so when i looked down I could see my feet dangling below and beneath my feet was the top of a skyscraper.
When the tutorial was over I got to free play for a bit. It was great fun. I was flying all over the place in between skyscrapers and other buildings and even to the top of a mountain. So much fun. After a few minutes, I felt like a true pro. The game is available to buy now on Oculus and Samsung Gear VR. Before long my time had come to an end and it was back to reality for me.
The Gear VR Innovator Edition will come with two price points; Headset and gamepad at $249 and standalone headset at $199. The Samsung Gear VR is out now.
With all these headsets releasing this year, it looks like the battle for your head is truly on.