VR World

GDC 2014: Playing on Oculus' New Rift Devkit 2

Late yesterday, Oculus VR announced their latest and greatest version of the Rift Virtual Reality Gaming Headset. This version is currently called the DK2 or Devkit 2, it brings all of the lessons learned over the course of the last year of the Rift’s existence into a device that is far better than the original Kickstarter-funded version in so many ways. Since Oculus has brought onboard people like John Carmack as CTO they’ve been taken far more seriously by many in the game industry and they themselves appear to be a much more serious company. What’s funny is that I’ve been following Oculus VR since I last tried it out last GDC and their progression has been impeccable. At last year’s GDC, there were lines going on for hours with people wanting to try out the headset and this year was only different because Oculus had more headsets and more people to help show them off.

With the introduction of the new Devkit 2, Oculus VR has bumped the resolution of the display inside of the headset to the resolution of 960×1080 per-eye, which significantly reduces the screen door effect, much like the Crystal Cove prototype Oculus was showing off at CES this year. They’ve also helped reduce the latency of the head tracking system, which was one of their biggest problems, by introducing a camera that allows your head 6 different degrees of freedom. And because of this, they are able to utilize positional tracking as well in order to enable additional levels of immersiveness not possible in other versions or platforms. In addition to all of that, they’ve also included updated orientation tracking, a built-in latency tester, an on-headset USB accessory port, new optics, the elimination of the infamous control box, and a redesigned SDK as well as further optimized Unity and Unreal Engine 4 integrations.

In addition to all of those things, Oculus has also made the DK2 available for pre-order for only $50 more than the original Devkit, at $350. I suspect that a lot of people will be buying this new DK2 version of Oculus VR’s headset purely because of the massive jumps it makes in terms of basically everything. They’re clearly getting very close to primetime and they are probably around a year or less away from having a consumer version based on what they’ve currently got and based on what I’ve seen. It’ll mostly hinge on the games that are ultimately supported as well as if they can finish the SDK and finalize the hardware and costs.

Here at GDC 2014, Oculus has been demoing EVE: Valkyrie and Epic’s UE4 Couch Knight. Each of these games supposedly pits the games against the people sitting across from them and are designed to make people feel properly immersed within the game’s environment and forget that they’re even in a game. That includes yours truly who was playing the EVE demo against the people sitting across, and it was definitely the best experience that I’ve ever had playing in a VR headset and the pixels were just barely visible. And frankly, I forgot that the pixels were visible once I had started to game a bit more, so clearly they’re not as much of an issue as they were before.