Oculus Connect 2: Everything You Need To Know

Oculus Connect 2 is currently taking place in California and it’s brought with it a dozen announcements. No, not the price – though it’ll be at least $300. No, not a more specific release date than “Q1 2016”, though they did say the Touch controllers would be out Q2 2016. But if you want to know about watching Netflix in a virtual reality cinema, playing Minecraft on a VR headset, and which games are being developed specifically for the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch, then read on for details and videos.

Oculus Video

Alec's house.

Software which allowed you to sit in a virtual cinema and watch video files was quickly made for early Oculus Rift headsets. As odd as this sounds, it works quite well in creating the sense of scale you get from going to an actual cinema, simply by putting a fake screen in front of you that’s big enough that you need to move your eyes back and forth to see its edges.

Oculus Video is the official version of the same idea and at Connect 2, it was announced that Oculus had partnered with major film distributors like Fox and Lionsgate, as well as Netflix, Twitch, Vimeo and, er, Oculus owners Facebook. That means you’ll be able to use the headset to watch “over 100 hit movies,” including The Hunger Games, Alien and X-Men, as well as FIFA Ultimate Team pack opening livestreams and mobile phone footage of your nephew’s birthday party.

The Future Is Here And I Want It rating: 3/5.

These features were inevitable and are welcome, but I like watching videos with friends and don’t much fancy anti-socially strapping myself into a headset just so I can pretend the screen is bigger.

Minecraft on Oculus

It seems that Microsoft using Minecraft to push HoloLens, their own augmented reality headset, hasn’t prevented Mojang from making Minecraft for the Oculus headset. The game will be released for the Rift next spring.

Much like the video service above, it took about thirty seconds for someone to knock together a Minecraft mod that worked with the Oculus Rift DK1. I tried it at the time and, though it was a clumsy hack, it did a lot to sell me on the potential of the pairing. Virtual reality is particularly good at conveying scale, and so Minecraft’s landscapes are more exciting to explore than ever when you see the horizon stretching convincingly away in front of you. I’m slightly scared of the experience of falling down an enormous cave, though.

Strap The Cyberdeck’s Dermatrodes To My Eyeballs rating: 4/5.

I think games which are made specifically for the Rift are the better bet for anything other than novelty, but the novelty of a modifiable and functionally infinite virtual reality world is nothing to sniff at.

Oculus Ready program

This is a minor thing, but it’s important: Oculus have identified a recommended PC spec for using the Oculus Rift, and PCs which meet that spec will have ‘Oculus Ready’ branding. I have built many PCs on my own, but I still wish the process of picking which garble-named graphics card to buy was easier. This should help with that. Here are the recommended specs (and you can read more on the Oculus site):

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM

“I know kung fu.” “Show me.” rating: 2/5

This is a good thing, but there’s still a long way to go before your gran is going to be comfortable using a virtual reality headset. And ultimately, like the Wii’s motion controllers, I think that’s where virtual reality is and ought to be headed.

Oculus Games

These are, I suspect, what will make the difference between virtual reality being an occasional party piece or flight sim peripheral, and being an actual alternative route for the medium. And so far, I haven’t seen anything which has made me go, “Ooh, I really want that strapped to my face for hours and hours.” Admittedly these short montage videos aren’t the best for convincing anyone of anything, but see for yourself:

And the Oculus Touch games, which make use of the dual motion controllers:

Or there’s this bland, bullet time FPS from Epic, called Bullet Train, which Alice wrote about in more detail yesterday:

I like EVE Valkyrie, I like Job Simulator, but I guess what I am looking for is a game that would convince me to buy a new system, if the concept of virtual reality alone wasn’t compelling enough to already make me want to get involved.

Oh It Still Needs To Be About The Games, Doesn’t It rating: 2/5

I will almost certainly buy some manner of VR headset at the first opportunity, but for VR itself, not the specific games.

Oculus Touch

The games being designed for it can be seen above, but what about the actual hardware? Oculus Touch was announced earlier this year and they’re a pair of ring-shaped motion controllers with triggers and analogue sticks placed around them which are designed to be tracked accurately with low latency in 3D space. These seem a pretty essential part of any VR experience, because as soon as your vision is wholly immersed in a 3D space, you want to reach out and touch it, and – perhaps more importantly – you can’t see the more traditional controllers like mouse, keyboard or gamepad anymore.

That’s what makes it slightly strange that Oculus Touch does not come with the Oculus headset – you get an XBox pad with it instead – and it won’t be released until a few months after the headset, in Q2 rather than Q1 of 2016. Hmm.

Knock Things You Can’t See Off Your Actual Desk rating: 2/5

I won’t be convinced by these until I can use them, but it would have helped if they were bundled with the headset, released at the same time as the headset, or if they had announced a price for them. As it is: shrug.

GearVR And Oculus Medium

It’s not so relevant to a PC games site like us, but many of the announcements this year have focused on Gear VR. It’s a headset into which you can slot a Samsung phone as a screen and is designed as a low-level entry point to VR. You get many of the same apps but a different set of games and it’ll cost $99 at launch in November.

I used GearVR in order to play CCP’s Gunjack at this year’s Gamescom – it’s a separate game from EVE Valkyrie – and while it was a perfectly fine, first-person arcade blaster, it did little to make me want to own one. That there’s now an Oculus Arcade in which you can play Pac-Man doesn’t change that.

Oculus Medium, meanwhile, is a 3D sculpting tool, and the sort of software that virtual reality and motion controllers makes instantly more accessible. I’d be unlikely to ever use it very much because I have little artistic skill, but the Vive 3D-painting equivalent was fun to tinker with and I bet people will create incredible things with it.

This Post Is Nearing Its End, Isn’t It? rating 3/5

Not particularly relevant, but there are some neat ideas here and I think they’re well-suited to people who aren’t us.

You can find more detail on all of the above – including a bunch more developer-focused announcements about SDKs – in this Oculus blog post. You can also learn much more about how many of these things were made by listening to or watching John Carmack’s keynote, which starts at around 3h 30m into this archived full day livestream.

46 Comments

  1. Hideous says:

    I think Oculus’ choice not to bundle the Touch controllers with the headset is a huge mistake.

    Unlike with the Vive, Rift developers can’t assume that their players have access to 1:1 motion controllers. The only guarantee is that they have an Xbone controller!

    • frogmanalien says:

      Is an xBox controller even a “must have”? It’ll be interesting seeing all the Kickstarters for Keyboard Around Your Neck Straps for all those who love WASD a little bit too much.

  2. hollowroom says:

    I’m quite worried about these Touch controllers. As a disabled person, I won’t be able to use both of them. I really, really hope that there are configuration options to get round this.

    The plethora of control options for PC (and lack of configurability for Consoles) is pretty much why I never turn my PS3 on any more.

    All I really want are options

    • Robstafarian says:

      I know exactly what you mean, being disabled myself. In fact, I began drafting an article on this subject months ago, with the intention of submitting it to RPS, but I abandoned the project for fear that it would be interpreted as “whiny” (were I in the UK, I would probably make it a VideoBrains speech). This article has me reconsidering that stance—which was no doubt affected by the raft of esports coverage on RPS.

      Thanks for speaking up.

      • Martel says:

        I am not disabled but I would love to read that article, so please submit it!

      • gi_ty says:

        I know I would also enjoy reading something like that from your perspective. I am continually impressed by people with disabilities and the creative and inspiring ways that they cope, especially when it comes to my favorite hobby.

      • hollowroom says:

        Write it!

        Although I know what you mean about worrying about sounding whiny. I like to maintain that I don’t want special treatment – I want the option to be able to figure out a solution.

        I think what I’m worried about is that the PC will start to become less friendly to re-configuration and innovation by users. This has already happened with a few console ports. For example, the inability to map keys is an annoyance for some but can render a game unplayable for us. And because you can’t see on the box or in reviews how configurable the games controls are, you are effectively taking a gamble on being able to play it (unless you find a demo in a shop somewhere).

  3. Assirra says:

    All this mountain of info and none of it includes if you can wear standard glasses with it or it is even possible to use VR for people with a lazy eye.

    • hollowroom says:

      This is a great question too. They can’t have overlooked this, can they?

    • davethejuggler says:

      They’ve said in the past that most glasses are fine, obviously massive ones won’t fit under the mask. As for the lazy eye, it sounds like it will be similar to how you see in real life. No idea what that’s like as I don’t have one… link to reddit.com

    • grimdanfango says:

      It’s pretty common knowlegde at this point that they’ve designed the whole shebang around glasses-wearers. If they’re sensibly-sized glasses you’ll be fine.

      I’ve got a lazy eye too, and am effectively stereoblind, and besides the fact that I get the same lack of depth perception I do in 3D movies, and, y’know, the real world… the Rift DK2 works absolutely perfectly for me.

      It’s just a bit rubbish when my mate tries the Vox Machinae demo, tells me “woah! I’m so high up!”, and I feel sad because I don’t experience that sensation at all :-P

      Essentially, it emulates how real vision would work… so you’re bound by the same limitations as your real-world vision… nothing more.

      • Assirra says:

        You are the very first person that answers my lazy eye question i have asked everywhere VR was mentioned.
        Thank you so much.
        I am stereoblind as well and will never experience all the 3D things so i was honestly scared i would miss this as well.
        I will still want to test it somewhere first tough.

    • iainl says:

      If it didn’t work for people with glasses, I suspect John Carmack would have had a quiet word with his staff by now…

  4. The_invalid says:

    Nothing here is at all convincing me that this is going to catch on for games. We’re, what, three years in, the retail hardware is about to drop, and all we have are bland tech demos.

    Now, creative applications on the other hand – watching that ex-Disney animator do his thing on an HTC Vive was absolutely breathtaking. I’m genuinely excited for the creative potential sculpting and illustrating in 3D could bring. Imagine working in Max or Zbrush with intuitive motion controls. I genuinely think the hardware price-point and interface point to a much brighter future in the fields of simulation and creativity than they do in videogames.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      See, from you comment I can see that you’ve not used it.

      • tattertech says:

        I’ve had the DK1 and DK2. I agree with him. After experimenting for a while with gaming (and creating stuff with UE4) in VR, I’m not really sold on gaming. Commercial/non-gaming applications though could be HUGE though.

        It’s not that there won’t be immersive game experiences, but so far not much has wowed me beyond the obvious choices (space sims and such).

        • Premium User Badge

          Wisq says:

          Even if I only use the Rift for flight sims, space sims, truck sims — “cockpit sims” in general — I’m still excited for it, because it replaces my TrackIR which is nowhere near as awesome.

      • The_invalid says:

        You know, I’d love to say that I have used one, but seeing as they’re not currently on the market, and the only current pull for the hardware is underwhelming-looking game demos, and creative software that isn’t yet available, I think I’ll pass.

        The entire point of my post was that there’s nothing currently out there that makes me want to buy one. The way things are, it’s like Oculus are trying to sell the original Playstation with nothing but that T-Rex demo on the Demo One disc. They desperately need a killer app that’s going to sell the hardware to gamers because it provides an experience that you can’t do on a traditional monitor.

        Wowee tech demos are not killer apps. Vive’s 3D art app very much has the potential to be, in my opinion.

        I’m indescribably weary of the evangelistic tone of all the marketing hype for these VR headsets. “You just have to see it for yourself” is never going to cut it for a lot of people. Neither is the dismissal of any and all skepticism. not all of us have several hundreds of pounds spare to drop on a luxury addition to their gaming setups because we’re told by some marketing hack that ‘it’s the future’.

        • silentdan says:

          we’re told by some marketing hack that ‘it’s the future’

          This.

          I mean, really, we’re told this far more often than it comes to pass. It was true for the mouse. It was true for the 3D accelerated video card. I can’t think of a third example. With very few exceptions, “the future” arrives incrementally and affordably, not in an expensive, exciting hardware revolution.

          • AlexClockwork says:

            The way I see it, you are comparing it to the wrong things. I mean, I’m SURE the VR headsets won’t be as big as 3D graphic cards. But what if we compare them to gamepads? They are not such a big revolution, they are an extra expense, and one only used for certain games, which not everyone plays. But, still, they are successful, and improve the experience one has with certain games A LOT. Biggest revolution ever? No. Moderately successful and nice add-on? Yes. Not everyone will want to spend money in them, but for some, it’ll really be worth it.

        • pistachio says:

          That is fine. 3d-360 photography (dont forget porn) and the early adapter tech fans will probably generate enough revenue to make them profitable hence cheaper and better in the long run. Games will adapt.

          • The_invalid says:

            Porn also predicted that HD-DVD would be the prevailing HD format. Imagine being totally immersed in Oculus Rift porn – all the while your friend has managed to walk in the room and catch you in the middle of a vigorous fap and you never even notice. Chilling.

        • Premium User Badge

          Wisq says:

          The entire point of my post was that there’s nothing currently out there that makes me want to buy one.

          In my experience, a lot of things in life seem frivolous until I actually try them and discover how much they “click” for me. Very soon after, I can’t imagine living without them. That’s why I have a very strong policy on trying new things whenever possible, even if many turn out to be flops.

          “You just have to see it for yourself” is never going to cut it for a lot of people.

          It can work just fine, if they supply demo hardware for retail stores so people can walk in and try it out themselves. Or if enough enthusiasts get it and let their friends try it.

    • BlackMageSK says:

      It’ll catch for some game genres that are naturally geared for VR. Flight/driving/space simulations are already in this space and it is a massive difference from using a monitor. Honestly I wouldn’t go back to my monitor setup for these even with the lousy resolution of the DK2 and it is the only thing I use my dev kit for now (other than development).

      Taking existing games and trying to shoehorn them into VR when they don’t quite fit however is just a gimmick.

      • silentdan says:

        I’ve never tried a modern VR headset, but I do have TrackIR, and appreciate vehicle games that support it. ARMA 2 & 3 also support it, and in that game (primarily an infantry sim) it’s neat that I can turn my head to the left, silently nod at my squad leader, and he’ll see my character model make that head gesture. I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has (or has at least tried for an hour+) both.

        TrackIR Pros:
        – head tracking’s great
        – I can physically see my keyboard, mouse, HOTAS, and ornery cat without having to lift anything off my face
        – very light (2 grams + the mass of my baseball cap)

        TrackIR Cons:
        – no depth perception / stereo
        – multiplies degree of head turning so that you can turn your avatar’s head 180 degrees while still seeing the screen in front of you

        VR Pros:
        – stereo 3D
        – 1:1 spatial mapping (no exaggerating the degree of turn for the sake of a fixed monitor)

        VR Cons:
        – it’s a very heavy blindfold, and all that that entails
        – price, probably

        At this point, I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s a good decade or more sitting between me and a VR setup that provides a better experience than TrackIR. I may very well hop on this bandwagon at release, but I think it’s more likely I’ll pick up my first VR kit sometime in the 2020’s.

        • Premium User Badge

          Wisq says:

          I imagine another benefit over TrackIR will be less fatigue. Sure, you’ll have a little extra weight on your head — but the lack of motion amplification, plus the fact that rotation will look and feel more natural to your brain, will mean that you don’t have to hold your head perfectly still and centered any more (or repeatedly hit the re-center button).

          I know I eventually began to forgo TrackIR for things like Euro Truck Simulator because I got tired of having to choose between holding my head still (within the deadzone) or seeing lots of distracting motion. If everything were mapped 1:1 to my head, and my view changed accordingly, I could adopt whatever position I want and it would feel right.

          • silentdan says:

            Hey, thanks for posting, man. I hear from so few people who like both TrackIR and VR, and so many marketroids, that I’ve become skeptical to the point of cynicism. Although I have a track record of vigorously arguing for my position, I’d really like to be wrong about this.

            When I first got TrackIR, I hit the recenter key a lot, and it felt weird to often be looking out the corner of my eye at the screen. Lately, though, I sit down, hit recenter, and don’t hit it again unless I’ve gotten up or accidentally bumped my cap. My brain has acclimatized, and hides the faults from my conscious perceptions. For me, it remains an excellent solution to the head-tracking problem. That said, if a better solution is on its way, I’ll keep an open mind, if not necessarily an open wallet. :)

        • BlackMageSK says:

          So I have done Track IR for a while, I think it works better than VR for having movement as well as needing head movement like in ARMA3. For outright cockpit games assuming you know where everything is without looking, VR is a big jump in immersion. For racing, it just kind of feels like a lightweight helmet with a helmet FOV so you kind of end up ignoring the weight.

        • Mctittles says:

          I haven’t tried TrackIR but one thing I’m certain of with the DK2 and racing games is my racing has improved greatly. This is mainly due to depth perception as I’m able to ride someones bumper much closer than I ever could on a monitor without worrying about getting in an accident. I can tell exactly how far away they are just like I could in a real car.
          Squeezing around right next to cars is also a breeze now. What seemed super close on the monitor now seems like there is miles of room between with a wheel I can keep pace side by side without wrecking or anything.

    • Phier says:

      Having played Elite Dangerous on a DK2 and a few horror demos, I can say that it IS the future IF done well. Bad VR is awful and good VR is fantastic. Elite D was/is a VERY shallow game, and the only thing that kept me going 2 more months than friends was the DK2 made it something incredible, if still shallow.

      It might fizzle, like Nvidia 3d vision, which I also have, is fantastic for many things, and Nvidia never properly marketed. Games like fallout 3 and skyrim, total war, warband are all amazing in nvidia 3d vision but the only people who know that already bought one.

      I think in VR’s case, there is enough money and competition that you will see them basically make games specifically for it, and it may reach whatever critical mass it takes to really become big.

  5. Punk0 says:

    Does anyone know if it comes with the wireless dongle for the One controller? I ask this mainly because I try to inject the word ‘dongle’ into any conversation I possibly can.

    P.S. Dongle

    • islipaway says:

      Seeing as this dongle still hasn’t surfaced yet it’s hard to tell. I sure hope it comes with one, given that any vr experience I’ve had (ok just google cardboard) has ended up with me turning much further that I would normally in my chair you’d need a pretty long usb cable to use it with one.

      • Cleave says:

        I’m pretty sure they said it would be a wireless controller at their E3 press conference, I can’t be bothered to check though.

        • Asurmen says:

          I thought these days with the One the distinction between wireless and wired was gone? All you need is the correct USB cable (usually provided with mobile phones so a lot of us are swimming in the bloody things) and you can play wired.

  6. manwejml says:

    I’ve just realized they’ve successfully imported console wars to pc. I can already see it, great third party games tied to a ($300) device. If you want to play them all, you gotta buy them all… I guess I’ll play all those exclusives in five years time when a first generation occulus costs 30 bucks, like I do with all Nintendo games. By then we’ll probably have a Super, erm… second generation Occulus.

    • Synesthesia says:

      I still think they might wise up that it’s not a good move, specially on a mostly pc environment. Elite:Dangerous just confirmed it will also work with HTC.

    • Mctittles says:

      Although it’s at a lower price range they kind of had “console wars” with controllers. We used to have a nice wide range of game controllers until so many games ONLY support the xbox controller.

  7. SuicideKing says:

    Oculus Ready is actually pretty good from a “steambox” type certification point of view – you can tell anyone to pick one up and know that they’ll get a fairly powerful PC for $1000 or less.

  8. OctoStepdad says:


    NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
    Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
    8GB+ RAM

    After my 760 took a dump, I am glad I got the 970!

    • Cleave says:

      It worries me that I’m pretty much exactly at the recommended specs, I wasn’t planning to upgrade again for some time.

  9. melnificent says:

    Oculus are still exploring prices, its looking expensive with prices points upto £629.

    They are also looking at bundling options beyond the announced PC+rift. Mainly graphics cards+rift.

  10. Punning Pundit says:

    I strongly suspect that very few current game genres will actually be enhanced by VR, though new genres may well emerge to take advantage of VR’s strenghts.

    I think the fact that VR is being developed by game makers and marketed to the people that game makers know how to talk to is obscuring a lot of the potential for the systems. I think the real benefit will be for people who do 3D modeling, or other complex information dense tasks.

    imagine being an urban planner and actually seeing your roads. Or an architect who can manipulate a building mid design, to move a girder a few feet to the left and allow for a gorgeous view.

    Or the interior designer who can actually show their clients what the livingroom will look like with various types of furniture and art combinations.

    Gods help me, but the infinite space excel sheet might actually be a bigger deal than any game I’ve heard of.

    Don’t get me wrong- I’m looking forward to a VR enabled Sins of a Solar Empire 2 (: Sin Harder)! But I’m not sure it will be so much better with VR than a screen. But the art designers of that hypothetical game will have an easier time if VR does become a useful workplace tool.

    • Mctittles says:

      Speaking of architects here is a post of some reactions from some that had their building put into VR before it was built in real life:

      link to reddit.com