byMichael-BBY07-11-201608:48 AM - edited 07-11-201608:59 AM
One of the perks of working for Best Buy is the massive exposure to the latest and greatest technology and consumer electronics you get. At least for a geek like myself that’s a major perk, and VR has been all the craze around here recently. Just last month Sony decided to stop by our Corporate Campus and put on a huge demo of the upcoming PlayStation VR, which my fellow Moderator Blake was able to get his hands on. You can read about his experience here. Of course while the PlayStation VR is still a little ways away, the Oculus Rift is here now. While they're still desperately difficult to get a hold of, this past week I was lucky enough to be provided with one to take home and play with. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to keep it, but I sure did have some fun while it lasted!
As silly as it sounds the first thing I noticed about the Rift was the packaging. The box was of impeccable quality and about twice as heavy as I expected before picking it up. The deceptively heavy box made the feather weight of the headset itself an even greater surprise, and the amount of adjustable straps made fitting easy and comfortable. The on-screen setup and tutorial were clear, concise, and made setup a breeze.
Once ready to go the first game I loaded up was Lucky’s Tale, a 3D Platformer purpose built for the Rift which comes with every one sold. While I didn’t expect a relatively simple Platformer to benefit much from VR, I was pleasantly surprised. The game expertly used the elements of VR to provide a brand new experience, and put me in a lot of situations I had never considered before. The stand out example for me was during a special coin find mode, where your goal is to find all 25 hidden coins in the level. They beep as you get close and this one in particular was beeping like I was right next to it, but I couldn’t find it. First I tried moving my head from side to side to look around obstacles, and finally stood up and walked closer to my desk so I could look down and over the obstruction to find the coin hidden down a cliff which I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see.
Next I loaded up Adr1ft, a first-person zero-gravity adventure game set in a recently ruined space station orbiting the Earth. If you’ve seen the film Gravity, this is essentially the game version with some amnesia and environmental story telling thrown in. A completely different experience from Lucky’s Tale, the game plays out from inside the helmet of the protagonist’s space suit. You awake shortly after a catastrophe as the sole survivor of the space station having lost your memory. You float though the station piecing the events and your identity back together while managing your Oxygen supply and solving puzzles to move forward. I was thoroughly impressed with the look, feel, and immersion of Adr1ft in spite of its short game length, and totally immersed with feeling like I really was flying hundreds of miles above the earth.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Rift, and while it’s not a perfect experience I really do believe VR has a place in the future of gaming. If you’d like to learn more about the Rift and compatible systems, see our Oculus Rift page here. If you’d like to experience the Rift first hand we’re hosting demos in stores across the country, and chances are there is a demo available at a Best Buy store near you. To find a store in your area with a demo enter your zip code here and reserve a demo for yourself. Have you already had a chance to try out the Rift or own one yourself? Share your experiences in the comments below!