Playing a game in virtual reality is my ultimate gamer dream. Don't get me wrong, gaming as it is now is great. The stories are gripping, the visuals look cray, and the gameplay is awesome--but we as gamers are always looking for the next big jump in innovation. So, where do we go from here? Well, if you've seen the strides that the Oculus Rift has made in player immersion, it looks like we're headed towards virtual reality for the next step. The 3D, motion sensing goggles put you in the game world like no other peripheral has. And guess what? The Oculus Rift now has the necessary funding to bring the device to consumers. But don't count on hooking it up to the next-gen consoles. If the Oculus Rift is the next level of immersion, then the true next-gen experiences will all be on PC, not consoles.
The venture capital firm Andreesson Harowitz provided the funding for Oculus VR to reach its $75 million funding goal, meaning the peripheral could be in consumers' hands in the near future. But for those who might be looking forward to looking through Master Chief's 3D visor in Halo 5 or seeing Kratos rip your head off in VR with the Rift, that won't be happening. In an interview with TechRadar last month, the inventor of the Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, said that the next-gen consoles are "too limited" to support the device. The Xbox One and PS4 are closed systems which won't support the Rift's expected rapid evolution. So, no go on the consoles, yo.
With consoles out of the question, the Oculus will live and die on the openness of the PC platform. The recent debut of the eight console generation saw a lot of improvements in graphics and control, but not much in the way of groundbreaking innovation. For PC gaming, the Rift may be the key to unlocking those groundbreaking next-gen experiences gamers crave. It's clear that people like John Carmack think so--the new tech looked so promising to the iD founder that he left game development to work on the Oculus project, stating that VR will have a huge impact on gaming in the future. And I have to say, after having hands-on with the Rift, the technology is incredibly impressive (if you could hold back the vomiting from motion-sickness). Nothing about the next-gen consoles has felt as "next-gen" as when I put on the goggles, looked at my feet, and actually felt like my head was attached to the digital body I saw below.
It's true that the Rift isn't the only VR option out there. Sony has also announced its own VR headset for the PS4, but so far, that's all we've got--an announcement. We haven't seen hide nor hair of Sony's peripheral since Gamescom earlier this year; plus, the headset missed its debut at Tokyo Game Show, which may mean that the device is a long way off. Perhaps Sony may be a little put off with pushing more 3D after last-gen's limp reception to 3D glasses and buying expensive TVs.
Whether or not Sony pursues its own VR peripheral, the future of immersion seems so much more tangible on PC. The Oculus Rift has been able to stay in the VR spotlight, garnering support from developers and investors alike. If things keep going well for the Oculus Rift we may very well see the high-tech goggles sitting on your computer desk some day soon. And if the Rift pulls off the immersive, virtual reality experience we've been waiting for, you might want to hold off on a next-gen console and invest in some nice PC gaming upgrades instead.
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