This is no developer kit. Oculus today gave the world the first look at its Rift consumer virtual reality headset which will ship with a wireless Xbox One controller. It also comes with a small, table-top camera on a stand that watches a constellation of LED markers on the Rift to track your head movement.
The partnership with Microsoft will also see the Rift work “natively” with Windows 10, plus play Xbox One games in the headset.
We liveblogged today’s press event if you want play-by-play coverage.
The Rift is light enough to hold with one hand, and its black matter fabric-wrapped frame houses two OLED screen and integrated, removable headphones. It’s designed to allow people to wear glasses, and the part that touches your face can be replaced. An adjustable slider lets you change the distance between the eye lenses for faces of different sizes.
People will be able to try out the new Rift at E3 next week, and also check out Oculus’ prototype of its Oculus Touch handheld motion-tracking haptic controllers.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe opened the day saying “We wanted to revolutionize gaming, and transform the way we experience entertainment. We set out to finally deliver on the dream of virtual reality.” He noted that 2D screens have divided us from visceral, digital experiences, but Oculus lets people “cross that threshold. It lets us experience anything, anywhere.”
The included controller is likely the biggest announcement of the day. Oculus never had one before, which forced people to build workarounds to third-party controllers, or limit experiences to just looking around or tapping a small trackpad like on the side of the Samsung Gear VR.
With the controller, you’ll be able to play Oculus games like EVE Valkyrie a first-person spaceship shooter. Oculus is working with a slew of developers including EVE’s CCP Games, Gunfire Games, and Insomniac to make killer titles available early on the Rift.
Oculus also wants smaller developers to make titles for the Rift, so it plans to revamp its Oculus Share app store. As part of that, Oculus says it will be investing over $10 million to accelerate development of independent games.
Oculus co-founder and VP of Product Nate Mitchell says Oculus is upgrading the Oculus Home portal where you land when you put on the headset. You’ll be able to browse through experiences, and see a little preview of a game before you buy. Home also lets you see what friends have been playing.
Beyond more traditional games, the Oculus Touch will allow for truly VR-first gaming where you can pick up objects, wave to people, or aim and shoot virtual guns.
Rift pre-orders start later this year and ship Q1 2016. The reveal is a huge milestone, coming three years after Oculus Kickstarted its first dev kit, and a year after its acquisition by Facebook. Oculus worked with Samsung to create the mobile Gear VR, where you slip in a Samsung Galaxy as a screen and processor. That was more of an introduction to consumer VR. But now we know what Oculus’ flagship headset looks like.
In the meantime, other VR headset makers have sprinted to get their devices ready. HTC’s Vive, the Avegant Glyph, and Sony’s Morpheus are expected to ship this year or early next. Slews of game and cinema experience developers have cropped up to build content for the headsets.
There’s even VR accelerators, like Rothenberg Ventures’ River. The expectation is that is that virtual reality, and its sister technology augmented reality, could modernize both entertainment and many other sectors including education and therapy.
This weekend at E3, Oculus is expected to make more announcements. But for now, we know what many will be strapping to their face next year.