We all knew that the Oculus Rift was likely to shake things up when it came to gaming, and with new developments coming out in the rest of the gaming world, it became pretty clear that, indeed, gaming was never to be the same following the rollout of the Oculus Rift's developers' kits. But now, a new version of the Oculus Rift developers' kit, the Oculus Rift DK2, shows us that this market isn't going to grind to a halt, dismissed as a mere fad any time soon.
The Oculus Rift DK2 is said to be a substantial improvement over the original model. It's currently available for pre-order with an expected ship date of this July. The new version offers expanded freedom—six degrees of freedom, in fact—to help users better navigate around the virtual world in which said user is immersed. With improved position tracking, the headset can better tell where the user is looking, and in turn can make the experience overall much more realistic.
Beyond that, the system has eliminated motion blur thanks to a technology called “low persistence.” Low persistence pulls out most of the latency involved in transmitting from the system to the head-mounted display to a matter of two or three milliseconds, down almost preposterously low from the original figures running 50 to 60 milliseconds. Early reports say future versions will completely remove pixelation from the picture—still in the DK2, but new prototypes have that completely gone—and resolution has improved to 960 x 1080 with a 60 frame per second refresh rate, making it almost as good as 1080p television, but not quite. The final version is still somewhat unclear in terms of when it will ship, but the second developer kit should allow game makers to start getting games together for the system.
This news comes hot on the heels of Sony's Project Morpheus
, which got exhibited at the Game Developers Conference
in San Francisco, and reports of Microsoft's
Project Fortaleza, which is still something of a rumored development. But one thing is quite clear here: the augmented Oculus Rift, plus Project Morpheus, plus Project Fortaleza, suggests that virtual reality is the future of gaming if for no other reason than most every major platform—with the possible exception of Nintendo—is involved in it.
The clear winner here? The gamers. We're about to get into a future of gaming where we are so close to the action it almost feels like we're there. We've heard that line before, granted, and for the most part every time we have felt closer to the action, but this is a quantum leap right here. Everything else has been an incremental improvement, but here, we're seeing the fruition of technology that's been in development since the late 1990s. This is the closest we have ever come to a holodeck, and for many, that's pretty much the ultimate goal of gaming.
Still, we've got a ways to go—only the Oculus Rift is actually available—so all sides will have some time to augment and refine the devices in question. We may be looking at a great time to come in gaming, assuming everything goes off as planned, and with the kind of gamer reaction that's likely to come into play with this technology, getting it right will be perhaps more important than ever.