So, the opportunity came up to buy a new Oculus Rift on eBay, the seller had to buy a new car and needed the cash, so was selling his prized VR headset.
Where to start?
Development Kit 2 (DK2)
I tried the Development Kit 2 headset at the flight sim show at RAF Cosford in October. I was really impressed, and it gave a real sensation of movement and what the aircraft was doing, far more so than a wrap around screen or a multiple monitor set up. Everything looked as though you could reach out and touch it. It was a full 3D experience. However, the resolution wasn’t as good as it could have been, it was quite heavy and bulky and not the most comfortable thing to have on your head.
Consumer Version 1 (CV1)
Having tried the DK2 I was tempted to put in a pre-order for the CV1, but didn’t due to the waiting time for it to be shipped. I decided that, with kids due at the time that I would get it, I would have more important things to do when it arrived. The price of £499 was higher that people had been led to believe it was likely to be, but it still didn’t seem too bad considering the potential of it and how good it could make flight simming.
So, I just randomly decided to check eBay to see what was going, there are a couple of new ones selling for over £800, so people really trying to cash in on the wait. However, now I have one, I’d still say it’s that good that I still wouldn’t feel disappointed when it arrived.
CV1 has a higher resolution the DK2, it is lighter and more comfortable. All around it is a big improvement. It is not hard to wear for a couple of hours at a time, I haven’t strained my neck (yet!). Unlike with Track IR your head movement is tracked 1:1, so if you want to check out that target in your 5 o’clock then you are going to have to look there. This is odd when you’re used to a small head movement for Track IR, but it is only odd in the world of Track IR. Obviously you’d normally look at something to see it, and that is all that you are doing with OR on your head!
All in all I can find little to fault with the OR, ok so it could still have a higher res screen but I am not sure that it is essential. I am able to spot targets in DCS, I am able to read the dials and controls. I have seen detail that I have never noticed previously – and I was running a high resolution 27″ Apple Thunderbolt Display. The sensations are fantastic, the fact that it is not a stationary screen showing an image but it actually putting something right in front of you, as if it was real, makes a massive difference to depth perception. Making a perfect 3-point landing just got a lot easier, hovering a helicopter suddenly gets a lot easier as you can perceive the slightest movement in the aircraft. There is no longer a zoom function, but you don’t need it. The head tracking is perfect and very steady – unlike my Track IR 3 Pro (I know later versions are a lot better, but I don’t have one!). I have now traded a hat with a clip for a headset, that admittedly looks a bit more stupid, but people don’t ask what the silver clip is for!
Once this works in Cliffs of Dover it will be immense. So I’m hoping Team Fusion can get their next patch together pretty soon!
I’ll start with version 1.5. It is not optimised for OR, though it does work. The menus can be cut off the screen and hard to read, the graphics are not quite so crisp as they could be. However, it is still excellent. the reason I can say not as good as they could be will be covered shortly.
I can now see each and every display clearly. I can read the dial and the smallest text on the HUD, which I could struggle with previously, and a shaky Track IR didn’t help. I was online with EAF pilots last night and we were dogfighting P-51’s with Bf109K’s and it was great being able to judge the exact height of the power lines, bridges, trees and mountains to dodge attacks. It was hard to keep track of targets as they went behind me, but that just made it all the more realistic. It’s not easy to get your head looking back over your shoulder – Track IR spoils you in that respect. If this was the best there was on offer I would be very happy…but it isn’t.
DCS World 2.0, the open Beta, is out. It is optimised for the OR, and you can tell. The displays are even sharper, the graphics are smoother, the cockpits look even better and flying down the Strip in Las Vegas at Mach 0.9 in a Mirage 2000C is something else! The Nevada desert looks stunning and really detailed. You get all of the benefits of version 1.5 but with better graphics and smoother running. The map isn’t cheap, but then it doesn’t look it either. There are more on the way too, with Normandy and the Straits of Hormuz in the pipeline. Normandy could be released in 2016.
ADDITION: Just found this out, you can now (finally) make control adjustments in multiplayer…doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a big difference!
I think you can guess what I am going to say. OR is well worth the money if you are really into flight-simming and in depth immersion. If you’re happy with Track IR and casual playing then it may not be for you. If you really want to fly and take it to the next level then, short of building an aircraft specific sim-pit, this is the way to do it. It feels very tempting to add something like a ‘buttkicker’ for the extra sensation of stuff, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. (If it does I’ll write another review!). I’ll still be using my Track IR for Cliffs of Dover, but I am looking forward to the day that it can be retired about more than 10 years of use.