Right, so I have had the Rift since last summer, not long after it came out. I reviewed it a while back and I’ve not changed my mind about it at all. It is the best thing for immersion in a flight sim that I have found – at least for a home PC without going to the time and trouble of building an aircraft specific cockpit! Oculus Touch has now been out for a while and I saved up to get my hands on a set.
The basic idea of the Touch is that you have your hands in the game, whatever game that may be, and you can pick things up, grip them, shoot them, throw them, basically do most of the things that you can do with your hands when you’re not in Virtual Reality. The gestures are still a little basic, and it is not as though you are wearing gloves, so it does not mimick every finger, but it does give you enough control to be able to feel as though you are an ever increasing part of the game. The controller is able to detect what you are doing with your hand and whether or not you have released your grip on certain parts of the controller, such as the trigger, the top panel buttons and the main grip. It also has haptic feedback so that you get some kind of response when you touch something or do something with your hands. It also tracks how you rotate your hands and mimicks every movement that you make. It comes with an addition sensor for the Touch Controllers, which has also made head tracking even more precise.
As things stand Touch controllers are not supported in DCS world, and VR is only just about to be released for Battle of Stalingrad/Moscow/Kuban (from hereon refered to as BoX) so it is not possible to even comment on VR for that, yet. However, in DCS World you will notice a pair of hands present in the game if you do move the Touch controllers. This hints that there may be some future support for the device at some point – or atleast some for of touch control for the cockpit controls. With the level of control afforded by the clickable cockpit this would be especially good if some form of touch was brought into the sim as mouse control really isn’t all that great while in VR; it works but it detracts from the immersion factor. (I am sure that I saw something on one of the Facebook pages for either DCS World or BoX which showed them thanking Oculus for a set of Touch controllers. I’ve not been able to find it though!)
At the moment trying to use Touch controllers with a HOTAS would be far from ideal, I do not think that it would be a good combination. While it is a first generation hand controller I think they should be working on something at actually tracks hands fully – so a set of gloves. I do not want the Touch controllers to allow me to grip the HOTAS in game, as that would have zero feel to it. I want them to enable me to push buttons, flip switches and interact with the environment. At the moment Touch will not allow me to do that, the design to does not sit well with other controllers – such as a HOTAS – in the way. Although the controllers can be attached to your wrist with a cord they would be swinging freely while you’re using the HOTAS and it would be a distraction and would probably get uncomfortable after a while.
However! Outside of a Flight Sim…they’re excellent, so like I said they’re still first generation but they add another dimension to games. Movement is still an issue, especially seeing as you are tied to your PC via an HDMI and USB cable, but in Robo-Recall (a game thar comes free with the Touch Controllers) you can dodge bullets, with your movements and pick up and drop weapons, press buttons, grab robots and rip their limbs off, all sorts. It changes the way you play a game. It is excellent.
So to sum up…do I recommend this for flight simming? No. Not in this form, it’s impractical and would not give you the kind of feeling you would be looking for, you’d be as well using the mouse.
Do I recommend it if you have the Rift and also play other stuff? Yes…definitely! It’s litterally a game changer. Imagine being able to play something like Call of Duty in VR with your hands in the game picking up rifles and aiming them, not just quick scoping, not just running and gunning you can actually bring the guns up and look down the sights. You look a pillock, but you can’t even see yourself in the mirror so it really doesn’t matter! It make such a difference to gaming that you’ll love it. The controllers quickly feel pretty natural to use, they are intuitive and you can point them anywhere – so a FPS like Call of Duty would benefit hugely from such a controller, you can look around freely, you can point your weapon freely and fire it; it would be fantastic fun!