Not too long ago the Oculus Rift was revealed to the world. A virtual-reality headset that is lightweight, non-intrusive with aims of being the best consumer-level VR headset on the market, the Oculus Rift has a lot of promises to fulfil.
Sponsored and endorsed by many video game heavyweights, including John Carmack and Gabe Newell, the headset is aiming to not only revolutionise gaming, but to be the driving force for a new era of development and involvement. With Doom 3 being a sponsored, working title right away and support from the developers of the majority of the main engines used -- including the multi-platform Unity -- the Oculus Rift looks set to deliver.
But where will the Oculus Rift be most successful? Sure, a first-person shooter would truly be first-person, relying on your acute awareness and the latency on the headset (rather than the latency to the monitor) but where the Oculus Rift will truly succeed will be online gaming with MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 at the forefront.
Imagine being able to minutely inspect every detail of a virtual world you are inhabiting, instead of the current third person inspection that MMORPGs offer today.
Imagine being able to minutely inspect every detail of a virtual world you are inhabiting, instead of the current third person inspection that MMORPGs offer today. Or a game like PlanetSide 2, where thousands of players shoot it out at the same time. This level of immersion truly would redefine how gamers enjoy and react to video games, allowing the Oculus Rift to enjoy the success it definitely deserves.
While the concept of a virtual-reality-MMORPG is by no means a new thing, the Oculus Rift is the first feasible headset that would allow this to even remotely become a reality. Not in the least because of its ease of use, its technical specs (that are being boosted for the consumer model!) or its accessibility to both developers and consumers alike, but because it paves the way for more innovation in the field of technology.
The sad realisation about all these hopes and dreams is that this is many years away: while a video game takes many years today to complete, a video game (especially an MMORPG) using a VR headset exclusively would require so much time and effort that I would say it's at least 10 years away before we even see the beginning entries into VRMMOs - which is really a sad thought, because the possibilities are immense.
But with as much as the Oculus Rift is promising, and the global competition it is sure to produce - China will have their own headset a few months after, Japan a few after that - it is definitely a very exciting time to be a gamer.
By Thomas Robinson