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Oculus announces new Touch hand-tracker and details first games for the consumer-edition Rift

Hayden Dingman | June 12, 2015
"So...when's the consumer version of the Rift coming?" I've been asking Oculus that question since the first time I strapped one over my eyes, and every time co-founder Nate Mitchell would give me a rueful shake of the head. "We don't know. It's coming."

The Oculus Rift will also ship with a wireless Xbox One controller. In other words, Oculus's baseline control scheme is basically the same thing we've already been doing for the last two years.

That's probably not going to make Oculus go mainstream, though. Put a standard gamepad into a non-gamer's hands and they freeze up. Put one in their hands while their eyes are covered and you're basically asking the impossible of them. To say nothing of the fact that an Xbox controller has nowhere near the same immersive capabilities as the Vive's hand-simulating wands, or the Razer Hydra/Leap Motion/basically any of the VR-specific control schemes we've seen released in the last two years.

For that you'll need...

The big news: Oculus Touch

So the big revelation is Oculus Touch — basically the Vive's wands, but...rings. They track your hands so you can use them in virtual reality.

There are some interesting capabilities here: For instance, Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey said the big ring things are used to understand what position your fingers are in, which sounds pretty interesting. You can give a thumbs up or point or (I assume) flip people the bird. There are also analog sticks, as you might expect, for more traditional controls.

I don't know how they'll feel, though. My first instinct is that they look goofy, but considering Oculus hired a bunch of talent that worked on the Xbox 360 controller (a.k.a. the most comfortable controller I've ever used) I'm reserving official judgment until I see/feel how Touch works in a real-world environment. Look for more on that during E3 next week.

More VR games are coming

Finally, Oculus trotted out a bunch of VR games from CCP, Insomniac, and others — plus its virtual storefront.

Oculus Home launches as soon as you put on the Rift, similar to the store on Samsung's Oculus-powered GearVR. The interface is VR-ready, meaning no more fumbling with a mouse and keyboard while trying to peek at your desktop. Oculus's Nate Mitchell said we'll hear more about Home at Oculus's annual Connect conference in September.

As for the games themselves:

CCP showed off EVE Valkyrie again, which of course is an Oculus launch title and...well, something we've been seeing for two years now. It's still fantastic, but you probably already know how you feel.

[Disclosure: My roommate works with CCP as part of the external PR team through LewisPR.]

Insomniac showed off Edge of Nowhere, a third-person science fiction game. I have no idea how it plays on the Rift because 2D trailers aren't great at conveying VR experiences, but hey — I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. At least it looks cool.

 

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