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  • No Official Plans to Make Oculus Rift Wireless Confirms Nate Mitchell Oculus Rift is all about the tail.
  • Space Junkies Hands-On: Unreal Tournament In Zero-G VR
    Space Junkies Hands-On: Unreal Tournament In Zero-G VR

    I’m a simple man. I like zooming around in space, I like shooting stuff, and I like VR. Space Junkies is a game that combines all of these things with the polish of a AAA title directly from Ubisoft and it’s shaping up to be one of the best new competitive shooters in the VR space.

    By doubling down on competitive multiplayer, Space Junkies does a lot right. The tracking is excellent, the visuals are superb, and the sheer breadth of ways you can customize your loadout and upgrade your avatars makes this feel like, end-to-end, one of the most feature-rich shooters we’ve seen.

    Please do me a favor and watch this trailer. Just do it. It’s only a minute long and it’s guaranteed to make you smile:

    Space Junkies is a very, very fast game. The standard movement speed is already very quick as you zip around maps in zero-gravity, but you can also engage an extra boost to escape hairy situations or close the gap on your enemies. Each of the various avatars all have their own stats for health and speed, varying between fast and squishy with low health or slow and tanky with lots of health. In the past I’ve played basic modes like Team Deathmatch and Free-for-all, but this newest demo gave me a first look at a brand new “King” game mode.

    In King, there is a crown placed on the map. When picked up, that player is labeled as the “King” and has a floating crown over their head and all enemy players can see their location at all times. The match we played was just 2v2, so things didn’t get too crazy. The objective of the mode is to possess the crown until your team’s score reaches 100 — you can only gain points while someone on your team is wearing the crown. Once the crown is picked up, the only way to get it is to kill the person currently wearing it.

    This isn’t that inventive of a concept, we’ve seen iterations on this sort of game mode in shooters over the years, but it’s nice to see they’re delivering some variety beyond the typical deathmatch scenarios. Other objective-based modes would be really cool to see hopefully in the future.

    The other tidbit of newness we got to see during this latest Space Junkies demo was a brand new map. At the  center was a large open area and it was surrounded on all sides by corridors and cave passages. Certain areas of cave walls and even floating barrels can be destroyed to alter the map’s pathways and cause some delicious mayhem.

    So far I’ve been really impressed with Space Junkies visually and this map only strengthened that feeling. Colors are bright and eye-catching and the team at Ubisoft has done a great job of giving everything a strong sense of personality. It’d be very tough to mistake Space Junkies for any other game, which is a great credit to the art team that’s worked on this one.

    Space

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  • Dead and Buried Used As First Visual Comparison Between Oculus Quest & Rift It was part of a developer session for Oculus Connect 5.
  • OC5: Impressive Oculus Quest Arena-Scale Dead And Buried Tech Demo
    OC5: Impressive Oculus Quest Arena-Scale Dead And Buried Tech Demo

    One of the most impressive VR technology demos we’ve ever seen is on display at Oculus Connect 5 in San Jose.

    In a corner of the convention center The VOID brought Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, demonstrating publicly for the first time that the startup is using Oculus Rift inside its VR helmet to provide the visuals you see when visiting one of The VOID’s $30+ per ticket attractions. Right next to the demo there’s a 4,000 square foot arena setup for the Oculus Quest version of old west shooting game Dead and Buried.

    While Oculus Rift powers some of the best VR attractions of 2017 and 2018, through this demonstration Facebook is showing that Oculus Quest may be able power the next generation of these experiences in 2019 and 2020 without any backpack or specialized external tracking hardware.

    Quest could represent a big step forward in terms of convenience, cost and setup — though it also remains unclear whether the standalone hardware will be able to operate at the robust scale required by regular use at a VR installation. The cost came down last year to $1,500 per camera for OptiTrack-based setups, but the largest setups still require dozens of them to work.

    If you could equip four people with headsets and controllers for practically the same cost as a single OptiTrack camera, though, the convenience and cost savings are going to be just too much to ignore. It could give rise to new kinds of arrangements for VR attractions built around the capabilities of this particular headset. After all, some installations are combining Gear VR with OptiTrack because the system uses a lower cost combination of computer and head-mounted display.

    Which brings me to the demonstration at Oculus Connect 5 showing two teams of three wearing Oculus Quest and facing off against each other. The two teams hid behind boxes on either side of an old west train station while myself and a camera person stood in between the teams and watched the action unfold all around us through the screen of an iPad held up to view the action.

    It isn’t the first time we’ve seen handheld phones or tablets able to peer into the virtual world of someone wearing a headset — but it is the first time we’ve seen it done at this scale with standalone headsets.

    It is also worth noting Google just announced a new controller tracking technology which nobody has tested publicly, but if Oculus Quest’s controllers aren’t robust enough for this kind of use case at a commercial sale, there’s a chance Google’s upcoming standalone controller tracking technology might be up to the task instead.

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  • Exercise Adventure With Rave Runner on Oculus Quest Orpheus Self-Care Entertainment reveals that VR exercise title will be heading to Oculus Quest and other 6DoF platforms.
  • Oculus Quest Specs, Price, Release Date And Everything Else We Know
    Oculus Quest Specs, Price, Release Date And Everything Else We Know

    Oculus used its Connect 5 conference this year to properly reveal its highly-anticipated standalone VR headset with six degrees of freedom (6DOF) inside-out tracking, named Oculus Quest. With Rift-like tracking in a headset that doesn’t need to be tethered to an expensive PC, Quest may represent VR’s best chance yet at catching on with the mainstream. But what do we actually know about it?

    Based on what we learned at OC5 and beyond, we’ve compiled a handy guide for the newest member to the Oculus family.

    It’s An All-New Headset

    There’s been a little confusion as to if Quest is a new version of Oculus Go or the sequel to the Oculus Rift. In short, it’s neither. Yes, Quest is standalone like Go and has features similar to Rift, but it’s got its own ecosystem that falls directly in the middle of those two devices. It won’t mirror Gear VR’s content library like Go does and any Oculus Rift games that appear on it will be direct ports just like when, say, a PS4 game gets ported to Xbox One. You won’t need any other Oculus hardware to get into Quest, nor will you need a PC.

    Tracking Is Similar To Rift, But Not Identical

    Oculus Quest’s big draw has always been its 6DOF tracking, which puts it a step above the 3DOF Go headset. Whereas Go allows you to rotate and tilt your head to look around in VR, Quest is closer to Rift in that you can move your head forward, backward, left, right, up and down and have all of those movements replicated within a virtual world. But it’s not identical to Rift, either; the crucial difference is that Quest uses a new inside-out tracking system called Oculus Insight.

    Rather than placing external sensors around your room to track you like with the Rift, Quest has four wide-angle sensors fitted to the corners of its front faceplate. These read the room around you to locate your position within it, and you’ll also be able to set up a Guardian system to avoid obstacles like chairs. This allows Quest’s tracking to go ‘Beyond Roomscale’ and even store tracking setups for multiple rooms, though it may also mean tracking can’t keep up if you put your controllers behind you. We’ll need to do extensive testing with the limits of this system.

    Its Controllers Are Similar To Touch, But Not Identical

    Another big leap for Quest — and something that many other 6DOF standalone headsets don’t have — is two fully tracked hand controllers, which are just new versions of the Touch controllers that come with the Rift. They have the same amount of buttons including analog sticks, triggers, grip buttons and face buttons and will accurately replicate your movements so long as the sensors can see them. To that end, Oculus has rearranged the tracking ring seen on the original Touch to now extend over the top of the controllers rather than under it, which could give them more visibility.

    It’s More Powerful Than A Go, But Not

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  • OC5: Superhot VR On Oculus Quest Feels Like The Way It Was Always Meant To Be Played
    OC5: Superhot VR On Oculus Quest Feels Like The Way It Was Always Meant To Be Played

    Every time I’ve played Superhot VR in the past, it has always been a bit bittersweet. On the one hand, the game’s levels are slick, clean, and wide open in a way that few VR games are. On Rift, Vive, and PSVR I can lean and move around enemies or reach out and punch them and watch them shatter into a hundred crystalline pieces. It feels amazing. But since the game requires you to physically move in order for time to move, it’s as if the world beckons you to more freely explore. I want to run around freely. But you’ve still got a wire connecting you to a PC or game console in all other versions of Superhot VR — that’s not the case when playing on Oculus Quest.

    It didn’t take long for that to sink in during my hands-on demo at Oculus Connect 5 yesterday and once I started to take full advantage of the headset’s capability, it felt amazing and freeing in a way VR hasn’t really yet.

    Obviously this isn’t the first example of wireless positionally tracked VR. I’ve used the TPCast add-on, the Vive Wireless Adapter, and even the Pico Neo. But those first two examples still need you to be within range of your PC and the latter has a content problem. When Oculus releases Quest next year, it side steps both of those concerns. I was playing a Rift-caliber VR game on a headset that was entirely standalone. It felt like magic.

    Honestly, Superhot VR on Oculus Quest quite frankly feels like the way the game was always meant to be played.

    In the video above you can see me moving around the wide open space without issue. For the first minute or so I was hesitant, but when I noticed how well the tracking worked, I threw all caution to the wind. I picked up bottles and tossed them at enemies, grabbed guns out of the air, reached behind my hand to throw a shuriken across the map. I did everything I’d have done if I were playing on Rift, but without the burdens that a PC-powered VR headset carries.

    In my hands-on impressions of the Oculus Quest I wrote about how every now and then the tracking faultered, such as if I moved my hands out of vision for a while then brought them back slowly, or if I tried to grab something out of view. That was very rare and it wasn’t frequent. As you can see in the video at the top, I could reach back to throw an object without losing tracking, even when my hand passed behind the headset’s cameras.

    I’ve got a feeling that, if developers are willing to take the time to port games down to the Quest’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, we could be opening up a whole new class of VR gaming. Games that previously suffered from movement restrictions and PC-tethering can be re-experienced in brand new ways, just like Superhot VR.

    For VR users that already have a three-or-more

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  • Preview: Dead & Buried Arena – Oculus Take a Shot at Warehouse Scale VR Is Oculus finally ready to push into location-based VR?
  • OC5: Oculus Talks Quest Controller Tracking Limitations
    OC5: Oculus Talks Quest Controller Tracking Limitations

    Oculus Quest, the latest VR headset from Facebook, enables full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking for both head and hands using the company’s new inside-out system called Insight. This brings the standalone headset closer to Rift-quality tracking than ever before, but it’s still not perfect.

    Gabor Szauer, Developer Relations Engineer at the company, spoke a little about the tracking limitations of Quest (and, more specifically, its controllers) at a talk called ‘Porting Your App To Oculus Quest’ at Oculus Connect 5 yesterday. Quest is fitted with four wide-angle sensors at the corners of its front faceplate that deliver a wide field of view (FOV) for your controllers, but they don’t cover the area behind the user and may get lost if you stretch your arms far off to the side. Szauer called for developers to keep this in mind when porting games.

    “This doesn’t sound like a big deal but you have to keep in mind that your field of view is not infinite, it’s actually attached to your face,” Szauer explained, showing the above slide that displays the headset’s tracking limitations. “There is some more obvious design considerations like if you’re reaching behind your head to grab something, you’re going to lose your controllers. Those are actually not too bad, if you’re only going to lose your controller tracking for a second or two you can usually fake it pretty easily.”

    ‘Faking it’ might mean some simple prediction algorithms that will allow you to carry out quick tasks behind you. It’s more of a cheat than anything else, but it’s worked for other inside-out systems like that seen on Windows VR headsets. “But some of the situations you get into aren’t so obvious,” Szauer continued, stretching out his arms to either side to imitate holding guns. “Like, let’s say I have two guns and there is a really, really loud sound coming from my right so I look over. All of a sudden, my left hand just left the field of view.

    “For the most part it’s not going to be an issue but it is something to keep in mind.”

    Szauer also warned that some interactions that would have users holding one controller over the other could occlude one’s tracking, which is another thing to be aware of.

    We won’t really know how much of an issue this could be until we’re using Quest ourselves on a day-to-day basis. The headset’s coming in spring 2019 for $399.

    Tagged with: Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest

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  • OC5: Oculus On Iron Man In Marvel VR: ‘The Door Is Not Closed’
    OC5: Oculus On Iron Man In Marvel VR: ‘The Door Is Not Closed’

    Marvel: Powers United VR‘s roster of playable heroes ended up being a pretty decent selection of spandex-wearing super people. But well all know there was one major omission from the Oculus Rift exclusive – Iron Man.

    At Oculus Connect 5 this week Steve Arnold, Head of Oculus Studios, talked to us about why Tony Stark didn’t make it into this summer’s release, and if we’ll see him added in later down the line.

    “Everyone wants to play as Iron Man,” Arnold said. “Whenever you deal with Marvel there’s always a give and take on which characters you’re going to get. They’ve been a fantastic partner so far, but there is no Iron Man presence today as you know, but I do hope to see him at some point in the future. The door is not closed. We do think a representation of Iron Man in VR would be just amazing. It’s almost the perfect character for it.”

    We agree with Arnold; Iron Man would be the perfect character to include as DLC (which developer Sanzaru Games says is coming for free). Marvel already has flying characters included, and using Touch controllers to wield Stark’s repulsor blasts and using head-tracking to lock on missiles could feel incredibly intuitive. In fact, the idea is so promising that Twisted Metal developer David Jaffe had been prototyping Iron Man’s very own VR game, though it sadly never came to fruition.

    Plus, Marvel could definitely use some more unique characters, as the lack of variation between some heroes was one of our biggest complaints about the game.

    Tagged with: Marvel Powers United VR, Oculus Connect

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  • Run Screaming Through Your House Playing Face Your Fears 2 on Oculus Quest With wireless freedom comes untethered scares.
  • Oculus Quest Hands-On Impressions: This Could Be The VR Headset For Everyone
    Oculus Quest Hands-On Impressions: This Could Be The VR Headset For Everyone

    Facebook promoted its Oculus Connect 5 conference that kicked off yesterday as a look at “the future of VR.” After spending all afternoon trying four different demos on the upcoming Oculus Quest standalone 6DOF headset, I feel inclined to agree. Quest is due out in Spring 2019 for $399 and aims to deliver a “Rift quality experience” with full positional tracking and two Touch controllers without the need for wires or a powerful gaming PC to run it.

    Before I cover my actual hands-on impressions, let me be clear: the Quest is not a standalone Rift. The Quest is also not a more powerful Go. As frustrating as it may be, Quest really does sit somewhere in between. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 835 chipset which is a few generations beyond Go, but it pales in comparison to some of the $1,000 gaming PC rigs people can build to power their Rifts. The controllers are very similar, but don’t expect Quest to entirely replace all Rifts next year or anything like that.

    Oculus Quest Headset Design and Specs

    In terms of physical design, Quest looks a lot like a Rift. We know it’s 1600 x 1440 per eye for resolution and has the same lenses as Go, but we don’t know the field of view yet but it felt about the same as Rift and Go. We’ve heard  72Hz mentioned in a session at OC5 as the refresh rate, compared to 90Hz for Rift. Anecdotally I will say it seemed to be about the same as the Rift in all meaningful ways, although the overall visual quality of the apps was a bit lower. But at the end of the day I can’t really know for sure without comparing them side-by-side. It’s reportedly powered by a Snapdragon 835 chipset and will feature 64GB of storage (for the $399 model) with over 50 launch titles.

    The front of the device is smooth and rounded, not flat like Go. There are two velcro tightening straps on either side near your ears with a single thin strap across the top of your head — just like Rift. My glasses fit inside the unit just fine with a small light leaking nose gap. It didn’t seem to smash my face as much as the Rift does, which is relieving. It felt a bit heavier than the Go in the front, but that’s honestly to be expected with so much more power housed inside the unit.

    Speakers are hidden inside the head strap, similar to Go, with improved audio performance. In all four of my demos the sound was crisp and clear, although at the end of the day if you’re using VR alone at home you’ll probably just want to plug in your own headset for the best audio experience.

    On the underside of the headset, below the lenses, there is an IPD adjustment knob, similar to Rift, and a volume button, rather than volume controls on top like Go. There’s also a USB-C port for charging as well as

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  • OC5: Here’s Dead And Buried Running Side-By-Side On Rift And Quest
    OC5: Here’s Dead And Buried Running Side-By-Side On Rift And Quest

    Oculus Quest, Facebook’s new VR standalone headset, is set to bolster its library with a host of ports of Oculus Rift titles when it launches next year. But, running with mobile hardware, can Quest really hope to achieve anywhere near the level of visual fidelity seen on the Rift?

    As Developer Relations Engineer Gabor Szauer showed at Oculus Connect yesterday, it can get pretty darn close. Szauer ran a session titled ‘Porting Your App to Project Oculus Quest’ in which he detailed various optimizations made to one of Rift’s premier shooters, Dead and Buried, that allowed the team to squeeze the game onto Quest. This was the result:

    Not bad, right? Now, obviously, Oculus itself has intimate knowledge of both PC and mobile development on its hardware, not to mention the limitless resources of Facebook to make these ports happen. It’s also true that Dead and Buried isn’t the most demanding Rift game (a sort of port is on Go, too). Still, Szauer’s tips for porting games should give developers a lot of help.

    For starters, the developer cited a key component of any optimization system: baking the app’s lighting. This essentially means lighting is a static feature within an environment rather than an intensive dynamic system that sucks up processing power. The less Quest has to remember, the more it can focus on things that really matter.

    Other tips were very much along the same lines. Szauer suggested developers merge objects in a room. Dead and Buried, for example, features 915 objects on Rift but just two in the Quest version which, yes, will mean you can pick up everything in a room, but it will give Quest a much easier time letting you walk around in it.

    Another major factor is texture compression. Szauer showed examples of where texture qualities on characters and environments had been lowered ever so slightly. The difference to you and me is hardly noticeable but, as Szauer said: “Where we can’t really tell, the GPU can most certainly tell.

    “This is kind of a trend you see in all the assets,” he continued. “Less textures, fewer polygons, preferably just one material so the whole thing can just render in one draw call.”

    Games like Moss, Superhot and Robo Recall will likely also be calling upon these tricks for their announced ports for Quest. We’re going to be really interested to see how they turn out.

    You can see Szauer’s full talk below. Hes’ got plenty more tips. As for Quest, it’s out next spring for $399.

    Tagged with: dead and buried, Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest, oculus rift

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  • OC5: Turtle Rock Games Is Developing Face Your Fears 2 For Quest
    OC5: Turtle Rock Games Is Developing Face Your Fears 2 For Quest

    At last year’s Oculus Connect, VP of Content Jason Rubin revealed that Gear VR’s Face Your Fears, a game with several scary showcases for the platform, was one of the company’s “biggest success stories” yet. Yesterday, we found out that a sequel is on the way.

    Face Your Fears 2 was somewhat quietly announced during yesterday’s Connect 5 keynote, being shown in a demo reel for Oculus’ new standalone VR headset, Quest. Since then Turtle Rock Studios, the makers of the original game, have confirmed that they’re working on the new iteration. It’s even on display at Connect this year with its own spooky booth, as seen in the pictures below.

    Face Your Fears 2 is at #OC5 being played hands on for the very first time! Check it out if you’re here… and very, very brave. pic.twitter.com/dp8Sg6e3Kn

    — Turtle Rock Studios (@TurtleRock) September 27, 2018

    The footage on-stage had a crow fly at the user’s face, which didn’t look pleasant at all, but that’s kind of Face Your Fear’s objective. The original game featured relatively short sequences designed to play on people’s fears in often cruel ways, selling expansions on the Oculus Store. It made for a great way to showcase the power of VR, even on three degrees of freedom (3DOF) headsets like Gear VR and Oculus Go.

    It looks like Face Your Fears 2 is shaping up to be a launch title for Oculus Quest next spring. No word yet on if it will also coming to Gear and Go.

    Tagged with: Face Your Fears 2, Oculus Connect, Oculus Quest

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  • Heavy Fire: Red Shadow Shoots its Way onto PlayStation VR in October It's available to pre-order now for $19.99 USD.