Virtual Reality is now more than just a passing fad, it is the future of gaming.
Since VR started becoming a feasible way to play games, I’ve been incredibly interested in the potential for the technology. As an avid fan of Star Trek, I’ve always dreamed of having my own Holodeck in which to experience games and virtual environments. While the technology hasn’t gotten that far yet, VR headsets are the closest thing we have right now.
I have been waiting to see if VR would catch on before spending nearly $1,000 on a VR headset, not counting the price of getting a VR-ready computer. Oculus apparently heard me and dropped the price of the Oculus Rift by over 50% in the past year. Right now, the Oculus Rift and Touch bundle is on a temporary summer sale for $399.
The Oculus Rift summer sale was set to end on August 21, 2017, but due to high demand it was extended by “a few weeks” according to Oculus. After the summer sale is over, the Oculus will not return to its nearly $700 price tag, but will be set at a regular price of $499. This makes the Oculus even cheaper than getting started with the PlayStation VR, which is currently about $386 for just the headset without the motion controllers.
On the other hand, PlayStation VR is seen as one of the easiest entry points to VR because more people have a PS4 than a VR-ready PC, and Sony has reported that the device has been selling out since its release.
With the price drop of the Rift, I saw my opportunity to finally buy a VR headset and I took it. For only around $425 after taxes, I had an Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch controllers, and 6 VR games that were included for free in the bundle.
Why did I buy an Oculus and not an HTC Vive?
Well, throughout the Oculus summer sale, the HTC Vive VR headset remained priced at $799. After comparing numerous reviews for both headsets, I decided that for half the price, the Oculus was the better option. There were only minor differences between the two, the main difference being the outward facing camera on the Vive that prevents you from having to remove the headset to see your surroundings. To me, this wasn’t worth paying $400 more.
However, when Oculus announced they were extending their summer sale, the Vive suddenly dropped $200 to a lower price of $599. While HTC said that the move was to make VR more accessible, there have been rumors that HTC is looking to transfer or sell off its virtual reality business. One can only speculate if this has anything to do with the lower pricing for the Oculus Rift and the continued success of PlayStation VR.
Regardless of which VR headset you prefer, there is another reason to take advantage of these slashed prices and jump into VR. Once mainly a bastion for indie developers and novelty experiences, the Virtual Reality game library is growing to include many AAA titles.
Skyrim VR, Fallout 4 VR, and Doom VFR are all releasing later this year. Skyrim VR will be released first on the PS VR in November, with a Vive version coming out later. Doom VFR will be released on the PS VR and the Vive on December 1st of this year and Fallout 4 VR will be released for the Vive on December 12.
So, you’re probably thinking, “Wait, you didn’t mention these games coming to the Oculus Rift.”
None of these games currently have a release date for the Oculus Rift. But this is 2017 and we can easily overcome this obstacle! Luckily for me, and other Oculus owners, there is a relatively effortless way to enjoy Vive-specific games on your Oculus Rift. You could simply download Steam VR and enable Oculus to run unknown sources, though because of control differences it is not guaranteed that every game will work. I’ve used Steam VR to play the Vive-only game Accounting, from the creators of Rick and Morty, on my Oculus with no issues.
You could also install Viveport, a subscription-based service that allows you to play up to 5 different VR games a month, with the caveat that not every game may work. Here’s a nifty tutorial for you if you want to give it a try. Even if you have issues using any of these methods, there are always third-party ports of Vive-only games for the Oculus, and vice-versa. (Or you could just wait for the almost inevitable Oculus Rift release date.)
I’ve had my Oculus Rift for about 2 weeks at the writing of this article, and I absolutely love it. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve made and it has completely changed the way I interact with games and what I expect from them. From very intense and visceral games like Gorn, to the calming and funny experience of Job Simulator, I feel I’ve only just scratched the surface of what VR is capable of. I was surprised at how immersed I could become in a cartoonish, over-the-top gladiator game like Gorn, but after just one match I was sweating and terrified of what would come at me next. It was an exhilarating feeling that I haven’t felt from a video game in a long time. Since Bethesda creates some of my all-time favorite games, I simply cannot wait until I’m able to play Skyrim or Fallout with that same level of immersion that I felt with Gorn.
Although the Vive and the Rift are both cheaper now than they have been in the past year or so, don’t expect these prices to stay this low. HTC is planning a new controller for the Vive that would be more responsive to your hand movements and would likely result in a reluctance to lower the price much further once it is released. With the introduction of more AAA games to the VR library, including games like Killing Floor: Incursion and Resident Evil 7, there is a likelihood that VR will stay around the $600 price point going forward. So, don’t miss your opportunity to experience Virtual Reality while it’s still on sale!
To check to see if your computer supports VR, Steam has a handy tool you can download that will tell you if you’re good to go or what you need to upgrade. Be sure to chat with us on Twitter and let us know if you’re planning on giving VR a try!