Oculus VR, the company that gave us the Rift virtual-reality headset, announced a partnership with Microsoft Corp this week. The result of this arrangement means that every Oculus Rift will be shipped with a wireless Xbox One controller. But the deal Between Microsoft gaming and virtual reality might go a bit further than a few launch games.
At the moment there are three large games that the Oculus Rift will support: “Chronos,” a third-person role-playing game; “Eve Valkyrie,” a starfighter/first-person shooter and the brand new Rift exclusive “Edge of Nowhere.” But Microsoft’s got plans that reach well beyond a subset of games. It’s reported that when the Oculus Rift ships early in 2016, Windows 10 will offer native support for the VR headset. This opens a whole host of games to potential VR support, but, it’s difficult to say whether Oculus will be a positive thing for traditional games.
The last time Microsoft promised a revolution in the gaming experience, we got Kinect 2.0. That launch wasn’t very successful, forcing Microsoft to eventually sell the Xbox One without the Kinect bundled. Games that didn’t solely use the Kinect for inputs often made no case for the peripheral’s presence, but that didn’t stop developers from including Kinect support in games. With the direct support of Microsoft, it’s likely a number of Xbox/Windows games will gain some degree of Oculus support.
Some games already have Oculus support, and a portion of them work pretty well including “Grand Theft Auto V”, which in first-person mode can be one of the most immersive gaming experience you could have.
There are genres where VR would make gaming more difficult. In theory, jumping into a fighting game would be fun, but adding Oculus support to a sideways fighting game such as “Mortal Kombat X” wouldn’t give you an enhanced look at what’s going on. If anything, the constant movement could make a gamer nauseous! This is also true for isometric shooters such as “Hatred,” or turn-based games such as “XCOM” — there’s nothing really to be gained by adding VR compatibility.
The Oculus Rift will be available in the first quarter of 2016.