Oculus announces partnership with Microsoft, shows off new VR controllers

Oculus Touch Controller
Credit: Oculus

Arguably the first press conference of E3 2015 happened yesterday and it was held by Oculus, the company making the Rift VR headset. It was pretty brief, lasting a little less than an hour.

If you've been following the Rift there wasn't a ton of new information for you. We didn't get pricing or a launch date any more specific than the "Q1 2015" we were already aware of. The most impressive trailer was for EVE Valkyrie and it was one that's been floating around for a few months.

Oculus did announce a partnership with Microsoft. The consumer version of the Rift will come with a Microsoft Xbox One wireless controller and adapter for use with Windows 10 systems. You'll also be able to use Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One streaming feature to play Xbox One games in a 'virtual theater' via the Rift.

Oculus Touch Controller Oculus

The biggest announcement was the Oculus Touch, a new controller being developed for the Rift. The Touch comes as a pair of controllers, one for each hand, and they look kind of like a Wii Nunchuk with a ring at the end. They include buttons and will also be tracked in space and can register gestures as well. Haptic feedback should let you 'feel' things in VR space. These won't come with the Rift but will be available separately and it's not clear if they'll be ready when Rift launches.

The event was a little underwhelming but Oculus urged the audience to book a demo at E3 to try the tech first hand. I think one of the biggest challenges of VR is that you can't really demo it via a video screen. You really need to put the visor on.

That said, I was curious that several of the games teased were played from a third person view, which seems like an odd choice for a VR game, though I confess the last time I tried VR it was a Dactyl Nightmare arcade machine back in the 1990s. The Xbox One contoller that comes with Rift will only work with Windows 10, which leads me to wonder what that means for people who don't upgrade. 

So for now it's time to go back to waiting for Oculus to provide concrete launch plans. I'm also hoping we'll get some good hands-on reports from E3 next week.

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