At Facebook’s developer conference, Oculus Connect 4 this year, the Facebook-owned company announced they’d be delivering a substantial update to the Oculus Rift experience and today, we, Oculus-owners got that update. The immediate update is to the Oculus software that runs on your desktop, but after entering VR, you quickly see that your experience has now substantially changed.
It was this promise of a new, updated experience (along with a price drop) that added up to enough for me to pull the trigger and hit the buy button on the Oculus Rift and touch controllers. After the experience I’ve had today, I have to say, I’m bloody glad I did.
The new in Rift Core 2.0 has 3 key parts:
- a complete overhaul of Home
- a redesigned Oculus desktop app
- Oculus Dash – a brand-new system interface that brings the power of your PC into VR.
The new Dash fundamentally changes what you can do with Rift and how you use the device. It brings major improvements, when activated, a horizontal strip at the bottom of your experience appears, allowing you to launch your library of VR apps, the Oculus Store, Notifications, Settings and of course, the big one, Desktop apps.
Facebook has pitched the idea of actually working in VR for a while now as something that’s coming in the future, today, we get the first major step towards that being a reality. Thanks to the dexterity afforded by the touch controllers, you can grab application windows and position them as required, while easier to switch apps, connect with friends, and generally do more from inside of VR.
If you choose Desktop, you’ll get a selection of the current monitors available, in my case I had 2. Once added, positioned and sized, you can interact with the desktop apps by simply pointing and clicking with the touch controllers, which actually feels pretty natural, quickly. Letting you access your Windows desktop and traditional apps. This opens up new creative possibilities for Rift, using Spotify to play music, YouTube to watch videos, Chrome to surf the web and check email, or Notepad to take notes—all from within VR.
The ability to pull up Dash anywhere and leverage your PC is powerful. Even in this early incarnation, Oculus says internal development is thriving and they’re looking forward to seeing how the community use Dash in ways we never expected. Personally when Dash first launched, it felt too close to me, but after experimenting, I found how to move it further away, allowing easier interaction.
Home receives a complete overhaul, completely rebuilt from the ground up to be more immersive, engaging, and personal. Users now get the ability to customize your space. This is actually quite expensive in customisations available for the the roof, walls, floor possible. Once you’ve settled on the room itself, its time to start adding objects like artwork, tables, plants and even basketball hoops. Of course there’s a complimentary basketball (amongst other items) you can throw around to play in your custom space.
Once you’ve designed things how you want, you can take a screenshot and share it with friends. You can even visit your friends’ spaces to see what they’ve created. One of the key features being worked-on is real-time hangouts, making it easy for you to get together with friends in your Home and create together.
To get all this right now, you need to opt into the beta, when you do, your set of customization features will evolve over time.
While everyone starts with the standard set, you can unlock new items weekly by logging into Rift and spending time in VR. During the beta, there’s a limit to the number of item packs you can earn each week. This way, everyone’s collection varies and grows naturally over time. You can also unlock items like trophies and game cartridges based on your achievements and library on the platform.
Oculus are committing to adding tons of new content throughout the year, including new items and decorations built by the community. It’d actually be fantastic for them to add support for Microsoft’s Remix3D content, a fairly extensive content library of 3D objects.. for now, we can only hope.
There is at least a commitment now to make it easy to bring your own content into Home in 2018. Long term, Home will bring more and more of the Oculus Platform to life in VR.
Right now, it’s actually really difficult to capture Home, as the video feed is only available in the Rift headset, not mirrored on a desktop app that could be captured, hopefully this is resolved soon, as sharing this amazing new experience will help sell the platform.
This is just the beginning of a new chapter for Rift. Core 2.0 lays the technical foundation for Oculus’ long-term roadmap, who say they have ambitious plans for the years ahead. For now, today’s update is a big one.. if you have a Rift I highly recommend you check it out, if you don’t, this may be the thing that gets you to click buy.