While at the Montreal International Game Summit, I had the opportunity to try out the Development Kit 2 (DK2), the most up to date Virtual Reality set from Oculus. Here are my impressions after playing a quick 2 minute demo of platformer Lucky’s Tale.

Virtual Reality is almost here…

What I experienced was true virtual reality: it was immersive, responsive and it complete 3D. When you play a platformer, the camera will follow your character as he moves around the stages. In Lucky’s Tale, you have complete control on your field of vision meaning that if your character runs to the left, you have to turn your head to the left to see him and keep track of his movements. The whole level is built entirely in 3D. I paused the game and looked around at the sky, at the ground, ahead of me, behind me, on each side everywhere I looked there were parts of the level I was running through; it was like I was hovering over the stage in a glass helicopter. Doing so, I also saw exactly just how responsive the DK2 is: there were absolutely no delay in what I saw relative to my head movements. It was quite impressive.

Oculus Development Kit 2 - image via oculus.com

Oculus Development Kit 2 – image via oculus.com

… Almost.

Although the DK2 delivered an impressive experience, there are still a few things that need to be ironed out and one of them is the image quality. I could clearly make out the RGB pattern of the screens used inside the headset. This is probably due to the fact that the OLED screens are barely 10 cm (2 in) away from your face. All of the demos available at MIGS used a controller – often the Xbox 360 one – so don’t expect to be moving about and using your hands yet. Your field of vision is in VR but your hands are pressing B to jump and A to attack.

MIGS attendant tries the Oculus DK2 virtual reality headset at the Parabole booth © Catherine Smith-Desbiens / Girls on Games

MIGS attendant tries the Oculus DK2 virtual reality headset at the Parabole booth © Catherine Smith-Desbiens / Girls on Games

This is not for me

Unfortunately, as soon as I fired the demo, my motion sickness kicked in. It wasn’t as overpowering as I was expecting but it was there. This kind of motion sickness is due to the fact that your body is immobile (sitting in a chair) but your eyes see motion (flying above Lucky, following his course) and this dissonance between my body and what my eyes see messes with my brain and results in instant dizziness. This why I get air sick and car sick and this is why I got sick playing Lucky’s Tale. I was able to easily complete the 2 minute demo however, I don’t think I would’ve been able to play more. This is most likely due to the fact that the game I played was in third person view and felt a lot like I was hovering over my character. I’m curious to try a first person view game to see if the motion sickness is as instant and severe.

This also makes me wonder if Oculus will ever be able to create a product I can use for an extended period of time as the issue isn’t with the headset, but with my brain. I enjoyed trying out the headset but I had to spend the rest of my day feeling light headed and slightly sick to my stomach.

MIGS attendant tries the Gear VR headset © Catherine Smith-Desbiens / Girls on Games

MIGS attendant tries the Gear VR headset © Catherine Smith-Desbiens / Girls on Games

Virtual Reality is coming sooner than you think

For those of you who own or are planning on getting the Galaxy Note 4, you might want to check into the Samsung Gear VR Innovator. A joint venture between Samsung and Oculus, this wireless Virtual Reality headset is powered by the phone itself. You lock it in place inside the headset and then use the controller to navigate menus and content. If you’re itching to be on the Virtual Reality early adopters, the Gear VR will be available in early December in the United States for $199 USD or for $249 bundled in with one of Samsung’s bluetooth controller. Although there was a demo of the Gear at MIGS, I wasn’t able to try it for myself so I can’t give you my impressions on this product.

Welcome to the future!

I am impressed with the performance of the Oculus DK2. We’ve come a long way since the Virtual Boy and it looks like the Rift is really close to being consumer-ready. If ever you have the opportunity to try either the DK2 or the Gear, do it! You won’t be disappointed.