In Depth: Oculus Touch controllers mark the second coming of Rift

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Oculus is finally ready to launch its Touch controllers, the missing puzzle pieces to its VR vision. You’ll need $199 to participate in that vision when it comes to life on December 6. The price is much more expensive than many were hoping, though not wholly unreasonable.

Oculus isn’t letting any negativity dampen it’s fun, though. As part of the controllers’ welcome party, the company is unleashing a number of Touch-ready titles, which is fitting as this feels like the second coming of Rift.

Oculus Touch price

The headset and its packaged Xbox One controller are a great combo, don’t get us wrong. The set-up is more than fine for games where you don’t really need your hands. Strategy games, some multiplayers, survival games where you’re drifting through space – these are perfect for sitting in one spot.

But if you want to lose yourself in a virtual world, you’ll need Touch controllers to do the trick.

Oculus Touch

At this week’s Oculus Connect 3, Oculus’ developer conference, we got a chance to try some new games coming to Rift, including two titles made for Touch that will release alongside the controllers later this year.

The games showed the wide range of games and experiences coming to the platform, and how impactful the Touch controllers are. Even with the steep price, these may be a no-brainer for Rift owners to purchase.

Touch time

Of the Touch games we played, Superhot was by far our favorite. Basically the VR version of the first-person shooting game for PC, Superhot is surreal, futuristic and exhilarating. You have to shoot, throw, punch and dodge your way past numerous faceless baddies, and we worked up a sweat doing advancing through increasingly difficult levels. Superhot will launch alongside Touch, though the game’s price is still unknown.

Superhot

One drawback of Oculus Rift is that you don’t have the same level of spatial awareness that you do with competitor HTC Vive. While we may have been more mobile than most while playing the game (it was easy to get swept up in the action), we tripped over a very real mat on the floor at one point and quickly lost our bearings. It didn’t make a different to the gameplay, but it shows it’d be wise to clear ample space if you’re planning to play this game – or any game with Touch – at home.

Touch will support room scale, and Oculus is releasing sensors for $79 each so the Rift as a better sense of the environment. This may help avoid running into things in your living room, but still, be careful.

The Superhot gameplay we tried had a twist ending that’s thoroughly disturbing as you’re the first person, though we won’t ruin it. We will say it shows how convincing virtual reality can be, even when you rationally know you’re just playing a game.

Oculus Touch

The Touch controllers felt natural throughout. You pull the trigger button to grab hold of something, like a weapon, and let go to release, and those physical movements matched what we saw in the game. A little rumble makes it all the more realistic. While not a perfect 1:1 match of how you’d experience picking something up in real-life, it was convincing enough for a game.

There were relatively few controls to worry about in Superhot, which is a relief when using Touch and Rift. Another title we played, The Unspoken (launching with Touch, price TBA), was graphically excellent and had several fun elements, but it’s a prime example of one of the issues we have with Touch – an overabundance of buttons, which game developers seem keen to utilize at the sake of making a game easy to play.

Oculus Touch buttons
Not shown: The trigger and grip buttons on the underside

There were so many commands in Unspoken – make a shield with your left hand and form a fireball with the right, oh but you’ve got to teleport to that column before your dueling opponent hits you! – that keeping track of it all is a challenge in itself. It did get easier as the game went on, and we suppose would be how a real-life magic duel would go down. Still, it was hard to keep track of every command as first-time players who were focused on not losing the battle in front of us.

The non-Touch game, Landfall, will launch early next year (price TBA). It was a visually pleasing multiplayer battle that had one side defending against and attacking another. Like nearly every Rift game we’ve played, the attention to detail was superb.

Oculus Touch

If you ever imagined your toy army men coming to life when you were a kid, that’s what Landfall felt like. It was a bit challenging to keep track of our tiny character in the melee, but an action-packed landscape, effective weapons and believability that we were participating in a skirmish in a fantasy other-world (we felt like we could reach out into the smoke after a stronghold blew up) made up for any confusion.

Rift’s revolution

Though we’ve used Touch before, these new game experiences show just how prepared Oculus is to wow us with its controllers. Yes, the controllers are expensive, but they elevate what’s an already good VR experience into an even better one.

Oculus Rift and Touch

One criticism of Touch, besides its price and buttons, is that your hands get sweaty when you’re holding them for even a short amount of time. Even just standing still, our palms became balmy and a little sticky holding the controllers. Perhaps using cloth or figuring out some air vent system would help alleviate this, but we felt a little icky handing the controllers over after using them.

These points aside, Touch is no doubt ready for primetime. With the controllers, Rift feels complete, like it should have launched with them along. We understand Oculus wanted to get the controllers perfect before releasing them to the wild, and users’ patience, however unbearable it may have been at some points, may pay off.

Even with the price, it’s hard not to say, “Just do it” when it comes to recommending buying the controllers. They are sturdy, comfortable to hold (aside from the sweatiness), and elevate the experience to a whole new height.

Oculus Rift is ready for Touch, and we think users are, too.

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