SAN JOSE, CA - The hype machine is starting to coalesce around the upcoming Oculus Quest system. And there's good reason.
As Oculus' first high-end standalone headset, there's a lot of great expectations, especially as the company works to hit Zuckerberg's 1 billion user goal. And while Quest is worth your attention, it's the things you can potentially do with the headset that should get you excited.
During the Oculus Connect 5 day one keynote, we got a quick mention of arena-style room-scaling and a brief look at the mixed-reality aspect. I had the opportunity to experience both in the latest Dead & Buried demo. And I'm now dangerously close to jumping on the hype train.
To start the demo we were put into teams of three and headed out onto what was basically a makeshift laser tag arena. After being fitted with a prototype version of the Oculus Quest, the fun and games began, starting with the mixed reality. When it was enabled, my view looked like an updated version of A-ha "Take On Me" with its sketchpad-esque look.
Though rudimentary, this view was incredibly detailed, even outlining the Os on the Oculus representatives shirts. For now, it's a better take on the "Predator-vision" that the HTC Vive delivers through its passthrough camera. Nate Mitchell, co-founder and Vice President of Product at Oculus, defines of mixed reality as a medium that brings "the real world into the virtual world." With some work, this could live up to that.
After our quick brush with mixed reality, it was time to get to the business of shooting the other team -- arena-style. And while this isn't my first rodeo with a co-op western shooter, it was definitely one of my best experiences.
Thanks to the quad of wide-angle sensors on the Oculus Quest, my teammates and I were able to shoot at the other team while taking cover behind physical cover barriers on a field a little bigger than a tennis court. In the real world, they were simply black and white boxes, but in the game, they took on the form of wooden crates.
And when you were gunned down, your avatar turned into a ghost visible only to your teammates. That way, you wouldn't inadvertently run into someone. I ended up running into someone anyway, but that was more because I wasn't paying attention to my 6 o'clock. No harm, no foul.
But onto the actual gameplay. Moving around sans wires allowed for better, faster movement. However, we were restricted from rolling, crawling or diving for cover. It was a lot of fun moving in and out of cover, angling for shots. And, honestly, I could see this becoming the new laser tag. Just download the right co-op game and let the Quest work its magic and transform the room into whatever you want.