New toy

Four times a year, I treat myself with a “toy”. Usually, at this time of the year, it would’ve been a new iPhone, but this year I got myself an Oculus Go. It was on sale on Cyber Monday and I’ve been eyeing it for a while. Yesterday it got delivered.

My first impressions are super positive – I’m impressed. The headset is pretty comfortable to wear for such a big contraption. I played with it for a couple of hours and it never bothered me. But what impressed me the most was the level of polish. The setup was a breeze and the UI works well. A testament to the polished nature was when I handed it to my partner and she understood it with just a few hints about the controller buttons. Well done Oculus!

I tried Epic Roller Coasters, but it makes me nauseous. Cool, but not for me. Watching Netflix and Hulu is pretty cool though and actually more interesting than I expected. Netflix presents you with a virtual room and a giant TV. It’s a very immersive while useful experience. Definitely more fun to watch TV like that than on the phone. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t support downloading shows so forget about using it on a plane. I do wish you could choose your environment. I’d love if I could choose my own seat in an Imax theatre and watch a movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gunjack. It’s a Galaga-style game but adapted for VR. Basically, you get to shoot spaceships from a fixed gun position on a big mining rig. You aim by looking at the spaceships and then pull the trigger. Simple but addictive.

That’s about all the time I got to play with it. The battery life is only a couple of hours.

I particularly like it’s standalone. There’s no fuss with tethering it to an existing device like a smartphone or game console. This decision brings a slew of limitations like processing and battery power. But it’s like the Nintendo Switch. The ability to use it independently while being optimized for a particular use case definitely has its advantages. (When I write this, I wondered if these are the first signs of unbundling the smartphone?)

It’s still early for VR and the library of apps is limited. It especially misses large budget triple-a titles, but what is available is fun. It’s still too early to recommend that everyone should get one, but if you’re curious about VR and want to experience it, it’s a great product. The $200 price tag helps too.