This is a quick hands-on impression of the Oculus Rift S from the view of a flight sim player. It's not a full review (plenty of those around) and it's focused on the rather niche category of flight simulations, which is where the Rift S turns out to really prove it's worthwhile.
Despite the lukewarm reviews and the minor upgrades in specs, Matt Wagner's commentary on the Rift S's clarity in DCS made me order it from Amazon (where I could return it easily if not impressed).
I'm *not* returning it. Spent the evening flying flight sims in it and it's clearly a worthwhile upgrade for sim fans. You would think it had much higher resolution than the original (CV1) Oculus Rift, given the additional clarity. The screen door effect (visible pixels) is just *gone*. (At least, for my eyes.)
Some impressions trying various flight simulators:
- Prepar3D v4.51 probably sees the most significant improvement, with instruments just dramatically easier to read. Everything looks sharper as well.
- Matt Wagner wasn't kidding about DCS. The view from the F-86 Sabre cockpit was just amazingly sharp.
- IL-2 Battle of Moscow/Bodenplatte/etc is by far the best looking of them all. With no screen door effect and the efficient VR engine, the visuals are just stunning. Flew the P-47D around and was blown away.
- Also tried FlyInside Flight Simulator, and while that one's in very early access, it worked and looked great.
- I haven't tried X-Plane 11 or AeroFly FS2 yet, but I have no doubt they'll be awesome given all the other sims.
A quick game of Beat Sabre showed the controller tracking to be as good in that game as with the OG Rift with three sensors spread around the room -- it never lost tracking.
- The 80Hz vs 90Hz refresh rate difference from the original Rift isn't noticeable
- I was thinking I’d need to use headphones since they dropped the earphones and added tiny speakers near your ear. But the audio is surprisingly clear from these, and it’s nice to be able to hear sounds in the room if someone comes in. This was maybe the biggest pleasant surprise. I wouldn’t use them for music (no bass) or watching movies, but it’s fine for flight sims.
- The internal tracking on the controllers works well
- Soooo much easier to set up than the original Rift or the Vive without all the tracking stations
- You now define the room by laser-drawing the border with the controllers instead of having to walk around in view of cameras, much easier
- Even with three cameras, the original Rift would sometimes lose track of tracking and I'd find my head sticking out the top of a cockpit, down by the rudder pedals, or on a wing, and have to re-set the VR view. Didn't happen once with the Rift S.
- Unlike some of the professional reviewers, I actually like the new headband better than the original Rift’s. Easier to adjust for different users.
- My one negative so far? There isn’t the big gap around your nose that I used to peek down through on the OG Rift to view the keyboard when playing sims. I’ve had to lift the headset a few times to find a key.
Answering Some Questions
I posted an earlier version of this on a couple of simulation and gaming forums, and some questions came up. Here are the answers:
- Field of view is supposed to be slightly better than the original Rift, but I couldn't see a difference.
- Because the new screen is LCD based instead of OLED, the blacks aren't going to be as... black. But flying around in Prepar3D and IL-2 at night, the night sky and scenery looked about the same as it does on a monitor -- it's not washed out or gray.
- Oculus Tray Tool (and everything else I tried) works fine. I used it to set P3D to a supersampling rate of 1.5 and it looked super-sharp.
If you're playing action-based VR games, games with cartoony graphics, or really anything outside of vehicle simulations, I'm not sure the improvements in the Rift S would justify an upgrade from the original Oculus Rift CV1. But for flight sims, the Rift S awesome and I have zero regrets on the money spent.
I had an HP Reverb on order as well, thinking the increased resolution would be a big benefit in sims. But I just cancelled that order, because the Rift S is so sharp I'm quite satisfied, and the Oculus solution is going to have much better frame rates than the Reverb's higher resolution will afford.
I don't know what the cancelled "Rift 2" was going to be, but the S might as well stand for "Sim edition" and it's a nice upgrade for my usage scenario.
(If you decide to buy one and use this Amazon link, I'll get a couple of bucks in Amazon credit, which would be cool and appreciated.)
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