For some people, Oculus Rift launched before it was ready.
It was an easy conclusion to make, because instead of funky motion controllers, it launched with an all-too-familiar Xbox gamepad.
Compared to HTC Vive, which has Wii-like wands that translate your hand movements directly into the virtual world, it made Rift feel like it was only halfway there.
Now, with the launch of Oculus Touch, the second half of the package has been added, and the Rift is playing on the same pitch as Vive. It’s almost as good as Vive, too.
In the box, you get a second Oculus sensor to match the one that came/comes in the main Oculus Rift package, plus the two Touch controllers - one for your right hand and one for your left.
These are, to my mind, much cooler than the wand-like controllers you get with Vive.
They’re designed to fit into your hands perfectly, and are so lightweight that you don’t really feel as if you’re holding something. You’re not waving a stick about; you’re waving your hands about. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that results in even greater immersion.
The controllers still have buttons all over the place, but they generally translate really nicely into finger movements. The main trigger is your forefinger, but there’s a second trigger-like button beneath that that represents your other three fingers.
Your thumb, meanwhile, sits on the top of the controller. If you press down on one of the two face buttons or on the thumbstick, it will be translated in the virtual world. To cut a long story short, the Touch controllers are effective, ergonomic, and above all, excellent.
Except the whole "AA batteries" thing. Each controller takes one, which feels decidedly old hat when HTC Vive's controllers recharge over USB.
Simple setup - unless you get “experimental”
Before you go punching, shooting or waving at things in the virtual world, you need to go through the (admittedly simple) setup.
If you’ve already got a Rift, this basically just means connecting the second sensor to a free USB 3.0 socket on your PC, placing it on the other side of your desk/table/telly to the first sensor (kind of how you’d place a pair of stereo speakers), and then pairing the Touch controllers. You’ll be up and running in minutes.
Metaphorically speaking, of course - running while you're in VR is not recommended.
It's a whole lot easier than setting up HTC Vive, and even PlayStation VR, so virtual reality newbies should still find it pretty simple to get up and running.
You do, of course, have to make sure your PC meets Rift's minimum specifications, which means an Nvidia GTX 960 graphics card, Intel i3-6100 CPU, 8GB of RAM and three USB sockets at a minimum. Oh, and at least two of those USBs must be USB 3.0.
You can make it more complicated if you like, though. Why on Earth would you do that? Because as well as the recommended sensors-to-the-front setup Oculus gives you the option of going for one of its “experimental” setups.
The first involves installing your sensors at opposite corners of your play space for 360-degree tracking. The other involves buying a third sensor (that'll be another £79, RM450 please) for full room-scale tracking.
Seeing as each sensor has a cable that’s just 2.5m long, you’re almost certainly going to need to buy USB 3.0 extension cables to run around your room as well.
Going to these lengths is not necessary to play Oculus’ own library of games, which are designed to support the front-sensors setup, but it does improve compatibility with many Steam VR games, which are generally designed to take advantage of HTC Vive’s room-scale approach to VR virtual reality.
That’s right: as well as playing all of the games made available through Oculus Home, you can use your Oculus Rift with the full library of Steam VR games. Admittedly you have to go through a second setup process that’s a little more fiddly, but the reward is an expanded library that includes Valve’s own collection of mini-games and experiences called The Lab - hands-down the most astonishing content yet available in VR.
And don’t worry; if you can’t be bothered with one of the experimental Oculus setups the likes of The Lab will still work, but you may encounter occasional glitches.