Virtual Reality at E3: Oculus Climbs Toward Touch Controller Launch

The Climb in game VR - H 2016
Courtesy of The Climb Game

The Climb in game VR - H 2016

Facebook-owned virtual reality developer Oculus reported that its Touch controller will launch with more than 30 made-for-VR games and experiences when it becomes available later this year (the exact release date and pricing has not yet been announced). The company has a huge presence this week at gaming confab E3, where it is demoing its Rift VR goggles along with Touch.

Launch titles include Crytek’s The Climb, which will give you the sensation that you are rock climbing high up on a cliff. You'll see your virtual hands through the Touch controller and use them to climb — and to put virtual chalk on them so you don’t ‘fall.’ 

“Touch brings your hands into VR along with the your vision,“ says Jason Rubin (who has been named to a new role as head of content). “Having your hands show up in VR sells it. It goes from being a way of viewing alternate universes to making you feel like you are there. That’s why we spent so much time getting it right at launch. We believe Touch is at a point where it’s ready for the consumer.”

On Tuesday, the company also confirmed that Steve Arnold is the new head of Oculus Studios.

Oculus Rift headsets require a desktop computer, and at E3, several of those were announced as well. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Dell’s Alienware unit introduced Alienware Aurora, a mid-tower desktop, and Area-51 desktop PC, both of which are certified for use with the Rift as well as HTC's Vive VR headsets. It also showed its Alpha compact desktop, with a planned VR upgrade path.

“VR is as relevant to our future as PC gaming has been to our past,” Alienware general manager Frank Azor told THR. “Everything we announce in the future will have a VR component. It will either support VR out of the gate or have the ability to scale to VR.”

At E3, HP and Lenovo also showed VR-ready PCs.

More affordable VR systems that don't require a separate computer include the $99 Samsung VR Gear headsets (developed in partnership with Oculus) that use a Samsung mobile phone for the display. At Samsung's E3 booth, the company was drawing crowds by demoing these headsets with motion seats to give the user a virtual ride on a roller coaster. (The company also recently teamed up with Six Flags and they are now offering "VR Coasters" at several Six Flags parks.)

Monday at E3, Microsoft announced its upcoming "Project Scorpio" with VR capabilities and Sony revealed that its Playstation VR will ship on Oct. 13.