The Oculus Rift and its control peripherals, the Oculus Touch. PIERRE TROUVÉ / THE WORLD
In the great virtual reality race that saw the very high-end HTC Vive (PC) and the most accessible PSVR (PS4) compete this year, the Oculus Rift (PC) was a laggard. The fault of what? Probably partly due to the lack of a specific controller. Because, if virtual reality headsets in general and the Rift in particular do an excellent job when it comes to immersing us in a universe, they confine us, for lack of controllers, to being a simple spectator.
The error has now been corrected: in addition to the small remote control and the Xbox One controller with which it comes, the Rift will be able to count, from Tuesday, December 6, on its own pair of controllers, called Touch, which Pixels has been able to try for a long time.
Everyone will have their own opinion, but if the first contact with these half-moon-shaped controllers is curious enough to say the least, they quickly turn out to be beautiful products, with a neat finish, elegant matte and comfortable weight.
The Touch hold well in the hand without being too heavy and have a comfortable grip while remaining small. We are far from the inelegance of the controllers of the first generation Vive, not to mention the strange giant lollipops that are the PSVR Moves.
The installation of the Oculus Touch is particularly easy. PIERRE TROUVÉ / THE WORLD
Each Touch is presented as a half-controller, with its three buttons (one dedicated to the menu return), its joystick (which can itself be pressed, like a fourth button) and its two triggers, naturally falling under the middle and index fingers. And the bulky hoop that surrounds it? If it can hinder the movement of the middle finger a little (prohibiting in passing to completely let go of the controller by accident), it is quickly forgotten in play.
Batteries, cables and wrist strap
Like its competitors, the Touch obviously presents itself as an autonomous controller, without a cable, only accompanied by a wrist strap whose use we will not be able to advise too much, so great is the temptation to make large rash gestures.
Each of the two Touch works with a classic LR 6 battery, the compartment of which closes with the grace of an elegant magnetic lid system that you will never think about again once the battery is inserted but which will provide you, for the moment, an immeasurable pleasure that the first remote control can not claim.
If the Oculus Rift is already delivered with a sensor, the use of Touch requires installing a second one, fortunately delivered with the controllers. They are presented in the form of two small cameras, like a microphone stand, which the user places on either side of his screen. The maneuver is therefore much simpler than with the sensors of the Vive, which must be fixed in height, at two ends of the room and at a very precise angle, by means of an imposing hole made in an innocent wall, flexible feet purchased separately or just a few meters of tape unwound a little pitifully.
Note however that the sensors necessarily facing the player, the Touch quickly lose their accuracy, when the latter turns around or passes his hands behind his back. A concern that the HTC Vive does not present, but which, in fact, rarely proves to be disabling.
Just download the software that is patiently waiting for the user on Oculus.com/setup . First good point: the positioning of the cameras is easy, where the HTC Vive could be a little capricious. The same goes for the definition of the play space: we start by drawing our limits in our living room, taking care to avoid the sofa, the TV stand and other immobile obstacles, like a possible stuffed dog. Once in play, this area appears in the form of a bluish grid, beyond which it is strongly discouraged to venture.
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It is therefore the same principle as the HTC Vive, except that the delimitation system is much less restrictive. It is thus possible to define a zone in several times, in order to correct a first imprecise delimitation, without however starting everything from scratch. And that changes everything.
Like the HTC Vive Lab or Sony’s PlayStation VR Worlds, Oculus is demonstrating its Touch during a free demo. Particularly stunning, this one plunges the player into a kind of portable laboratory and furiously 1980s, crazy and neon reinvention of the truck from “It’s not Rocket Science” in which a cute robot evoking, jumbled, the Disney Wall-E and the Nintendo R.O.B. would replace Jamy.
The opportunity to try your hand at half a dozen vaguely interactive but really surprising activities: target shooting, rocket launching or even maracas … Not very sexy on paper, all these activities are finally quite simple yet demonstrate the immersive powers of Touch.
The thumb on the buttons, the index and middle fingers on the triggers: the little finger and the ring finger remain to hold the controller proper. PIERRE TROUVÉ / THE WORLD
Concretely, the player squeezes the handle of the Touch with the little finger and the ring finger. The index and middle fingers each fall on a trigger, while the thumb comes to rest on the flat surface of the controller, one of its buttons or its joystick. Unlike the PSVR Moves, or the first generation of Vive controllers, the Touch are not a simple interface: depending on how you hold them, even without using them, the sensors will determine not only the position of the player’s hands but also that of his fingers. Thus, a finger placed without being pressed will be detected differently from a stretched finger or a clenched fist.
It’s not necessarily obvious at first, but in the best games, naturally, the player no longer thinks about the controller, but about his hand. He spontaneously squeezes it to form a fist (in the hand-to-hand combat of Superhot), to take a cigar and light it (in I Expect You to Die) or to shoot lasers with the tip of the index finger in the demo software.
Amazing: this little detail is the real plus of the Oculus Touch. Because by allowing him to grab, hit, stroke, push or pull everything he sees, the Touch and the Rift erase their interface quality to better make it seem that, rather than in a game, the player is in another reality.
This is where the problem lies: the pair of Touch and their sensor still cost 199 euros, to which it is obviously worth adding the price of the helmet (699 euros). For that price, the Touch comes with a connector to play Rock Band VR as well as two mediocre games, VR Sport Challenge and The Unspoken. That is a total of 898 euros.
If this sum puts it at the level of the HTC Vive (899 euros, and sold by default with all its accessories), it becomes at the same time 50% more expensive than the PSVR. Admittedly less impressive technically, Sony’s virtual reality headset, its camera and its pair of PlayStation Moves display a price of 600 euros “only”.
We liked it :
- The surprising but compact look.
- The ease of installation.
- The subtlety of detecting the position of the fingers.
- The most chic battery slot in the history of battery slots.
We didn’t like it :
- The loss of precision when we turn our backs on the sensors.
- The price, always so prohibitive.
It’s more for you if…
- If you already have an Oculus Rift and want to enjoy the experience thoroughly.
- You were hesitating between Rift and Vive and that the comfort of the controller is for you a decisive criterion.
- You want to spend 200 euros like that, for a laugh.
It’s rather not for you if…
- You have something else to do with your money, such as eating, going on vacation or buying the complete collection of Larousse encyclopedias.
The note of Pixels :