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Hardware Review: Oculus Rift

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, years of development, a few prototypes, and a multi-billion-dollar investment from Facebook, the first commercial virtual reality headset from Oculus VR officially launches today.

Priced at nearly $600, the Rift requires a suitably equipped PC (running Windows), though it comes with an Xbox One gamepad to use as a controller. (The Oculus Touch motion controllers provide a more robust option for gameplay in the Rift environment, but will not be available until later this year, when they will be sold separately.)

Gaming isn't the only thing you can do with the Rift, but it is the device's biggest draw. At launch, titles that support the Rift include Adr1ft, EVE: Valkyrie, Pinball FX2 VR, Lucky's Tale, and Chronos, among others. Later in the year, the Rift will face competition in the form of HTC's Vive headset (due in April) and PlayStation VR (October).

Below, find quotes from professional reviews of the Oculus Rift hardware itself. (Click on any publication name to read the full review.) Scores (converted to our 0-100 scale) are listed only if one has been assigned by the publication itself; otherwise, we have grouped the reviews into rough categories, from most to least positive.

The headset is well-designed, build quality is good and the immersive experience overall is breathtaking. There's also much to commend in the platform Oculus has delivered, in terms of the wide scope of its content, the (almost) fully integrated VR interface, and the way in which the vast majority of games just work, even on the min-spec PC hardware platform. ... I can safely say that those who've pre-ordered the Rift are unlikely to be disappointed with the quality of the end product and the experience it delivers - VR is like nothing you've ever experienced before.

Many of the best experiences I’ve had in the Oculus ecosystem either aren’t in the Oculus Store yet, or won’t be available until the company’s Oculus Touch handheld controllers arrive later this year. ... This is an astonishingly well-made device. It delivers rock-solid, comfortable VR, and it does so easily. You’ll be able to put this thing on anyone and show them the magic. You’ll have friends coming over just to go through the Dreamdeck. (Seriously, you will.) But you’ll have to make your peace with the idea that your $600—or realistically, $1,500 or more, if you need a PC to go with it—is an investment.

The Xbox One controller included with the Rift, however, is just daringly unimaginative and really restricts the launch potential of the device. ... The experience is so considerably superior with [the Oculus Touch controllers] that I somewhat question why Oculus decided to release the device without them. ... The Oculus Rift is a crazy device that is more than the sum of its parts. As the first consumer high-powered virtual reality headset, it deserves props for just existing, but incredibly it manages to kick ass as well. Whether you should buy now, just try it out or wait until Oculus Touch arrives depends mostly on your patience and cashflow.

There are a couple of hiccups, such as the lack of 3D audio and the need to install apps and games from the desktop instead of the headset. You'll also need a pretty powerful gaming PC to get in on the fun. But rest assured, the long-awaited era of VR is here, and it's off to an auspicious start. ... So does the Oculus Rift live up to the hype? After a full week with the system, I can say that it does for the most part.

"Just a few more months" has been the mantra of virtual reality since people started getting excited about the Oculus Rift, and saying it after the headset is released feels like either a huge cop-out or a sign that the VR we want may never actually arrive. But it’s impossible to think of all the unreleased Oculus Touch experiences I’ve tried — like three-dimensional painting tool Quill, Old West shooting gallery Dead & Buried, and a VR version of Rock Band — and not feel like the Rift’s best days are still ahead of it.

Do you have the Rift yet? Are you planning to purchase one? Let us know in the comments section below. You can also check out reviews for Rift-compatible games such as Adr1ft, Chronos, EVE: Valkyrie, Lucky's Tale, and Pinball FX2 VR.

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