Back in May 2016 when I first reviewed the Oculus Rift there was very little I could say about the VR headset that wasn’t glowingly positive. Then in August I got my hands on an HTC Vive and discovered the world of motion controls and room-scale gaming. Things were suddenly very different, but Oculus was already working on their own set of motion controls, and even though it wouldn’t be until December that we would quite literally get our hands on them, after a month of Oculus Touch gaming I can firmly attest it was worth the wait, and in many ways the Oculus Touch is much better than the Vive controllers.
Of course the first thing you’ll have to overcome is the $200 sticker shock, which may seem like a lot until you realize that when you combine that with the cost of the Rift you’re now close to the same cost as the Vive that came with the controllers. This actually makes it a nicer option for those gamers who prefer using the Xbox controller and playing from a seated position, since you aren’t being forced to buy controllers you may not want. But let’s be honest…YOU WANT THESE!
Opening the box reveals only a few items resting in the foam insert including a pair of Touch controllers, a secondary sensor, a Rock Band adapter, and a pair of AA batteries. As with the Rift, the setup is elegantly simple with onscreen instructions for connecting, positioning, and calibrating your new sensor then walking you through the specific ways you can use your new Touch controllers. There is even a delightful demo that has you interacting with a cute robot.
The first thing you’ll notice is just how comfortable the Touch controllers are; so comfortable you’ll soon forget you are even holding them thanks to their extreme light weight and contoured grip. The buttons are, for the most part, easy to access, although I found I would often hit the Menu button with the lower pad of my thumb when trying to press one of the lettered buttons. It took me several hours to learn to arch my thumb.
The magic really happens when you load up any of the Touch-supported games or experiences. Unlike the Vive that usually shows you virtual versions of the controllers or maybe replaces them with a gun or device the Oculus Touch tends to show virtual hands that you can then use to grab guns or gadgets within the game. Through clever use of a grip trigger, index trigger, and thumbstick you can intuitively replicate realistic hand movements including pointing and grasping items or even making a fist; all of which are expertly used in the various games and experiences.
Playing a game like Arizona Sunshine on the Oculus Touch just feels so much more natural when you are picking up items or gripping your gun, loading up your ammo belt, reloading your empty clip or even grabbing a grenade from your bandolier, pulling the pin, and tossing it. The hand movements are much more realistic than gripping the twin sticks of the Vive adding to the overall immersion. In a game like SUPERHOT where every microsecond counts, your ability to interact with the world around you with micro-precision is only possible with the Oculus Touch.
There are dozens of other games that are either coming out specifically for the Touch or in the case of a game like The Climb being updated to support the new controllers in a way that is actually redefining the original gameplay. I enjoyed playing around with Crytek’s rock-climbing simulation but was always partly removed from the immersion because I was using a gamepad, but now with the Touch and being able to reach up and physically grab and pull myself up these cliffs the experience is exponentially better and totally realistic. There are dozens of Touch-enabled titles already available and we’ll have reviews for many of them posted shortly.
The addition of a second sensor also allows for more standing experiences, but you still don’t have the room-scale freedom that the Vive offers. This means you can’t walk around nearly as much, but it also means you don’t have to dedicate a room to the Rift. As long as you can take one or two steps in any direction and spin around you are ready to go.
The bottom line is that if you own an Oculus Rift then you definitely need to get the Touch. It may be a major purchase up front, but it will make many of the games you already own and almost all of the new ones coming out infinitely better. I hate to use the phrase, but this is a “game changer”. Before the Touch you were mostly using your headset to look around a game that you were playing with a controller just like any other video game, but with the Oculus Touch you now get to physically interact with these virtual worlds on a new level of realism that will blow your mind and change the way we play games moving forward.