Oculus VR is aiming for official sale of its Rift head-mounted display (HMD) in 1Q16, with pre-orders opening shortly after the new year. This launch is delayed from initial (moving) targets, but will coincide with the 2Q16 HTC/Valve “Vive” HMD product and ensure a competitive space on day-one.

Oculus and Crytek have teamed up to challenge the acrophobia of anyone with an Oculus Rift VR system. Crytek’s new game, aptly named The Climb, allows players to virtually free-climb dangerous cliffs. Now players can take on one of the world’s riskiest sports, with the only risk of falling being from one’s own chair.

The short trailer released by Crytek displays the game’s signature CryEngine visuals, as well as a pair of “Master Hands.” Speaking about The Climb and the Oculus Rift, Crytek founder and CEO Cevat Yerli said:

We've covered virtual reality headsets in the past -- notably, we sat down at length with engineers of the Valve/HTC Vive at PAX Prime -- but the folks at Razer have recently thrown their futuristic VR hats into the ring as well. The "Open-Source Virtual Reality ecosystem," or OSVR, has been nearing the end of its development cycle over the past few months. Razer's just announced the $300 "Hacker Development Kit," with which developers can program for VR technology in general. Although the idea of an OSVR "ecosystem" seems to promise that Razer will develop additional VR products, the dev kit (which includes a headset and software) is the only product being offered right now; it is not a dev kit for an existing Razer product, and it's not intended to develop software specifically for Razer products.

Oculus VR recently announced its plans for “systems [starting] at a variety of price points under $1000,” speaking to the cost viability of VR-ready configurations. The company is working closely with system integrators (SIs) to ship a range of PC builds, stretching all the way into the sub-$1000 market. These prices do not include the VR headset itself, said to be “at least $300,” but strictly refer to the start-up cost of a VR-ready computer.

Epic Games has posted a showdown for the all the major virtual reality headsets currently competing. Those who own or have access to an Oculus DK2 (and up), Sony Morpheus (a device that seems aptly named for Showdown), or HTC Vive can download and run Epic’s Matrix-inspired VR experience.

CastAR, formerly Technical Illusions, recently got a big boost in the form of a 15-million dollar venture capital investment. The company plans to use that money to deliver on promises to their original Kickstarter backers and push the product into a complete state. GN was able to spend an hour with castAR CEO David Henkel-Wallace and cofounder Rick Johnson to see where things stand and where the company is going.

CastAR is a head-mounted, augmented reality technology that deploys a set of projectors and lenses to cast a 3-dimensional image to a reflective sheet. When we say that castAR is an HMD, we don’t mean in the “expected” sense – it’s not like the Rift or HTC’s impressive Vive, but is more akin to nVidia’s 3D Vision glasses in form factor. CastAR is billed as a solution for multiplayer and singleplayer AR gaming, to include traditional tabletop emulation (D&D, miniatures, Magic, Jenga) and new games.

At PAX Prime, thanks to the folks at Valve and HTC, we got another first-hand experience with what may be the best option in personal VR to-date: the Vive.

Our first encounter with the Valve/HTC Vive was at GDC 2015, the headset’s first showcase, and we were limited on information and recording permission. HTC and nVidia brought the Vive to PAX Prime this year, the former bringing us into their conference room for another lengthy, hands-on demonstration. We took the opportunity to talk tech with the HTC team, learning all about how Valve and HTC’s VR solution works, the VR pipeline, latencies and resolutions, wireless throughput limitations, and more. The discussion was highly technical – right up our alley – and greatly informed us on the VR process.

Benchmark software leader Futuremark today announced its plans for the development of a new software suite, the company said in a statement to the press. Futuremark is perhaps best-known to our readers for its development of 3DMark and subsequent Firestrike benchmarking utilities, software that resembles extreme game graphics scenarios for GPU testing. We've also covered the company for its API Overhead Benchmark, utilized in testing DirectX 11, 12, and Mantle API load on the CPU.

The long-awaited virtual reality headset made by Oculus VR, the Rift, has been announced for arrival in 1Q16. This will be the first full, consumer-ready product as shipped to Kickstarter backers and pre-ordering buyers. The Rift has thus far only been available as a development kit and has undergone several sweeping design changes since the first devkit (DK I), including resolution jumps to 1080p and latency reduction.

Oculus VR had this to say:

“There's a lot of focus on VR right now – a lot of people are pouring money and passion into it,” Epic Games' Chance Ivey told us in an interview, “it's getting rooted into the mainstream.”

Our last major virtual reality piece focused on the history of the technology, highlighting the profound advancement of this decade's sub-$1000 consumer-ready devices. VR has long faced location-based and monetary challenges, with original equipment costs ranking in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – if not more, in some military applications – and consuming entire rooms for setup. As Valve rolls-out its impressive full-room VR experience and as Oculus nears the launch of the Rift, developers face a slew of unseen (to the gamer) challenges of integration.

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