Native hand tracking, PC/standalone hybrid functionality, and new games confirmed for the Oculus platform.
That’s a wrap on Oculus Connect 6. Facebook’s annual two-day developer conference dedicated to all things Oculus brought its A-game this year delighting users with a series of surprise bombshells, as well as updates on several highly-anticipated updates and experiences.
Here’s a quick breakdown of every announcement made during the hectic two-day event:
Oculus Link – Facebook announces a new feature called Oculus Link that will allow Oculus Quest users to access Oculus Rift/Rift S experiences directly from their standalone headset using a compatible USB-C cable. Performance will take a slight hit, though the visuals will be a significant improvement from those normally offered on Quest. The feature will supposedly be compatible with SteamVR as well, allowing users to play virtually their entire PCVR catalog.
Oculus Link launches this November; Oculus will be offering its own official USB-C cable as well.
Facebook Horizon – Facebook’s take on the OASIS from the film Ready Player One, Facebook Horizon is a social VR metaverse in which Oculus users can meet-up in a shared space where they can socialize, participate in activities and events, and even create their own games and environments.
Facebook claims also user-generated content can be created without taking off your headset, however, those with experience in coding and game development will have several advanced developer options available to them as well.
Facebook Horizon launches as an experimental feature for Quest headset users in early 2020.
Oculus Quest hand tracking – One of the most exciting reveals made during this years developer conference, Oculus has announced that native hand and finger tracking will be available on the Oculus Quest in early 2020.
Powered via the headsets four onboard cameras, players will be able to interact with compatible experiences without the need of external controllers or hardware.
Passthrough+ on-demand – The Quest’s Passthrough feature receives a few improvements that increase the overall comfort, delivering the same 3D stereo-correct experience featured on the Oculus Rift S.
Passthrough+ arrives on Quest next week followed by Passthrough “on demand,” a new feature that allows users to instantly activate Passthrough mode without having to step out of their guardian boundary, which arrives later this year.
Oculus Go apps coming to Quest – Facebook has confirmed that 50+ Oculus Go apps will be heading to the Oculus Quest. It’s unclear at this time which apps will be arriving on the Quest or how exactly these 3DoF experiences will be ported to the 6DoF headset, though the company has confirmed that the popular rhythm-runner Thumper will be one of the titles making the transition.
These apps should be available in the Oculus Quest store now, though it at the time of this writing the apps do not appear to be accessible.
Oculus TV update & Media Studio – Oculus TV receives as a new update turning it into a central hub for all media content. Media apps such as Amazon Prime VR and Fandango’s new VR streaming service, FandangoNow. The company also introduced Media Studio, a new media management tool designed to assist creators in uploading, publishing, and analyzing their content.
The Oculus TV update and Media Studio are available now to all users and creators.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond – Respawn Entertainment and Oculus Studios’ highly-speculated collaboration has finally been revealed. Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond breathes new life into the historic Medal of Honor video game franchise. Players step into the shoes of an Allied agent of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) tasked with disrupting Nazi operations across Europe.
Medal of Honor Above and Beyond arrives exclusively on Oculus Rift/Rift S in 2020.
Vader Immortal – Episode II now available – The next installment in ILMxLAB’s three-part Star Wars VR series is out now on Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift/Rift S. Taking place directly after the events of Episode I, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – Episode II has users harnessing the powers of the Force as they navigate a series of underground catacombs filled with sentinel droids, flying rat-like creatures, and one seriously pissed-off Rancor. Lightsaber Dojo also receives a few upgrades in the form of hidden traps, Force control, and new rewards.
Stormland & Asgard’s Wrath pre-orders – Insomniac Games’ Stormland and Sanzaru Games’ Asgard’s Wrath are now available for pre-order on Oculus Rift/Rift S. Asgard’s Wrath, a Viking-inspired mythological adventure, will arrive on headsets October 10th, followed by Stormland, a high-tech RPG set in a dystopian future, on November 14th.
Bear Saber Panic! & 360 levels – Beat Games has announced that their rhythm-slasher Beat Saber will receive a new music pack featuring music from Panic at the Disco! next week.
We also received an official December release date for the games’ long-teased 360 levels, which mix up the conventional Beat Saber experience by throwing blocks at you from multiple angles.
Facebook AR headset and LiveMaps – After months of speculation, Facebook has officially confirmed its development of a dedicated AR headset. Though no specific details were offered in regards to hardware, the company went into great detail on LiveMaps, a new program that will use crowd-sourced geo-tagged images, machine visualization, and various other mapping technology to create a virtual map of the entire world.
This will serve as the foundation for their AR headset which, in combination with the data captured by LiveMaps, will allow you to immerse yourself in photorealistic recreations of real-world locations in a matter of seconds. Developers are still well within the research phase, so it could be some time before we begin to see this technology in the hands of the public.
Half Dome 2 updates & full-body codec avatars – Facebook revealed several new improvements to their Half Dome 2 prototype which would allow for a significantly wider field-of-view while simultaneously shaving off a few pounds. Despite featuring a narrower field-of-view than the original Half Dome prototype, Half Dome 2 is 20% wider than the Oculus Quest.
The company also showcased several updates to their Full-body Codec Avatars that increase the realism of player avatars with more lifelike interactions and expressions.
Echo VR – One of Oculus’ most popular competitive experiences, Echo VR, is making its way to the Quest, offering players all the futuristic sports action they know and love minus the hassle of any cumbersome cables.
Echo VR arrives on Quest later this year.
The Room VR: A Dark Matter – The fifth and latest chapter in this mystery puzzler, The Room VR: A Dark Matter arrives on Quest next year.
Last Labyrinth – An escape room-style adventure experience built exclusively for the VR format, Last Lbarynth heads to Quest and Rift/Rift S soon.
While a majority of the breaking announcements were conducted on day one of the conference, day two was reserved exclusively for John Carmack’s famous unscripted speech. For an hour and a half the Oculus CTO dove deep into the latest and greatest advancements in Oculus technology, as well as several predictions and hopes for the future of VR.
Some of the more interesting topics included the eventual discontinuation of the long-running Gear VR headset, as well as his hopes to eventually bring wireless Rift/Rift S streaming to the Oculus Quest.
Despite featuring an overall smaller number of attendees this year, Oculus Connect 6 proved to be one of the most exciting conferences of the year. Whereas 2019 set the foundation for a new ecosystem of Oculus VR hardware, 2020 is shaping up to be the year of software.
Feature Image Credit: Facebook