Oculus and Samsung have announced that the latest edition of the Gear VR mobile VR headset will be releasing on April 21. The standard $99 price will be raised to $129 to accommodate the cost of the new motion controller that is being bundled with the headset. The controller by itself will be available for purchase at $40.
Earlier this month, Oculus and Samsung revealed a new Gear VR that would include a wireless motion controller similar to the Google Daydream View. The Gear’s new remote is similar to the View’s in that they both can move in three degrees of freedom (DOF): horizontally, vertically and rotationally. The big difference, however, is the Gear controller’s inclusion of a trigger which makes shooting games and other tactile experiences a touch more immersive.
We had the chance to try the new Gear VR and its controller at a meeting with Oculus earlier in the week. The presence of the controller makes an incredible difference in both UI and gameplay for the system. Everything from navigating menus to shooting zombies was quicker, easier and more comfortable with this handy new device. The days of tapping the side of your head or feeling about for the menu button are over.
Oculus’ head of mobile product, Max Cohen, confirmed during our meeting that the controller-based interface will be the “default” input method for the gear going forward, while also clarifying that gamepad and touchpad experiences “aren’t going anywhere.”
Ergonomically the controller feels excellent. Much like its elder brother, the Oculus Rift’s Touch controllers, the Gear’s handset melts into your hand with your index finger and thumb finding very natural positions on the trigger and clickpad.
The lack of true positional tracking does feel limiting while using the controller at first, but the experiences built for it are well designed to get the most out of the limited DOF. Oculus has revealed that there will be 20 experiences with controller compatibility available at launch, with 50 more on the way. There will also be a redesigned Oculus Home with web support and a revolutionary, resolution boosting software patch from CTO John Carmack.