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A new era in gaming kicks off on March 28 with the launch of Oculus Rift, the first high-end VR system built with gamers in mind. The Rift headset is a stunning piece of work, capable of immersing you in believable high-definition worlds in an instant, as long as you have the right gaming hardware powerful enough to handle the demands of VR. NVIDIA’s higher-end GeForce GTX GPUs, such as the GTX 970 (or greater) on PC and the GTX 980 on notebook, allow gamers to get the best possible virtual reality experience on Oculus Rift.
To tell if your PC is up to the job you can simply compare what you have with NVIDIA's VR system requirements; or if you prefer you can use GeForce Experience to instantly diagnose your system's VR readiness. And should you need new VR capable gaming hardware to meet the Rift's demands, NVIDIA's VR Ready Program makes it easy to tell what kit is most suitable for VR.
Of course, all this amazing new VR tech is nothing without the games. And there are already going to be 30 Oculus Rift launch games to suit all tastes such as the visually stunning sci-fi shooter, EVE: Valkyrie. There are plenty more VR games to follow, so your only problem in that regard is going to be choosing what to play first. Here is a look at seven great Oculus Rift games you’ll want to check out.
CCP Games' EVE Online—a huge and venerable massively multiplayer space sim—is getting EVE Valkyrie, a must-have a spin-off experience built from the ground up for virtual reality gaming on the Oculus Rift.
Valkyrie is all about epic multiplayer dogfights set against the backdrop of EVE's beautiful universe. It's very fast and very furious, and the beauty of it is that you feel like you're right there in the cockpit, weaving between capital ships and frantically looking around to spot enemy fighters on your six, and just to add to the Battlestar Galactica vibe there's Katee 'Starbuck' Sackhoff shouting orders in your ear, as Valkyrie leader Rán Kavik.
There's nothing else that quite shows off the potential of VR like EVE Valkyrie, and the great news about it is that you get it for free if you've pre-ordered your Oculus Rift; latecomers can buy the EVE: Valkyrie Founder's Pack which comes with your first fighter ship and a stockpile of in-game currency.
Guaranteed to get your pulse racing without the need for high-speed thrills, 505 Games' ADR1FT is a first-person experience that combines the awe-inspiring sensation of floating in orbit with the cold claustrophobic dread of being alone in a leaking spacesuit, with little chance of getting back to Earth alive. With the wreckage of a space station all around you and no memory of what's happened, it's up to you to scavenge resources to patch your leaky suit and to repair the damaged emergency escape vehicle so you can safely return home, all the while trying to solve the mystery of what destroyed the space station and killed everyone on board except you.
Already the world's most technically advanced racing game, with a roster of 125 painstakingly-crafted cars built to handle just like the real thing, plus over 35 locations and 100 courses modelled on their real-world counterparts, Project CARS is set to add an extra element of realism to its high-speed thrills on Oculus Rift. Boasting all the features of the original game such as a full day/night system and various weather options, not to mention the ability to pit your driving skills against other players worldwide, the Rift version fulfills every petrol-head's dream of giving you the sensation of actually being behind the wheel of its assorted performance motors. Combine it with a steering wheel and you'll believe you're there on the track in a top-class car that you'd otherwise never get to drive, battling for position against the other drivers and with every little nudge or shunt feeling a lot more personal.
Not all Oculus Rift games are the first-person experiences you might expect. Gunfire Games' Chronos is a much more traditional RPG that's still made very much with VR in mind, giving you the opportunity to experience the action from a third-person perspective while immersed in its lush, detailed world. The aim of Chronos is simple—save your homeland from a great evil by venturing into an ancient and mysterious labyrinth that only opens once a year, and trying to unlock its secrets—but the beauty of it is that every time you fail, you have to wait another year for your next chance to have a crack at it. And so while the first time you go in you're a fast and nimble youngster, as you get older you become wiser and better at magic, giving you a whole new angle on the labyrinth's mysteries.
Edge of Nowhere
The great advantage of VR is that it can totally immerse you in a game's world, which can make for some thrilling and improbable escapades, but it can also be used to create tense and terrifying situations that you simply can't get elsewhere. Edge of Nowhere, by Insomniac Games is set to be one such VR experience: a third-person action adventure in which you voyage to the Antarctic in search of a missing expedition team. It's just the sort of journey that you know isn't going to go well, and as well as some gut-wrenching moments of vertigo as you attempt to leap icy crevasses, you'll also have to battle for your very sanity in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. It's compelling stuff, but you'll be glad to remove the headset every now and then and remember that it's just a game.
Lucky's Tale is the perfect antidote to all the VR epics clamouring for your attention; it's a VR platform game that clearly wants to be the Rift's flagship platforming adventure. Starring Lucky the Fox, it's a bright and colorful romp in which you run, jump, climb and spin your way around its vibrant world, all the while looking for coins to collect and avoiding its menagerie of wacky creatures. Along the way you'll battle against enormous bosses and discover diverting mini-games to play, and the best thing about Lucky's Tale is that it comes free with every Oculus Rift, so there's no excuse to miss out on the fun.