Alien Isolation on the Oculus Rift

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I bought one of the Development Kits for the Oculus Rift VR headset. It was a bit of a hassle to get running (and still is), but when you do… damn.

One of the standout games that currently works (more or less) with the Rift, is the new Alien Isolation, a sort of survival/horror/action game set in the Alien universe.

My advice to anyone trying this combo: wear diapers.

Here’s why.


Imagine actually walking around the halls of the Nostromo. True, Isolation takes place on a different ship (and later, space station), but the overall look is the same. So too is the tense fear that something is going to jump out at you.

You see, with the Rift, the game is your world. The screen takes up a sizeable chunk of your field of view, and the tracking is so good, you brain bumps up the realism. At one point, all the lights went out in the game, and I actually froze in my seat.

Even more natural is the head tracking. No just the “look around” aspect but physical movement. I was reading an in-game email (which helps drive the plot) and I heard people yelling nearby. I physically leaned and sat up to look around the computer, and watched two people run through the room. I didn’t touch the keyboard or mouse. My brain just naturally said “lean around the monitor” and I did, and that’s what happened in the game. I didn’t even realize what I’d done at first.

Being able to look around, just by moving your head, is pretty incredible. Sure mouse and keyboard is great, but the accuracy and naturalness of moving your head to look can’t be overstated. It’s so… perfect.


I’m pretty near-sighted. Corrected, my vision is 20/15. Wearing glasses in the Rift, though, isn’t exactly comfortable. It’s still basically ski goggles. There are different eyepiece inserts included with the Rift for near-sighted people. They definitely work, but I found myself still squinting a bit.

As an experiment, I took an extra pair of computer glasses and removed the temple pieces (the part that goes from the lenses to your ears). Now with what was effectively a pince-nez I put the whole thing on. This worked pretty well, actually. The only issue glasses lenses are rubbing against the eyepieces, which can’t be good. Might try some foam tape to keep them separate.

I also might experiment with cutting the Rift foam surround a bit, to create channels for the frames of my glasses. I’ll check that out for next time.

Rift in Progress

As incredible as I’ve made this sound, and trust me, it is, the Rift is still definitely in the early stages. This isn’t a knock or a criticism. I’m playing with something that is absolutely cutting edge, and still probably a year away from actual release.

The biggest “issue” is the screen. During demos the “low” resolution screen is easily overlookable because of the sheer awesomeness of the concept. That’s how good the Rift is, you don’t even worry about the screen.

But playing a game, where you’re trying to be immersed into the game world, the visible pixels are a constant reminder.

Oculus, of course, is keenly aware of this. Smartphone and phablet screens are increasing in resolution with every generation. Could the next Galaxy Note have 4K resolution and be in the production Rift? That would be incredible.

My next update will include some thoughts on motion sickness and a few more games, including being in SPACE.

utopianemo's picture

What is fraking?
You definitely have me interested in this whole thing. I've been interested in the potential of VR headsets since I played "Dactyl Nightmare" in the mall, way back in the early 90's. The one thing I wish you had mentioned in this article and the one before it, is how much is this test kit?

javanp's picture

It's the f-word in the Battlestar Galactica world.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture