In honor of the world’s biggest gaming convention, Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus were put under one roof for a head-to-head virtual reality battle this week. Both offer players the chance to experience a level of immersion unlike anything that has gone before it in the world of video gaming. Both are astounding feats of technology.

Having tried both out at E3, however, we’ve decided there was clear winner. Find out which VR did it best after the jump!

Both VR technologies are still being worked on, and the demos we experienced this week are by no means representations of what finished games will be like, but right now I can’t help feeling that one of the two has a definite edge at this stage in the game. Let’s take a look at how Sony’s Project Morpheus and the Facebook-backed Oculus Rift experiences compared at E3.


Project Morpheus definitely felt better on my head; as well as a strap around the back, there’s an entire plastic section that rests on your forehead and is fitted around your noggin to adjust for the perfect, non-obstructive fit. Oculus Rift on the other hand had an elasticated head strap that squished the device into my face, similar to the sensation you get with ski goggles that are on too tight. With Morpheus, I wasn’t distracted by the device I was wearing at all.

▼ Ski goggles…I mean, Oculus Rift
Oculus rift 8

▼ It’s…just a bit snug.
Oculus rift 1

▼ Project Morpheus, meanwhile, sits pretty…on your forehead.IMG_2963-2-4

Did the demos make your eyes bug out?

Oculus Rift: Yes
Project Morpheus: No

When testing Oculus Rift, I felt like I was watching a 3-D movie, and during the fleeting moments I had the headset on, my eyes started to feel strange, just like when you play your 3DS with the slider turned up high for too long. However, with Project Morpheus, my eyes had no problems at all adjusting to the technology, and I was free to immerse myself in the artificial world Sony had created to show off the device.

▼ A world filled with sharks. Hungry, hungry sharks.Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 3.25.52 PM

The demos

It’s hard to judge the two devices because the games I played on each of them were so different – both were pretty much just tech demos, after all. The Deep was perfectly catered to showing off what Sony’s VR could do, with a hungry shark swimming on all sides of your dive cage, while Alien: Isolation felt as if I were still playing a first-person video game (which it is) and I had to consciously remind myself to look around. It’s perhaps unfair to compare them as gaming experiences since I only have what I tried at E3 to go by, but based on the two demos, Project Morpheus brought a dynamic, fresh gaming experience; Oculus Rift simply added a non-essential, though admittedly immersive, peripheral to an already great 2-D game.

Who did it better at E3?

Oculus Rift threw away the best opportunity to showcase what their VR can do to a huge audience of media personnel. You can see their first mistake by looking at Sony’s and Oculus Rift’s booths here:

▼ Oculus Rift’s boothIMG_3010-2-2

▼ Sony’s boothIMG_3004-2-2

Oculus Rift’s booth was closed off with walls of what reminded me of particle board and the only way you could view what was going on inside was through small columns of windows; they could have welcomed attendees one and all, but it felt somehow hidden.

Sony’s Project Morpheus booth, on the other hand, was completely open to the showroom floor, inviting anyone to stop and watch what was going on, even if they didn’t strap the unit on for themselves. Large TVs (Sony brand, of course) faced outward, showing off exactly what the person using Project Morpheus was seeing, enticing attendees in. Sony is clearly very proud of its upcoming tech.


Back at the Oculus Rift box, if you can find an open spot that isn’t occupied by the long line of people hugging the exterior walls, you can sort of get a glimpse of what games people are demoing, but only from certain angles.


You’ll also see that every single player is sitting down in the living-room-style setup Oculus Rift created for E3. The experience feels very much like gaming as we know it today, albeit with some extra weight on the face.


Over at Sony’s booth, you’ll see that people are standing, turning around, and moving their heads all over the place. Those trying out the Street Luge demo are nestled horizontally in a bean bag chair, using their bodies and head to shift themselves from side-to-side as they maneuver through a twisted mountainside highway, feet first. Others were fiercely punching at the air, Move controllers in hand, trying to bash at towering knights. Everyone really looks like they’re lost in the moment, as opposed to simply playing a video game.



Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 3.12.21 PM

Having both Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus in the same place at such a prominent event, the pressure was really on for the two top VR projects to impress. Oculus Rift, with its closed-off booth, short demos and decidedly sedentary players, squandered a golden opportunity to show the cynics and all of those Facebook-haters that virtual reality isn’t just for hardcore gamers, but can offer an exciting, immersive and dynamic experience. Project Morpheus had players positively exploring their surroundings, flinching and gesturing as they might in the real world, and for that reason the technology came across as that much more accessible and innovative.

The verdict

Never having experienced virtual reality before, I was really excited after getting a hands-on with Oculus Rift during the first day of E3 and I really enjoyed the experience. Project Morpheus, however, simply blew me away, immediately cheapening my encounter with the Rift. Both VR units are still far from finished, and even when the technology is ready to roll their success or failure will all depend on the experiences game developers create for them, but based solely on my E3 experience, at this point Sony’s Project Morpheus is the clear winner. Whether that will change in the coming months and years is anyone’s guess, but after our encounter at E3 one thing’s for sure: we’re incredibly excited about the future of virtual reality!

All photos © RocketNews24/Khoa Dinh