Microsoft is planning to release its Rift version of Minecraft “in a few weeks.” Interestingly, an image of prototype Oculus Touch controllers appears on the Minecraft VR website.
Oculus struck an agreement with Microsoft during its developer conference last year to bring Minecraft to the Oculus store. The game’s VR mode was a pet project of Oculus CTO John Carmack and the world-building game launched first on Gear VR in April.
The game is controlled with a traditional gamepad, which can lead to some uncomfortable experiences if people aren’t accustomed to simulated movement with a controller. There is a comfort mode built in that turns “in snappy increments” and the Rift version should run at a higher frame rate than the mobile version, so it will be interesting to see how it compares. You also have the option to play the game “on a screen in a simulated lounge.”
The prospect of adding Oculus Touch support to the Rift version of Minecraft is an intriguing one as it would certainly be fun to see your hands in the game, but I don’t think I’d ever want to swing a virtual pickaxe to mine stuff in the game. A number of block-building games are making it to VR, including Chunks for $20. Instead of laying one block at a time, tracked hand controllers like Oculus Touch and Vive can let you build an entire wall with a single arm motion. Whether the official Minecraft game would support that kind of feature is unknown. In fact, the Touch controller on the Minecraft website could’ve been included by mistake. The controller shown appears to be an old prototype rather than the latest versions.
We asked both Microsoft and Oculus about Touch controller support in Minecraft and we’ll update if we hear back. The Touch controllers are due to ship “in volume” sometime before the end of the year.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the game would arrive “in a few weeks” but declined to comment more.
Update 2, July 29: The featured image at the top of this post was taken from the Minecraft VR site on July 28. As of July 29, the Oculus Touch controller has been removed and replaced with a Gear VR.