Microsoft has released a free update to Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta that launches the massively popular block building game into virtual reality for the Oculus Rift.
Mojang developer Tommaso Checchi said through a Twitter post last week that Minecraft was heading to the Oculus Rift this week, and Microsoft delivered.
"We hope the VR experience in Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta will illuminate just how powerful, evocative, and utterly immersive VR can really be, whether you're a new player or a Minecraft veteran," wrote Minecraft AR/VR developer Mike McGrath in the Windows blog post announcing the launch.
McGrath added that there are many new options in the Oculus Rift version of the game in addition to the VR features found in the version that was launched for the Samsung Gear VR in April.
In a separate post on the official Xbox blog, McGrath detailed some of the features of Minecraft VR for the Oculus Rift, including innate support for mouse and the keyboard, a variety of VR control options, MSAA support in VR for sharper visuals and new render distance settings to maximize powerful VR graphics cards.
Two important updates have also been reported to be added to the VR version of Minecraft for the Oculus Rift to reduce nausea while playing the title. Known as simulator sickness, this type of nausea can accompany virtual reality immersion as the human brain is convinced to accept that what the user is seeing is real as opposed to an illusion.
In a video by Mojang that accompanied the announcement of the VR version of Minecraft for the Oculus Rift, Microsoft revealed the two features that it added to the title to help in eliminating the nausea that players could experience.
The first feature is an emergency stop button that will instantly push out the player from the VR environment, which would be helpful for users who are experiencing the onset of the symptoms of simulator sickness. The button is the View button on the Xbox One controller, and by pressing it, players are not actually turning off VR. Instead, they are transported to a virtual living room where they are playing Minecraft on a 2D screen. Pressing the button again will bring back the player into the VR environment.
The second feature is the replacement of the smooth arc of turns with a 22.5-degree turn. According to the testing done by Microsoft, the jerky turn is capable of reducing nausea without control loss.
Minecraft is fairly sedate compared with other games with only few moving objects onscreen, and so it could be a good testing ground for features that will help eliminate nausea in virtual reality. Hopefully Mojang's findings will help in the progress being done by other developers to address simulator sickness.