IMAGE: RIKKTHEGAIJIN VIA YOUTUBE
One of the most fun parts of using the Oculus Rift is almost hidden in plain sight, and it's called Oculus Avatars.
The company rolled out fully customizable Avatars last week, but amid all the excitement around the Touch controllers and apps like Medium and Quill, some may have missed this other amazing new feature.
Avatars is easily accessible through your Oculus Home menu and once you decide to edit your avatar you're transported to a dressing room in an apartment that has a stunning view of a futuristic city (one of my favorite parts of Oculus are the amazingly designed menu rooms).
You can't move around the room, instead you're situated in front of a mirror that lets you see your virtual self, Oculus headset included. The first thing you'll notice is that the head movements of the face in the mirror correspond perfectly with your movements in the real world, enhancing the sense that you're truly looking at your digital self. And although you can use Avatars with the Oculus remote or Xbox controller, the best way to use it is with Touch controllers, which allow you to wave your virtual reality "hands" as you study your image in the mirror.
On each side of the mirror there are menus that allow you to change your head into a wide variety of shapes (slim, chubby, muscular) and select your age, gender and facial features. After you've picked your head, you can add hair (face and head), clothing (formal, casual, sci-fi, retro, fashion, winter and fantasy) and eyewear (vintage, sunglasses, sci-fi, cute, goggles, retro, steampunk and fashion). After that's all done, you can also add a single color to your avatar, including some that offer a cool translucent effect similar to a marble.
If you're not the creative type and want to let Oculus pick a look for you, there's a handy Random feature (represented by a single die) that always delivers a fun new combination look.
Aside from the fun of creating a new look, the mirror itself is also worth mentioning. It perfectly duplicates the effect from The Matrix during which Neo takes the red pill and touches a nearby mirror only to see it flow around his finger like liquid mercury. It's not essential to the experience, but little touches like that are what make Oculus stand out as working hard to transport you into another world when you're in VR.
Currently, the Avatars don't have a ton of uses beyond giving you a cool vision of yourself in certain environments. However, Oculus says that Sports Bar VR, Toybox and Kingspray (and some other titles) have Avatars integration as of last week.
But the true power of Avatars will be apparent when Oculus Rooms launches in early 2017. In Rooms, your customized avatar will be able to meet other friends and their avatars to do things like watch movies and play cards, all while each person is jacked in from the comfort of their home.
But there's no need to wait, particularly if you already have the Touch controllers. Go try Oculus Avatars — now.