Oculus Rift pre-orders open today and you won't be charged for them

Think of it as reserving a place in line.

Oculus Rift pre-orders open today at 4pm GMT and you won't be charged for reserving one of the virtual reality headsets until they ship. Think of it as getting in line.

"Rift pre-orders are different from most of the games industry," said Rift inventor and Oculus figurehead Palmer Luckey on Twitter. "You don't get charged until we ship - no deposit lock-in, no bonus pressure."

The pre-orders will be global - it's certified in 20 countries - and apparently there's "no chance of Rift pre-orders 'selling out'".

Luckey added: "If enough people pre-order and somehow exhaust all the stock we are building up, later orders will just have a later ship date."

How much Oculus Rift will cost when it does ship, and exactly when it will come out in Q1 2016 are questions that still need answering. Presumably we'll know later today. And if we don't, perhaps Palmer Luckey's Reddit Ask Me Anything, which is planned for 6pm PT (2am GMT), will shed more light.

We do know that pre-ordered Rifts will gift games Lucky's Tale - a third-person platformer you view from above as if you were playing with a toy set, a very colourful and charming one - and Eve: Valkyrie, the space-based dogfighting game that's been a poster child for VR. I've played it a few times over the years and it's beautiful quick-burst fun - and perfect for VR as your virtual body is stationary in a cockpit, so there's no stomach-churning conflict with the real world.

Oculus Rift will not come with Oculus Touch, its bespoke pair of handheld controllers. They were delayed recently to the second-half of the year. But if you pre-order Rift you'll reserve the exact same place in line for Touch pre-orders, Luckey said. "First in line for Rift = first in line for Touch."

The Touch controllers take the Oculus Rift VR experience a step further. Through sensor cameras on the controllers and on a stand supplied with Rift (you can add others, I believe) your arms and hands are put in your virtual 3D space. This allows you to pick up and manipulate objects and does away with the immersion-jarring feeling of sitting down and holding an Xbox One controller (that comes with every Rift).

This year will be a big one for VR as consumer headsets finally arrive. It's not just Oculus: Valve and HTC's Vive is coming in April, and Sony's PlayStation VR headset for PS4 arrives at some point this year.

Those who backed VR from the beginning and bought an Oculus Rift dev kit during the Kickstarter campaign will be rewarded for their support with a free Kickstarter Edition of Oculus Rift come launch, which is a nice touch.

But anyone considering buying a virtual reality headset for PC should be warned that the system requirements are daunting. "Immersive VR requires seven times the graphics processing power compared to traditional 3D applications and games," Nvidia's Jason Paul - who is well placed to help you upgrade your machine's capabilities, obviously - said on Bloomberg.

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