Mobile devices are ideal for virtual reality (VR) because most of them already include the needed sensors and a small, high-resolution display. Samsung’s Gear VR headset offers a great balance between power and affordability. The headset is inexpensive due to the fact that it relies primarily on a Galaxy Smartphone to provide a virtual reality experience, but it does pack a few of its own additional sensors to make head tracking more accurate than VR viewers that only hold smartphones, like Google Cardboard. Many VR experiences are controlled through head tracking, however, players can optionally use compatible Bluetooth gamepads with games that support them. Coming soon, there will be an even better option available for controlling games – Microsoft’s Xbox One wireless controller.
The first Gear VR game to support the wireless controller will be Minecraft: Gear VR Edition, with more games to follow soon, including Herobound and Omega Agent. The update will add Xbox Wireless Controller support to Android devices, though the list of devices is currently limited to those compatible with the Gear VR headset, and will be rolling out in October of this year. Android compatibility has been made possible by the change from previous versions of the controller, which used a proprietary wireless connection, to a Bluetooth connection, which is an accepted standard used by a wide variety of devices. Although other Bluetooth controllers have been available for use with Gear VR for some time, there are some notable advantages to the Xbox Wireless Controller compatibility; those who already own Xbox One consoles will already have a controller they can use, eliminating the need to buy additional equipment, and the Xbox One controller is well-regarded as being one of the most comfortable and natural feeling gamepads on the market.
Because the Gear VR only works with smartphones running Android, the decision for Microsoft to make its own gamepad compatible with a game on a rival operating system may come as a surprise to some. However, Microsoft owns Mojang, the creator of Minecraft, so obviously it is beneficial to them to support the game with their own highly popular controller, and it’s also nice, in such a competitive market, to see companies focused on making their products available to everyone, rather than excluding those who use competing products. Once the update is released, there are a few things you’ll need to do to get started using your Xbox One Wireless Controller with Minecraft. First, be sure that you have the third-generation controller with Bluetooth. Next, you’ll need the latest update for the controller, available from Microsoft. And finally, you’ll need to download the Minecraft: Gear VR Edition update from the Oculus app. Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re all set and ready to start using your controller to experience the world of Minecraft in VR.