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GamesCom 2017 Virtual Reality Round-Up - Fallout 4 VR, The Talos Principle VR, And More

Welcome to the digital world.

With VR becoming the next advancement in gaming, it only seems fair to talk about some upcoming games for one of the major drivers of the technology. While there are three major competing platforms for your virtual attention right now, with PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, our time at Gamescom largely focussed on the latter of these three platforms.

Some of the games below are from AAA studios, some from independent and indie developers, and while they may be coming to other platforms in the fullness of time, all are compatible with Vive.

Fallout 4 VR

When Bethesda announced Fallout 4 VR and DOOM VR, there was a lot of head scratching. Until now, the entirety of VR has been limited to shorter experiences that could be finished in one sitting, so as to not induce simulation sickness. How would it work? Does the VR control scheme add anything?

In short, certainly in the case of Fallout 4 VR, it’s the full game and the controls can be tweaked a little to suit your VR play style of choice. You can move using the left controller’s trackpad or by teleporting, and you can give orders to companions using the right controller’s trackpad while the buttons can bring up menus.

Everything else is as if you’re holding a gun in real life – aiming as you would, shooting with the trigger, swinging a bat by literally swinging the controller, etc. The result is a game that’s far more tense as I felt more involved. In the mission to find Preston and his companions, when I was attacked by the Deathclaw, slashing its claws and gnashing its teeth, I genuinely thought I was about to be killed by this monster…until I remembered the Gatling gun I was holding would slaughter it easily.

Sadly I didn’t get much time beyond this point, but I was genuinely surprised to learn that I could get accustomed to standing while using the trackpad to run – an experience that prior to this made my legs wobble. It might not be a game that you could play for long periods at any one time, but it works surprisingly well. Now if only Bethesda added support to talk to the AI too…

Duck Season

Using both touch controllers and positioning them to simulate holding a shotgun, the idea is exactly the same as in Duck Hunt back in the 80s. Ducks will fly through the screen and it’s your job to shoot the ducks down. Everyone’s favourite loathed dog is there too, praising you for shooting the mallards and sniggering at your failure.

Gameplay does seem relatively simplistic but it’s well realised. As soon as I’d focused my attention on shooting by aiming down the sight, then remembering to reload and cock the shotgun, it all came somewhat naturally to me. I did miss a couple of them, but whenever the dog laughed, I made sure he ate some lead for mocking me. As I would learn later though, this might not be the best of ideas.

I’ve not seen much beyond the shooting part of Duck Season, but reading developer interviews it seems to have a much darker tale to tell – even the dog has a Five Nights At Freddies vibe to it. With apparently seven endings, this is a far more ambitious VR game than I ever would have given it credit for, and being released on 14th September, we won’t have long to find out just what is haunting the kid in the trailer.

The Talos Principle VR

It’s not quite on the same level as Fallout 4 VR, but it is a full game that is already out that’s getting VR support. The Talos Principle has seen very successful since its initial launch towards the end of 2014, since seeing DLC and a PS4 port. In VR though seems to be where The Talos Principle is finding its footing as it’s a far more compelling experience when you are picking up the objects to solve puzzles.

At GamesCom, I tried out two demos, both of which were beautiful places to explore and solve puzzles. In VR it’s possibly more spectacular to look at, as if you’re in a pleasant meadow filled with oddly futuristic technology.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the part about VR options – the amount of customisation for VR settings is actually very impressive. Sure you have the presets that allow for trackpad movement and three separate types of teleportation movement, but there are advanced options that cover just about everything that may get in your way of the enjoyment of the game.

The result is a VR experience that absorbed me more-so than I could have imagined. I was so into it that I briefly forgot where I was and reached the edge of the play-area, yet didn’t notice. Controlling the game was as simple as using the triggers on the controllers to pick up and put down objects. There are very few differences other than this, but if the sound of The Talos Principle in VR is appealing, chances are that you’ll probably like it.

Witness: Auschwitz

Finally, we come to something that’s less a game and more of an educational experience. Witness: Auschwitz sole reason for existence is to bring people in to see what the infamous WWII concentration camp was like in the latter stages of the war.

Putting the headset on, 101% first try to recenter you before the main experience by taking you through an underground passageway while a rendition of the Jewish prayer Ani Ma’amin – I believe – is played as sung by a rabbi of the Jewish community in Rome. In fact, this entire project has been created in tandem with the Jewish community, using the experiences and accounts of those who survived in order to recreate the camp.

It’s partly because of this that Witness: Auschwitz won’t depict death or the gas chambers, but rather the cold bureaucracy of the place, the mass deportation of Jews, the life in the camp in 1944, and finally its liberation. However, it starts in the modern day, with the land surrounding the main buildings now covered in grass and the camp behind you. Turning around and picking up a suitcase on the ground next to you, you start to glide along the tracks toward the camp, and the world around you gradually transforms, taking you back to the 1940s, stripping away the modern greenery and replacing it with burnt out husks of vehicles and lifeless mud and ash.

It’s an effective moment that emphasises the dramatic difference between now and then. This is a fascinating project, showing the broad variety in what virtual reality can achieve, and one that 101% look like they are handling with the due compassion, care and attention that it deserves.

If you enjoyed this coverage, we have plenty more coming your way. You can check out our Indie Round-up here. Keep an eye on TSA for more indie games getting some time in the roundup spotlight in the coming days and weeks.

  1. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    They all sound good, just waiting to see if they all make it to PSVR.

    Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 13:57.
  2. kjkg
    Since: Apr 2010

    Fallout VR sounds amazing. I can imagine I would be a sweaty mess playing it however!

    Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 14:40.
  3. MrYd
    Since: Mar 2011

    Talos Principle in VR would be worth a look. Assuming it lets you move properly and doesn’t force some weird teleporting thing, or rotating in horrible fixed amounts.

    But I’m not sure my brain could take those “really stupidly obvious, afterwards” puzzles again. Some of them are evil, and the solution is so obvious once you’ve found it that you’d want to bang an expensive hat against the wall for being so stupid.

    Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 14:55.
    • Dave Irwin
      Since: Jun 2015

      It does allow for trackpad movement much like Fallout 4 VR did and with Room Scale you can move 1-2-1 as well, so if you walk or turn in real life, it is reflected here too. Trust me, while I couldn’t share the amount of options there are for VR in Talos Principle VR, pretty much every conceivable is covered.

      Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 16:20.
      • MrYd
        Since: Mar 2011

        That’s good then, especially if there’s a PSVR version at some point too.

        Lots of options seem to be necessary for VR if you want to avoid having another look at your breakfast. And things that work for 1 person don’t seem to work for someone else. Sudden rotation in big increments isn’t good for me compared to nice smooth rotation. All those “comfort” options in Rigs? They have the opposite effect for me.

        But it’s early days for VR yet, and hopefully people are getting the hang of it now.

        Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 16:42.
      • freezebug2
        Since: Dec 2008

        Ever since you got that fancy hat….. ;)

        Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 18:51.
      • Severn2j
        Since: Aug 2008

        @MRYd Rigs made me want to hurl more than pretty much any other VR game I’ve played, so you’re not alone there..

        Nice to see a Vive focused article though, mostly they are either Rift (because of the money thrown at development on there by facebook) or PSVR (because of the install base).

        Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 20:34.
      • MrYd
        Since: Mar 2011

        No, my problem with Rigs is that the so-called comfort options are anything but. Turn them off and it’s fine. Which is weird and just goes to show that more options are a good thing, because trying to guess what’s best is going to end badly for a lot of people.

        Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 22:32.
  4. SamBeThyName
    Since: Sep 2013

    Is there any news on Talos Principle coming to psvr..?

    Comment posted on 06/09/2017 at 15:15.

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