Bethesda’s foray into VR this year has been fascinating. Doom VFR is a great experience on the Vive, if not quite as accomplished for PSVR, but then PlayStation owners have been able to savour the successful VR port of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to the system. It seems natural that Fallout 4 would get a similar treatment for the HTC Vive, but while I think Fallout 4 VR is a good version of the game, there are some major caveats that did hamper my experience.
As it’s a separate purchase, it’s important to highlight what you get with Fallout 4 VR, which seems to be just the base game at the moment. This means none of the DLC, and certainly no mods are usable within the VR space. It’s not exactly a deal breaker for me, but to those who were hoping to bring their own creations into the virtual reality, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Given the rather high PC specs needed to play the game, it does look incredible when looking through the VR goggles. It’s highly detailed with plenty of hidden objects and nicely rendered characters. While the game initially launched with some resolution and performance issues, these have been quickly fixed and the game plays very well as a result.
It doesn’t do many things differently to the standard game, but cutting some of the animations to make the game more immersive was a good call. However, while the flickering of indoor lighting isn’t a problem when playing on TV, it gave both me and my partner a headache in VR. These are still relatively minor issues, but there’s one problem we couldn’t overlook.
Text size was a problem in the early days of HD gaming when many people were still playing on SDTVs and found tiny text difficult to make out. To find a VR game with a similar issue is irksome to say the least. While there are plenty of options to tweak the game’s movement and the like, there isn’t any to make any text easier to see and it can often be blurry and indistinct. This may just be a problem with my eyes, but certain text was far easier to read because it was further away, so having the option would have been nice.
Using your equipment is surprisingly intuitive on the Vive. The game can be set to have direct movement with the left track pad with jumping on the left trigger. Pressing the left grip puts the character in hidden mode, no matter which mode is previously enabled.
Yet when it comes to the other type of movement, Fallout 4 VR doesn’t cope very well. Teleporting is the most ideal way for most people to move around as it reduces the risk of nausea when playing, but in Fallout 4 VR there’s so much debris interfering with the teleportation that moving effectively is just not viable.
On the other hand you have a gun, which you can switch by pressing and rotating the right track pad’s weapon wheel to selected hotkeys (defined in the Favourites part of the inventory). You naturally shoot with the trigger, while you can activate VATS with the right menu button and use the right grip button to reload. Aiming down sights is relatively simple, but if you have certain scopes it becomes hard to line up a shot since there isn’t a dedicated aim button.
Controlling the crafting side to Fallout 4 is significantly easier, since the interface gives you a surprising amount of control. You can alter the height, position, and placing items uses natural movements, so while you are stuck in teleportation mode while doing this, it seems a fitting compromise for precision.
Fallout 4 VR is certainly a neat way of experiencing the universe and there are times where suddenly being attacked by something can be terrifying, yet I can’t see myself playing it for long periods of time. This is largely thanks to the sometimes hard-to-read text and the imprecise nature of trying to aim with a scope making the game feel awkward. Despite being technically impressive and being entirely playable in VR, these factors make it easier to stick to the conventional version for now.