Fallout 4 VR

Fallout 4 is one of my favourite games of recent times I've played it through multiple times on multiple characters with different builds taking the various paths through the game and even so keep finding new stuff or interesting new ways to play in it so when I heard there was going to be a VR version I was very interested.

I picked it up when it came out a few weeks ago but due to various things haven't had time to fire it up and see how it played in the virtual world. One thing that felt a bit off was that this was a full priced standalone game rather than just an addon for the already purchased fallout 4 it felt a bit gouging that there wasn't a way to just upgrade to it since you know it's 99% the same assets.

Anyway I fired it up the other day and stepped into the world of the commonwealth and into the virtual shoes of the sole survivor.

It basically shortcuts the usual character creation system letting you use one of the pregenerated characters rather than being able to customise your own as it doesn't ever show the avatar you pick and is always in the modified first person vr camera. You basically get to pick if you have the male voice or female voice for the rest of the game. The UI is where they have made the most modifications mostly it's fairly unobtrusive with the in normal walking about mode you just having a compass around your waist and then some small displays that pop up next to weapons to indicate rounds loaded and totals with health and action point bars next to them.

The main inventory system is via the pip boy on the left wrist which when you hold it in front of you like looking at a watch jumps to larger size so as to be easy to read and it then uses the touch pad on the vive to control the selection. It uses this combination of surface touch and click touch to differentiate the various options which I found a bit fernikerty often scrolling too far or across categories when I wanted to go down the list maybe there is a sensitivity adjustment somewhere.

Your right hand holds your weapon and either uses your flailing in the case of a melee weapon which feels pretty good but is a danger to furnatiture and ceilings or handguns which you just aim at things using any sights (which sometimes can be a bit tricky on the longer guns as the end sights drop into the fuzzy ness of further away objects due to a lack of resolution). I'm not sure how it will handle scopes as I've not yet got a scoped weapon maybe allow you to look through it as you really would a scope. There is also the new modified VATS system in the normal non vr game this stops time and you just pick the points you want to hit and it runs a sort of animation of the outcome. In VR they have altered this to slow time rather than stop it and it then highlights targets you aim at in a similar way but using your actual aim then things play out in as you shoot from your perspective but in slow motion. It works pretty well and the gun play feels pretty good.

They have also modified how you interact with containers when using the gun hand (this is swappable in the interface for those left handed sinister types amongst us) if you access them with the pipboy hand the world goes black and the normal container swap interface pops up like a vr version of the original. With the gun hand a virtual reduced version of that interface pops up and allows you to quickly loot containers or bodies with just a few clicks on the touch pad. That works pretty well switching to the more featured container swapping ui everytime would take you out of the experience a lot more so this little modification keeps you in the world.

Terminals now sort of float in space in front of them in their green screen glory and speech options are highlighted on the direction/touch pad of the controller with the various options available. There are subtitles which sort of float in space in front of you.

The only other UI modification is the power armour which when you put it on slaps a helmet round your head that tracks you in virtual space so you have the various dials and bars viewable if you look down. It's a bit clunky but doesn't get in the way at all.

For locomotion you have two options teleporting where you just pull the trigger on your pipboy/left hand and it jumps in the direction you are pointing the controller so you can then move backwards while facing (and shooting) forwards. The other option is a direct motion controlled by the touch pad which dimms the edges of the screen in an attempt to make it more comfortable for those of us with motion sickness. I tried that once then promptly turned it off and went back to teleporting. It seems to see movement as always running (at least in teleport mode) so you are depleting you AP bar by moving (which you would use for power attacks and vats) so most of the time when I got into fights it then took a little while to regain any ap for use but it didn't seem to limit me too much. Crouching for stealth can be done by actually crouching (hard on the knees) or pressing one of the grip buttons (less hard on the knees).

I played through the first sections of the game with the entering the vault then being frozen and unfrozen in the nuclear wasteland wandered about the starting area met the dog headed over to the museum and did the initial minutemen quest where I got to take on a death claw with a minigun encased in some power armor. That part was a lot of fun the gun play is good fun just in general and translates very well to vr actually aiming and shooting, or in the case of the minigun, hosing things down with bullets feels incredible. Moving about the world with teleporting works well the interface changes are mostly very well implemented some parts are a little fernickerty with the sensitivity of the touch pads on the vive wands taking a little bit of getting used to.

I did experience a few bugs one where I got stuck in a menu system and couldn't quit (I think it switched to the settlement build mode while I was in a menu and then the exit button no longer worked) I had to restart the game to fix that. I also got a weird graphical glitch where there were stars in the sky but only on one of my eyes which was a bit disturbing.

This game was obviously not designed for VR it was retrofitted with some UI and gameplay alterations to make it work and there are some areas where this shows. In terms of texture quality it becomes quite obvious how low res some of the original textures were and in VR the visual scale is so much larger rather than a small area of the screen things are lifesize and the textures then really look like crap on some of the objects. That can probably be fixed/mitigated with a higher res texture pack which for the original game there were loads of reskins of stuff available though I'm not sure what the modding situation is on the VR version of the game. The draw depth sometimes seems to go a bit wonky with some far away things not being drawn or that shimmering overdrawn effect where there is no background being drawn with the objects so they just sort of blur over the area. So far I've only seen that inside so it may just be a problem with the lack of a skybox for internal areas. It had a few instances where it had trouble maintaining the framerate and the various timeskip adaptive wotsit mechanisms kicked in. That might be my graphics card as it's a 980 which is starting to struggle with some of the more complex vr stuff. It goes without saying that it suffers from the usual limits on playtime that all of these vr experiences have the physicality of it and the uncomfortable nature over any long period of time of even the most comfortable of the headsets means you are not going to be playing for hours and hours.

All in all it was really cool to be able to wander the wasteland in vr to blast away at mole rats as they pop out of the ground feeling like a badass as you can quickly aim and fire in multiple directions or whacking a security baton down on rad roaches (which are much more terrifying when you are on the same scale as them and they are the size of a dog) or leaping off a building in power armour while blazing away at a deathclaw with a minigun.

I loved fallout4 and the vr version is a great addition it had its flaws but it worked pretty well as a vr game for one not designed to work in VR and it was really fun to feel like I was in that world. I'm not sure this is one for everyone the game itself is something that not everyone enjoys and coupling it with VR would make it probably a bit much but for someone that really enjoyed the original game it's a fun addition and way to replay it.


It isn't for everyone, specifically Oculus owners as Bethesda and Oculus have had their troubles in the past and they decided the best way to deal with this was to screw over the innocent gamers.
I was on a high when they announced this game, and fuming when I found out why it was only going to get Vive support.

Bigger Rob's picture

maybe there's an oculus revive equivalent? That's obviously been the way to go for the reverse problem. Though I guess it's a lot rarer problem since almost all steamvr games just work on oculus.

Evilmatt's picture

Sounds like it does run on rift via steamvr just requires the third sensor since it assumes roomscale and is less optimised for the touch controllers


Evilmatt's picture

It is just a bit too much faff for my liking. the suggestion of swithcing from touch controller to game pad for the menus is a bit of a joke.

Bigger Rob's picture

Although this is meant to be an alternative:

... I may have looked into compatbility previously before getting generally annoyed at Bethesda and going off in a huff.

Bigger Rob's picture

At least for you it's basically just this one game rather than all those oculus exclusive titles and the work around is an official steamvr thing rather than a wonky hack they might revoke at any time :D

Evilmatt's picture

Platform exclusivity for VR is retarded. That is all.

brainwipe's picture

A solution may be presenting itself in the near future:

Bigger Rob's picture

It's great that this thing is backwards compatible with the v1 lighthouse system means I could swap my head set for this one with very little fuss although think I'd need a better gpu to support the higher res properly the old 980 is starting to struggle a bit with some of the more demanding vr stuff.

Pity they are not releasing the knuckle controllers too but I gather that's a wholly valve product not anything to do with HTC.

Evilmatt's picture

The wireless add on is also something I feel will make vr so much better no more getting tangled in the bloody cable. There's been a few things like the tpcast wireless add on but they were a bit odd in terms of only being available in china (think it's now available here). That seems to be the big innovation that this year will bring either in the form of stand alone headsets or wireless ones.

Evilmatt's picture

Hmm the rumors are saying the vive pro's going to need at least gtx1080 to work. That probably makes it a fairly expensive proposition for anyone without one of those already given the basic 1080's start at 800 dollars the fancier ones being up to a grand. that with the price of the headset and it's a lot of money.

Evilmatt's picture

Those sorts of costs seem early-adopter-y to me. I look forward to the second-gen Pro stuff that will undoubtedly come out next year. I'm still stuck without space in the house; this is an expensive year with Kate going back to college, so we have to wait until 2019 before we approach builders to rebuild the back of the house/kitchen/garage.

brainwipe's picture

Yeah but if you need basically bleeding edge graphics to even run it that seems a bit more than just early adopter that's very very niche.

I saw the microsoft mixed reality stuff is pretty cheap now the had it all on half price so some of the units were 200 dollars and most of that uses inside out tracking so no need for cameras or lighthouse stations. Still need space though but sort of thing you could use in a non dedicated space you could clear when you wanted to.

Evilmatt's picture