Bethesda has been on a roll when it comes to releasing content on emerging platforms. At E3 the publisher surprised VR fans everywhere as they announced three games for the Vive and/or PlayStation VR (PSVR): Fallout 4, Doom VFR and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Unfortunately, I was not able to try out Skyrim, however, I did get my hands on Doom VFR and Fallout at the most recent Bethesda event.
Adapting a game like Doom for VR headsets seems like one of the most difficult challenges for a developer. Taking a fast-paced first person shooter and mixing it with a device many people are prone to feeling motion sickness on seems like an impossible task. My biggest fear with Doom VFR was the action may be compromised in order to cater towards people prone to motion sickness. One of the main reasons why Doom is so much fun is because of its speed, if you take that away the game becomes lackluster. In the brief time I got to spend playing Doom VFR, I’m pleased to say my initial fears have disappeared.
Doom VFR allows you to play through the levels running at full speed, blasting through enemies as you switch through your arsenal of weapons. Using the left Vive controller, players can use the standard method of moving in VR, teleportation. You also have the option of using the trackpad to move around, though I imagine this won’t be a popular choice, I’m happy to see it in the game. Teleporting around the level slows down time, allowing players to take a short breather as they choose their next target. The right Vive controller becomes your weapon which you are able to switch at any point, providing you have more than one gun available.
The Glory Kill mechanic in Doom (where you melee kill glowing enemies) has been changed slightly, now you have to teleport into glowing enemies. It’s a minor change, but it does a lot to make you feel more involved. Doom VFR is one of the first VR games I’ve ever played that isn’t afraid to behave like a proper game. At no point do you ever feel like you are being slowed down to avoid potential motion sickness, you are always moving forward looking for more demons to kill.
I’ve played a number of first person shooters on the Vive, but none of them have matched the same level of quality I played in that short Doom VFR demo. Unlike Skyrim VR or Fallout 4 VR, this will not be the full version of the original game ported to VR. As a result, the game will launch at a budget price of $30/£20 on Steam and the PlayStation Store.
Having embraced VR quite a while ago as one of the HTC Vive’s early adopters, I was particularly excited to test out Fallout 4 VR. The Vive is a bit of a pain to set up in my bedroom so when I do take the time to use it, I have to ensure that I’m playing a worthwhile game. While there are a number of good VR games on the market, I’ve yet to find one that holds my attention for more than a few sessions. However, after playing the short demo at Bethesda’s recent press event, I think Fallout 4 VR may be the VR game I’ve been waiting for.
The demo dropped me just outside the Red Rocket truck stop where I engaged in a brief firefight with a group of Raiders. I was then attacked by a pack of mole rats. The entire demo was played in ‘God Mode’ so it’s important to bear that in mind, but I was surprised to see how manageable the combat was in VR. I didn’t have any problems aiming and shooting at enemies, although turning to face them took considerably longer than it would if you were playing on a keyboard and mouse/controller. When you jump into Fallout 4 VR, the left Vive controller works as the Pip-Boy, which is strapped to your invisible wrist in-game. Using the right controller, you’ll be able to select various options from the familiar menu. The D-Pad on the left controller controls your movement whereas the D-Pad on the right acts as a quick-select menu. However, you are also able to teleport across short distances too. VATS has been mapped to the right applications button and works exactly as you would expect. This will be particularly useful when taking on more challenging enemies.
After exploring the Red Rocket, I walked down the road to Concord, an area where you may remember meeting the Minutemen for the first time. On my way into the city, I had the opportunity to suit up and try out some Power Armour. If you think Power Armour is cool in Fallout 4, there’s no doubt that you’ll be impressed with it in Fallout 4 VR! Stomping through the rubble in the streets of Concord made me feel like a giant, unstoppable machine. Despite visiting Concord City Hall a fair few times in Fallout 4, standing inside it in VR made we want to restart the entire game and play through it again.
The Fallout 4 VR demo finally introduced me to a VR game that I’d want to play for more than just a few hours. It appears that Bethesda are serious about recreating the game in full and so far, it’s on track to be one if not the best VR experience you can find. Although there are a few things that you may want to consider before buffering in that $59.99/£39.99 pre-order. Anyone that has tried to play VR games for long periods of time will be aware of how tired it makes you, and Fallout 4 can become a pretty long game if you tend to follow side quests and loot. Fallout 4 VR is a standalone game that you’ll have to purchase separately to your existing PC copy. So, if you’re serious about finishing the game in VR it may take you a while, although that’s not exactly something to complain about! People that suffer from motion sickness may also want to tread carefully here. While the teleportation options and D-Pad work really well, it’s certainly possible for those that are sensitive to feel a bit sick if too much is going on at once.
Fallout 4 VR is set to release on December 12th, 2017 on Steam. Doom VFR is currently set to launch on December 1st, 2017 on the HTC Vive and PSVR.