When it comes to flight simulators, virtual reality (VR) fans are currently spoilt for choice. If players aren’t exploring the depths of space in Elite: Dangerous then they’re probably sifting through one of the many cockpit experiences found on the Oculus VR Share Beta. One flight simulator that perhaps doesn’t get enough mentions for its ongoing VR support is War Thunder from Gaijin Entertainment. The developer has been a strong supporter of the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) since its early days and remains committed to VR integration for this free-to-play PlayStation 4 and PC title.
VRFocus recently spoke to Gaijin Entertainment about the VR support for War Thunder. Below the developer touches upon how integration as grown, its hopes for the future and Project Morpheus support. War Thunder is currently preparing to launch its next major update in Steel Generals, adding new vehicles and sharing options.
VRFocus: What does VR support add to the War Thunder experience?
Gaijin Entertainment: As a flight simulation game, War Thunder is very well suited for VR experience – when you’re sitting inside the WWII-plane cockpit, and can see all the dials and gauges working, your hands and legs moving, the immersion is incredible. Especially with proper hardware like HOTAS system and rudder-pedals. What’s even more important, it adds to the gameplay – situational awareness is a key factor for success in dogfights, and the ability to look over your surroundings without any additional input (by simply turning your head) is invaluable.
VRFocus: How hard was it to first implement VR support into War Thunder?
Gaijin Entertainment: The thing is, we supported devices like TrackIR in War Thunder long before Oculus Rift appeared (see above why it’s important for proper flight-sim), so we used the existing tech and updated it accordingly.
VRFocus: War Thunder has supported Oculus Rift for a long time. How has that support evolved over 2014?
Gaijin Entertainment: Obviously, Oculus Rift evolved itself a lot during this time, and we reflected those changes. Positional tracking in DK2 makes the immersion even more impressive, for instance, while increased resolution makes the game more playable. We had to rework the user interface, obviously, but it’s still far from perfect.
VRFocus: This is one of the few free-to-play titles to use the Oculus Rift. Do you find that it pulls in more players?
Gaijin Entertainment: To be honest, until Oculus Rift gets a commercial release, we won’t see a huge influx of new players. It still is a very experimental device for enthusiasts, and there are only several thousands of them out there, not millions. But it’s a very good attraction for the general public and gamers at events like Gamescom or Paris Games Week – we saw huge crowds lining up to try War Thunder on VR.
VRFocus: Oculus Rift support had already been included long before War Thunder introduced tanks. Was the VR support a natural fit for the new vehicle type?
Gaijin Entertainment: At the moment we aren’t supporting VR for tanks at all – they don’t have “cabin view” like planes do, and from the third-person perspective VR is barely playable. Maybe it will change in the future, but then again, we’re waiting for commercial release of Oculus Rift to see if it’s worth the effort.
VRFocus: Are there any other features that you would like to add to compliment the VR experience? Perhaps hand-tracking for realistic navigation?
Gaijin Entertainment: There are a lot of possibilities, sure, but at the moment our developers are very busy with other important tasks.
VRFocus: When it comes to cross-platform play, do you find that Oculus Rift users have an advantage over non-VR users on PC and PlayStation 4?
Gaijin Entertainment: Well, the most important thing from gameplay standpoint is headtracking, and you can use TrackIR on PC and PlayStation Camera on PS4 for this. So your only advantage will be better immersion, really.
VRFocus: What can you tell us about War Thunder‘s support for Project Morpheus on PlayStation 4?
Gaijin Entertainment: It’s in an even earlier development stage than Oculus Rift, so we can’t really go into details. In short, both devices have their pros and cons, but do more or less the same. In the end, it’s a good thing that PS4 users will be able to get the same incredible VR-experience as on PC – keep in mind War Thunder is the only game on PS4 that supports some models of the flightsticks for better immersion.