Review: Fallout 4 VR
Bethesda showcases why VR is the perfect place for an RPG adventure.
So it’s time for Bethesda Game Studios’ final major virtual reality (VR) release of 2017, and it’s a big one: Fallout 4 VR. Previously the developer has released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR and DOOM VFR, both of which have seen near universal acclaim, showcasing that a standard videogame port to VR can work, and work well, when given the attention it deserves. Fallout 4 VR has been shaping up to be the most revered, allowing players to submerge themselves in the wastelands of the Commonwealth like never before, utilising the HTC Vive’s precision roomscale tracking system to begin a journey that can take hundred’s of hours depending on play style.
VR gamers have desperately wanted a deep and engrossing adventure that perfectly symbolises what the technology is all about. Somewhere in which they have the opportunity to delve into a virtual world, feel keenly connected to it, and that the actions they take have consequences; whether good or bad. The past has seen this slowly take shape with role-playing games (RPGs) like The Mages Tale, but just like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR before it, Fallout 4 VR aims to take fantasy immersion to another level.
If you’ve played the original before it you’ll feel instantly at home with Fallout 4 VR, coming back to a title with seemingly infinite possibilities. For those that haven’t, if this is your first introduction to the Fallout universe, then take your time – and it’s going to take a lot of it – as you learn about the wrist-mounted inventory system that is Pip-Boy, V.A.T.S – which has been reworked for VR – and whilst encountering all manner of characters, creatures, and hostiles in a videogame that’s as equally demanding as it is rewarding.
Straight from the off Fallout 4 VR looks amazing. For such a demanding title – Bethesda recommends an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 as the minimum GPU, yet VRFocus used a GTX 1060 – it runs very well on HTC Vive. Sure it’s not got that same crisp quality you’d get on a HD TV but that first time you look over the rubble of Sanctuary after leaving the vault is a glorious moment, especially now that you’re actually standing there.
Like any large, open-world style RPG title, controls, and more specifically VR locomotion is a major factor. This one element can break or cement that feeling of presence, so thankfully Fallout 4 VR comes with a wealth of options. First off (and set by default) is teleportation. This is the go-to mechanic for many a VR developer, and whether you love it or hate it, it does work, enabling you to jump around a world comfortably – but not very far, which is undeniably awkward when you consider the expanse of the videogame.
To truly get the most out of Fallout 4 VR you need to go straight into the settings and start having a play. These are easy to find in the menu as everything VR related is handily contained in a listing labelled ‘VR’. Here you’ll find a welcoming selection of options to tweak and alter until you can get everything just so for your personal preference, from changing the way you can view the Pip-Boy, to those all important direct, smooth locomotion settings. Depending on how comfortable (or familiar) with VR you are, VRFocus would always recommend smooth locomotion, it simply makes the entire experience that much more fun and engaging. The first time you come up against some raiders, rather than hop about the place teleporting you can just run in there, or strafe between cover, popping heads or shooting off limbs. Make no mistake this system does require some getting used to, as the touchpad on the HTC Vive controller is very sensitive, but it’s the only way to play Fallout 4 VR.
Talking about sensitivity and getting used to things, the actual menus – either the main videogame ones or Pip-Boy are a bit twitchy. You’ll most likely find at first that the highlight bar jumps all over the place as clicking the touchpad will cycle through one set of options, while just touching the top or side will do something else. It can get infuriating at points, however there’s so much information to access and with a limited amount of input options it’s kind of understandable why Bethesda went for this approach.
This complexity does carry on somewhat into the building mechanics. The right controller handles the scrapping process, aim the marker, press the pad to acknowledge then press the trigger to confirm. It’s these little processes that can make Fallout 4 VR slightly disjointed, opting for a more ‘are you sure you want to do this’ approach instead of letting you get on with the job in hand. While the left controller handles all your building options, with the main selection spinning around just above the controller. This is quite nice to use, you can see everything right there in front of you, making for an easier selection process. In the workshop mode you are resigned to just teleportation – no matter your settings – so there’s no way of getting away from the movement system completely.
Something’s have improved over the original more than others and one of those is definitely V.A.T.S. The system for dismembering opponents goes into a slow-motion mode where you can pick a limb just by aiming and remove it from said foe. The process has a much more satisfying effect in VR than it ever did on a TV screen, so much so you’ll be popping heads left and right.
Fallout 4 VR is such a massive experience that VRFocus could go on writing for hours. What you want to know is, is it worth investing your time in? That’s an easy yes. What Bethesda has done with Fallout 4 VR is create the ultimate Fallout experience. Yes you may have preferred Fallout 3 but this is the version you’ve got in VR, and it’s a stunner. If you have HTC Vive then you need this, just bear in mind that it might be 2018 before you take the headset off.