Well, here we are – arguably one of the biggest moments for modern VR to date. Fallout 4 VR released today after many months of anticipation and it’s exactly what Bethesda promised. The entirety of the Fallout 4 game, with all of its many quests, things to craft, settlements to establish, and factions to join, is now available in VR in all of its radioactive glory.
This final major VR port from Bethesda follows two of their other major games, Doom and Skyrim, getting released on VR headsets as well. Fallout 4 VR released today across the world on Steam for HTC Vive owners. The game doesn’t have native Oculus Rift support at launch, which Bethesda made pretty clear from the start, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of negative backlash. So presumably, Fallout 4 VR will follow the route of Doom VFR where the publisher issues an apology and quickly works to bring Rift support in an update.
Nevertheless, I got to fill the shoes of the sole survivor of vault 111 today and experience the Commonwealth in a whole new way.
Check out my gameplay video below. Though please excuse the strange framerate in this video. The mirror looked normal on the desktop while recording, but this issue will be sorted out in future videos:
Starting off, I probably have to say that, despite the major arguments out there for and against porting existing games to VR, Fallout 4 VR is a great showcase for why it works and doesn’t work. The game creates a sense of awe from the moment you step into it and especially during major plot moments, like when you open the vault gate. To be able to feel present in the world of the game like never before, being part of what’s happening and looking at things from every possible angle makes it feel almost new.
That being said, there are some things that just fall away when you port an existing game into VR. It’s like the flatscreen framework is still there and you were plopped in the middle of it. The environment is pretty much the same as in the original and you can’t interact with everything, just like in the original. Though, one little let-down is the fact that the interaction itself just involves using the Vive trackpad on a floating UI. Which, compared to other VR games where you can actively engage with things like simply picking something up, makes the interaction here feel bereft of any true immersion. Honestly, just being able to pet Dogmeat would have made the experience that much better.
The team that worked on the game obviously tried their best to incorporate the many UI elements and gameplay controls into virtual reality in a way that makes sense. The pip-boy plays a major part here and features most of the UI options in the game, including your stats, inventory, missions, the map, and more. This is all well and good – it felt awesome to have an actual pip-boy on my arm, but it also makes for clunky gameplay. Selecting the menu or inventory options at any given time is an arduous mission in of itself as opposed to simply quickly clicking through the options with a mouse and keyboard.
The Spirit Is Willing
The fighting is an entirely different matter, however, with all the various weapons you can find in the game. Besides the frustration that switching between weapons on the pip-boy induces, the shooting and melee fighting feels very natural. Plus the newly implemented V.A.T.S system works extremely well, with a bullet time-slowing mechanic having been implemented when you target areas on enemies rather than a cinematic view. I hadn’t expected it to work as well as it did, and was honestly pleased with this feature.
After about two hours of playing the game though, all I could think of was this one line from Futurama: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and squishy.” And that’s exactly how I felt. Having such a vast game with so many gameplay options and exploration opportunities in VR is amazing, but it also gets exhausting pretty quickly. I think what made it worse was the fact that I was just standing still in one place for most of it. Which can’t be helped, of course, but it’s still a pain. That didn’t dim my need to keep playing nor the wonder I felt, especially at moments like when stepping into the power armor for the first time, which works amazingly well in VR.
Besides the action and stomping around, though, there is, of course, the crafting and settlement building. This is Fallout after all and the world needs to be rebuilt out of scraps. In terms of this mechanic, it felt well implemented for what it is – though still pretty awkward. That’s not saying much from my point of view though because the system felt awkward to me in the original game too. It wasn’t entirely a dealbreaker for me though.
Buy It If You Want To Snuggle With Dogmeat
My final verdict for now – since I’m only a few hours into the VR version of the game – is that it works really well for what it is. A game ported to VR. The biggest problem I have with this, though, is that it doesn’t feel worth the asking price to me. Sure, if people who don’t own the original buy it then ask the full price by all means. But paying $60 for Fallout 4 VR when you already own the original just feels like a money-grab.
You’re essentially paying for the same game twice, but on a different (vast though it may be) platform. Though one could argue that to be a hypocritical statement – since some people own the same game on a PC and console, it still feels a little wrong. Especially when you look at developers like Overkill Software who brought the game to VR in a free update.
All of that being said, if you are a Fallout 4 fan and you’ve always wanted to get up close to Dogmeat’s adorable face and give him some snuggles, or you just really like the feeling of giant rats and cockroaches jumping at you then I would most assuredly urge you to buy this game.