Hands On: The Payday 2 VR Beta Leaves Us With A Glimpse Of Greatness

The free Payday 2 VR Beta update has launched. This means the iconic heist game just got a little more real. Announced earlier this year, Starbreeze Studios and OVERKILL has now released the VR update for free to anyone who owns Payday 2. The game also supports cross-play between VR gamers and desktop gamers so you don’t have to worry about finding mates to go on rampaging robberies with. Or you could just take it on alone and try for as much stealth as possible. This game lends itself to many different strategies and tactics, even more so now with VR.

Which brings me to my point – we checked out the Payday 2 VR beta and my initial findings of the game is that it is one of the more stunning VR titles out there, visually, and that the gameplay difficulty definitely turns up a notch after you’ve press your face into that VR mask. Currently the game only officially supports HTC Vive on Steam, though apparently there are some unofficial workarounds on Reddit for Oculus players. The developers are working on native support for Oculus too.

Take a look at the new trailer:

Payday 2 VR Beta LIVE

The feeling of actually standing in the world of Payday 2, of actually being in the game, offers a much more rewarding feeling than the flatscreen version ever did. However, it can be a little overwhelming too – especially during the first heist, whichever one you choose. One thing I have to say is that flashbangs have gotten an entirely new feeling to them through the immersive capabilities of VR. Aiming is certainly trickier than in the normal flatscreen version too.

The ‘dash’ teleportation is workable at this point – ‘workable’ being the operative word here. At least it’s not blinking teleportation. Still, with the fast-paced gameplay and intense fights that Payday is known for, the teleportation just feels a little clunky and slow to me. Although I could still easily get around, it meant taking my left hand off of my gun (if I was using one that works with two hands) when I wanted to move anywhere – which was all the time of course. This game requires nothing if not fast thinking and even faster movement – you’re a thief after all – so the teleportation was adequate to me, but not great.

There is an advanced option in the settings called ‘Automatic Dash Movement” which makes it a bit better. It works by having you dash in the direction your controllers is pointing as long as you press your thumb on the trackpad. However, this is the beta and the developers did say that they will be implementing teleportation initially. Which implies that other locomotion options are likely to be added with future updates.

Everything’s The Same, But Different

Switching guns and accessing other inventory is done through the ‘belt’ UI. It’s basically a set of see-through squares that appear in front of you when you look down. There’s also a nifty tablet attached to the left arm that shows your objectives and stats. In fact, all of the in-game actions and interactions were available in the VR version, though some things, such as the UI, were altered a bit to fit better with the capabilities of VR. One interesting addition is that you can point at an AI teammate to interact with them and order them around. Same goes for civilians.

However, some things seemed unnecessarily complicated, like when climbing a ladder. It would have been easy to just use the grip or trigger buttons and start climbing, but instead, there’s a strange system involving the trackpad and arrows. Not all of the heists are available yet, but it still offers more than enough gameplay time. Especially given that it’s a free update.

In the end, all I can truly say is that the theme and mechanics of this game were made to be played in virtual reality. It just works so well and offers a heart-pumping experience whether you’re sneaking around or engaged in full-on bullet storms. And it’s just bound to get better from here.

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