Alien: Isolation is one of the best VR games never released. We look back at why the title was so revered by VR enthusiasts and that there’s now finally hope we’ll see an official VR release after all.

One of the best video games based on the hugely popular Alien franchise in many years, Alien: Isolation was taut, tense and just plain terrifying in places. The title was received warmly by critics upon release and seemed to indicate a return to form for a franchise which had suffered a seemingly endless string of sub-par video game entries. Everyone was happy, with the exception of VR enthusiasts.

You see, in the run up to Alien: Isolation‘s release on standard 2D gaming platforms, Oculus had featured the title prominently in its showcase line up whilst attending various gaming trade shows throughout 2014. Then demonstrated on the Oculus Rift DK2, people were treated to a special made-for-VR demo which had the player trying to escape the clutches of our favourite xenomorph, and it was a huge success, reported widely in the gaming press, such that Alien: Isolation‘s became one of the most anticipated VR releases ahead of the Rift’s consumer launch.

alien isolation oculus rift virtual reality

And then, nothing. Prior to the game’s release in 2014, Eurogamer asked Creative Assembly what was up with VR support in the full game and the studio stated that “At present, it’s just a prototype and does not represent a game currently in development at this point in time. It’s a truly amazing experience though and brings the game to life in ways we could not have imagined when we started the project. It’s one of the most terrifying demos you’ll ever play.” The title eventually disappeared from Oculus’ showcase list and the game was launched with no mention of virtual reality support.

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'Alien: Isolation' on Sale for $2 for a Limited Time, One of VR's First Great Games

Many in the VR community were disappointed and some more than a little angry that such a promising VR title, one that could have been such a powerful ambassador for VR as a gaming platform would now not materialise. However, to some community members, it seemed likely that the advanced level of VR support demonstrated in Alien: Isolation at trade shows indicated that a significant amount had effort had been put into the game as a whole to make it work. Therefore, it was pretty unlikely that support would have been removed entirely from the game prior to release and instead it was merely hidden, waiting to be unlocked again.

See Also: Alien: Isolation in VR is Beautiful and Terrifying
See Also: Alien: Isolation in VR is Beautiful and Terrifying

Sure enough, within just a few days of Alien: Isolation‘s full release, community gumshoes found that altering just a few lines of config files were enough to enable support for their Oculus Rift DK2 headsets. When this was done however, it was immediately obvious that the game’s VR support was even further along than many had hoped. With some minor exceptions, this game was fully playable in VR and what’s more, it looked incredible!

That’s not to say there weren’t problems. The very nature of Alien: Isolation‘s gamepad based locomotion and resulting yaw rotation meant that it could be uncomfortable for some and scripted moments in the game wrestles camera control away from the player, a definite ‘no no’ when it comes to VR comfort. These challenges, along with the fact that consumer VR headset releases simply hadn’t happened yet, would probably be the primary reasons as to why VR support wasn’t included in the released game.

SEE ALSO
'Alien: Isolation' on Sale for $2 for a Limited Time, One of VR's First Great Games

Unfortunately, as Oculus’ development towards a consumer headset continued and their drivers and SDKs advanced, Alien: Isolation‘s unmaintained VR support became deprecated and it is now no longer usable without some serious hacking about on older runtimes. Which means, those wishing to sample the game’s immersive delights on their consumer Rifts (or Vives for that matter) were, to be blunt, shit out of luck.

Jurgen Post, COO Sega Europe
Jurgen Post, COO Sega Europe

Recently comments made by Sega’s European boss Jurgen Post, have stirred hopes that a fully VR enabled Alien: Isolation may now surface after all. Speaking to MCV, Jurgen said that “VR has caught the whole company’s attention,” going on to state, “We have a lot of VR kits in the office and people are playing with it. We are exploring ways to release games. We’ve not announced anything, but we are very close to making an announcement.” Heartening indeed, but Jorgen then went on to allude to titles which might be first on the VR release roster and, predictably, Alien: Isolation was mentioned. “We did Alien: Isolation about three years ago on Oculus Rift, it was a demo that was bloody scary,” said Post. “To bring that back to VR would be a dream and dreams can come true… VR will take time, but we will start releasing some titles just to learn. It is a platform for the future.”

Alien-Isolation-2-1280x720

Nevertheless, there are some in the community who feel so passionately about being given the opportunity to experience the game on their consumer grade VR headsets, that they’ve started a petition to urge Sega to return to the title and finish what they obviously had begun years ago. The movement currently has over 750 signatures, and if you’d like to join the cause, head over to the Change.org page right here to show your support.

SEE ALSO
'Alien: Isolation' on Sale for $2 for a Limited Time, One of VR's First Great Games

With virtual reality’s consumer push now underway, the need for substantial, triple-A content to entice people to buy into this fledgling technology is stronger then ever. Alien: Isolation, if done right, could be one of those key titles for Sega.

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  • VRgameDevGirl

    I agree, alien isolation was really scary on the DK2. I would love to see VIVE support. Here I am almost dying playing it on the DK2: https://youtu.be/seesoWcLWcU

    • Andrew Jakobs

      haha, clearly your PC wasn’t capable of running the game smoothly back then..

      • VRgameDevGirl

        Why do u say that?? It ran fine.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          than it must be the recording, as it seems like it runs at a few fps (just as the end before you take off the headset)..

          • VRgameDevGirl

            Oh yeah. I had really crappy recording software.

        • Tony

          I played this on my DK2 and a GTX 780 – it ran beautifully!

          Of course, once I finished Crew Expendable and Last Survivor, I put the headset down and finished the game on a flat screen.

          I just couldn’t cope with the jump scares.

          • Veraxus

            I had the same equipment at the time! The game ran great.

      • Buddydudeguy

        Im thinking this is post recording so thats why its not in sync. No one could tolerate latency this bad. But then theres the stutter and hitching. Again…must be the recording.

  • Alx

    Even with its imperfect VR implementation, I completed the game entirely in VR with a DK2, a mouse and a keyboard (a joypads linear rotations in VR games make me sick).

    Its the best VR experience I have had to date. Vive support please.

  • Raphael

    It’s bizarre to me that people can’t understand the world scaling is all wrong in this game. The world is actually too small. Also of course your face pressed up against the consoles and hand-held screens. I love VR and only buy VR games now but this one doesn’t look good when you understand the scaling is wrong.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      who cares, as long as it’s fun..

    • Tony

      I picked up on that in the first scene.
      But I loved the claustrophobic feel of the ship.
      I just kept ducking my head when walking through doorways due to the low clearings.

      • johann jensson

        As it often is on spaceships etc – indoor space is expensive, so it’s tight most of the times. :)

        • Wraith September

          Well, in Vorpx, you can adjust the scaling by using alt + mousewheel to make your vr world larger or smaller, works in every game I’ve tried and is useful in games like Doom3 where the scaling feels a little off. Most of these modern games play just fine with Vorpx without needing some special “vr” version of the games.

    • brandon9271

      I would think it would be a pretty simple matter to make the player smaller wouldn’t it? Lower the camera and tada, you’re shorter.

    • Charlton

      ? Scaling was wrong? I don’t understand please expand more?

      • Raphael

        Someone posted a fix for it on reddit… somewhere.

        • Charlton

          No what do you mean?
          I have the game on PS4, and it seemed fine to me? Or are you talking about a straight coding alternation to put the game into a VR headset actually scales it wrong?

          • Space Bullet

            What I believe Raphael means is that the art was built without comparing to real-world scale of things. An example would be that a door frame was made either too big or too small when compared to real life. On consoles and TV screens this is not noticeable as you pass underneat it. but in VR, the player might feel that they are just about to bump the frame with their head, or that they are tiny next to it. Everything has to have the correct scale, otherwise the player notices things are off, and it can break immersion.

          • Charlton

            Oh I think I understand now. :)

          • johann jensson

            Oh, it’s noticeable on 2D. UT2k4 had a huge scale problem – the movement needed more space, so they adjusted everything but w/o fixing the models and textures, and in the end everything felt too big.

            I think in AI:VR it could be fixed with the right values for camera height, movement speed and FOV.

          • Raphael
    • realtrisk

      I played the game beginning to end in VR when it came out, and nothing was ever too big or too small for me, the world was all properly sized. Don’t know where this is coming from.

    • Veraxus

      I never had any problem with scaling. The space station is a cramped, claustrophobic place… and if you stand right next to a synthetic or a person, they seem like they’re exactly the right size.

      Having your face pushed right up to screens and terminals was the one major unsolved problem, though. It should be easy to fix with access to the source code, but we never managed to hack a fix for it. The only other big issue was the game gradually losing orientation calibration… which required disorienting manual correction. Again, all easily solved issues. The game was very, very close to being ready… it just needed an SDK update and some polish.

    • care package

      I never noticed the scaling was off, so it must be slight at best. I am using the same reference tool you do too – non-virtual peepers I’ve been staring through for many years.

      • Raphael

        I guess the stereoscopic depth too wide which would account for the toy-like look. Most noticeable on the alien itself.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    With Alien Isolation complete edition is on sale these days (humble bundle store, bundlestars, indiegala) for $11.50. I do hope it’s just a fix or a minor ‘DLC’ option and it won’t require us to rebuy the game for full price.. I bought it a while ago, purely to be able to test it with my DK2..

    • johann jensson

      That’s the reason i’m postponing bying the game. I’m not throwing 10€ out of the window.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Even without VR support the game is well worth the 10 euro’s..

    • Veraxus

      Honestly, I would happily re-buy the game at a solid $50 if it had quality, native VR support.

  • Mane Vr

    ok now if we can just get Value to update Half-life2 vr so it plays on consumer vr instead of blocking every work around we find that would be good that was by far the best vr game I’ve played and I think would be a shining example where to start FPS controls in vr. the analog sticks on the touch to move along with the freedom to aim with your hands will be amazing. as long as there is an option to have a seated, standing, and room scale so the player can pick what fits them. A:I with the same control setup as Half-life2 vr would be amazing. hell all fps in vr should copy that as a starting point for controls then refine it till it is figured out how to do it right

    • Strawb77

      h-l2 vr;

      install steam vr and restart steam
      when you start h-l2 again you will see in the options> video menu that you can choose “virtual reality mode [sic]” should you desire to do so

      i would imagine it will work with the vive as it`s a valve tie-in, but have not gotten round to testing it yet as i`m too involved in a couple other games at the mo`

      do let us know how you get on

      • Pstarfish

        If anyone figures out how to get HL2 working with the Vive, for the love of god let me know

        • Strawb77

          well, you could start here;
          http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=759814849

          hope it helps- do reply with progress :)

          • Pstarfish

            Thanks for the link! I will try it tonight. Did it work for you??

          • Strawb77

            i haven`t tried it yet- please let us know how you get on tho`
            would be amazing if the cinematic mod worked in vr- keep us happy `til h-l3 comes along…
            and looking forward to doing alien isolation also, natch
            good luck!

          • Pstarfish

            Holy jebus, this actually works!! Thanks so much :D

          • Strawb77

            far out
            i`m going to have to abandon my other stuff and give this a go
            did cinematic mod work as well?
            apart from the gfx i liked the ironsights and other weapons mods

          • Pstarfish

            I haven’t tried cinematic mod, but that’s something I’ll try next! So far the game is pretty playable, but the resolution could be better and there’s random stuttering. Tried supersampling with SteamVR but that didn’t work..

      • Mane Vr

        the hmd has to be in extended mode which the oculus doesn’t allow anymore. they should just update it to use direct mode and make it easier on everyone

  • Peter Hansen

    This game was one of my first really bad VR experiences.

    1. It was laggy -> I got sick, and I don’t get motion sick easily.
    2. Low persistance wasn’t working -> I had black smear all over the textures in dark areas.
    3. Positional tracking wasn’t working -> I had a horrible amount of orientation drift.
    4. Scaling was a disaster -> not only was the world too small, it was
    nearly impossible to read some in-game screen content (let alone
    operating the interface it was displayed on).
    5. Controls were not optimized -> I was never able to craft anything because I couldn’t find a way to hit the finalizing key after selecting ll the components. It seemed to me it was located right between two images for the eyes.

    I would really like to know which game it was the author of this article had played. Couldn’t have been the same.

    Seems in VR we all are flashed all the time and things are overly great, even if they aren’t.

    • Litespeed

      I played this game in DK2 and didn’t have any of the problems you mention.
      Must have been your setup.

      • Peter Hansen

        Right.

      • VirtualBro

        I had the same problems, and I guess I can’t blame Sega for not investing in fixing them, since Alien: Isolation didn’t do very well financially

        It was possible to work around some of those issues with a lot of hacky, pain-in-the-rear finagling, but Sega would have to fix all of it on their end before they could officially say the game supports VR

  • Veraxus

    I played through the entire game on my DK2, and it was one of the best, and most harrowing, gaming experiences of my life. I tend to have nerves of steel, especially when it comes to horror films and games… but even I nope-quit A:I multiple times.

    This game NEEDS to be updated for consumer-grade VR… I’ve been holding out hope that Sega is just waiting for VR controllers to be available on all the major VR platforms.

  • Yobbo NoProblo

    I can get it for my Gear VR Oculus Home through the Sila virtual store for $29.99. Unsure if that’s US or AUS. I remember an earlier version on the original Sony PlayStation. This is a seriously intense heart stopper horror Syfi of a game if ever you wanted to see one. Now to witnesd the availablility it’s likely the largest spend on a game that I will be willing to do in history.

  • Daniel Kennard

    I’ve played the game on my Vive using VorpX. Whilst not perfect, it did a pretty reasonably job. The first time you encountered the Alien was a really intense experience but I found it to diminish quite quickly during subsequent encounters.

  • Morality_Mortality

    Alien Isolation wasn’t just GAME OF THE YEAR (2015) – It was GAME OF THE FEAR !

    I beg Creative Assembly: DO NOT take away the gamepad (full user control) movement and instead convert it to use some wonky teleport motion scheme as it will completely nerf the immersion. VR Comfort shouldn’t mean the majority have to give up a superior experience for a very vocal minority of people that get car sick playing VR the way it was meant to be.

  • glennjridge

    I think open worlds like GTA 5 are whats really going to be amazing and virtual reality will shine…imagine a huge game world….city/suburbs/forest/farmland/beach…and be able to step in and just walk around taking in the sites on a cold and snowed in winters day.

  • Martijn Valk

    Even with it’s (imho minor) imperfections, AI was the best VR experience with my Rift DK2. If this would re-released with HTC Vive support, I would buy it all over again.

    This awesome game could be a real VR-seller, so Jurgen, announce something good! ;)