Bethesda surprised everyone at this year’s pre-E3 press conference when they announced to the crowd that VR demos of Fallout 4 (coming to HTC Vive in 2017), and what’s shaping up to be a VR tech demo of Doom, would be available afterwards for press to try out. While we weren’t in attendance at Bethesda’s event, some of our journo compadres were, and first impressions of Bethesda’s VR offerings are decidedly mixed.
Yesterday’s showing of Fallout 4 on HTC Vive elicited some positive comments from our friends over at UploadVR. David Jagneaux thinks it marks a step forward for the industry at large. We tend to agree.
“This demo was incredibly short and limited, but it already feels like a huge step forward. Not only does it show that Bethesda understands adding VR to a game requires more than just giving the camera head-tracking support, but it also shows that they are willing to invest the necessary time and effort into doing it well. As more sprawling, massive, games like Fallout 4 make their way to VR platforms, the complaints about the lack of content become less and less valid,” he writes.
Jagneaux also maintains that the VR version of Doom shown at the event “does not seem like it will be an actual fully developed game, but rather is instead more of a tech demo of sorts for the latest iteration of the id engine.” From that report, it’s unsure whether we’ll ever see an actual playable version of the normally fast-paced FPS on HTC Vive.
Eurogamer had decidedly less favorable impressions of the new Fallout 4 VR demo, partly due to the fact that the reviewer didn’t get a chance to correctly try out combat.
“With no enemies to shoot—not even a crummy little Radroach—my targets were limited to a few rows of bottles and a couple of unlucky mannequins – hardly the most exciting of prey. Generally, aiming and shooting in VR is pretty satisfying, especially if you manage to hit a bunch of targets in quick succession, but in the Fallout 4 VR demo it all felt very barebones.”
Impressions from iDigital Times agree that the demo is still a work in progress.
“I couldn’t pick up loot or interact with buttons and containers. Even Dogmeat was off limits. Since so much of the Fallout 4 experience is about that loot game it was a letdown to not be able to snatch stuff up like I wanted to. I have spent a lot of time with the HTC Vive and if Fallout VR has the same level of interaction as Job Simulator VR then I’ll be happier than a Deathclaw in a Brahmin farm.”
In all, it seems that Fallout 4 VR may need to lop off some of its integral features, and refine much of what they showed at their press event; the game’s slow-mo targeting system (V.A.T.S.), and base building in particular may end up getting the chop, as both features currently require a third-person POV for operation. Just how much fun exploring the Wasteland will be when you can dart away from even the most imposing enemies through the act of teleporting VR locomotion will also need to be scrutinized to keep the feeling of danger.
Also, having the personal agency to pick up and examine objects, which the game has in abundance, will be another challenge to address before the game releases in 2017. The fact that Bethesda is investing any amount of time in VR portends some pretty exciting AAA content to come, which will hopefully be as open and engaging as the non-VR content for which they have become so well-known.