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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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  • Bryan Ischo

    These initial impressions are so far off the mark. They are focusing on the parts of the experience which have not been implemented yet; yeah, we know that Bethesda isn’t done. So you’re not really telling us anything we don’t know, nor revealing any particularly useful details when you lament that some parts of the game aren’t done yet.

    I’m more interested in knowing whether or not the game is too intense for VR. Games where enemies can approach from any side at any time are actually incredibly stressful to play in VR, as has been demonstrated numerous times with e.g. Brookhaven. I’m a bit worried that a game like Fallout will actually be so intense as to not be enjoyable as a casual gaming experience for many people. I mean this sincerely. If I spend my entire time in Fallout 4 scared that a monster is going to come up behind me, I’ll have a much harder time focusing on and enjoying the rest of the game.

    • fdfdfd

      That’s the entire point of Deathclaws. Even in normal first person you moron. Radioactive walking T-rexes are supposed to intimidate you. Otherwise, goplay against dumb flying robots like in Space PIrate.

      • Torreth

        Why would you call someone a name, when you have absolutely no idea how the game will affect you? Listen, there is a growing concern by various companies, and their developers about unintended scares in their vr games. If you do some research you will find that gaming scenarios which seem absolutely dull in retrospect for console HDTV playing, feel terrifying to most gamers regardless of their intent. What they’ve found is that the common response is to discontinue playing the game, and never play it again. The term that professional gamers are describing these games is “unplayable in VR”. Its a real concern because after long development cycles for original IP’s people may never give their games a chance.

  • Dunnlang

    I am curious how they will integrate the more RPG elements of Fallout with VR. My understanding is that aiming and targeting are partially affected by character skill level, not player physical ability.

    It is going to be very interesting to see how VR reconciles real world player physical ability with RPG like game mechanics. I love both VR and RPGs. I kind of need them to work together.

  • ima420r

    I’d be happy to play the game as it is now in VR, adding the ability to pick up stuff and interact with the world is icing on the cake. I hope they get the controls right, and the difficulty. It’s much harder to play in VR then on the screen, I can’t move as fast as my thumb can move my character.

  • Rayza

    I’d rather just use a controller to move than the awful teleporting mechanic

  • Doctor Bambi

    Am I the only one who thinks VATS could work really well in VR? We have other VR games in development that switch perspectives on you. In fact, I think VATS could be really cool in VR. Just imagine a super mutant charging you; no more than a few feet away, you activate VATS. The world is shrouded in a hue of green as time slows to a crawl. You scratch your chin and pace in front of your frozen attacker. You crouch to examine the percentages on a leg shot. As you stand back up, you notice off to your left another super mutant lining up a head shot. Knowing this you select your shots, and set it all in motion. Then watch in third person perspective as the actions unfold before returning to first person. I think VATS could even be implemented further to get back to Fallout’s roots and make the action more turn based.