Entering the Wasteland, sneaking up on a group of raiders and shooting them down with guns in your own two hands, tossing back a Nuka-Cola, hanging out with Dogmeat; these are some the things that get fans excited about playing Fallout 4 VR. And in case you’ve been cryogenically frozen in a nuclear bunker this past year, you should know Fallout 4 (2015) is coming to HTC Vive―that and Bethesda demoed an updated build at this year’s E3, showing off an improved UI that should address some worries about porting the flatscreen game to VR headsets.
I love blowing stuff up, especially lobbing a tactical nuke onto a nearby town full of feral ghouls, but I already got a good chance to do all of that at last year’s E3 when VR support for the game was first revealed. What was critically missing in last year’s demo was Vaul-tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.)—the game’s iconic slow-mo targeting system—inventory, interacting with companions, and more definitive locomotion style.
Activating V.A.T.S. with the select button on the right Vive controller, I enter into the familiar slow-mo mode, automatically highlighting an enemy’s bodypart by pointing at it—all the while my action points (AP) slowly dwindle. Sound pretty normal, right?
The VR version of V.A.T.S. is a bit different though, letting you teleport around and potentially flank an enemy at the same time, or giving you the ability to get up nice and close for a more accurate, but decidedly more visceral kill. It’s a different feel to the non-VR version of V.A.T.S., and I can see it being used to get out of sticky situations where normal locomotion just wouldn’t cut it (read: Death Claw).
Interacting with Companions
Last year’s demo featured Dogmeat, and I more than ever wanted to hang out with him this year and interact naturally, fully expecting something like the robot dog from Valve’s The Lab. This year’s demo revealed that interacting with Dogmeat (or any other companion for that matter) would be a pretty straight forward affair just like the PC version, i.e. choose your order through a 2D quick menu, or point where you want them to go with a tool secondary to the weapon in your hand.
If only Fallout 4 VR had voice controls like Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
Predictably, inventory is managed directly from your wrist-mounted Pipboy, letting you look at the map, manage supplies, etc. While providing a 2D system UI seems kind of lazy on the surface, being able to see and use the Pipboy in real life really adds to the immersion factor in a way a plain 2D UI just can’t.
There was also a quick menu bound to the Vive controllers touchpad that lets you get to weapons and health buffs for a quick transition that won’t leave you fiddling with the Pipboy during a battle. Not only that, when you loot someone or something (missing last year), a description automatically pops up of whatever treasure trove the baddy is carrying around. While none of this is what I’d consider incredible design for a VR game, all of this worked fairly well, which oftentimes counts more than unique inventories built from the ground-up for VR games.
Playing on the HTC Vive, I was shown that normal in-game movement offers smooth forward motion by clicking the top of the Vive controller’s touchpad. Since you’re tackling the open world of the Wasteland on foot, Instead of forward motion dictated solely by the position of your gaze, you can point to the direction you want to go with your controllers and look left and right while moving so you can keep a better eye out for raiders while on the move. I felt only a slight ‘heady’ feeling after popping out of the 10 minute demo—something that you’ll probably have to get used to, but not approaching anywhere near game-stopping nausea, personally speaking.
Last year’s demo was limited to teleportation-only, which felt less immersive, so all of this is a welcome sight. Can you imagine having to teleport 10 feet at a time across a map that takes at least 40 minutes to walk from end to end?
Fallout 4 VR is headed to HTC Vive users on Steam sometime in Q4 2017, and is currently available for pre-order for $59.99. Bethesda says they’re planning on bringing their VR games to “as many platforms as [they] can.”
Fallout 4 VR looks to be one of the most capable monitor-to-VR port since, well, ever. I own both the HTC Vive and the PC version of Fallout 4, and after experiencing the latest E3 demo, I’m not sure I’m thrilled about having to re-purchase a game at full price that I beat nearly 2 years ago just to play it in VR. I can’t say for sure though since I only experienced two 10-minute demos with a full year between them, so you’ll have to wait for the full review sometime later this year to know for sure.
I can confidently say this though: If you’ve never played Fallout 4 and own an HTC Vive, this promises to be one of the longest and arguably best VR adventures coming to VR outside of Skyrim VR.