VR Native Combat Flight Sim ‘VTOL VR’ Launches Out of Early Access, Teases Multiplayer


While there’s a handful of VR-compatible flight simulator games out there, few of them are made from the ground up for VR—and none quite like VTOL VR. Originally launched in Early Access in 2017, the 1.0 version of the game has finally been cleared for takeoff.

VTOL VR is a made-for-VR combat flight simulator. What sets is apart from other similar titles is that the cockpits of the planes are custom built for VR. Not only is everything in the cockpit—including your flight yolk—controlled with motion controllers, but the whole cockpit dashboard and interface has been designed with VR visibility and usability in mind.

Version 1.0 of VTOL VR

Today, almost exactly three years after its Early Access launch, VTOL VR has released its 1.0 version, bringing with it a 20% discount to boot. The game has seen consistently excellent users reviews over the years and currently holds a 96% positive rating.

VTOL VR’s sole developer, Paolo Encarnacion, said that “with the support of the wonderful community that has grown around it, the game has totally exceeded what I had initially envisioned,” in his announcement of the 1.0 launch. “I am so grateful to all of you who’ve joined me on this journey, with an open mind and enthusiasm to try a totally new way of playing a flight sim. I hope you are as excited as I am to see how far this game has come, and where it will go in the future.”

The game has seen numerous updates in its three years of Early Access development, all of which is catalogued in detail here.

Indie VR Gem 'COMPOUND' Gets Fresh Demo Following a Year of Content Updates

True to its name, VTOL VR focuses primarily on Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft, and the game now has three to choose from: the A/V–42C attack/transport, F/A–26B fighter/attack jet, and the F–45A stealth multi-role STOVL jet.

Image courtesy Boundless Dynamics

Among its many features, the game touts its fully VR-interactive cockpit, customizable equipment, simulated aircraft systems, realistic flying physics, aerial refueling, carrier take-off & landing, and air-to-air & air-to-ground combat between planes, tanks, artillery, and ships.

VTOL VR also has a mission and map editor which allows users to create their own missions and upload them to the game’s Steam Workshop for others to play.

Multiplayer Teased for VTOL VR

Image courtesy Boundless Dynamics

Any awesome game is going to see people asking for multiplayer support, and VTOL VR is no exception.

It was this time last year when Encarnacion last spoke of the desire to bring multiplayer to VTOL VR.

I’m itching to move forward with a major feature that many players have been asking for over and over, but before that, I will be focusing on the final touches with the single player experience by polishing vehicle related features and game content. The game has expanded far beyond my initial plans, and I’m aiming wrap it up into a well rounded package we can all be proud to call “1.0” before the end of the year. Don’t worry — I want to see multiplayer in the game as much as you do. The intention is to limit the ever expanding scope of features for the duration of early-access so we can switch gears to work on bringing multiplayer to the game sooner.

Clearly the 1.0 version took a while longer than expected, but he teased in the 1.0 launch announcement that multiplayer is still high on the priority list.

I will continue to fix bugs as they arise, as well as work on expanding the tutorials to help limit the need to search for external help to learn how to use various systems and tactics. I’d also like to add more missions, editor assets, weapons, and other content in small periodic updates. At the same time, I will switch gears slightly to focus on developing the more community-oriented features.

That’s Encarnacion’s own sly emphasis on “community-oriented features” which appears to be referencing the oft-requested multiplayer function. There’s no telling when it might come, but the developer says he’s far from done with the game.

“I’ve been working on a few things on the side that have been kept under wraps, so I hope you continue to follow along and see what’s coming! Version 1.0 is just the beginning!”

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Thanks for the heads-up! Just purchased with the discount about £18. Look forward to getting airborne as I’ve only been doing driving on the simulator side of VR, and no time in the air yet

  • Ad

    This looks like the next step up from Ultrawings. I’ll try it out soon. Multiplayer would be cool. I wonder if he’ll wait for squadrons and then steer it away from what that does well.

  • Raphael

    Still the issue of no HOTAS support though. A requested feature that will never come.

    • patfish

      The problem is HOTAS + interactive cockpits. Only with perfect Hand/Finger Tracking and a virtual in game model of popular HOTAS-system games could combine both things. I think we will see that in the future.

      • Raphael

        I agree. Finger tracking + HOTAS is what’s needed. Finger tracking needs a standard and to be integrated with the VR headset so we don’t have more long-running add-on failures.

  • mfx

    I have PS1 nostalgia suddenly…

  • TechPassion

    2001 graphics. Come on….

    • patfish

      Yep, that’s the only negative point about the game! …if this game would use the Unreal Engine every VR user would play it.

  • Alextended

    It’s a wonderful little sim with the best VR cockpits yet (even better than Vox Machinae’s). The trailers don’t do a great job showing it all off, search for YouTube videos like OperatorDrewski’s “This VR Flight Sim is Terrifyingly Immersive” and Tuuvas’ (very old) “How to Start-up, Take-off, and Land On An Aircraft Carrier” among others. The workshop support just seals the deal, there are plenty great fan missions and stuff to play already.

    Ignore the haters who don’t know how to play and pimp other games just because of their AAA graphics, when they don’t know how to play those either anyway. Besides, this is (expertly) made by a small team (one guy?) and costs pennies (plus, it runs wonderfully on low end PCs, with reduced graphics and the very best gear DCS and similar struggle in VR and rely on reprojection, not great for flight with the scenery blazing past).

    It’s true that waving your hand without resistance doesn’t give the feel or precision of a hotas (the VR protas accessories aren’t a real improvement) but until controller-less hand tracking becomes a thing (without the narrow window of the Quest version so you don’t have to look directly at your hands) it’s hard if not impossible to solve. Alternating between VR controllers and hotas wouldn’t be ideal for most (especially with Index controllers as the same elitists likely use, how fun would it be to strap/unstrap your controllers on the fly, lol), but with that kind of hand tracking you could just use the cockpit with your free hands then simply grab your hotas controls physically (and at that point have the in-game hands grab the in-VR controls and move around to match those, as long as any input from the physical hotas is detected, to help with any disparity/disconnect).

    It does support pedals for yaw controls and stuff apparently which is nice as then you don’t have to utilize the twist axis on the in-VR flight stick for that and get somewhat more precise control with it. Still, pedals are the last part of the hotas people tend to buy hence the alternatives of the joystick twist axis or mini pedals on the throttle bits for some of that gear so it won’t benefit anyone but the most hardcore.

  • Thomas Hall

    One of the absolute best games in VR, and has been a regular go-to for demos to friends and family. I’ve put many an hour in to VTOL VR. Glad to see it finally released as a ‘finished’ product. It’s been a great journey so far, and can’t wait to see where it goes on to!

  • Cool, and it has been made by a solo dev… wow!

  • Kayo Michiels

    Euhrmm… you know.. you can play steamvr and oculus games with the quest

    • nargorn

      Yeah, i know. But did you hear about the „onward“ downgrade of the PC Version for Quest crossplay? Look here:

      • Kayo Michiels

        Yeah, i heard it… you can opt in to play the previous version without the graphical downgrade.

  • Holy smokes. I am super impressed, and also a bit insecure about this being a solo dev! I tried my hand at this and had so much trouble getting it to work (although it wasn’t quite as difficult as I’d imagined). Will definitely be checking this out (and shameless plug, if you want to try my clunker, feel free to be disappointed by my flight simulator VR game here).