‘VTOL VR’ Update Introduces Air Combat Fighter Jet and Mission Editor


VR-only flight simulator VTOL VR, recently received a substantial update that includes a mission editor and a pilotable fighter jet. The sim is designed specifically around the use of VR motion controls, and is available in Early Access on Steam.

Since our early hands-on in August, VTOL VR has enjoyed several rounds of improvements and fixes, including a move to a newer version of the Unity engine, GPS targeting and guided weapons, rudder pedal support, and compatibility optimisations for Windows VR headsets and controllers. Update v0.0.7 is probably the most substantial yet, with the early makings of a mission editor, an all-new plane to fly, and further performance improvements.

The work-in-progress editor enables the creation and sharing of scenarios similar to the game’s Island campaign, with placement of units, waypoint setting, objective configurations, and more. Following an open discussion with players on the VTOL VR Discord channel, developer Paolo Encarnacion chose to design the editor with a desktop interface, for comfort and ease of use.

“Generally, people wanted to have a lot of control and options when creating a mission, and this would be cumbersome in VR especially during long editing sessions,” he explains to Road to VR. “We also considered having an in-VR editor for quickly creating a very simple mission, but so far I don’t think it will be necessary.”

Image courtesy Boundless Dynamics

Much like the game’s first plane, the AV-42C (AKA the VTOL), the new F/A-26B fighter jet is a fictional aircraft with specific considerations for VR operation, such as a slightly larger-than-life cockpit and instruments for more clarity and ease of use with motion controls. Encarnacion used feedback and experience from developing the VTOL in designing the new aircraft, bringing the main instrument cluster closer and avoiding placing buttons too low where tracking can sometimes lose accuracy. The VTOL might see these kind of improvements in a future update.

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Image courtesy Boundless Dynamics

Vertical take-off and landing presents a unique set of control and simulation challenges, and the AV-42C continues to be the primary aircraft in the game, but Encarnacion wanted to offer more variety, and the fighter seemed the logical choice having worked so well in his early testing.

“The VTOL is focused on ground attack, so I wanted to add something that could take on air targets,” he says. “The fighter has a radar system which I think that will add some interesting mechanics that aren’t present in the VTOL. I actually had a prototype a fighter jet back before the early access release and it was a blast to fly.”

Overall performance has improved significantly over the past few months, and the latest optimisation is another important step. Distant objects are now less demanding, thanks to mesh LODs on all AI vehicles and improved weapon scripts, ensuring that high-count objects like missiles and rockets aren’t taxing the CPU unnecessarily. Encarnacion says it is now possible to run scenarios with more than 40 units smoothly, where previously the game struggled with 8 planes taking off from the carrier in one of the missions.

Further improvements and additions are planned for the months ahead. The mission editor will see more friendly and enemy units, and new features that will allow more variability in missions. Encarnacion also plans to convert the existing campaign missions to use the new system, allowing him to finish the rest of the campaign with the editor tools. This is also laying the groundwork for a random scenario generator. After that, Encarnacion says map upgrades are in the cards. “As soon as that’s squared away, I’d like to look into ways to improve the island map, creating new maps, and possibly allowing players to generate their own maps.”

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The trial version of Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness probably had something to do with it. And certainly the original Super Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. A car nut from an early age, Dominic was always drawn to racing games above all other genres. Now a seasoned driving simulation enthusiast, and former editor of Sim Racer magazine, Dominic has followed virtual reality developments with keen interest, as cockpit-based simulation is a perfect match for the technology. Conditions could hardly be more ideal, a scientist once said. Writing about simulators lead him to Road to VR, whose broad coverage of the industry revealed the bigger picture and limitless potential of the medium. Passionate about technology and a lifelong PC gamer, Dominic suffers from the ‘tweak for days’ PC gaming condition, where he plays the same section over and over at every possible combination of visual settings to find the right balance between fidelity and performance. Based within The Fens of Lincolnshire (it’s very flat), Dominic can sometimes be found marvelling at the real world’s ‘draw distance’, wishing virtual technologies would catch up.
  • James Clerk Maxwell

    VTOL VR is one of the most exhilarating VR experience for me. When my 6 years old saw me going through the engine start procedure, she insisted to give it a try and was so proud to take off! The weapons systems are also extremely satisfying. Taking off tanks from a distance with the cannon is a must

    • Jose Ferrer

      If you think this is exhilarating I think you have not tried IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad…
      Seems you have cast a new young pilot ;-)

      • Jean-Sebastien Perron

        IL2 in vr with a flightstick and a buttkicker (sim tactile subwoofer) is so real and scary.

      • Raphael

        IL-2 is amazing in VR with vibration feedback.

      • rabs

        I like both, they are very different kind of games.

        Interaction wise, right now VTOL is the king though.

      • victor

        DCS 2.5 in VR just as good as IL2 in VR if not better in some ways(I have both). DCS also has clickable instruments…. and freaking HELICOPTERs, which have now become my obsession and entirely stopped playing airplanes after many many years.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    I dont know if this is better than IL2 VR, but I will definitely check it soon. As of now my favorite sim is Iron Wolf VR (WW2 sub) and derail valley vr (train)

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  • Kenny Thompson

    I love it, good for those guys and their hard work.

  • Mike

    Do go checkout some videos of say the Harrier in DCS. VTOL has got a LOT of catching up to do to get even vaguely close.