war thunder oculus rift dk2War Thunder (2012), the popular WWII-era multiplayer flight combat game, has had support for the Oculus Rift DK1 since 2013. A patch yesterday updated the game to work with the Oculus Rift DK2. And while there is great potential for the DK2’s features within the game, there’s still much to be done to make this a comfortable VR experience.

Update 1.41.29.50 on July 31st brought the first round of Oculus Rift DK2 support to War Thunder; technically, you could say the game works with the DK2. To enable it, set your Rift to Extended Mode. In the War Thunder launcher, hit the gear icon next to the Graphics settings—at the bottom, check the box that says ‘Oculus Rift’. With the DK2 set as the secondary monitor, War Thunder should automatically launch inside of it. Don your Rift and get to playing.

So yes, it works, but at this point it isn’t a great experience due to four major issues:

Latency

Running on a system with the Nvidia GTX 670, a Core i7-3820, and 16GB of RAM, the head tracking latency was significant, even while the framerate was solid. Turning the game down to its lowest settings didn’t seem to make much different in the latency, which leads me to believe that the developer, Gaijin Games, has much optimization to be done if they want this to be a serious DK2 game.

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Projection

oculus rift war thunder dk2The in-cockpit view (press V to toggle views, C to recenter Rift) is the only one in the game that looks reasonably correct. All of the other views (including the background terrain of menu screens) have a strange zoomed feeling to them, making it feel like your eyes are zooming in on the world. When turning left and right, this leads to significant warping of the world and plenty of visual discomfort. Inside the cockpit looks decent, but when tilting my head left and right, it’s easy to see the image skew (where vertical lines become diagonal). This leads me to believe that War Thunder is not properly projecting the image for the Rift which may be due to imporer implementation of the Oculus SDK.

There also may be an issue with the IPD setting. It isn’t clear whether or not War Thunder is reading the IPD data from the Oculus Configuration Utility. During my time in War Thunder with the DK2, my eyes seemed to have some trouble converging properly on the menus and text.

Lack of Positional Tracking

One of the biggest disappointments is the lack of positional tracking. Essentially the DK2’s most obvious improvement over the DK1—there’s an argument to be made for not claiming “DK2 support” if you don’t have positional tracking. Oddly enough, the DK2’s camera light does illuminate while playing, but it doesn’t seem to be utilized. This is a real shame because twisting around in the cockpit to see enemies above or behind you is one of the coolest and most immersive aspects of using the Oculus Rift with War Thunder. You can turn around, but your head pivots around one point in space, not accurately reflecting the movement of your head upon your shoulders. Positional tracking would also be tremendously useful for ducking your gaze around beams in the cockpit to spot enemy aircraft—as that’s exactly what you’d do in real life if a beam was obstructing your view. I tired to do this on a few occasions and was disappointed when it didn’t work.

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In my brief test, it didn’t even look like War Thunder was using the ‘neck model’, a facet of the DK1’s implementation which simulated some very limited positional movement by approximating the movements of the eyes relative to the shoulders using known constraints of neck movement. Without positional tracking or even the neck model, the game is rotating the camera around a single point in space, which leads to a very inaccurate sense of motion.

Legibility

All other problems aside, I was surprised how hard it was to read War Thunder’s menus using the DK2. The jump in resolution over the DK1 has made every other DK2 demo I’ve looked at significantly more detailed and more legible. The text size in War Thunder is big enough that I would expect to be able to read it, but there seems to be significant aliasing around the edges of text which makes it very hard to resolve the individual letters.


 

oculus rift dk2 war thunderSure, it’s early times for the DK2. The Oculus SDK 0.4.0 beta just came out and it isn’t perfect. But War Thunder’s hasty implementation doesn’t instill much confidence that the developer cares about getting it right. The reason this is so disappointing is because of how amazing War Thunder could be as a high quality virtual reality experience. The many improvements of the DK2 could play to War Thunder very well—positional tracking movement in the cockpit for sighting enemy aircraft is an extremely compelling proposition and it’s a shame we don’t have it yet.

As Oculus VR Software Architect, Tom Forsyth, hammered home in his talk at GDC 2014, Developing VR Experiences with the Oculus Rift, developers need to “be kind to their players,” something we hope Gaijin Games will take to heart.

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  • Grote Snor

    Hi Ben, it’s worth checking that there aren’t any drivers interfering from both Tridef and opentrack (If you have them installed on the system).

    With DK1,there’s a problem where you are zoomed in too far and head tracking behaves strangely because of a conflict with WT’s native Rift support and opentrack. I usually rename the opentrack folder temporally.

    Since the update, I can’t get DK1 working with War thunder – device not found – I hope they will still support it.

    • Ben Lang

      Did you try checking the ‘DK1 Legacy Support’ option (if you installed the Oculus Runtime?)

  • Roy

    I can confirm, having just tried this on a PC with no previous DK1 attached nor any other tracking device or software installed (currently or previously) that it works exactly as described above at present.

    There’s no head tracking, menus are next to impossible to use (for someone that isn’t familiar with the game) and the image warping combined with strange IPD values make everything come together for a not very good experience.

    Having said that, get DCS (https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.co, – free on steam) downloaded.

    You have to run it in extended mode and terminate the wscript / ocrservice services from taskmanager before hand but their implementation of the user interface outside the game means that all the setup is done on your desktop before putting on your headset to play the game.

    It’s got perfect implementation of 6DOF and it works a frickin’ treat.

    For free, you can’t go wrong.

    One disadvantage is that you can’t see what anyone is doing while they’re playing (as it doesn’t mirror the screen) but it’s a small price to pay!

  • Razunter

    My guess is they haven’t received DK2 yet.

  • tgsdev

    Yeah, forget War Thunder, how about DCS! It’s worked great with TrackIR for years and I’m dying to try it with the Rift. Just waiting for mine to arrive…

    Note that DCS World now includes not only the Su-25 for free, but also the TF-51D Mustang with full clickable cockpit and advanced flight model. It’s a heck of a bargain.

    • AurelTristen

      DCS works almost perfectly on the DK2. For me, DCS on DK1 was the most compelling experience thus far. DK2 sports positional tracking and the higher res (despite the OR config utility not detecting my rift). The F15 cockpit was spot on, though I had some weird black-pixel smearing going on with the A10C cockpit.

      I can fly and fight in the A10 like a pro, but I can’t even get the TF-51D off the runway. O_O