We want No Man’s Sky in VR. You want No Man’s Sky in VR. We’re pretty sure even our mothers want No Man’s Sky in VR. The problem? No Man’s Sky is not in VR.
Not yet, anyway.
Earlier in the week we took a look at Hello Games’ new release, arguably the biggest of the year. We pointed out five reasons that it made perfect sense for VR support, despite not featuring any. Still, cryptic answers from Hello Games itself do leave some glimmers of hope that support may come further down the line.
Now that we’ve had some time to go hands-on with the game ourselves, we’ve identified a few things that need to change if that’s going to happen.
We’ve already said that No Man’s Sky‘s first-person perspective is perfect for VR, and it really is. Sitting in the cockpit of your ship and really feeling like you’re leaving a planet is an amazing experience. But the game’s camera does break some of the golden rules of VR that could quite easily be fixed.
Climbing into your ship, for example, sees the player swiftly jump into the cockpit from any angle. Doing this in VR would be stomach churning, but it could easily be replaced with a simple, subtle fade to black before reappearing in your seat. The same goes for when you talk to aliens, or interact with market terminals.
Speaking of those terminals, the game also needs to make some minor adjustments to its UI to make it more comfortable within VR. The overall design is perfect, it just needs to be brought into the game world and not plastered over the screen itself. Perhaps they could even be projected within the world as some sort of Dead Space-esque hologram.
VR changed the rules of UI design for good, but that doesn’t mean everything in No Man’s Sky needs a radical overhaul. Again, this is something that should be pretty easily fixed.
This is the biggest and most worrying issue that potential VR support faces right now. On PlayStation 4, No Man’s Sky is capped at 30fps, and can suffer dips to below half of that at times. For games to release on PlayStation VR, they need to be displayed at at least triple that at 90fps. Ah.
Hello Games isn’t a big studio, so we’re not surprised to see the 30fps cap on the initial release. But if VR support is coming then things need to change fast (literally). Fortunately, PlayStation VR features a ‘reprojection’ mode where games running at 60fps on your monitor will display at 120fps in-headset. If the developer could pull off some magic, perhaps with the help of Sony, it may just hit that goal.
As for the PC version? The sky’s the limit.
As you’d expect with a game of this size, No Man’s Sky has launched with some serious bugs that poor Hello Games is no doubt losing sleep over trying to correct. One of the issues we’ve spotted, though not nearly as big as others, is clipping. This refers to the game’s camera passing through surfaces it shouldn’t, taking you inside of character models and walls.
It’s not too big of an issue right now, but VR lets you walk right up to a wall and then push your head forwards thanks to positional tracking, potentially exacerbating the problem. For possible solutions, Hello Games could look to Cloudhead Games’ The Gallery, which blurs vision when the camera goes where it shouldn’t.
This is more advisory than necessary. If No Man’s Sky were to release with VR support we’d gladly sit down and play it with a DualShock 4. We would much prefer, though, to use position-tracked controls to help immerse us further into the world.
Personally, we think this would be a great candidate for supporting Sony’s new Aim Controller, which is currently only compatible with Farpoint. As a shooter, No Man’s Sky is heavy and methodical. It’s action doesn’t feel too intense for VR, and its generous shield mechanic gives you plenty of breathing room. We’re pretty confident you could have a relatively comfortable experience with this controller.
Looking through this list, there’s only one major concern here and that’s the framerate. Hopefully Sony is smart enough to pour money into that problem, as this could well be PlayStation VR’s first real killer app.
And, no, we don’t want another VR ‘experience’ like we’re getting with Star Wars: Battlefront, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Call of Duty. We want the full thing running in VR allowing us to lose hours in a new universe.
After all, that’s what VR is all about, isn’t it?