After Bethesda’s impressive conference and reiteration of their dedication to VR, I finally got a chance to step into the wasteland and play Fallout 4 VR on the Vive for myself.
For those of you familiar with Fallout 4 – and I assume that’s most of you — the demo started out at the Red Rocket gas station in between Sanctuary and Concord, so basically at the start of the game.
Since this is the full Fallout 4 experience in VR, everything was familiar with the exception of the controls. The demo locomotion default was teleport, so I hopped around the Red Rocket taking out ghouls with Dogmeat by my side.
Switching weapons was a breeze by clicking the right touchpad which brought up a weapon wheel where I cycled through my pistol, rifle and mini nuke easily with my thumb. Clicking around the touchpad switched my favorites, and I made sure the mini nuke was always just one click away just in case I needed the heavy firepower.
I lifted my left arm and saw exactly what I expected to see – the reassuring green glow of my Pip-Boy. Swiping left and right took me through the menus, and pressing the center of the touchpad let me select. Once I was done, I dropped my arm and I was back in the game world. It was all very fluid and felt more immersive and real than ever.
After a brief stint checking out my Pip-Boy and trying the teleportation mode, I switched over to full locomotion and made my way down the hill toward Concord and the Deathclaw I knew was waiting there for me. On the way I happened upon a Power Armor suit that was neatly placed in the roadway just for this demo, so I hopped in and continued down the hill.
For the most part movement was smooth, with the left touchpad controlling direction and speed through double tapping. The game was a little jittery, but I’ll chalk that up to back-to-back demos with little time to fully recalibrate for each player.
It wasn’t long before I spotted the Deathclaw in the distance, charging at me like a locomotive while Preston Garvey took shots at him from high atop the museum in the center of town. While I could have opted to launch a mini nuke, I instead decided to pop into VATS using the right menu button and target the Deathclaw with my minigun.
VATS works a little differently in Fallout 4 VR, and instead of pausing the action to allow you to pick a body part and then restarting the normal flow, VR VATS is a slow-motion mode that highlights specific body parts for focused aiming. With unlimited VATS in the demo, I dispatched the Deathclaw in short order and made my way to the museum.
Raiders, raiders, oh when will you learn, raiders? Try to attack me as they might, the Power Armor and minigun combo ripped through wave after wave of raider scum in the museum. I wanted to grab a spare fusion core, so I made my way to the basement where the generator was housed behind a locked door. Lockpicking in VR is similar to the previous version of Fallout 4, only with slightly different controls. I used my thumb on the right pad to guide my hairpin until I found the sweet spot, then pulled the right trigger to twist the screwdriver and pop the lock.
After blasting through even more raiders, I made my way upstairs and talked to my old – yet new – buddy Preston. I found the perspective in the Power Armor even more enhanced in VR as I looked down upon Preston and the remnants of the Minutemen, who looked tiny in comparison to my hulking, armored stature.
As much as I wanted to keep going to find some Super Mutants and explore Boston, my time in the wasteland was up; it was a short but awesome experience that made me feel more a part of Fallout than ever before.
Consumer virtual reality is still in its infancy, and at this stage, it’s not economically feasible to put a team of hundreds on AAA VR game development because we don’t have mass hardware adoption yet, so it’s VR translations of popular games like Fallout and Skyrim that are going to drive headset sales and create scale for the VR industry.
I’m looking forward to diving back in the wasteland for a longer adventure, and the wait won’t be long as Fallout 4 VR is slated to come out in October 2017.