What Fallout 4 VR Can Learn From Skyrim And Doom VFR

by Jamie Feltham • December 5th, 2017

We’re just a week away now from the launch of arguably the biggest VR game of the year – Fallout 4 VR. Bethesda is cramming all of its epic RPG into the HTC Vive, letting us trek across the wasteland to fight mutants and monsters. But it’s far from Bethesda’s only VR game this year.

Just last week the company published Doom VFR on Vive and PSVR and, a few weeks before that, Skyrim VR graced PSVR. Both games have their own highs and lows and, while a few weeks before launch isn’t a great amount of time for course correcting, there are a few things Fallout 4 VR could definitely learn from the launches that preceded it. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Option Is Everything

This is undoubtedly the most important point to glean from both Skryim and especially Doom. Developing for VR is tricky because everyone has different preferences and tolerances. Some won’t be able to use smooth locomotion, because it makes them sick, while others might use this method but still need to quarter-turn. And, yes, some people are left-handed and feel unnatural when certain items and tasks are assigned to their right hand.

Whatever people’s preference, you need to make sure it’s catered for inside VR. It doesn’t matter if you think smooth locomotion makes people sick; you’ll have an army of angry fanboys at your door if you don’t include it. Vive’s trackpad might not be a great alternative to an analog stick, but that doesn’t mean people wouldn’t rather wrestle with that than resort to teleporting. The most important thing you can do in any VR game right now is give players the options to make the experience fit them.

Get UI Right The First Time

Neither Skyrim nor Doom have perfect UI implementation, but each does a few things better than the other. For starters, Skyrim as its UI elements floating, fixed in the world around you. That means they’re not always in front of you; you have to turn to see them. But, in Doom, objectives are locked to one side of the screen, and if you turn to look at them, they just move further away from you. It’s pretty annoying to say the least, and should absolutely be avoided in Fallout 4.

That said, Doom’s smart decision to show you where the PSVR camera is on your objective marker bar is a great decision and could be something Fallout 4 could benefit from too, just to give you your bearings in a room at all time. Bethesda also needs to steer clear of getting menus and UI caught in the environment and NPCs, which was recently fixed on Skyrim.

Dogmeat Is Your Greatest Asset

I’d be willing to bet that not a single person that walks into Riverwood for the first time in Skyrim VR doesn’t stop to admire the lovely old doggo that’s barking around at the back of town. There’s something about staring into the little chap’s loving eyes that is genuinely powerful, more so than a lot of the actual game. It’s just one of the many happy accidents you’ll discover in Skyrim VR but, in Fallout 4, you have a trusty companion at your side at all times.

We hadn’t really considered it up until this point, but Dogmeat may well be one of Fallout 4’s greatest assets. This is a game that already breeds a strong relationship between player and sidekick on a 2D screen, so the chance to make that link even stronger in VR is hugely promising. Bethesda would do well to really hone in on this and explore some new options that could bring Dogmeat to life more than ever before.

Let Rift Owners Play

Whatever happened last week, we’d recommend making sure Rift owners can jump in straight away, guys.

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  • –Will–

    Offering multiple locomotion options is key. Trackpad and teleportation are fine for some people, but if BethSoft wants to appeal to the rest of us, having options like ArmSwinger and Freedom Locomotion are absolute necessities, not to mention support for the new Vive Tracker (which could be used to decouple head movement from walking direction if, say, worn on one’s belt). More options are superior to fewer options when it comes to VR locomotion. Allowing a fair degree of customization of said options would also be preferable (speed, sensitivity, etc). Have some kind of configurable framework in there (somewhat equivalent to “keymapping”) and let people implement what works best for *them*.

  • dhorowitz

    There is also a lack of discussion about this nuance: It’s not just about including a smooth locomotion option, but how it is implemented. For example, the speed of the camera, the acceleration / deceleration, etc. These aspects heavily impact the degree of induced nausea. Most of the guides for developers that I’ve seen conclude that acceleration / deceleration of the camera is actually bad for comfort. This is why I find Doom unplayable with a controller at the moment, as the smooth locomotion option has acceleration deceleration tied to it. ID apparently didn’t bother to research that easily referenced tidbit. One of the many reasons I found Doom VFR to be a dang mess of a game.

    • dhorowitz

      I find the locomotion in From Other Suns to be ideal. There’s no acceleration / deceleration of the camera with thumbstick movement, and the speed of movement is optimized. I can play that game for hours without the slightest queasiness. Every VR game should have a locomotion option, as well as detailed settings for that option.

      • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        I find everything where you move in VR makes me puke no matter what they do – it’s just a disconnect between my eyes and ears. Anywho having teleport as an option is the way to go- but for a game like Fallout, wow, that would be tough just constantly teleporting – will be interesting to see how well it works when it’s out.

    • Sven

      For some, not for others. I’m perfectly fine with the locomotion in Doom and Windlands as a more extreme case, also fine with on/off in Skyrim but it is annoying when trying to keep pace with someone, stop go stop go. For turning I rather have acceleration instead of instant full speed. Doom VFR atm has better turning options than Skyrim’s patched smooth rotation that only goes 0 or set speed.

      I find myself sprinting most of the time in Skyrim, same as in the Solus project, fast movement is fine. What I discovered isn’t fine is exploring a half sunken ship where everything is tilted 30 degrees. That disconnect felt a bit uneasy, I was trying to lean against a slant that wasn’t there.

      A standard set of movement options for VR games would be welcome. Walking speed, acceleration percentage, go where you look on/off, snap turning on/off, turn rate increment or snap to direction you’re looking in, max turn rate for smooth turning, turn rate acceleration,

    • Quasistellar

      It’s interesting about the locomotion. I’m generally not too prone to motion sickness.

      I played the VR version of Alien: Isolation when it first came out on the DK2, and I had zero problems navigating that game with the xbox controller on my PC. Not even a trace of discomfort.

      I played Hover Junkers with my Vive, and that game absolutely destroyed my brain. I just could not get used to it and almost immediately felt sick every single time I tried to play.

      Teleportation is OK as long as I can still actually move around in the environment like in Vanishing Realms, but that requires a HUGE gaming space.

      I can see how this is a really, really big challenge for developers to get locomotion correct for everyone.

  • Doctor Bambi

    It should be a significant benefit that Fallout 4 VR doesn’t have to worry about a PSVR version. Being able to focus resources on refining the PC experience should give them more bandwidth to address some of these quality of life concerns that have shown up in both Skyrim and Doom VFR, but I imagine there will still be plenty of pain points specific to Fallout as well.

  • JesperL

    There better be hand presence. Guns floating in the air breaks immersion.

  • Leroy

    I’m very excited how this will be turned out on release, and really hope its gonna be on oculus on release! For the rest we will see how they made it, locomotion and quarter turned option have to be there. Fingers crossed

  • Jonathan

    they have never published anything on vive. The publish it on steamvr and that’s not the same thing.

  • Christopher Perkins

    Smooth motion is a must as an option. Don’t limit play to the lowest common denominator. Some of us have iron ear drums/stomachs!

  • dan bryant

    Here’s a novel idea Bethesda
    Make sure it works before you sell it!