Hitman 3’s PC VR support is finally out. Unfortunately, though, the game seems to need a fair bit more work.
If you’re not familiar with Hitman’s VR history then let us fill you in. When the game was originally released last year it had full support for Sony’s PSVR headset on PS4. You could play the entire campaign with the headset and also import levels from Hitman 1 and 2 to play them in VR too. Crucially, though, you could only play with the DualShock 4 controller. There were some limited motion controls via the lightbar tracking, but the support mainly still relied on button inputs, with no Move controller support at all. It was still really fun, but it definitely only felt like a taste of what a true VR Hitman game could be.
Hitman 3 PC VR Hands-On
We had hoped that developer IO Interactive would give the long-anticipated PC VR support a much-needed overhaul given that this version would support two-handed motion controllers. But that’s not quite the case. Check out over nine minutes of gameplay above, which features many of the issues we’re about to talk about.
Though you can finally move Agent 47’s hands freely, Hitman 3’s PC VR support very much uses the DualShock 4 controls and PSVR tracking as a foundation, and the control scheme remains largely the same. That means you can’t hold two items at once, for example, and the game’s not designed to encourage you to physically rotate yourself to move around environments. You can still turn around yourself, but whenever the camera cuts to a virtual screen, it’ll be wherever you first started looking (though recentering the camera is just a button press away).
47’s body, meanwhile, seems to twist and contort to where you face unless you use stick turning, and his avatar, in general, can be very distracting. Playing with Oculus Touch controllers, his hands also seemed to be lower than where I was holding them and this made aiming weapons really tough. The two-handed support also only means that your off-hand will grip larger weapons in a sort of magnetic fashion, automatically sticking to the grip when you move it near, which feels strange.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the VR right now, though, are the bugs. Specifically, I was unable to hold some items like a camera or knife in my hand without it going completely berserk. My hand would either completely disappear or shoot in and out of view, making some items impossible to use. The same happens to NPCs when you strangle them – they essentially start to zap in and out of existence from random angles before vanishing into thin air. There were also times the item menu button didn’t appear to work, leaving me stranded in a tight spot.
I suppose some of these issues were to be expected. It was, perhaps, a little too hopeful to think IOI might go back and completely revamp the game’s VR support to work naturally with PC VR hardware given its PSVR origins (seen in the video review above). But VR design has come a long way in the past two or three years and Hitman 3’s PC VR support has the air of a 2016 title still wrestling with how to best implement motion controls. We can, at least, hope those disastrous bugs will be ironed out in the future.
And then there’s the persistent issues from the PSVR version. It’d be great, for example, to have a body-based UI so you don’t have to dive into menus to select things, and there’s still no support for physical crouching.
Ultimately Hitman 3 on PC VR still feels designed for a gamepad. The addition of motion controllers should give the game a new level of interaction and intuitiveness but it actually ends up going the other way. A lot of these issues could be patched – IOI is clearly committed to delivering the best experience it can in every area of Hitman, and the developer could stand to learn from games like Sniper Elite VR or even the excellent port of Resident Evil 4 VR for ways to make the game feel much more native to the platform.
Perhaps the game’s 2D roots run too deep to really overhaul the experience in that way but, unless that happens, you should probably stick to the traditional Hitman experience or — and I can’t quite believe I’m saying this — seek out the PSVR version. At least that was contextualized to a controller that let you competently play the game.