Fallout 4 VR – Review
The best VR game to date if you ignore the performance issues.
Incredibly dedicated and supportive modding community.
Good and intuitive use of the Vives controls.
Developers are actively patching and fixing the game.
Full core game which includes man hours/days/weeks of content.
High sense of immersion.
VATS slow motion effect makes you feel like you are in the matrix.
May of been released too soon.
Needs some advanced knowledge or willingness to follow guides to fix.
None of the DLC is included.
Fallout 4 VR – Amazing game but poor performance
Fallout 4 VR is a great game, but only if you can edit ini files or follow guides. Just the core game is included, no DLC. Bethesda Studios recently released VR title has some major performance issues. Even on a high end PC people are getting “Reprojection” of around 50-60%. A reprojection rate this high is very bad. However, Bethesda have released a series of patches to improve this by downgrading “Aupersampling” levels. Which has lowered the visual fidelity. Despite this, Fallout 4 VR is so good you are going to want to play it regardless. Given Fallout 4 VR is a full retail priced game, the lack of DLC is surprising. Recently Skyrim VR released on PSVR and included all the DLC, further confusing users as to Bethesda’s decision. Though people have found ways of getting the DLC from the “Pancake”(traditional Fallout 4) into the VR edition. Shoehorning the dlc in is not officially supported and by all accounts some DLC areas are unplayable due to missing floor. It is worth adding the dlc for the settlement building items they add. A Community Discord server exists to help people fix or at least to mitigate these performance issues, and serves as a one stop help location for modding here.
Let us quickly address those terms that some may not be familiar with.
- Reprojection happens when SteamVR notices the game performance is going to drop below 90fps and is designed to prevent neausa. To keep a stable frame rate, it sends already rendered frames back to the headset, this creates a ghosting effect around many moving objects and at high rates (20-30%) can be really noticeable and glaring. the default in Fallout 4 VR is 50-70%, and really hard to play. The effect this has on people varies though. You can check your reprojection rate with the free Advanced settings overlay which you really should have installed already; to see why, have a read of this article.
- Supersampling renders the image at a much higher resolution than your VR HMD (Head Mounted Display) can display, then shrinks it for your device. This may sound strange, but done this way the image is of a higher clarity than if it was rendered at the target resolution directly. This is very taxing for your PC and the original settings caused a lot of the issues.
One of the exciting pieces of news for Bethesda fans is Fallout 4 VR can be modded. This mod support is unsupported by Bethesda Studios. Adding mods is a quick and relatively easy process. It is beyond the scope of this review to list how to install these mods, but multiple guides exist and this Discord server will help you a lot https://discord.gg/HjPRkHg. I also found that performance with mods was no different to the performance without them installed, naturally you need to be sensible and avoid 4k texture packs, as this would majorly affect performance.
It is worth noting that mods can add stuff that enhance the game quite drastically, one of the favorites among the VR modding community simply makes the scopes actually work in Fallout 4 VR so you look down them more immersively. Mods can add anything from lightsabers to whole new maps and can even be used to rebalance the game.
The modding community is really strong and supportive for Fallout 4 and its VR version. This network of fans and modders are actively working to fix the game and it is very impressive to see such dedication and support. My system has a GTX 1080 graphics card and an i7 6700 CPU and it has handled everything I throw at it so far except Fallout 4 VR. When I first loaded up the game I got a reprojection rate of 70%. I have beta tested many VR games and anything over 30% is considered too high even on unreleased titles. I had never seen 70% before and it really surprises me Bethesda Studios shipped the game like this. After some searching I found a few of the modding community hot spots (this is all on the Discord linked above) and new methods of improving Fallout 4 VR’s performance came out in small bursts. From repacking the textures to tweaking internal files, I did it all. The end result was 25% reprojection, okay to play but still needs to improve further and Bethesda needs to have a quiet word with their Quality Control department.
At this stage in the review you may be thinking the game is not worth getting. If you are intimidated by editing ini files, then I urge you to wait. However, if you are ok with editing files and following guides then what awaits you is one of the best games I have played in virtual reality in a long time.
At one point in my tests I came across a Protectotron guarding a hallway, I heard it first and peaked my head around a door. There it was, a 7ft big clumsy robot with its back to me, I quickly ducked back and weighed my options. I then physically jumped through the door while activating VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) to slow down time and proceeded to empty the clip of my pistol. Bullet casings arced through the air, The Protectotron`s head unit exploded in slow motion. I was Neo, this was the Matrix, I was unstoppable. Time resumed, the Protectotron slumped down, a turret in the ceiling opened up and put enough lead into me to turn me into a pencil. A quick reload, a change of tactic and I got my revenge. It is moments like that which make Fallout 4 VR worth all the inconvenience of editing files.
To get around in Fallout 4 VR you have a couple of options. The first is teleportation, allowing you to teleport a fair way and ideal for those that get motion sick. The second is trackpad movement, a favorite of mine and allows you to move forward back and sidestep with the touchpad on the left (or right for lefties) Vive wand. You can also turn manually in your roomspace or use the touchpad edges on the other wand. There are plenty of VR options to tailor the experience to your personal comfort level. This should come as a great relief to many who were displeased with the options in Bethesda Studios recent Doom VR game. There are also options for how the PIP Boy is displayed, you can have it on your wrist and bring it quite naturally to your face or you can have it projected in front of you on a button press. While I heard of a lot of complaints about the way you control the PIP Boy once up (using the touchpad) I had no issues and found the controls to be very intuitive.
Also, just like in the “pancake” version you are able to move all the objects around, only now with the precision of VR. There does seem to be an issue with moving bodies which can cause some rather unpleasant sights in your settlements. The “trick” here I am told, is to look at your PIP Boy and move them with the other hand. Fallout 4 VR has a lot of workarounds like this.
Settlement construction is back and in full. When you activate a workshop you enter construction mode for your settlement. This turns your touchpad into a menu of items which you can place with your other wand. If you are on touchpad movement, you get switched to teleportation movement in this mode to free up the touchpad. The precision you can get placing and rotating items is incredibly impressive and I can see myself creating a very large integrated home settlement.
Fallout 4 VR has all the sound and voice acting from the original game, only now you are actually there. The sense of presence is very good, despite the blurriness of the visuals. That is not to say the visuals are particularly bad, you do get used to the blur quickly and there are ways for really high end CPU users to rid themselves of this blur (Steam’s supersampling for example). Everything that makes Fallout 4 a fantastic game can be found in the VR version. However, what makes Fallout 4 VR special is that immersion. Wearing Power Armour you stand an extra half foot tall and NPCs look up at you. You feel big and powerful. Visiting Sanctuary after the prologue and having Codsworth great me in person with his usual “Mr David” (I am lucky enough to have a name that matches one of his voice sample list entries) felt more real and personal than it ever did in the “pancake” edition.
With the realism of VR I find I am interacting with the NPC`s in a much more true to my nature method. These are no mere collection of pixels in front of me, this is Preston and, he has something important I must do, there is a settlement in need of my help. Completely unrelated to my last sentence, honest, but you can manually hit NPC`s with your gun now. Not that you would of course, ahem.
User interface has had some major tweaks and works really well inside the Vive. In many areas of Fallout 4 VR it is clear to see careful thought and consideration has gone into the game.
Is Fallout 4 VR worth your hard earned money? For me I do not regret buying it but I am happy to tinker with files and have the time to fix things that really should not of been broken in the first place. I am left with a game I love. However, Fallout 4 VR is a game that would have benefited from a few months delay to get smoother. If you can wait, then I suggest adding it to your wishlist and picking it up once the community has some “one shot” solutions or Bethesda Studios has fixed the issues themselves. It is a must have game, just not a right now game. That said there is an amazing amount of content in the core Fallout 4 game, all of that is in the VR edition, you will not run out of things to do for a long time.
The main community link is the Fallout 4 VR discord channel, here they help people get the game running in a good way and help with mod advice. Link: https://discord.gg/HjPRkHg this can be viewed in your browser and does not require the software installed, be sure to read the pinned posts.