Now, first things first, I need to point out that I’ve been sick this week. Like, sinus stuff. And it’s the variant of sinus stuff that makes the wearing of glasses something that you have to steel yourself for in the mornings. As such, I have not put on a VR helmet this week since Monday.
Oh. But Sunday and Monday? I played Fallout 4 VR.
I didn’t play it *THAT* much. I made it out of the vault and got my first group of people to Sanctuary. That is, however, enough time to generate some first impressions.
VR isn’t *JUST* VR, of course. It’s also 3D. But not the sub-standard 3D that you get at the movie theater when there are two images on the screen and your glasses filter 99% of one of the images out and thus giving you a stereo picture with depth. This is, like, a different image sent to each eyeball independently and each image is getting immediate feedback from the helmet. So, like, when you straighten up a little bit, your field of vision is raised a bit. If you squat down, your field of vision is lowered. This means that you can look over things or under them.
If you stand up in a 3D movie, the image raises as well so that you have the exact same perspective that you did when you were sitting down. (Of course it does. You only have the images on the screen.)
The images in the VR helmet, by contrast, change depending on how you are moving your head. If you slump in your chair? You see yourself get just a little bit shorter in the game. This makes the 3D feel like a fully immersive experience. When Codsworth (my butler robot) floated in front of me, it felt like we were looking at each other. It was downright eerie.
After that, stuff starts to get *REALLY* interesting. The game’s story itself starts *BEFORE* the war. Like, minutes before. You sign up your family to go into The Vault (that happens to be researching Cryosleep) and, like, a minute later the air raid sirens go off and you have to run to The Vault. You make it to the elevator going down just in time to see a nearby mushroom cloud go up.
I thought it was a good scene playing it on a flat television set. Seeing it in VR? With texture and immersed in a 360 view of the pre-war universe? I got gooseflesh. Even now, as I’m typing and remembering it, I’m getting gooseflesh again. It was beautiful and terrifying and awesome.
Wandering around the Vault after the cryosleep ended was creepy. It didn’t just look like I was wandering around a long-abandoned vault. It *FELT* like I was. (And some parts had me glad that sight and hearing were the only two senses available to me.)
As the story progressed and I made it out, it felt weird just looking around and seeing the wasteland like I was actually there. Using guns with sights *FELT* like I would think that it should. The green dots line up in front of the thing you want to shoot? Pull the trigger. Wait, don’t pull the trigger, squeeze it. Line it up again. Now squeeze… good. (And VATS still works, of course… but the early enemies sometimes come in twos or threes and you need to know how to aim for that last one.)
When I got to the power armor, the heads-up-display that popped up *FELT* like a heads-up-display. It didn’t really work on a flat television screen but, holy cow, it works *REALLY* well in VR. (Perhaps it’s the inadvertent tactile feedback of being in a helmet.)
I got past the (spoiler) by the skin of my teeth and got my team of friends back to Sanctuary.
Holy cow. This isn’t just a game. It’s an experience.
It’s not a gimmick. Two weeks ago? I’d have sworn it was. This week? I’m a believer. Though, sadly, one with a sinus thing.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))