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Preview: Fallout 4 VR – Good News! The Apocalypse Is Looking Great

After a disappointing debut last year, Fallout 4 VR gets better with every outing.

One of the highlights of this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Los Angeles, back in June, Fallout 4 VR has become one of the most highly anticipated titles not just for the HTC Vive, but in the whole of the virtual reality (VR) community. The latest demonstration of the videogame, at Gamescom 2017, Cologne, has done nothing to dampen this eagerness.

The build available for hands-on play at Gamescom 2017 is largely the same as that which was shown at E3 earlier in the year, however given more time with the videogame there were many of its nuances that revealed themselves through further play. The unrestrained locomotion will still cause issues for some, but with the teleportation option available also it’s unlikely that many early adopters of modern VR will find cause for concern in the basic functionality of Fallout 4 VR.

The menu system, as an area which had previously called for significant improvement, appears to have been streamlined. Now positioned in line with your controllers – opposed to being fixed to the player’s view – the menus for searching objects and fallen enemies are bold and clear, though sadly navigation of them still requires using the HTC Vive motion controller discs to represent a d-pad, rather than simply pointing with the motion control.

Indeed, this minor issue is still prevalent throughout Fallout 4 VR; no matter how much we play it’s impossible to fathom why the Pip-Boy isn’t presented as a virtual touchscreen (lift left arm to activate, select options with the right motion controller), instead asking you to click a specific area of the motion controller’s disc to select options.

Elsewhere we were able to further dive into Fallout 4 VR’s mission design which, unsurprisingly, remains exactly the same as the original Fallout 4. The on-screen information and signposting is relative to default head position opposed to the direction the player is looking, though it’s rarely presented outside of your field-of-view. Whether this is a conscious decision to pull the player’s focus or simply an easy option isn’t clear at this point, however it does feel a little cumbersome when a mission objective is updated in the middle of heated combat.

Wholly successful however is Fallout 4 VR’s V.A.T.S. implementation. Here the mode simply slows time while the player can still move in real-time, with the area targeted by the player highlighted in the colour that signifies their chances to hit: green, orange or red. Having now spent a not insignificant amount of time playing Fallout 4 VR it was easy for VRFocus to storm through three enemies, injuring two with leg shots to prevent returned fire before attacking the third, most heavily armed, with all-out headshots. As in the E3 hands-on, V.A.T.S. is exhilarating in VR.

The fact that Fallout 4 VR won’t include any of the original Fallout 4 downloadable content (DLC) may be disappointing to many, but it remains true that the videogame already provides a wealth of content – perhaps more than any VR title to date – and for that it could be argued that repaying the premium price for entry is wholly worth it. With Fallout 4 VR due out on HTC Vive later this year, we’ll soon see if the commercial audience agrees with this sentiment.

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