Fallout 4 VR is huge, technically impressive, and gimmicky


Fallout 4 VR is almost exactly what the phrase ‘Fallout 4 VR’ implies. Which is to say, the entirety of Fallout 4 rendered in giant-scale gogglevision. It’s funny – for some time there was this expectation that VR needed a full-fat mainstream game to truly get its wings, but now that’s finally happened, it just feels like the most normal thing in the world.

Fallout 4 VR is a significant technical achievement, but I’m not talking about the underlying, pratfall-prone Creation Engine there. I’m talking about the fact that this is entirety of Fallout 4 (review) from a new perspective, a whole wasteland to bodily traverse, with motion-controlled shooting (or physical punching), a Pipboy interface that activates by raising your wrist and the option for full, pad-style analogue movement.

There’s something almost casual about the whole shebang – it’s just there, the entire game, and it just works, NBD. Even though it was almost certainly an enormous deal to get a game of this relative size and complexity working in virtual reality.

At the same time, it’s hard to shake a feeling that I’m playing the world’s most expensive gimmick. It’s Fallout 4, but more awkward and cumbersome to play! Hooray? Sure, it’s nice, I guess, to watch the world burn at life-size proportions, splatting radroaches into the ground offers a certain amount of catharsis and the whole raise arm to boggle at Pipboy thing makes me wish we had something quite that joyfully ridiculous instead of smartphones.

But, when I move from F4VR to F4, I breathe a sigh of relief. Though F4VR does offer an almost-full suite of controls and options thereof – i.e. it isn’t mandatory to use the hobbled likes of teleport-based movement – the combination of trailing headcables, Wii-esque controllers and limited buttons and bodily movement does make it a bit of a pain in the bum. There’s always something hindering the straightforward act of going over there and doing the thing.

To fire it up for an hour or two nosing curiously around a familiar (and, for some, beloved) scorched earth is one thing, but it’s very hard to imagine all but the staunchest VR preacher ‘finishing’ Fallout 4 in this form. Once the initial awe – already somewhat minimal if you’re a long-term goggle-jockey – has worn off, it’s just a bit of a faff, really. More involved interface stuff like crafting threatened to make me gnaw my own virtual hands off.


This being Fallout 4 rather than a new Fallout made from the ground up in VR, a lot of the interactions are essentially menu-based rather than physical. You don’t reach out to slap a door open button, for instance, but raise your wand and click a text option to do it. In other words, you’re regularly checking your own actions, going against the psychical intuition that a VR world encourages. All told, I never felt at home with the controls, and wished I could just play it on a gamepad instead – or could just sit with a mouse and keyboard, in front of a nice, crisp monitor.

Speaking of how it looks – well, it’s Fallout 4 in VR. In other words, outside of 3D wraparound-o-vision, it looks like Fallout 4 but lower-resolution. There was some initial hoo-ha about it looking extremely blurry for many players, which I was lucky enough to not suffer from, but in any case there is now a fix. It’s definitely decent as VR games go, without too much very obvious hobbling, but for me, it was the intrinsic limitations of both VR and Fallout 4 that kept it from looking truly jaw-dropping.

Inherently fuzzy, weird Harryhausen animations, dodgy textures and plasticine people here and there – again, exactly what I expected Fallout 4 in VR to look like. In other words, not really dramatic enough to make me want to play the game in this way, hampered by the busywork of controls, instead of the sharper and more fluid desktop version. I’ll also note that the element of slapstick involved in a VR version of Fallout 4 only throws into sharper relief quite how dumb it is compared to Fallouts past (including 3) – i.e. this is almost exclusively an RPG about killing things. But maybe that’s more appropriate for the slap-happy world of virtual reality anyway.

Much more positively, I found that the full movement controls didn’t incite the expected sea-sickness. It uses a binocular effect when you move, in order to mitigate the brain-breaking effect of character movement and flesh movement not being in sync, and this both saved my lunch and looked surprisingly non-disruptive in practice. If you have an iron constitution, you can turn this effect off completely, or if you have a hair-trigger stomach, you can use the teleport-based controls that are less natural but avoid the lurching effect. They’ve really done the work in this regard, and it’s turned out well.

All told, this is an impressively seamless transition from screen to gogs, and belated proof that there are most certainly not impassable roadblocks to getting big-boy games running well on a facebox. Whether it’s actually worth it at this point in the technology’s lifecycle is another matter entirely. It’s grand to see The Commonwealth at this sort of scale, and I did have a greater appreciation of just how much have Bethesda built when I saw it from this all-encompassing perspective, but when I think of playing dozens of hours of Fallout 4 this way, I only feel tired.

Fallout 4 VR is out now, via Steam, supporting HTC Vive only (though it can be made to work on Rift).


  1. Sakkura says:

    “and it just works, NBD”

    Except for the part where it had horrific bugs at launch. Having the VR resolution dictated by your primary monitor, for example.

    At least they fixed that.

  2. milligna says:

    I’m having a blast since they released the update, definitely try this shadow tweak if you’re getting judder or disappointing performance: link to reddit.com

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Also it doesn’t officially support the Rift. Good job cutting out (something like) half the potential market, Bethesda. Why yes, I am salty about it not supporting my set.

    That said, I do kinda want to play it. But why’s it full price? It’s literally the same damn game I’ve owned for years now. While I get that they don’t want to undercut their own sales, and that it took some work to get into VR, couldn’t they have cut a discount for FO4 owners? I’d have paid $15, but $60 for a game I’ve already played to hell and back, minus all the DLC? Please.

    • Sakkura says:

      It does work on Rift. There are some glitches with input (especially for menus), but people are already making mods and workarounds that improve it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Yeah, not officially supported is my point. Plus this and Doom VFR both had crashes on launch with Rift, which smacks heavily of “We’re mad about those guys, so screw ’em” and makes me feel like they might just intentionally break it again later, too.

        That said, I’m sure it’ll be fixed by community. Just like the price will be fixed by sales, eventually.

        Just salty, I guess.

    • geldonyetich says:

      The Touch controllers being genuinely superior to the Vive’s paddles, I’m waiting awhile for the Rift community to come up with a nice wrapper for Fallout 4 VR. Knowing the power of Internet communities, I imagine these fixes should have its problems ironed out in mere days, weeks tops.

      Though honestly I’m appalled at the thought of buying the game at full price. I already played Fallout 4 to death. Plus, if Zenimax wants to snub their Rift-based audience in a backhand existence acknowledgement sort of way, it only seems fair to do it right back. The right thing to do would be to wait a half year from now and pick it up for $20, which gives the community plenty of time to fix what Zenimax won’t.

      • calmwhiteguy says:

        100% agree.
        I will not purchase my 3rd copy of Fallout 4 without at minimum native support. We as the consumer are not to blame for Oculus Rift’s John Carmack’s actions. Vive consumers were so adamately furious about Oculus’ interest in exclusive content (which is what promotes a baby market, one where you have to funnel money in a project and reap the rewards because of your specific actions and financing) yet here we are. Vive with exclusive content.
        I will wait for the cost of this package to hit the dirt or expect native support. I will discontinue purchasing bathesda as well for the most part because when are they going to release a new game? They used to be my favorite company yet here we are on the 5th copy of Skyrim for most of their consumers. Disgusting practices. It cant cost much to port a game to a new console. (ignoring VR this is far cost but god damn, give me native support and quit being whiny babies – you cashed out on your lawsuit)

        ALSO SKYRIM FOR PSVR BUT FALLOUT 4 FOR PC VR???? I want SKYRIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on oculus too, plz thanks.

    • Rutok says:

      You are absolutely right. How can they release a game that only supports one headset. Oculus would never do something like that!

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Two wrongs don’t make a right, man.

      • mrentropy5 says:

        For the most part, the Oculus exclusives were paid for by Oculus. You may as well complain that Halo is only on the XBox and Gran Turismo is only on the PlayStation.

        And, while I don’t particularly care for exclusives, I find it understandable that they would do this not just to jump start their own product, but VR on the whole.

  4. Moonracer says:

    It’s certainly a difficult sell considering the price, Bethesda’s recent business practices making me increasingly less interested in their products, and the fact that most fans have already experienced many hours of the game (probably with a lot of mods too).

    I think there are already a lot of full length VR specific titles. They just aren’t as graphically flashy. Vertigo is a great experience and I hope to see more of that kind of thing only with higher production value.

  5. Eli7vh says:

    Thing that bothers me is how you mention this would give VR wings… But it’s not even a real VR experience.. this was a let down in terms of VR and it honestly shouldn’t be judged like a real VR exprience. It is at best a sloppy port.

    Lacks: real world interaction.
    Any use of hands, holdstering, reloading mechanics, two handed weapons, etc.

    I feel like only a full-scale game made with VR in mind from the start will really make VR take off.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Lacks: real world interaction.
      Any use of hands, holdstering, reloading mechanics, two handed weapons, etc.

      That’s what got me in this writeup as well. I guess I figured it’d run like an actual VR game, but uh… it seems like basically playing with a fancier controller, and VR headset on.

      I expect you can lift physics objects and wave them around, but it’s not like you can pet Dogmeat. Or open doors with your hand. Or do anything really you couldn’t do in the original, more easily, with a mouse.

      Sort of feels like this should have been a mod or add-on to the original, not a second, absurdly full-priced title.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      If it wasn’t half-assed and underwhelming, it wouldn’t be a Bethesda game.

    • bigblack says:

      Totally agree. Not only are the menus and controls absurdly clunky, lacking any sign of effort to tap into the myriad clever VR-implementation possibilities out there – there is little of the standard VR FPS experience we already expect from ‘lesser’ games and studios.

      Not being able to see rendered hands is just being cheap and thoughtless about what VR immersion actually is, along with the lack of interaction with guns, doors, and other objects. And the bugs, man!

      I see many posts on the reddit VR communities that we should be thankful to pay full price for this old, janky experience, when it is obviously a bare-minimum effort.

      The free DOOM 3 BFG VR mod puts this to SHAME.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Fallout 4 VR just proves that VR games don’t work unless designed from the ground up as VR games. I played it a bit, but I don’t see how anyone could stand to play the game all the way through. The controls are just atrocious and awkward. Also, the fact that enemy encounters weren’t designed for VR is very apparent. I never realized how difficult it is to play an FPS without the ability to strafe until I played FO4VR. Combat is a headache inducing clusterfuck of trying to teleport around to find the right vantage point to shoot at enemies, which is really difficult when there are more than one. Most VR FPS will take that into account when designing combat, but Bethesda did nothing to make the game more playable in VR. They just added touch controls and left it at that.

      I genuinely love VR, but I’ve yet to play a single game not designed for VR that works well in VR.

  6. dazrael says:

    I’ve got it – I like it a lot.

    I’ve been playing 2 hour-ish sessions every night since it came out, and the time flies by. Base building is awesome in VR, and wandering around the landscape investigating the various ruins is very atmospheric.

    Every now and then I stop and think – wow, this whole world is here. It’s boggles my mind like nothing else has quite managed to in VR.

  7. satan says:

    Watched some people on Twitch trying it out, I wasn’t able to watch for too long (was making me dizzy) but it looked pretty clunky.

  8. crazyd says:

    Oh hey, it’s a guy that absolutely hates VR doing VR coverage. Again. You should have all your reviews handled by people that are outright hateful to the style of games they are playing, so they can all be this useless to anyone actually interested in the game.

    Seriously, who is your VR content really for? Is the full intent just so haters can get excited seeing people vindicate their backwards preconceptions? Seeing someone that doesn’t get VR reporting on it isn’t particularly interesting or useful consumer guidance. I’d think that maybe, just maybe, getting someone that’s open to the possibility of a VR game potentially being enjoyable to cover your VR content might just lead to better VR content.

    • Mattsetback says:

      I don’t agree, really. I’m a massive fan of VR and play my Rift regularly, but VR definitely has both ups and downs compared to ordinary games. It’s good to get a balanced view and I think Dominic makes good points. It’s probably not going to stop me buying F4VR when it hits a sale, but his concerns were things I was wondering about, and I’m glad he brought them up.

    • f0rmality says:

      I both play and develop in VR daily and I found fallout VR to be the biggest letdown of the year. He’s absolutely right, it’s a gimmick of a game. All the physical interactions in other VR games are replaced with button prompts. It’s extremely lazy, and certainly not worth full price. I’ve put in roughly four hours, and again – he’s right, it’s so much better to play it pancake-style than in VR. That doesn’t mean all VR games are bad. I also just finished the Gallery episode 2 yesterday which I thought was magnificent. FOVR just doesn’t measure up to the awesome indie titles out there. It’s a waste.

    • Flarn says:

      This was exactly my thought on reading the article as well. Half of it seems to be about how Alec simply doesn’t like VR. You are entitled to your own opinion but it gets in the way of the review. Please go write different articles and leave this to more open-minded RPS staff.

      • Rack says:

        Yeah, if the game has problems then fair enough to highlight them, but do so in contrast with the potential. Mention what it needed to do to really feel like a true VR title. Contrast it with titles that handled these things better. And maybe do articles on VR games that aren’t crap?

    • John Walker says:

      Er, I think you’re confused, Mr Aggressive. Alec is RPS’s VR enthusiast.

      I’m the person who accurately and correctly recognises it as the clusterfuck of gimmicky doom it is.

      You can apologise to Alec now.

  9. kfcnearby says:

    Only one Vault Boy during the trailer. You’re getting better, Bethesda.

  10. racccoon says:

    I bet after 4 hours of VR play your eyes are like Clarence the crossed eyed lion lol

    • Rack says:

      Given VR focuses your eyes at a more natural distance than screen gaming I’d happily take that bet.

  11. 9of9 says:

    The price is definitely on the high side for what it is, but that’s really the only concession I’m willing to make. It’s clunky, but for me at least it really, really works. There’s something nice about just having a proper, large, coherent, connected virtual world that you can run around as much as you want. Not a series of shooting galleries or small rooms, or clunky deathmatch maps, but an actual whole world where you can get down on your hands and knees and fish out a box of cigarettes from underneath an old cupboard so you can flog it at the market later down the line.

    It’s easy to moan about the little nice-to-haves that are missing. Sure, two-handing weapons would be great. Physically opening doors too. The fact that scopes don’t work is probably the main gripe (that the devs are supposedly working to fix eventually). But honestly, the game does a lot right for everything it doesn’t quite manage.

    Like how you literally crouch down and see dogmeat crouch down to sneak with you. The pants-shitting terror of stepping into a Super Duper Mart infested with zombies with nothing but a double-barrelled shotgun and some quick thinking to your name. Being able to stand around in the middle of a conversation with NPCs, chatting like pals, looking each other in the eye.

    Also, so far it looks like most FO4 mods are compatible with FO4VR. So all the crazy Bethesda-game mod scene stuff will be… in VR, and that’s something.

    For me it’s honestly a big improvement on the 2D FO4. FO4 was pretty terrible as an RPG and kind of lackluster as a shooter. In VR though it shines, in part because shooting in VR is always just so good. It’s hard to mess up. Point, shoot, blow a raider’s brains out, then slide (physicaly) behind cover and reload while her buddies ping bullets off the rubble around you.

    There’s rough edges and the performance isn’t great and it is (as mentioned) overpriced, but hopefully with continuing loving care and attention (and the patches have been coming pretty thick and fast so far), it’ll continue to shine.

  12. Imperialist says:

    One thing i wish they would do, is merely add support for non VR games with these headsets. I dont need to see my keyboard and mouse to use traditional controls…and it would be nice for immersion. All this proves is that motion and touch controls make a cumbersome experience.

    • Rack says:

      All it proves is poorly implemented controls make a cumbersome experience. Motion controls done right are every kind of awesome, fluid and intuitive.

    • cafeoh says:

      Couldn’t possibly agree less, motion controllers *make* VR.

  13. SBLux says:

    I don’t see any use of V.A.T.S in the trailer. Has it been removed?

    • Seyda Neen says:

      VATS is still in there. If you enable teleport movement you can even move around in vats.

    • GDorn says:

      It behaves a lot more like bullet-time in other VR games, in that instead of selecting what body part to target, you point your gun at the part you want to shoot and it glows. It is much more impressive, intuitive and flowing than on the desktop. Sadly, that is really the only feature that works better in VR.

  14. GDorn says:

    Here’s a plug for a youtuber who does mini-reviews of VR games – Ben Plays VR. I appreciate his reviews as he tends to find something positive to say about most games, and only reviews things he likes. (There’s no shortage of bad games and critics who love reviewing bad games…)

    He’s doing a long-play of FO4VR, as somebody who hasn’t played a Fallout game since the first one. Here is a link to youtube.com for part 1.

    You can see a whole lot of rough edges for somebody new to the game – objects are not well-clued, tutorial notifications pop up far too briefly to read, important guides like where to go are quite easy to miss, etc. A lot of what is in-your-face in the desktop version is in your peripheral vision and much easier to miss in VR.

    When he meets the dog and orders it around, I was immediately aware of how shallow the gimmick is. Sure, it’s great you can literally point at where you want the dog to go, but both popular headsets have microphones built in. The devs could have really blown some minds by reworking follower commands into voice-activated commands.

    And from there, why not have the conversation selection voice-activated, too? Hell, get rid of the PC voice actor and give the player a script… There’s a whole lot of potential for immersion (and not just about voice commands) that this port completely skipped past, because it’s a port, not a proper recreation with VR in mind.

  15. Xzi says:

    After two releases, Bethesda should not do any more VR. DOOM VFR was made specifically for VR and still has a ton of problems, Fallout 4 doesn’t feel at home in VR at all. As much as I’d like to see them get one right, they should probably just quit while behind. $10 or $20 VR games from small devs have managed to be far more impressive.

  16. Flarn says:

    If you think VR is a gimmick, prefer games on a monitor, want to complain about the cable even though you can make it wireless, and get tired and sore from long play sessions, maybe you should neither play nor write about VR games. None of these have anything to do with Fallout4 VR yet you felt it necessary to include them as gripes. Are you reviewing VR itself or the game?

    • ThePuzzler says:

      I find reviews from VR non-enthusiasts more useful. I only want to buy VR games that are recommended as being worth it despite the discomfort and inconvenience. (Superhot VR, for example.)

    • LessThanNothing says:

      You’re completely right! Unless someone likes something, they should never talk about it! All games 10 stars!

      • Rack says:

        It’s a tricky balance. Write only from a fans perspective and it’s of no use to casual observers. Write only from a casual observers perspective and it’s of no use to fans. At the very least all writers should be knowledgeable (I’ll never forget the Body Blows review that claimed it invented special moves and multiple characters) but a balance of perspectives is still useful.

        That said skeptics opinions is only useful to skeptics who want to hear how right they are. As the only opinion RPS like to proffer it’s not ideal.

      • Flarn says:

        That’s not what I’m saying at all. My point is simply that a review of a game should focus on the good and bad of that game and not be half about the hardware and the platform itself, which can be improved in ways that the author has chosen not to do. It detracts from the actual game review.

    • Trooper says:

      VR is still in it’s infancy but it has come a very long way from where it started. You can improve your experiences with simple work arounds, for example; if you keep tripping over the cable then simply attach it to your ceiling like I and so many others have or buy the wireless adapter.

      I find the ceiling fix works well and the only downside is that if you turn too many times in the same direction it gets wrapped around your waist (still better than feet though yeah ?). There is a place for VR gaming and that place will get bigger and bigger as time goes on.

    • LCheers says:

      Bad VR games make you uncomfortably aware of the limitations of the platform. The best VR games work in harmony with those limitations so you usually don’t notice them. This is a totally valid thing for the review to comment on.

  17. Seafoam says:

    Now we just need to get mods set up on this thing, it will boost VR set purchases for VARIOUS reasons.

  18. mrentropy5 says:

    I’m a big fan of the Fallout franchise; have been since Fallout. Unlike the rest of the Internet, I enjoyed Fallout 4 when it was flat. Also, I have no beef with Bethesda and think they do a wonderful job, for the most part.

    I have FO4VR, I play it with a Rift, I have not had any performance or technical issues (other than the Touch controllers, obviously). And I like it quite a bit. It’s very nice.

    But, I have to say that I was disappointed with the lack of manipulation in VR. After playing games like Lone Echo, Artika.1, Robo Recall, and, well, just about all of them, having to use menus to open doors and push elevator buttons was a let down. I was going through the Concorde museum and came upon a door that was partially open and my first thought was to reach out and push it open. But that didn’t work. I had to point at it and click a button.

    Despite that, it can still be an enjoyable game. It just… lacks.

    But it’s a big game, and a very complicated one, and I have no idea just how difficult it would be to get that all working. I hope they try, though. It would be the difference between being OK and mind bendingly awesome.

  19. Stedios says:

    The reviewer is living in the past, get a job at the cheese factory! Dork. VR is the future.

    • shocked says:

      VR is the future.

      Yup, because currently it’s still not what it should be.

      • Rack says:

        Definitely not what it could be, but expecting it to be there already is a bit like complaining Space Invaders wasn’t Ikaruga. These things take time and money.

    • funderbolt says:

      Well, the important thing is that you contributed.

  20. Mr. Perfect says:

    it’s just there, the entire game, and it just works, NBD.

    Well, yes, if you only count the base game. All six of the DLC plus the HD texture pack are MIA. :(

    I can understand Far Harbor and Nuka-World not being here, since they’re massive gameworlds that will take tons of work to convert, but the four smaller DLCs that just add settlement objects or a quest line are sad to see missing. All of them take place in the Boston map, so it feels like parts of the game are just… gone.

    I sincerely hope Bethesda releases all of the DLC for VR, I don’t like playing without them anymore.

  21. Zerpherion says:

    VR in a whole is Gimmick POS.

    Especially for bug ridden games like Bethesda.

  22. sagredo1632 says:

    Is it typical not to render the player model in VR? I see this all the time in VR screenshots, but don’t know why it’s done. Is it particularly disorienting? It seems like it would disrupt the attempt to create physicality in the environment to have floating guns and Pipboys bobbing about.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      It was made for the Vive and the Vive’s controllers are frankly a bit crap, and can’t track finger movement. So your hands would just be weirdly stiff all the time.

      So they have a gun and a floating pip boy, which also looks weird and a bit crap.

      And virtual vivesticks when you’re using menus and whatever.

      It’s not great.

  23. JNB says:

    This article has the exact same screenshots:

    link to pcgamesn.com