22 votes

How's VR gaming these days?

Tags: vr, ask.survey

For those of you that have setups, how's it going?

  • What have been your favorite games/experiences so far?
  • What are those of us without VR missing out on?
  • In what was does VR still need to grow?
  • Do you think it will eventually catch on more than it has?

19 comments

  1. [2]
    zlsa
    (edited )
    Link
    What have been your favorite games/experiences so far? X-Plane, a flight simulator that supports motion controllers, so you can interact with the entire cockpit with your hands Elite Dangerous, a...

    What have been your favorite games/experiences so far?

    • X-Plane, a flight simulator that supports motion controllers, so you can interact with the entire cockpit with your hands
    • Elite Dangerous, a spaceflight game, because who hasn't wanted to sit in a freaking spaceship?
    • Project Cars 2, a racing game that lets you experience racecars from the drivers' seat.
    • Beat Saber, because the gameplay is surprisingly fun and new, and couldn't really be done without VR

    What are those of us without VR missing out on?

    It depends. Some people put on the headset and say, "So? This is just 3D TV all over again." Some people absolutely love it and begin to evangelize it to their friends.

    VR is something you can't really explain. If you've tried phone-based VR like Google Cardboard, proper VR is leagues beyond that. Resolutions are higher, tracking is far better, and it just feels much better than the stuttery, pixelated mess of a phone display.

    The oft-mentioned "immersion" is what most people like about VR. With high-quality VR hardware, your brain is fooled into believing what it sees. Immersion is what sets VR apart from 3D TVs; with VR, you're not looking at a slightly more 3D game; you're in the game.

    In cockpit games like Project Cars 2, VR transforms the entire experience. Even if you have a custom racing rig with a force feedback steering wheel, a racing seat, triple wraparound displays... it really doesn't compare to being in the car. In VR, you are truly in the car. You can look directly at the side mirrors, look over your shoulders at your blind spots, judge the distance to nearby cars, watch your tires as you hug the apex. The same goes for X-Plane, where you can reach across the cockpit and pull the gear lever up, or reach above you to flip on the engines. Rather than using a mouse or a joystick to fly the plane, you can reach forward and grab the virtual yoke, which moves as it does in the real plane.

    It's something that can't be explained; you really do need to see it to believe it.

    In what was does VR still need to grow?

    There are two major branches of VR: the hardware, and the software.

    Today's display hardware is mediocre, relative to what the human eye can see. Even the highest-resolution consumer headsets (arguably the Valve Index or HP's Reverb) don't have anywhere near the resolution of the human eye, so you'll be seeing pixels no matter which headset you choose. (And when you have such high resolution displays and stringent framerate requirements, you also need a monster PC to run them.)

    The big breakthrough that VR needs is foveated rendering and eye tracking. Rather than rendering the entire display, around 2k by 2k pixels per eye, eye tracking sensors will sense where you're looking and only render that little bit in high-resolution, since your eyes can only see detail in the center of your vision. That's not coming for a few years yet; but until then, you'll only see minor resolution bumps in headsets, since even a high-end GPU today simply can't render much more.

    On the software side, there just aren't many VR games yet. There are games like Beat Saber, which were designed specifically for VR; and ports from flatscreen games, like Payday 2, Fallout 4 VR, and Elite Dangerous. The latter group of ports tend to be slightly clunky and hard-to-use in VR, and they often have strange bugs and performance issues. (Payday 2 and Elite Dangerous, FWIW, both have pretty good VR ports.) Unfortunately, given the number of VR headsets in the wild, there just isn't much reason to build games from the ground up for VR.

    It's kind of the classic chicken-and-egg problem: the hardware is expensive and not even close to perfect, and there isn't much software yet. For VR to become a normal item in a household, both of them will need to be dramatically improved.

    Do you think it will eventually catch on more than it has?

    Yes, absolutely. Already, the Oculus Quest is $400 for a standalone VR device. It's quite new still, so there aren't many games available; but it's impressively capable for the price. I expect that the Quest will soon become the de facto VR experience, simply due to its price and ease-of-use.

    Even if it never goes mainstream, VR won't really die. Facebook (regardless of your thoughts on them) is pouring massive amounts of money and talent at Oculus, and I don't see Valve or Facebook giving up anytime soon. Some people say that VR has already had its iPhone moment, arguably with the original Oculus Rift CV1; however, I don't think VR will even have an iPhone moment. It'll just gradually get better and better, and at some point it'll have quietly become a mass-market product, just like computers did.


    VR devices I currently own:

    • Oculus Rift CV1
    • Oculus Quest

    I've also used the HTC Vive and the Oculus Go.

    13 votes
    1. Weldawadyathink
      Link Parent
      I really like this writeup. I have a cv1 and I agree completely. I just wanted to add that we are at a really interesting point with pc hardware. Normal gaming has very low requirements. A 2...

      I really like this writeup. I have a cv1 and I agree completely.

      I just wanted to add that we are at a really interesting point with pc hardware. Normal gaming has very low requirements. A 2 generation old gtx 970 will run all modern games wonderfully at 1080p, and can still hold its own at 1440p. Unless you want particularly high framerates AND resolutions, you can get an older cheap gpu and likely still have performance to spare.

      On the other hand, with a vr headset, you really do need a beast of a computer, and you will still probably be running at lower than preferred detail.

      PC hardware has almost no need to improve for flat gaming, and it needs to improve spectacularly for vr.

      4 votes
  2. [2]
    Levantus
    Link
    Still very much in the realm of new tech for enthusiasts. There are plenty of games but there haven't been a lot of "hits" still per se. I think the biggest game on VR is BeatSaber right now and...

    Still very much in the realm of new tech for enthusiasts. There are plenty of games but there haven't been a lot of "hits" still per se. I think the biggest game on VR is BeatSaber right now and while it is an amazing game, it's not exactly a triple A title.
    I think it will take more big developers getting in on the action before it really takes off. Beyond that, the hardware required to run a VR headset prices a lot of people out. So yeah, I think when the big developers get more on board and the performance is worked out so that you don't need the latest and greatest hardware to run things, VR will go through a growth spurt.
    That said, you have to try it to understand the hype. Maybe it isn't for everyone, but the first time you put that headset on and step INTO the world of the game is magical.
    Sorry if that was rambly!

    7 votes
    1. zlsa
      Link Parent
      This is true for PCVR (gaming PC-based VR), but the Oculus Quest offers a standalone VR experience (no PC required) for $400. The selection of games isn't too great at the moment, but it's...

      Beyond that, the hardware required to run a VR headset prices a lot of people out.

      This is true for PCVR (gaming PC-based VR), but the Oculus Quest offers a standalone VR experience (no PC required) for $400. The selection of games isn't too great at the moment, but it's unquestionably the future of mass-market VR.

      3 votes
  3. tesseractcat
    Link
    VR can actually be pretty affordable, if you already have a VR capable PC. There's a huge amount of people with VR capable PC's that don't have VR. If you keep an eye out, you'll be able to find...

    VR can actually be pretty affordable, if you already have a VR capable PC. There's a huge amount of people with VR capable PC's that don't have VR. If you keep an eye out, you'll be able to find Windows Mixed Reality headsets for 120$-200$ (don't let the name fool you, they're just typical VR headsets, a lot like the Rift S, but with less tracking cameras).

    But I'd like to talk about my favorite VR game. There are a lot of VR games out there, and some of them are decent. However, in my opinion, Echo Combat is probably the best VR game created to date. The game takes place in zero-g, so moving around with your arms feels entirely natural (it really is significantly better than any other movement system I've used, immersion wise). Furthermore, Echo Combat has the best implementation of arm IK of any VR game I've seen so far. All UI interaction is done in game by actually clicking with your index finger (except for the pause menu).

    The immersion is incredible, and the gameplay is great too. If you've ever read or watched Ender's Game, and fantasized about floating around in zero-g, hiding behind floating obstacles, sneaking around a corner, shooting at someone while flying through the air, basically playing in the battle room, Echo Combat is the best imitation of that experience you'll get. The gameplay isn't exactly the same as in Ender's Game, i.e. the maps are much more detailed, body parts aren't frozen, and there are multiple "classes" and abilities, but I think Echo Combat's implementation is actually an improvement (for the most part).

    The main problem is that I'm not very good, and there isn't a huge player base, so the matchmaking struggles to organize equally skilled teams, and balance everything in general. I wish there were more people with VR, simply to make matchmaking better.

    6 votes
  4. Nexu
    Link
    I have a Samsung Odyssey+ (currently about $300) powered by a GTX 970 (about $200 dollars back in 2015). The best WMR headset, without question. Has great colours + anti-screen-door technology to...

    I have a Samsung Odyssey+ (currently about $300) powered by a GTX 970 (about $200 dollars back in 2015).

    The best WMR headset, without question. Has great colours + anti-screen-door technology to make the pixels less visible. This is a pretty weak system, by current standards, but I've had a great time with it.

    What have been your favorite games/experiences so far?

    VRChat (Free)
    Very compelling social adventure. One of the most exciting games due to the breadth and expressiveness of experiences you can have. Go in without expectations, and embrace the good and the bad.

    Some of my most memorable experiences include:

    • Visiting Firelink Shrine, and sitting beneath the Giant Crow, staring wistfully out onto Anor Londo.
    • Plucking a balloon out of the sky as a towering 100 foot (Shadow of the) Collossus and gently handing it to a tiny ferret in a wheelchair.
    • Riding a moving train with an Evangelion robot who was telling me about his life and jamming out on the guitar.
    • Cracking a beer on a lonely beach at night with complete strangers, in complete silence, sat around a campfire with virtual marshmallows, looking out at the ocean waves washing up on the shore. We sat for half an hour, not talking, just existing together, feeling each other's presence.
    • Going to virtual clubs to dance with strangers, talk, and just hang out.

    These things may sound trivial or stupid but I have never experienced anything like this in my life before. Games like VRChat will change the way we socialize online.

    Waltz of the Wizard (Free version)
    This game impressed me a lot. It's a simple principle executed extremely well. Very short (and free) game but a good example of how to do VR - focus on the good stuff, zero filler! There's also a paid version but I didn't try that.

    Basically you're in a wizard's room in a tower and you just rummage around finding different ingredients, plopping them into a cauldron and creating new spells. Each of the spells shows off a fun way of interacting with the VR environment and there's just generally a ton of interactivity in the whole space.

    It's room-scale, there's basically no instruction (which is so crucial to the enjoyment of discovery) and the atmosphere is spot on.

    Skyrim VR (heavily modded)
    Probably one of the most extensive experiences you'll have on a VR setup. This was the first game I ever played in VR, on a PSVR setup (I now play on PC).

    I was blown away that first time. Just looking around the dim caverns of the starting area, gingerly plucking a tankard from the table and proceeding to flip and catch it with a flick of my wrist blew my mind. Peering up at the cave walls, they felt SO HIGH. and when I excited that cave, there's no other way to say it other than -- it felt like I was really there. It felt like I was really standing below that looming rock face and staring out down the mountain.

    With mods, I made the nights darker, the magic and weapons more immersive (pulling weapons from my belt and drawing glyphs of magic in the air to trigger spells) as well as texture packs to increase the level of detail on everything. Stuff like that. Great experience even though it's just a port.

    Jet Island
    Fly on a hoverboard and use grappling hooks to zoom around an alien world, encounter other players, and fight giant mechanical worms.

    You will fall on your arse playing this game, unless you're a seasoned virtual buccaneer, but riding a virtual hoverboard is a lot like riding a bike. Just keep getting back on and before you know it that stability will just click.

    Recommended with a big fan in front of your face blasting you for maximum immersion.

    The Kobold Project: Chapter 1
    Horror game. I've yet to finish this, because I was too terrified. Great example of how to open a narrative experience by playing on the strengths of VR. Great use of light/dark with torches and light switches, interactivity of trivial objects, answering a phone and putting it up to your ear, etc. Very immersive. Horror in VR is something else. I don't think I've ever been this terrified by a video game - it's so embodied and palpable.

    Special mentions

    • Gorn: Fun violent arena game that is also a pretty decent workout, but equally risks you destroying your living room unless you have a larger space.
    • Blade and Sorcery: Great sword mechanics and the foundation for future of blade physics in VR. Boneworks and multiple other games have already adapted similar tech.
    • Pavlov: CS:GO in VR.
    • The Forest: Loved this game in pancake mode, it's even better in VR, especially if you're playing with friends. Fucking terrifying, and equally satisfying.

    What are those of us without VR missing out on?

    The sense of immersion. Some games offer an experience that is unlike anything that has ever been possible before.

    It is very hit or miss for people. For me, my initial experience of VR was skeptical caution, and ultimately a casual interest that faded out after I tried a few applications back in 2013-14. These first experiences were pretty much just put the headset on and look around the room on the original Oculus dev kit or watching videos with a Google Cardboard setup. Very underwhelming.

    When I played Skyrim VR, it just clicked. It was at a convention, and I just stumbled on it. Instantly made sense to me. Just try it out, there's no way to know what you're missing unless you have that kind of experience.

    In what way does VR still need to grow?

    Wireless technology
    It exists, but it's currently either way too expensive (TPCast Wireless Adapter) or way underpowered (Oculus Quest). We're getting there, though. A few more generations of VR tech and it will be the norm.

    Complete game experiences
    Right now, there is a lack of truly complete games; games executed to the same level of completion as current-gen games, and that successfully capture the essence of VR and fully make use of its strengths.

    We need more games that dare to test the limits of VR experience. In part this means VR devs need more funding, which will come as market adoption increases.

    Many games right now, even the best, are somewhat haphazard and feel slightly lacking in certain areas. There is very little highly polished offering. Most of the best titles I've listed are (or have been) early access titles created by very small teams (or individuals!). There are some projects that I'm excited about like Boneworks and I hope we see more in the next year or two.

    The problem is a lot of games struggle to get the VR implementation right. It's about attention to detail. VR makes the most mundane stuff mind-blowing. Making everything interactable. Mechanics designed to play with your sense of perspective, and the intimacy of interacting with other players in a VR setting. That kind of thing. VR blows the doors open to so many facets of detail that can and should be exploited to raise the experiential bar.

    Optimization and resolution
    We need foveated rendering to offload some of the work required to run more graphically intensive games.

    It's definitely one of the prevailing issues, that even top-of-the-line cards are not up-to-scratch with certain games. This is also a general optimization issue due to many games tacking on VR support as an afterthought. Better optimization will open up the market and help VR grow.

    However, this problem is secondary to the need for more well-designed VR games. I also think the importance of 90fps as a baseline for VR is overblown. Personally it's more about stability, and I can play at a consistent 50-60fps for hours with no qualms.

    Do you think it will eventually catch on more than it has?

    VR is without a doubt the future of gaming. In less than half a decade it will be the norm, if you ask me.

    In the past three years, we've seen a huge rise in VR popularity. VR is more proliferated than it ever has been at this point and it's only growing. I think it won't be long until VR is as commonplace as having a PS4 or Xbox.

    3 votes
  5. mat
    Link
    Beat Saber is the most solid "dive in" sort of fun - and I've never met anyone who didn't love it, even non-gamers (literally my whole christmas day last year was playing Beat Saber with my...

    Beat Saber is the most solid "dive in" sort of fun - and I've never met anyone who didn't love it, even non-gamers (literally my whole christmas day last year was playing Beat Saber with my friends), but my personal favourite VR game is WipeOut. It works perfectly in VR. Bit on the motion-sicknessy side but you get over that. I've played countless hours of WipeOut on various platforms and nothing comes close to the intensity and fun of playing it in VR.

    What you're missing out on is immersion like you've never experienced any other way. Works better for some games than others - the horror games and racing games seem to be best for making you feel part of the game, but the more psychedelic stuff like Rez Infinite or the weirdness that is SuperHot is also amazing in a different way. I haven't played the Skyrim port but I do hear good things from people who like Skyrim. It's exciting and interesting but it's different from flatland gaming. I'm not sure that one single killer game exists yet, but there's lots of really good ones.

    I still think VR gaming is going to be huge, but I don't think it's happening this generation or even the next. Headsets need to get lighter, have wider fields of view, higher resolutions and refresh rates and go wireless too. GPUs need to get more powerful and/or cheaper to drive them. The hardware manufacturers do seem to be mostly talking about the same things in future versions, so I'm sure they'll get there.

    PSVR2 might be the device that does it. Consoles have an advantage in terms of uptake because you don't need to worry about whether you have the right graphics card or enough ram or whatever. Buy a PS5 (and millions of people are going to do that) and a PSVR2 and everything will just work and you won't be out crazy amounts of money. I may be biased by being solely a console peasant myself these days, of course.

    fwiw, I think AR will actually end up with considerably more adoption, but the tech is further behind in that area.

    If you want to see a bit of what you're missing, I'd recommend the excellent VR game reviews done by Matt at Up Is Not Jump

    5 votes
  6. stromm
    Link
    My son has the HTC Vive (he's 29, married and on his own). He also has something like 400 VR games between Steam and HumbleBundle collections. He rarely uses the Vive. Controls are "emulated" on...

    My son has the HTC Vive (he's 29, married and on his own). He also has something like 400 VR games between Steam and HumbleBundle collections.

    He rarely uses the Vive. Controls are "emulated" on most games and don't really have great interfaces when not.

    Plus he found that a 1070 could barely drive it.

    4 votes
  7. crowbahr
    Link
    Valve Index, Knuckles Controllers, RTX 2080 TI: It's a lot of fun. Very immersive, I lose myself in those environments. Games like Pavlov and Onward are great shooters... But it's not something...

    Valve Index, Knuckles Controllers, RTX 2080 TI: It's a lot of fun. Very immersive, I lose myself in those environments. Games like Pavlov and Onward are great shooters...

    But it's not something you do more than an hour or two of at a time. Hard to justify the cost for that reason.

    Still 0 regrets: I love being part of what is clearly the start of something bigger... but the pc hardware required to run what amounts to the equivalent of SD Dvds is the problem. When foveated rendering becomes more possible then we'll start to see blu-ray quality resolutions be feasible for the refresh rates required by VR. Until then... it's very much enthusiast only.

    4 votes
  8. JohnLeFou
    Link
    I still think we’re 2 vr gens from mass appeal. It’s hard in that you are self handicapped. It’s so much easier to press a button than throw a punch yourself. I find myself feeling too lazy to...

    I still think we’re 2 vr gens from mass appeal. It’s hard in that you are self handicapped. It’s so much easier to press a button than throw a punch yourself. I find myself feeling too lazy to play some games. I think we are still in enthusiast territory, but that enthusiasm is high. My significant other just “doesn’t get it”, but my father in law tried it once and was completely gob smacked. My friend tried and was hooked immediately.

    I see a pretty big disparity between people who have their brain just ‘click’ with vr. I was super skeptical but I had one experience demoing a vive and had a moment where it clicked and I was there. Others just yawn at it and say it’s neat but nothing exciting.

    Game-wise I’ve been playing Compound and it’s a LOT of fun. It’s One of the few games out there that had a free demo. I think a demo is super important for VR since it’s so experiential and hard to convey on a 2d screen.

    I’ve also been playing The Talos Principle. A puzzle game in vr really stretches your spacial abilities. I was really surprised by how good the writing was. It varies between Dante and an internet meme.

    3 votes
  9. [4]
    moocow1452
    Link
    I use Oculus Go mostly for media and streaming, and my Rift gets brought out for Beat Saber. Were I to get new hardware today, something like the Quest can do both, and has a tether mode so that...

    I use Oculus Go mostly for media and streaming, and my Rift gets brought out for Beat Saber. Were I to get new hardware today, something like the Quest can do both, and has a tether mode so that you can connect to Steam VR, can use the Oculus Store Apps like Virtual Desktop to screen share, or even sideload Android apps into Oculus TV and play mobile games and Streaming Apps all big like.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      zlsa
      Link Parent
      The Oculus Quest Link software (that will allow you to plug it into a VR-capable PC, to use PCVR software) isn't out yet, but it's expected to be released in beta this month (November.) However,...

      The Oculus Quest Link software (that will allow you to plug it into a VR-capable PC, to use PCVR software) isn't out yet, but it's expected to be released in beta this month (November.) However, even then, you'll need to buy a USB3 Type-C cable, and the image quality will not be as good as native PCVR headsets (because the Link software needs to compress the image to fit it into USB3 bandwidth.)

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        moocow1452
        Link Parent
        Yes, and that's a trade-off I'm willing to make. PC VR doesn't really have anything for me, and even if I was curious about a thing, I would rather have the flexibility of a portable setup than...

        Yes, and that's a trade-off I'm willing to make. PC VR doesn't really have anything for me, and even if I was curious about a thing, I would rather have the flexibility of a portable setup than the quality of a dedicated PC unit.

        3 votes
        1. zlsa
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I agree as well. Most people probably wouldn't notice the quality loss with Oculus Quest Link anyway. I think the visual quality of Virtual Desktop SteamVR streaming over WiFi is good enough...

          Yeah, I agree as well. Most people probably wouldn't notice the quality loss with Oculus Quest Link anyway. I think the visual quality of Virtual Desktop SteamVR streaming over WiFi is good enough as-is. (Latency is another issue entirely, but I think Link will be far better than WiFi by virtue of the USB connection.)

          1 vote
  10. alexandre9099
    Link
    I have the rift CV1, it is amazing, but due to poor software support (as in, no official support at all in linux) it makes me not use it more, thus i'm looking into buying the index, which runs...

    I have the rift CV1, it is amazing, but due to poor software support (as in, no official support at all in linux) it makes me not use it more, thus i'm looking into buying the index, which runs okish on linux (i have tried it from a friend of mine) and with proton lots of windows only games work fine on linux

    If you don't mind the software issues (also, oculus software is kinda bloated IMHO) it is pretty amazing with the current hardware (i have tried oculus CV1, htc vive and the valve index) it is already pretty cool and worth giving it a try (in a place you can actually get imersed, those "public vr demos" are cool to give it a short try but not enough time to actually get imersed)

    2 votes
  11. [3]
    JakeTheDog
    Link
    Does anyone know about porting just about any game into VR? My specific thought is VR with RTS-style games or anything isometric and birds-eye. The immersion itself does it for me and I would...

    Does anyone know about porting just about any game into VR? My specific thought is VR with RTS-style games or anything isometric and birds-eye. The immersion itself does it for me and I would totally spend the money just for that feature/upgrade alone.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      There's a program called VorpX that basically hooks into a bunch of standard DirectX/OpenGL games and makes it so they can be displayed in "Stereo 3D", which isn't really VR, but gives the games...

      There's a program called VorpX that basically hooks into a bunch of standard DirectX/OpenGL games and makes it so they can be displayed in "Stereo 3D", which isn't really VR, but gives the games depth so you're seeing them in 3D. Here's its current list of officially supported games: https://www.vorpx.com/supported-games/

      One thing to keep in mind with games that weren't specifically built for VR is that the camera motion or other aspects of the game can cause motion-sickness. Games designed for VR tend to use a lot of different techniques to avoid that.

      There are some VR RTS games that are great too, Brass Tactics is really neat and feels great to play.

      2 votes
      1. JakeTheDog
        Link Parent
        Ah, yeah that's what I was getting at. Transforming to stereoscopic is kind of trivial, from the users perspective (pun intended). I'm not familiar with the technical details so I was hoping that...

        One thing to keep in mind with games that weren't specifically built for VR is that the camera motion or other aspects of the game can cause motion-sickness. Games designed for VR tend to use a lot of different techniques to avoid that.

        Ah, yeah that's what I was getting at. Transforming to stereoscopic is kind of trivial, from the users perspective (pun intended). I'm not familiar with the technical details so I was hoping that all of the "other techniques" used in VR would could also be ported.

        But I will check out Brass Tactics, thanks!

        2 votes
  12. kjhanonichi
    Link
    out of my affordability

    out of my affordability