Today, I requested my first ever (and hopefully last) Steam refund. I’ve bought hundreds of games on Steam – some good, some not so good – but have never felt the inclination to toss in the towel within 2-hours of gameplay. For context, I was able to overlook everything wrong with The Division at launch and actually played the darn thing – if you could survive that, you can survive almost anything.
I was given a £20 gift card for Steam for Christmas and immediately picked up Fallout 4 VR in the Steam Sale for £19.99. I’d put about 40 hours into Fallout 4 but hadn’t got anywhere near the end and had hoped that Fallout 4 VR would encourage me to re-explore Bethesda’s incredible wasteland.
After installing and putting my headset on, it was apparent that something was wrong. I have never felt motion sickness in a VR game before but after just a few minutes, I needed to take a break. I hadn’t even spoken to the vault salesman at the front door.
I started tinkering with settings. I played with the movement speed, the vignette, the turning style and speed, everything that the game would let me adjust to try to alleviate the problem. I rebooted, pointed a fan right at my face, slipped my headset back on, spoke with the salesman then…had to stop again. It was too much.
I jumped online and began searching for fixes. Following recommendations, I played with .ini files, installed mods, dialled settings right down, jumping back into the game after each change to see whether it had solved the problem.
I decided to persevere and try to get over it. I knew that if I could, I’d be playing Fallout VR relentlessly for most of 2019 and wouldn’t regret a thing.
News of nuclear bombs dropping came, I ran to the vault with my family (God knows how I survived this in real life) and went through the sequence that kickstarts the story but had to stop. I tried an optimisation mod, then jumped back in. After being let loose on the vault, I killed some Radroaches, managed to find my way to the entrance, hopped on the lift, rode to the top and the wasteland opened up before me.
This moment was just as awe-inspiring as I had hoped it would be. Unfortunately, I’d had enough.
All in all, I’d sunk over 6 hours of experimentation and forum-hunting into my time with Fallout 4 VR. I had 107 minutes of actual game time. I was done.
My problem with Fallout wasn’t the poorly layered textures (dirt hovering a foot away from the walls they’re supposed to be covering, anyone?). It wasn’t that I had to install Open VR Advance Settings to make myself a reasonable height (though bring 8-foot-tall then 4-foot-tall was an experience). It wasn’t even that the gun aiming was off just enough to be annoying. It was the motion sickness brought on by a very minor but equally significant jutter.
I’ve written about my PC before; it’s pretty decent. I have an i7 4770K with 16GB RAM and a 1080 TI. It should be able to handle Fallout 4 VR on higher settings, though I’d have accepted low settings just to have experienced it. Instead, it was a mess. It was time to throw in the towel.
To be fair to Steam, I put the request in for the refund and within 10 minutes the balance had been refunded. I decided to take a risk and try Skyrim VR, a game that is older but has successfully been ported to PSVR so should have been better optimised than Fallout. Despite having owned Skyrim on the Xbox 360 and PC, the mammoth amount of content has always intimidated me too much to actually start it. In VR, that would be time more than well-spent.
The story has a happy ending. I’m loving Skyrim VR. I’m about 98 minutes in, I have everything dialled up and I’m running 40+ enhancement mods. Skyrim VR is significantly smoother than Fallout 4 VR and I’m excited to explore the world and discover the story.
It is a shame that Bethesda didn’t spend more time optimising Fallout 4 VR. They should have ensured that it could run decently even on a low-to-mid-range VR gaming PC. Instead, they released something buggy and broken, then left it to the community to fix it.
Normally, I’d have stuck with Fallout 4 VR and tried to fix it, but with just a few days Christmas break remaining, I wanted to have fun, not waste even more time trying to find a fix that may not exist. Life is too short.
Those who have got Fallout 4 VR running smoothly, I envy you, but I am excited to finally play Skyrim. Every cloud mod has a silver lining, right?