I requested my first, and hopefully last, Steam refund today. I’ve bought hundreds of games on Steam – some good, some not so good – but have never felt inclined to toss in the towel within two hours of gameplay. For context, I overlooked everything wrong with The Division at launch and had fun playing it – if you can survive that, you can survive almost anything.
I picked up Fallout 4 VR in the Steam Christmas Sale for the reasonable price of £19.99. I’d put about 40 hours into Fallout 4, but had got nowhere 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 VR headset on, it was clear that something was wrong. I felt nauseous. 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. I rebooted, pointed a fan right at my face, slipped my headset back on, finally 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 down, jumping back into the game after each change to see whether it had solved the problem.
I persevered and tried 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 (which was torture) and went through the sequence that kick starts the story. Then, I had to stop. I tried a final optimisation mod, then jumped back in. After being let loose on the vault, I killed some Radroaches, found 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 six hours of experimentation and forum-hunting into Fallout 4 VR. I had 107 minutes of actual game time. I was done.
I could deal with the poorly layered textures; dirt hovering in mid-air a foot away from walls wasn’t a deal-breaker. Installing Open VR Advance Settings to make myself a reasonable height was fine – I even got to experience being a 10-foot-tall monster. The ever-so-slightly inaccurate aiming was tolerable, too. It was the motion sickness brought on by a minor but significant frame drops..
I’ve written about my PC before; it’s decent. I have an i7 4770K with 16GB RAM and a 1080 Ti graphics card. It should be able to handle Fallout 4 VR at decent settings, though I’d have accepted low settings just to have experienced it. Instead, it was a mess. I threw in the towel.
To be fair to Steam, I put the request in for the refund and within 10 minutes they had refunded the balance. I took a risk and picked up Skyrim VR, an older game that has been successfully ported to PSVR. Despite having owned Skyrim on the Xbox 360 and PC, the mammoth amount of content has always intimidated me too much to start it. In VR, that would be time 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 50+ mods. Skyrim VR is significantly smoother than Fallout 4 VR, and I’m excited to explore the world and experience 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 of 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?