- Fallout 4 VR, now four years old, has a flourishing mod scene that makes the game more than playable
- The installation is not for the faint-hearted and requires you to follow roughly 20-40 pages of an extremely wordy guide
- The entire process requires F4VR, Fallout 4 GOTY edition (or some other way to get all DLCs, and potentially a premium Nexus Mods account (to not have to install mods manually)
- The experience is worth it despite many issues and potential issues
Fallout 4 VR came out somewhere around the tail end of 2017 and nobody gave a hoot, mostly because the game was awful and VR was in a lousy spot. Four years later, we’ve got better hardware, and enough updates to make the vanilla game kind of, sort of playable.
And where Bethesda has failed us, modders have stepped up in a huge way to offer an experience that’s second-to-few in the VR space. Enter GingasVR and Wabbajack.
If those names mean nothing to you, you’re not alone. GingasVR is the auteur of an installation method that includes the aforementioned 40-page Donezo Manifesto covering every possible aspect of what we’ll call The Process. Part of The Process revolves around installing a list of mods (modlist) via Wabbajack, the open-source software that makes it all possible:
To start with, you’ll need Fallout 4 VR (the base game, ~$10), all of the DLCs (basically, buy the regular F4:GOTY edition, ~$5-8), and possibly a premium membership to Nexus Mods ($10). That last one isn’t technically required, but it does let you go through the automated download/install process – otherwise, you would need to download and install each mod separately. I’d say it’s worth it just for the peace of mind.
If you can get everything working – that’s honestly a big if – it is a pretty incredible, almost out-of-body experience. There aren’t too many games out there in the VR space that can really quite compare. Half-Life: Alyx is the most obvious one, and while it’s by far the best of the bunch – gunfights are few and far between and just feel a little too polished. Fallout 4 takes the opposite extreme where fights are just straight chaos and you might have a bunch of crazies shooting at you and others rushing you with melee weapons. No longer can you just equip a sniper rifle (my specialty in Fallout games) and just snipe everyone that comes your way with a click of the mouse. Now you’ll actually need steady aim and a keen eye. Which is probably how it should be.
And exploration? Let’s just say that I never really thought of Fallout 4 as a horror game (sure, some vaults were creepy), but go inside any building in VR and it’s a completely different ballgame. Like, the kind of ballgame where you’re constantly looking over your shoulder lest a super mutant sneak up on you from behind and smash you with a super sledge. This is an entirely new game and worth replaying again if you’ve completed the base, non-VR version.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s without its shares of foibles.
Fallout 4 GingasVR Edition assumes a couple of things. It assumes that you’re playing for maximum immersion, and you want the Hardest, Most Punishing Experience. I’m going to say this is idiotic especially with how some of the mods operate:
- The default difficulty is set to Survival, which means: 1. you continually take damage if you’re over your weight limit. Unfortunately, in my version there’s no way to tell that you’re over the weight limit without constantly checking the weight numbers in the inventory screen. Which makes no sense – if I’m carrying too much, I think I’d actually notice before my legs fall off, no? And 2. survival also means no fast travel allowed.
- One of the mods used in the GingasVR install is Idle Hands, which puts the pip-boy on your arm (cool, sure) complete with a *virtual button* that you use to activate it. This button is maddening and requires you to manipulate your arm in creative ways all while stabbing your other finger at empty air. This is all part of the Punishing Experience.
- When you die, you get treated to special music, which can be: the Super Mario Bros. death theme, an absurdly long version of the “MMM WHATCHA SAYYY, MMM THAT YOU ONLY MEANT WELL, OF COURSE YOU DID” song, and one more equally dumb song. Total immersion. To be fair, this is actually somewhat entertaining for like the first…ten deaths or so.
- The included damage scaling mod makes enemies do more damage while taking much less. I’m fine with damage being more skewed in enemies’ favor, but when I’m constantly shooting at (and hitting) some nobody raider from two feet away and they don’t die after eating two entire 10mm clips, there’s a problem. I guess you’re supposed to headshot everyone, because hitting someone in the head with any weapon makes their head fly off in dramatic fashion.
The good news is that you can turn off certain mods with the included Mod Organizer and lower the difficulty as needed. But I still have some random problems, like being unable to see any important messages (like when you enter a new area, when you’re sneaking, etc). I also seem to have lost the ability to change keybindings for my Index controllers, which also means I can’t change the virtual pip-boy button to a real one.
But that’s life, right? Sometimes you win, sometimes you get bitten by a radroach.
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