I’m revising the concerns I had before stepping into vr. As I had no friends who owe vr headsets I only used it twice before in arcades and wasn’t sure how well it’s going to work with DCS. I did my research on this forum. I found that some of us who owe headsets still fly using screens because eye candy is more important for them than immersion. I figured out that there is no way I can be 100% certain that VR is for me. I took my chances and bought Rift S.
My overall impression is overwhelmingly positive. Now I fly exclusively in VR. There is no way I’m going back. The biggest thing for me was to see scale properly in 3d. Whenever I start my session I always spend a few seconds in awe just looking around. Seeing how small cockpit is and how huge are the wings. The depth perception makes you better at flying your plane. It’s especially important during dive-bombing or formation flying.
So here I’m going to address here some of the things that bothered me before I got myself a VR setup. Everything here is subjective to my personal experience of VR. I’ve been using Rift S for 5 months now. Might be useful for those of us who are still on the fence.
Is there enough resolution to fly the plane, spot targets, read gages? – Yes there is.
The image isn’t as sharp as if you would be using monitor but it’s enough. The only thing which is a problem in VR is identifying targets. You see the dot, but you’re not sure what it is. It does put you in a disadvantage to the guys that are using screens. The good news is that some time ago ED implemented additional VR "spyglass” ZOOM which helps with spotting targets. They also made both Zooms much faster, so the execution is almost instantaneous.
How long will I struggle with motion sickness? – Not long if at all.
It’s no issue. When I wore the headset for the first time and started taxiing it felt slightly nauseous. After one week of 1-2h sessions the feeling was completely gone. Now I can do all sorts of crazy maneuvers like dive-bombing and I feel nothing. I read somewhere that whenever you start feeling funny its best to take a break and get back to vr later. And that’s exactly what I did. I also started small – with slowly taxiing to the runway. When I was comfortable with that I flown Su-27 Frogfoot which is not very maneuverable and then after a week I realized that it’s all gone. Fun fact – my girlfriend had no motion sickness whatsoever. It was not a problem for her. It depends on a person.
Are the specs of the headset the most important thing? - No. The comfort is.
When you’re buying a headset you have to remember that it’s something that you’re going to strap to your face. Like clothes. You can have a great set of designer pants but you are not going to wear them that often if they are too tight :).
If you have the possibility go check them all out. I didn’t had that possibility when I was making my choice and I’m ok with RIFT S. Even with my high IPD of 69 mm. I also was worried that my huge nose will get in the way of the headset but the gap is big enough. We are all unique in our needs and the headset that works best for your friend might be uncomfortable for you.
Audio is also a huge topic here. Rift S has no audio solution. (I know it has tiny headband speakers but you won’t be using those. Trust me on this one). I tried using headphones and it was another thing pressing against my head, therefore it was inconvenient for longer sessions. Then I tried earbuds and the quality of the sound wasn’t there. I also don’t like the full separation from the room that I’m in. So as of now I settled for using my computer speakers. It’s not ideal but It’s the best of the mentioned solutions. As a side note I’m going to add that I think that Valve knows what it’s doing with the audio solution that they used for the Index headset. If it would be available as an add-on to Rift S I would buy it for sure.
Are the hand controllers an integral part of the experience in DCS? Should I consider quality of the controllers when I’m buying my headset? – No. In DCS It’s a gimmick.
I have my oculus controllers off. Whenever I’m doing something in the cockpit that’s not mapped onto my hotas I use mouse. I saw many other players use a trackball. The reason I’m not using controllers is that my desk would constantly get in the way. You can use it as a wand/remote control but it’s very unreliable. Controllers are represented as two gloves that are always visible in the cockpit and I found that immersion breaking.
Is low frame rate a big problem, what if I don’t have a system that can push 90 or in my case 80 fps? Are the artifacts in synthetic frames going to ruin my experience? – Low frame rate might be a problem. You need a powerful system but ASW helps us out. Synthetic frames have minor artifacts that you get used to.
ED did a lot to make DCS playable in VR but the game wasn’t designed with VR in mind and there is still a lot to be done. As of now we need Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) or other fps enhancing systems. This way you need to push only half of the fps needed to enjoy a smooth experience. Before stepping in to vr I thought that it will be visible and problematic. Since I tried it I decided not to lower my graphical settings to try to have as many “real” frames as possible. My system is robust enough to push steady 40 fps for each eye, It’s not worth it. There are not very many situations where you see artifacts that are the effect of “interpolated frames”. You have to look for it. I got used to it. It’s not a big deal.
Stutter only appears when the system is not able to produce half of the amount of the frames needed by you vr goggles. On Rift S its 40fps. It used to happen when I was close to the ground in Las Vegas or in Caen on the Normandy map but after I lowered my pixel density to 1.1 it doesn’t happen. I know that I have a powerful system and not everyone can afford i9 with 2080ti. All I’m saying is that you need to do your own research and be ready to lower some of the graphical settings.
The immersion is worth it.
Thanks for reading and happy new year Guys and Girls,