Even when we locked the newsroom before Christmas and Jirka and I went to the families to meet their well-deserved leave, I had a clear idea of how I would spend part of the planned inaction. With a virtual reality headset on his head and completely immersed in Flight Simulator. A few days ago, the developers from the Asobo studio released an update to the world with the long-awaited VR mode, from which the community of players promised a lot. After all, I also confirmed in the review that the terrain processing is not only stunning, but also fully functional for flying according to VFR rules, but it still lacked a comfortable and especially full-fledged view, so important for real flying. You probably won’t be surprised that as soon as the first option appeared, I connected the Oculus Quest to my computer and, after a moment of tuning and adjusting, started picking up the jaw from the ground.
The degree of enchantment that you really are push and you are piloting a real aircraft, it is disarming without exaggeration and offers a very authentic feeling, especially when choosing smaller aircraft or ultralights. Looking around and outside the cockpit is completely natural and with a snap of your finger it will make you a better pilot. Thanks to the detailed cockpits, you have all the necessary information in sight, when instead of clumsily shooting the camera with a mouse or gamepad, you can just turn your head or let your eyes slide to the appropriate device. In the first minutes, you will feel that there is suddenly much more time for everything and your experience will shift significantly towards what pilots of small aircraft actually experience. Of course, you will still not fully perceive shocks, congestion, gusts of wind and the fact that you are moving high above the ground, accessing VR mode, but within Flight Simulator there is another boundary between game and reality and it is a very significant improvement that you simply need.
However, because in connection with virtual reality, the performance of the computer to which the respective headset is connected is always addressed, I cannot miss the hardware window either. Much has been said about the bloody demands of the game, and you don’t have to be an expert to understand that all hardware is required for flying in VR. threats multiplies even more. My Christmas testing took place on a computer with an Intel Core i7-6700K processor, 64 GB of DDR4 memory and gradually with one pair of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 FE graphics cards connected one and then via SLI mode. While this set in 1080p resolution with a graphic preset “high” at 67-95 frames per second is enough to play the basic version, rendering in higher resolution for VR needs cut performance literally in front of your eyes and a similar fps frequency can only be achieved by exchanging for a minimum of detail. and lower resolution. However, all settings are offered by Flight Simulator directly in the menu, and with a little patience it is possible to find an adequate ratio between performance and quality, so that flying is bearable and can be enjoyed at least within limits. Personally, I ended up with a resolution of 1444 x 1590 pixels with a graphic preset “medium” and some partial adjustments to an even lower setting. The result was an average of 34 fps, but with occasional drops to zero when loading some areas or during a flyby of large cities.
All settings are offered by Flight Simulator directly in the menu and with a little patience it is possible to find an adequate ratio between performance and quality, so that the flight is tolerable and can be enjoyed at least within the limits.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to end up here and move to more digestible impressions directly from the game – the mentioned frame rate can only be achieved using ASW technology – Asynchronous Spacewarp – which uses Oculus devices to relieve the processor and graphics card. Simply put, the headset’s control software creates fake images to complement the overall image, giving the hardware plenty of time to render completely new images. Unfortunately, the result is a picture porridge every time you turn your head faster, or when something very fast flashes in front of you. In addition, the image shakes strangely and cannot be stabilized even with maximum effort to move the head only very smoothly and slightly. Fortunately, it doesn’t hurt me as a person who suffers from nausea while playing VR games, and I was able to keep playing for hours at a time.
The time has not yet come
The actual implementation of the VR mode is great and it is really clear that the special division of Asobo has applied its many years of experience in the development of VR experiences and engineering tools. As an example, I can mention instant switching to stereoscopic mode from anywhere in the game, including flight. Use the shortcut ctrl + tab to activate the display and just put on the headset and try after placatém flight needs VR landing. The mouse cursor is also perfectly processed, which is still necessary to control the instruments in the cockpit. It always stays where you leave it, so you can control the element even if you don’t look at it at all. In addition, if you move the mouse at such a time, it will automatically focus on your current view, which is an extremely elegant and functional solution. You can handle individual navigation windows, checklists, communication tabs, and more in a similar way — you place them in space and stay in place no matter what. And as for adjusting your own possession – using the cursor arrows, you can very easily set the virtual camera to the desired height or distance from the control tools and sit exactly where you need, even if it does not correspond to reality. And yes, you can also move your own ass to the first officer’s seat without any problems and operate the plane unusually from the right for most players.
As a first attempt and a piece of demonstration of what can be achieved in an affordable desktop simulator, VR mode in Flight Simulator works well, but it is backed by really shameless hardware demands, which, according to responses so far, almost no one is able to cope with. You can completely ignore my report and count into discussions where aviation enthusiasts are bitter boasts However, the fact that they do not have a good time with VR with the latest processors and unavailable Nvidia RTX 30 series graphics cards. graphic details and the visual charm of the whole game disappears from it. So, in my opinion, the right time has not yet come for the VR regime to be communicated as a gift for everyone, although I appreciate the huge effort of the developers and I am trying to repay another hour behind the stick. Even though I know it’s not, for a while you really feel that the sky is just yours…