VR As a Car Enthusiast is Something Completely Different
A couple of months ago, I had my very first VR experience, I was imediately sold. Had some left over money from 2 years of saving up for one of my dream cars and used half of it to buy myself a top of the line VR headset, the Valve Index
I did not regret my decision then and haven’t since, if anything, this had given me more driving pleasure than that car would’ve. I’ve mainly used it for VRChat, Beatsaber, Pavlov, and DiRT Rally 2.0. I’ll get into the first three later since, this is about what it has done for me as a car enthusiast.
My favourite motorsport by far is the WRC, and many of my favorite cars have rally variants that once raced in the WRC and my favourite car brand is Lancia. I’ve played DiRT Rally since 2015-2016 and (although Codemasters business managers should be fired) I’ve liked their games so far (apart from DiRT 4, that was just a disaster). I have loved climbing the online leaderboards in the daily, weekly and monthly events ever since I started, But I had always used the same hardware; Steeringwheel and pedals (sometimes shifter). That all changed when I got my VR headset. It changed so much about me, the way I felt, and the way I played.
You actually get a sense of the speed. Seeing the world within the game flashing past with your very own eyes is something I can’t really describe. Imagine actually driving a car on a DiRT road at 100 km/h but without the discomfort.
You get more fearless. You’d think this was the opposite. Being scared of hitting a tree, face first in VR, but for me atleast, it was the other way around. While playing on a 2D screen, actually knowing how far away from something you are could sometimes be really hard unless you know the stage. So you’d always fear that you would missjudge. But with VR, when you get to use both your eyes and actually see a hairpin approaching, you get so much more confident in braking late and flooring it more often.
The game no longer decides where you look. When playing normally, you’re locked in to one view that you can adjust stlightly, but only to what the game allows you. Well, in VR, you probably know this, you can actually turn you head without input, just turn your head!
You get to drive so many different cars. No, no, I know you can do it without VR but you’re not actually driving it if you’re just looking at a screen. You actually get to sit in the car, have a look around, look at every little detail, stare your co-driver directly into the face, actually feel like you’re driving a car.
Your body reacts to the different enviroments. This is probably different from person to person, but say in a rainy stage, I’ve felt colder than on other stages. And if I drive a night stage, then take off my headset and look outside while it’s bright and don’t think about it, there’s this fraction of a second of confusion and realisation (I don’t get it anymore).
Isn’t €1,000 a bit too much just for a gaming thing?
It is, untill you buy it, then you start getting a clue of what you’ve been missing out on. Not only have I had a blast, driving as fast as I want on narrow roads from the comfort of my own house, I’ve made friends in VRChat, I’ve started working out using Beatsaber and Expert+ levels. Working out was probably the most mundane thing I could think of before I got my kit. Now, for once, I can’t wait to have another go.
Besides, who said VR costs €1,000? Well, I did but thats not important. €1,000 is for the top of the line stuff, only reason I could afford it is beacuse I was saving up for something else for 2 years (I don’t have a job).
Ofcourse you need a good computer and you probably want a VR headset that’s decent. Well, I recently found this video that I belive is and can be extremely helpful for those who are into the idea of getting VR.
If you’re starting from scratch (i.e you don’t have a computer, how are you even reading this?) Everything put together might end up costing about €1,000. But if you already have a decent computer, you just need the kit. To check if you can run VR on your computer, if you have a Steam account, you can just download a small program that just tells you wether or not your PC is ready for VR.
Can be found here: store.steampowered.com/app/1070910/Are_you_ready_for_Valve_Index/
Note that the Valve Index requires a beefier computer than other headsets. So if you can run an Index, you can run all headsets. Personally I can only recomend the Index. It’s the only one I’ve used and I can’t see myself downgrading. The customer support is amazing if you have an Index, probably the best there is.
So why am I writing this?
Well, VR has been in this back and fourth battle of “Is it just a fad?” “Is it the future?” I’m telling you, it IS the future, VR isn’t an extension to PC gaming. VR exclusive games are coming out and will continue to come out, I just think large game companies have been scared to dip their toes in something new, so I’m glad Valve is actually taking the first step.
Yanking the handbrake in empty, icy, closed off parking lots in my 1.5 tonne Volvo V70 will only do so much for me. Getting to drive at rally speeds on command, whenever you’re home feels like a luxury.
I don’t regret turning down my dream car for VR.