Make Your Picks

The VR Conundrum


there's a frog in my snake oil
Something about this really tickled me. Think it's the way he made it sound like he was chilling on his morning porch

Virtual Reality chatter on a movie site? Got endless amounts of it here. Reviews over here

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

there's a frog in my snake oil
Fallout 4: Some More

So I've somehow played 14 hours of FO4 even though I'm miles under spec and the menus barely work for my unsupported Rift. (I literally can't cure my radiation right now because Radaway is too far down the alphabet )

But I feel compelled to make a list of:

Mainly Entirely Positive Things (which probably explain why I'm playing uphill):

  • The naturalistic gunplay works well, despite the poor accuracy early on (due to stats & starter ironsights) and poor accuracy at range generally (low resolution for me, and scopes are currently non-functional). Mid-range punts and close-range chaos are great though. The ability to shoot wildly around your hips as you dodge away from a Molerat erupting next to you is just grand

  • Worth a point on its own: That ghoul sprint. The moment when they accelerate over the last few yards, and you desperately go for the headshot with your wildly unreliable weapon, is heart stoppingly cool .

  • Gun mods look great in your hand - it really feels like you've changed the form and heft of the weapon. (Even though the lack of dual and two-handed wielding is a shame).

  • Companions are great 'writ large'. Dogmeat just calls to have his head ruffled, and the way he knocks British soldiers *above* your ears like skittles is hilarious . (Codsworth is the same wonderful metal bastard, just the same size as you )

  • There's so much I still haven't explored. I cant believe I just found another base a stone's throw from Sanctuary that I never noticed during my previous 80hr playthrough . Just stumbled onto it because I was enjoying rambling in a straight line

  • Despite the jaggies it's still a pretty place to tromp about. These pix communicate both aspects I think... (NB that the 'screen door effect' actually makes my game look even worse than this at these resolutions :/, although motion & depth makes up for a lot...)

It's not a revolutionary use of VR (LA Noire is closer to that), or a revolutionary re-imagining of FO4. It's a mainly functional merger of the two, and a solid use of both in the process.

You do need a beast of a machine though. I'm right on the cusp of unplayable performance and horrendous aesthetics even with my respectable 970/i5 set up. Yet somehow I'm still playing

TLDR: Dammit this game is addictive. Lots of issues in attendance though. This is not currently an endorsement

there's a frog in my snake oil
Just a quick round up of some peripheral stuff from from before my Xmas AAA glut

Edge of Nowhere

This really wouldn't have been my speed normally, but it was slashed to £4 so I jumped in. I'm not really a fan of linear 3rd person adventure fare. You know, the stuff where you trog onwards, knowing that occasionally various bits of landmass will drop from beneath you in cinematic fashion. It just feels too on rails. And so it is here.

But. Where the game raises the bar is in adding a Cthulian strand of hallucination and storytelling as you push onwards through the increasingly horrific icy wastes, merging fever dreams of exotic locales and narrative doubt into your mortal struggles. (A nice line in Noir Jazz also underpins the 30s/40s flashbacks and mental drifts, while 80s adventure music drives the cheesier main action).

The actual game mechanics of avoiding the (decently unsettling) lifeforms you discover are pretty rote. Throw this rock, creep around the other side of this crevasse, conserve your ammunition, make a dash for it etc. The ice pick mechanic for traversing walls is also repetitive (although descents are a lot more fun than ascents, as you drop from crumbling surfaces or between perils). But again they've got a few neat tricks up their sleeve, the most notable being the use of scale. Moments where mighty beasts make their presence felt are solidly and effectively executed. And the flora and fauna are all very effective in their otherlyness...

I didn't actually finish it, because games that are more my thing came online, but for anyone into either linear adventures and horror, this is definitely worth a shot.


(Disclaimer: These are found pics, I daftly deleted my own, which is a shame as they showed off some more of the variety in locations and blended narrative scenes)

there's a frog in my snake oil

Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel

This is the closest I've felt to a 'future TV' experience. It's just 12 minutes of one man's reminiscences from the day, but has splashes of detail that speak to the wider facts and the feel of the times. Some lovely semi-static art paints and connects the various subjective scenes around you in a seated experience. The pseudo-balanced BBC meta narrator is a bit annoying, but in fairness the topic is too huge for anything but a toe dip in the timeframe available.

*More Pix*




Part of Google's Spotlight series, I'll give this one a hat tip for being the first to get my eyes moist. (Although with the caveat that since I've become a dad any story tied to kid care can tease the tears out with ease . Also films about bears, loss, love, & the inner-workings of the rotisserie industry. I don't know why this is ).

The format is pretty simple: Sit in the passenger seat throughout the life of a family car, as a father and daughter go from the Spring to the Autumn of their relationship. It's kinda hokey, but technically solid.


Dear Angelica

Another painterly affair (developed with and alongside the 3D paint package Quill), this one shows off some cinematic sensitivities, partially with its narrative of a daughter lost in dreams without her famous mother, and partially in its voice works from Geena Davis. It doesn't take off completely, but the melancholy traces of reveries and daily debris work with the audio for sure.


there's a frog in my snake oil
Fallout 4: Still Going Forth

Loops of Loot:

Ok, 38 hours in, and I'm playing exactly the same way as in flatland. I'm pursuing the same build instinctively (Charisma for communities, Gun Mods for satisfying survival, Picking/Hacking etc for loot). I'm still luring Mirelurks onto mines, still giggling at Codsworth as he sallies forth, still jumbling junk into defensive walls...

What Fresh Apocalypse Is This?:

So why is it different? Because I can blindfire around a doorframe and take out a pesky turret trap? Because Mirelurks are actually 6ft-tall shelled bastards who scare the bejesus out of me, despite my well laid plans? Because the infrastructure and communities I'm creating slowly build and exist around me in a far more 'physical' way? Hell yes, because of things like that

Here are some 2D pix of my left eye's view which entirely fail to get any of this across

Janking and Tanking:

Is this my review? Nah. I'm still too petrified to head to Diamond City purely on performance grounds, and until I do that I can't sign off on it at all. And when I do it'll be with a thousand Bethesda-style caveats...

But despite the near constant 'reprojection' stutter, the unique bugs they've introduced to VR, the periodic crashes, the fact that I had to fix the sky in the ini files (THE SKY BETHESDA ), and the rustic 'lets just plonk VR into this world' approach they've taken... I am having an absolute blast

^^^All perk magazines are displayed like this :/^^^

there's a frog in my snake oil
Oo intriguing, it seems the Pixar's VR experiment has led to them using it as an internal tool. IE:

“As we were building the experience, we were actually collaborating inside of VR, together,” said Henning. “You would have Pixar’s creatives and project leads walking around as skeletons with our creatives and project leads, all together, actually in the experience — them in Emeryville and us in Los Angeles — exploring the space together and making decisions natively in the medium, as opposed to just doing a video conference or a phone call.”

“We model it, then we drop the filmmakers in those spaces to get a feel for scale, design, and to start finding some of their camera shots that they might want to achieve,” said Sondheimer. “That’s new, for us, but it’s also very exciting, for sure.”

“I know that it’s something that they’re using now in our filmmaking — you get a production designer, a director, and the head of our camera department all in, doing a walkthrough of a space together, virtually,” added Sondheimer. “Coco VR unlocked that door, at least in three dimensions.”

there's a frog in my snake oil
Fallout 4: Riding Shotgun


Shotguns are Fantastic

I've blazed through almost all my ammo heading East from Sanctuary (and discovering loads of stuff I've never seen before ) and getting vaguely out of my depth. When things get close and personal though my two-shot blunderbuss is keeping me alive in wonderous last-ditch fashion. Dealing with 3 Supermutants and their pet in quick succession when they surprise-flanked me, desperately sliding amongst their bulky forms and pulling off free-aim headshots, was super intense. (It would have been in flatmode too, but something about the hand aiming and being amongst them was just great ).

I've had similar fun desperately dealing with triple-surprise-ghouls with the last of my pistol ammo, strategically throwing 'nades around doorways and other natural hand-controlled hijinks. Hands definitely add

Plans on Foot:

The terrible day has arrived, and I've run out of steel for deranged building projects. The Slog is safely walled in corrugated iron (complete with cheery nautical picture theme... Whyyy ). But Greygarden has only half of its sky huts built... So I can't push my caravans on just yet. Which slows down my plan of maxing out my Minuteman buddy with survivor missions and moving on to some full on roving with Piper (to get her exploration XP perk).

But it's totally cool. I can't believe I missed the Raider boat base under one of the bridges leading to Diamond City. I'm going to clear that thing (using my hunting rifle, which is doing fine as a non-scoped sniper), use the Power Armour I saw clumping around it to heft steel to the Grey Farm, recruit some human robots (I have their outfit all prepped :/), link up the more advanced land claim and... get distracted by something else

INI for The Win
  • Successfully made VATs update every 1 second instead of 0.1, so the manually highlighted limbs don't flit back and forth ridiculously.

To Do:
  • Invert the magazine setting by 180 degrees. (Yes this is literally why they display upside down :/)
  • Rearrange Power Armour UI so it displays as if near face rather than chest :/

there's a frog in my snake oil
Got loads done in FO4, and had some rootin-tootin fun along the way. But Diamond City was a judder-fest at the end, and I fancied something slicker this morning. So...

Lone Echo

Damn have they nailed the vibe here. Properly delicious presentation, with apposite mechanics, and a well realised NPC companion. (She's a bit dead-eyed, but otherwise well voiced and animated). Despite my jaggy shadows (I'm below reco spec) I was straight into this floating zero-G world. (Poss helps that I've got the locomotion down in Echo Arena, but it's pretty intuitive).

It does seem that the core gameplay is going to be pretty much go-here / pull-that-lever, but I can go along with it purely for the escapism I reckon. Looking forward to scooting around outside the ship

**More pix here**

there's a frog in my snake oil
When I get to play, it's this that I'm playing...

It's a cover shooting, grenade chucking, base building, den diving, world exploring, radiant rescuing, tangent tangling joy so it is . Glitchy as **** with it of course though . (A fair example would be: Today I stopped playing because, yet again, the game decided to crash while picking a lock. This was a good thing though, because I was about to carry on looting, shooting, and tying up narrative ends of my own making interminably, and therefore be very very late for work. Pros and cons like )

I could probably wear myself out with it, as I did with the flat version (trying to build up too many sanctuaries too fast, and getting annoyed at the pillaging required). But for now, out in the high-FPS wilds at least, it feels like pure fun and freedom

Gonna dash into Diamond, nab Piper, and go on that giant explore I promised myself. There's so much of this map I haven't seen...

there's a frog in my snake oil
Fallout 4: Explosive Action and Quiet Repose

I think I just want to say that I'm getting all my favourite gaming flavours out of FO4VR.


Last night I literally hollered 'HOLY ****' as a final surprise ghoul rasped through a doorway I'd turned away from. The sheer apparent viscera of its accelerating approach, and the reactive moment as I fired my auto-shotty across my body, then defensively in front of me as juked back from its slashes, was just a total shot of adrenaline. Like the best side of vid-game excitement, writ bizarrely impactful in that moment. (These guys can barely dent me in game now, but for that split moment in time it really was like an event that was happening and needed to be escaped from. Ideally with style, but desperate measures would do too )

Lord knows my girlfriend is being amazingly accommodating of things like this happening in our living room . (But on the plus side she gets the comedy of me fathoming the underwater swimming controls as well )


On the flip side of the action there's all the escapism, world building, and world-impacting to enjoy. A lot of these things are also elevated in more subtle ways by having yourself 'in the scene'. I found myself just hanging out in GoodNeighbour for a long while, just staring at the security goons pacing and muttering in the rain against the neon grunge. Just little touches like Piper wondering off to quiz people on the location gain a certain something in these moments. (You're more attached to your companion as it is, they're a bit more of a presence, so having them wonder off and blend into the background story-fying is strangely pleasing, mixed with a bit of 'oi, don't disappear completely!').

The building interface is as comparably cludgy as the mouse version, but still leading to pleasingly ramshackle designs and improvisations for all that. Coming 'home' to a location playing Diamond Radio as your survivors down tools under long shadows and gather for an evening beer is grand.

I definitely find the main loops interact pleasingly on the whole (explore / adventure-kill / build), so long as the grind doesn't stack too high. More so than the original on each front (with perhaps the exception of fine-grained & hacked building being more of a pain currently).


The only downside is still performance. There are places I can't go. That military research lab with the green gas? Unplayable. That giant tower whose guts are open to the world? Judderfest.

And of course I'm mainly dodging the main storyline, on account of it being a bit pants. I'm happily probing around the edges of it though. And taking my time saving the wilds, one janky outpost at a time...

Appreciate the update. You're really selling me on this. It's largely become a question of "when" rather than "if." Re: the ghoul thing. Yeah, the ghouls were one of the few things that scared me through my initial run, and now they're the only thing that scare me even when I'm running around totally overpowered. I do feel that ridiculous closing speed they have is manufacturing the reaction a little cheaply, though.

there's a frog in my snake oil
Appreciate the update. You're really selling me on this. It's largely become a question of "when" rather than "if." Re: the ghoul thing. Yeah, the ghouls were one of the few things that scared me through my initial run, and now they're the only thing that scare me even when I'm running around totally overpowered. I do feel that ridiculous closing speed they have is manufacturing the reaction a little cheaply, though.
Hey, missed this!

Yeah, it is a cheap trick, but god it's effective . (Kinda fair-to-fuzzy in a gamey way tho. Like the audio of all the ghouls shaking themselves off in the other room was pretty telegraphed. It was just me that interpreted the sounds as 3 ghouls that needed taking care of, not 4 ).

Cool, yeah, keep your powder dry, but I do reckon you'd love it . A patch is just dropping that fixes things like scopes (well, they put you into a thrifty 'black background with zoomed centre' compromise mode apparently), but in the mid-term performance should be the main braking effect. Getting this thing to run even on mid-range kit is still something of a nightmare.

That said, I've just had a ton of fun in my last sessions

^^Click for Imgur tales of derring do. And carpentry.^^

there's a frog in my snake oil
Eleven Table Tennis

Snagged this for £7 on a deal. Got sucked into playing it for 3 hours, once I'd got the bat orientated right. A dead straightforward use of VR but some very tight execution on show. The AI was decent, but online seems very robust, and there were enough noobs about for me to get some decently daft matches. When I found someone willing to communicate through daftness, like Sir Leinad here, then so much the better

there's a frog in my snake oil
FO4: Projections

I have so many FO4 projects it's untrue. I kinda love how I'll set out to accrue materials for one build, end up with some junk that would totally fit another base, and then get lost strapping some mad new architecture to that locale instead

Currently working on things like:


Supporting the giant metal floating market with concrete struts (arg what am I doing?). The further, bulbous, Airstream-style living 'city' planned for the second floor will have to wait...

The Slog:

I idly noticed a small indent in the corner of the undulating terrain could actually be built on. Somehow a two-story clinic is now sprouting there, with grand plans to arch three stories over to the main living block...

Oberland Station:

(Now with physics-abiding struts)

Has a mini-market that overhangs the low walls, and I'm strangely proud of it's jutting improbability. Many little burrows and homely workplaces now adhere to the walls and hold up structures. The piece-de-resistance is going to be a bar on the roof made of those giant hollowed airplane wing things. Hopefully lit to be seen for miles around...

Egret Tours Marina:

Has a cool 'bunkbed' living quarters in the slipway building, and a bonus shack on the new improvised roof. But it's begging for a floating bedroom over one of the waterways, with walkways spidering over to the main building, so I can free up the leaky boatshed for more shops...

Tenpines Bluff:

Is a tough nugget of a place, and they can make do with their boxy wooden flats, friendly bone doctor, & a fancy television for now. I will be giving them an arms dealer on the roof, housed under a giant missile tower though...

Has a grand folly rising at its centre. A metallic marketplace of multiple tiers, and expected unexpected bulges. And nothing but the finest retailers, o'course. (Currently all staffed by vault dwelling types).

Starlight Drive-In:
Can sod off. I know what a time sink the place is
(Totally will build a market under the 'wings' of the cafe at some point though )

there's a frog in my snake oil
Fallout 4: Big Little Things

Just had a fun session that I expected to be really rote. All I was gonna do was plunge into yet another old factory, to clear out a local cult encampment near The Slog...

Colour that brought the experience to life:

  • Plank walkways falling apart beneath your feet. (I made it across oblivious, but Nick took a two story plunge )
  • This is classic F4, but the background narratives discovered through hacked computers, then reinforced by unique builds and character dialogue, were all solid, and darkly comic at points too. For a randomly entered location this stuff is grand. The fact that some diary entries explained the spontaneous high-tech firefight nearby, spied from the rooftops, was even better . And then picking up an optional side mission at the end, to bring resolution to one of the tragic aspects, capped the 'organic adventure' thing off...
  • Nick spontaneously picked up a flamer and helped me boss the final boss battle when I was in dire need. I had no idea that could happen!
  • I got a picket fence magazine that lets me build statues. And that made me happy ********
  • On my short amble back, totally overloaded with cage armour duds for The Slog crew, I stopped to wall-up a vulnerable wire-mesh corner of the base. The walls refused to join up, dropping frustratingly low. But then I realised they actually formed nice high windows for the clinic instead, and I rumbled on, a happy road warrior

Bonus little thing from a previous session:
  • Dust falls from each footstep above on rickety floors, helping you track the enemy you're sneak-avoiding
How have I never noticed this before? (Possibly because we look up less in flatland as a rule?). Super creepy when sneaking around the old rickety house of a serial killer...


TLDR: Partially because the VR ecosystem lacks this kinda gaming depth, and partially because all these little touches seem to add even more colour and vibe when you're placed amongst them, I was loving what shoulda just been a trip to the shops

there's a frog in my snake oil
Forgetting the Fourth Wall:

'It's in the Game'...:

I'm a first-person guy given the choice. Hell I strip out the UI too if the game world supports it. It's all about getting lost amongst the action, feeling like you're a participant in these alien / transporting / pseudo-heroic worlds.

Which has led to this deeply trite realisation. VR is 'first person'. I mean, ****ing duh . But it's only just struck me that way. This is my favourite game-mode writ real, leaving classical flat gaming as the old discarded '3rd person'. Perhaps this explains my deep dive into it. It definitely tallies with my preferences.


I will doubtless be back playing flatscreen games, next time some innovation and execution really combine to capture my fancy, and particularly in the 3rd person realm, or something that leverages high online numbers, or emphasises super quick drop-in / drop-out play. Something along Rocket League lines essentially. (I still haven't felt the call as yet though, 8 months+ into being a VR head).

VR may also pick up some speed on the 3rd person front. There is a certain pleasure, and even wonder, to some of the living dioramas they've experimented with to date. I can see some fun gameplay permutations here, from peering around a scene to discern clues, to interacting via finger pinches, prods etc. How cool would a Last Guardian be seen like this? Pretty damn cool I suspect . (And honestly, the only impasse to drop-in / drop-out I'm feeling right now are aspects like online numbers for online formats. The actual physical aspect of putting the headset on/off is damn close to slipping a cap on and off. No real biggie.)

I honestly can't see myself going back to a first person game though. The core game innovation would have to be obscene, to make up for having that dour screen flattening and imprisoning all the action once more


VR is first person. That is all

there's a frog in my snake oil
Weee, Payday 2 VR now added free to the main game

This is the stuff, full fat cross-platform co-op. A few more of these and it could really give VR online a shot in the arm. (Plus it's a fun tease for what VR's like, showing some of head / hand / body animations in-game I believe).

As much as it's a brutal place to spend a lot of time, I do like PD2's world a lot. There's something about setting out to pull off a proper sneaky heist that's very cool. And you're always guaranteed some kind of exciting pay off. Either you'll painstakingly pull off every step without a hitch, despite many close calls, ....ORRRR (FAR MORE LIKELY), fail in a terrible blaze of glory, because some guy called Chumpy604 just had to chainsaw the main safe / teabag in front of a live camera for 10 seconds straight...


Got my old account going. It's the same game, IE a potently focused mix of tensely stealthy, loudly chaotic, wildly uneven co-op

Really glad to see 'controller led locomotion' made it as a late addition. The port seems very slick in general. Pretty much a joy to zoom around the game, and the adjustable item 'belt' is sweetly implemented. Some of the bespoke interactions do seem a bit off. (I had to point like 2 foot away from a keybad interger to select it ).

Dealing with waves of semi-mutated cops gets kinda deranged in VR. But on the plus side I can pick locks / drill security gates while looking around for trouble and laying down covering fire. It's the little things...


Also Skyrim VR heading to PC in April.

So long as ranged builds are valid I'll be up for this too for sure. (I just don't trust myself to use melee in my small flat )

EDIT: And woot, I make the min spec this time

MINIMUM: OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions) Processor: Intel Core i5-6600K or AMD Ryzen 5 1400 or better Memory: 8 GB RAM Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 / AMD RX 480 8GB or better Storage: 15 GB available space

RECOMMENDED: OS: Windows 10 (64-bit) Processor: Intel Core i7-4790 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Memory: 8 GB RAM Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB / AMD RX Vega 56 8GB Storage: 15 GB available space

there's a frog in my snake oil
Ok dammit I just bought this for £5. (60% off + £10 off because Oculus took all their headsets off line by mistake due to a security certificate **** up )

And like all of the PD2 DLC I didn't already own.

And I'm not going to touch any of it because I've realised my VR mod works on the official Minecraft servers and I've built a musical smelter. And because Fallout 4. And because I'm making a stupidly involved video pitching to change a major game mechanic in Elite.

Aside from that it was a wise choice

there's a frog in my snake oil
OKkk, this 'lightfield' location recording is starting to get somewhere. This is Google's take on it, and although there's not a huggeee amount of head motion accomadated before it starts whiting out and losing the image, it's definitely a step on...

Can really see the potential for virtual tourism and storytelling starting to inch their way in. Steam freebie here.