SteamVR combat flight game VTOL VR just left early access after exactly three years with a major patch focused on polish and final bug fixes.
Most flight sims are made to be played on a monitor, with VR support added in later. They’re usually played with a flight stick. VTOL was built specifically for VR headsets with tracked controllers.
In VTOL, the flight stick is just another cockpit element you interact with using your virtual hands. VTOL isn’t formally a simulator, but runs a surprisingly detailed simulation of a fighter jet’s controls and the Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) used in many real cockpits.
By reaching out and pressing the buttons on the bezel of an MFD you can view a GPS map, slew the targeting pod, manage the radar, and prime weapons like missiles and bombs. Developer Boundless Dynamics describes these types of systems as “near-realistic”. Think of it as a VR-native DCS “lite”.
The three aircraft available to fly in VTOL are fictional near-future vehicles, but draw from real systems:
- F/A-26 “Wasp” is based on the F-15 Eagle, but with the multirole carrier-capabilities of an F/A-18 Hornet
- AV-42C “Kestrel“ is as entirely fictional gunship platform with rotating jet nozzles, capable of vertical takeoff (VTOL, the game’s namesake) and featuring a large cargo bay with multiple weapon mounts
- F-45A is an agile stealth fighter based on the F-35.
Like the real world F-35, the F-45A replaces the physical MFD with a large singular touchscreen with four virtual MFDs.
After three years in, there’s a lot of content to play. Land on an aircraft carrier, refuel from a midair tanker, and take on a number of combat missions. A level editor is available, with 386 Steam Workshop uploads as of writing.
If your Windows 10 build supports Voice Recognition, you can even talk out loud to wingmen, ATC, AWACS, and ground crew.
If you use an Oculus Quest for PC VR, or a Rift, don’t use the native Oculus mode on this one. It’s marked as ‘Not Recommended’, and has a strange tracking jitter issue. The game performs great in SteamVR mode though.
VTOL VR is available on Steam with ‘Overwhelmingly Positive‘ reviews. The regular price is $30, but it’s on sale for $24 until August 10.
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