Laminar Research just released the beta 11.20 which means X-Plane Native VR is out. They had hinted (more than hinted, actually) it was coming and here it is, for our delight.
Edit: please check out Laminar’s instructions on how to set everything up. You will need to have Steam installed so that you can install SteamVR.
I have only tried it for a few minutes and I didn’t spent any time tweaking it. All my first impressions come out of the 11.20vr1 version, out-of-the-box, with only a few helicopters installed. My test was done with the DreamFoil AS350.
Please note that the screenshots are weird due to the fact that X-Plane takes them using one of the views/eyes, which is mirrored into the screen (at least, it looks like it’s a mirror). This helps reduce image processing (your graphics card only has to render twice, which helps with performance).
First of all, to be able to use VR inside X-Plane, you will need to access the sim’s settings and enable it at the bottom of the Graphics section.
After that, you will be taken into the VR world of X-Plane.
This is actually very cool as you can walk around and check the aircraft in there. In the middle of the hangar there’s a board, which is actually your already-known X-Plane interface with all the menus and a virtual keyboard you can use to enter text. I love it!
I was afraid my FPS would drop as soon as I entered the virtual world. My 1060 has shown itself to be a but reluctant when VR comes into play in X-Plane before, using FlyInside.
To my surprise, it worked REALLY well. My FPS was, obviously, lower than not using VR, but it never dropped below 30FPS (in the overall sim — I haven’t noticed any major issues in VR, which means my FPS, on the headset, works well. I didn’t feel any motion sickness or anything.
Flying around is really smooth and everything seems to work very well. Using the controllers to interact with the cockpit is not quite there yet but, considering this is still the first public beta and a work in progress, I’d say we just need to wait for Laminar to keep tweaking the system.
Laminar allows us to use an internal menu (which can be activated by using the Menu button) that allows you to access several handful items, including cameras and the X-Plane top menu. This also works really well and it’s very handy.
I still need to find a way to reset the view/pilot position but that’s something I need to look for yet. Like I said, all this is based on a 5-10 minute session just before my family kills me because they are waiting to have lunch!
Something else I also found amazing: we can walk around in the sim world just like we can in the hangar, which is really cool! I honestly wasn’t expecting it.
My conclusions (so far)
I LOVE IT. Laminar is on the right path. I think they are getting all this VR thing right and it’s a great experience. You can go from VR to non-VR in a spam from inside the sim. You don’t have to exit the sim and go back it. The inside menu works very well — and is an awesome tool and it’s all very nice and smooth.
I still have to tweak my copy but, so far, I am really happy with how everything’s working and I can’t wait for the next iterations.
Laminar: THANK YOU.