As a massive fan of Hitman's glorious PSVR mode it pains me to say that the game's long awaited update for PC VR support is a huge disappointment.
Instead of a fully motion controlled Agent 47 and a sharper, detailed and more interactive game world, what we actually have here seems to be little more than a port of the PSVR version. With an extra arm thrown in for good measure.
Don't get me wrong, just like on the PSVR it's still incredibly fun to play and the sandbox levels are a joy to inhabit and run riot in; but in terms of living up to the expectations set by the PC VR owners who were eagerly awaiting it, it's bound to be seen as a mission failure.
In this week's episode of Ian's VR Corner you can watch me try out the new PC VR mode as I revisit some of my favourite Hitman hangouts from the PSVR version to see how much they've changed. Which is not much. But don't worry, I was still able to do terrible, terrible things to virtual people, so that makes it a little bit better.
One of the first things you'll notice when playing Hitman PC VR for the first time is just how muddy and fuzzy the graphics are. Coming from spending hours upon hours in the low-res, low-powered PSVR version I was expecting a much sharper and glossier experience than anything Sony's console was able to deliver, but even on the highest settings, the PC visuals were underwhelming.
As you'll see in the video above, PC VR does improve on some things from the PSVR version. There's more detail on distant objects and buildings, and the PSVR's jarring 'pop-in' crowds have been eliminated so you can now see the gaggles of NPCs even when you're looking at them from a distance. This definitely makes the world feel more alive and immersive, but that soft focus sheen to everything is hard to ignore, especially if you've only ever played high-end PC VR games in the past.
The real disappointment for PC VR owners will undoubtably be the control scheme though. Instead of offering full motion controls, the PC VR version seems to have directly lifted the control scheme from the PSVR. If you've played as much of the PSVR version as I have, that'll be no problem at all, but if you're used to things like manual climbing, manual reloads and the ability to be able to push and pull and interact with virtual environments, you're going to be out of luck here. Pretty much every single interaction apart from throwing things and the aiming and shooting of guns is done via a button press. You can't even pick objects up with your new left hand, so don't go expecting fancy things like dual wielding, let alone the ability to play left-handed.
Oh, and that janky and broken strangling mechanic in the PSVR version that I thought was due to the strange Dualshock/motion control hybrid control scheme? That's still janky and broken in PC VR, even with the extra arm.
But that's not where the PC VR woes end. There's no room scale here, so if you try to walk around, you'll leave 47's body behind you when you go. PC VR players who are used to physically turning in VR will struggle with that too because unless you use the thumbstick to turn, you'll end up facing in a different direction to 47's body, which makes subsequent movements feel very awkward.
These are all limitations that exist in the PlayStation version of course, so you may be wondering why I'm so critical of this PC VR mode, when I adore it on PSVR? Well simply put, it's because I expected more. No advancements have been made here to accommodate for the power or freedom that PC VR affords. Playing PSVR sat down on a chair is fine, I love doing that and I accept it because the tech won't allow for anything else, but on PC VR there's scope for so much more to be done!
I tried to keep in mind during the recording of this week's VR Corner that Hitman was never meant to be in VR. It wasn't built specifically for VR and the fact that IO Interactive has brought it to VR at all is a wonderful gift that's worth all the praise in the world. The trouble, I think, is that the PSVR version was just too good compared to the other games available on that platform and it set my expectations pretty high for its transition to PC VR. Sadly though, those lofty heights were ones that IOI just couldn't manage to hit, man.
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian's VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I've covered Valheim VR's motion controls mod, Doom 3 VR Edition and everything we know about PSVR 2 so far. You can also read our list of the best VR games.
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