Low budget VR Gaming

The development of VR is something that I have been paying a lot of attention in the last couple of years. One of the things that I find interesting is the potential it has for redefining what “low end” means due to how extremely computationally intensive it is. Take this GPU for example, this a GTX 750, a mid-end graphics card from 2014. I bought this one for about 70 euros and after asking you guys it seems it can be found 60 to 90 euros or dollars in most places, or around of 100 if you are unlucky. Compared to the GPUs I have featured on this channel in the past this card is an overpowered beast that crushes games on the lowest settings in citadel casinos.

However, throw this thing on VR benchmark and you realize that supposedly this is pretty insufficient for virtual reality. So the question becomes: can you play in VR with a “budget” GPU like this one? Lowest settings? Maybe, Tweaked games? Answering this question is hard because of another problem, the cost of a VR headset. At the time of writing this script the full HTC Vive kit is about $800 and from what I could gather you can not buy just the headset alone, at least new.

You can buy an oculus headset but… it is about $500 dollars which is like twice my entire PC budget which prompted me to search for some creative solutions and I was surprised of what I found. I will be using a service called Vridge by RiftCat, which basically allows you to connect your cellphone to your PC in a way that tricks the computer into believing you have an HTC vive headset, so you can then play any seated VR experiences by putting your phone into some headset, like this literal piece of cardboard I got in amazon. So now, not only my computers are shitty, now my VR headset is also crap. Awesome!

And after contacting RiftCat they have agreed to sponsor this video, so double awesome. They have a free trial version of their software so you can try it, link in the description. Setting it up was fairly easy. You can run a program in your PC and a companion app on your phone and you can stream the view of the game over wifi, if you are brave, or better yet, a USB cable.

After setting it up you can launch steamvr from the program and then start a game. There are plenty of guides on their website if you want to give it a try. So now we test My first experiment was Subnautica, I already dedicated a video to this early access submarine survival game.

As I commented on that video there is a secret menu accessible with f3 and in there, you can use the numbers in the keyboard to disable a lot of the effects. Furthermore if you disable mouse pointing using your view in vr and press escape you can reduce the draw distance of most objects, as I explained on that video. Welcome to the very dangerous sea. Man, it’s a little bit too close.

I can pick up things by just staring at them, that’s interesting. I can’t remember what’s the- does that thing hurts me? Can I grab them? Huh, what are-? Wait, those are bad right? Yep, yep, that doesn’t look good.

The great low-resolution expands! With low draw distance and things popping out in front of me and this time… in full virtual reality. Now you can live the low draw distance, not just see it, you live it! Like, you’re there!

Another game I wanted to try is Project Cars, a game I have not shown in the channel before but that also includes a VR option and seems to be fairly well optimized on the lowest settings. You can also add some launch options to the game to try and squeeze even a bit more out of it, like dx11mt for multi-threaded mode, skip crowds to disable models of bystanders and pthreads to match the number of cores in your CPU. Oh wow! Well, this is something else. Wo-wow shit!

This sure ain’t Mario Kart. I don’t know if I’m in awe or scared! Another game I was curious about is Minecraft. Java-based Minecraft does not support VR out of the box, but thanks to a mod called Vivecraft you can add some rather robust VR options to the game. And the mod installs optifine which adds all sorts of graphical options which I am going to take advance of to disable all weather, animations and sky effects for the best VR performance. The link the vivecraft mod is in the description if you are interested.

If I do this, and I stare, my fps is right here, it’s 57 fps… that is neat, this is the best one that I have tried so far, wow, I was joking draw distance before but check this out. This is literally the world that’s in front of me, huh? Is the world not gonna load? I’m staring down into the abyss of the unloaded world, this is really scary.

Oh, there he goes. Ok, the other examples were cool but this was by far the coolest. I seriously never want to try minecraft any other way again, this is really something else. So, in conclusion. How did it go?

Is this an Vive and Oculus killer? No, I mean come on. VR are nothing short of of technological marvels and thinking that a phone will be just as good might be a bit naive, but it you want to get your feet wet in VR, and get your first experience without breaking bank, this might actually be a really interesting first option.

Performance wise, the results were interesting. There is an option on Vridge to limit a stream to 30 fps but definitively the closer you can get to 60 fps the easier it becomes to handle the movement. Minecraft which is by far the most twekeable of the games I tried and therefore the closest I got to 60 fps was quite the experience. My current VR library is… rather insufficient but I wonder if I keep digging, would I get a couple of other VR games to be low enough to work really well on this setup? Well, you tell me.

Let me know if more budget VR experiments are something you would like to see in the future in comment or in the discussion thread of the LowSpecGamer subreddit. Thank you to the Patreons and this video sponsor for making my crazy experimentation possible. See you in the next video.