By now you have probably heard of Valheim. You know, that small indie game that managed to generate over 5 million sales and got everybody talking about it. What’s best, given the amount of interesting mods and other user-created content, it does not seem that the interest is going away anytime soon.
I am also one of the many people that immensely enjoyed the game. I have currently put around 70 hours, modded it and broken it several times. You know, all the things a self-respecting PC gamer should do to their game. However, one though kept popping up while I was playing: how cool would it be if there was Valheim VR edition. It should be that hard to make, probably, I mean it’s not like the game is some kind of a visual beast. While official support is but a dream, there should be a custom solution, I thought. Again, how hard could it be to convert Valheim to VR, right? Right?
What is VorpX?
VorpX is a paid software that aims to add VR capabilities to a large of “normal” games. It is, however, met with mixed reactions. Many claim the product to be inefficient, but it does have a strong following and activity in its forums. While there is still no official preset for Valheim, there are user-made ones, so I deicided to give it a shot.
Installing and setting up the software is fast and easy. While there are some options to play around with, the default settings are usually more than good. I did however had problems making the software attach to Valheim(supported games worked fine). It turned out that there are a lot programs that can mess up with VorpX, especially ones that add in-game overlay. After a few re-installs of both Valheim and VorpX all of them unsuccessful I turned to the forums for help. My problem was related to BitDefender blocking the attachment attempt and I needed to remove the antivirus completely in order to resolve the issue. After that I was able to finally run the dreamed Valheim VR.
The goal of the above story is to warn you that such issues can be expected when a 3rd party software is trying to mess with your game. Still, there is a lot of info in the forums and the developers are active there as well, but be prepare to do some troubleshooting of your own in some cases.
Is it actually worth it?
Firstly “worth” has an actual meaning in this case. VorpX comes with a hefty prize tag: it costs 47.99$ or 35.99€ respectively. Bear in mind that it also does not have a demo or trial version, meaning that you need to cough up the cash upfront. It is also worth mentioning that the software does not magically turns your games to full VR experiences. Do not except motion tracking, gesture capabilities or anything of the sort. Still, I came out quite surprised of what VorpX managed to do.
I will not go with full impressions of the software in this article as I have only managed to play 2 games at the time of writing. Furthermore the question at hand is whether the app provides a proper Valheim VR experience, right?
When VorpX is running, it attaches to the target game and makes changes to the way its engine renders objects. The end result is rather impressive, as it will make in-game items “pop-up”, adding a 3D layer which cannot be experienced while playing normally. The best way to describe this is to imagine looking at a diorama at very close distance.
VorpX has 3 modes of viewing: Cinema which places your virtual body in front of a big screen, Immersive, which brigs said screen really close up and Full VR, which basically slaps it on your face. During my testing I found the Immersive mode to be the most pleasant to play in. You can see the screen borders but I did stop noticing it after awhile. Full VR is the closest you can get to a proper conversion, placing you in the world without any screens or borders.
All modes add a sense of depth to the game which it otherwise lacks. While playing you do feel a part of the world and have a sense of scale, especially in Full VR. I also used the First person view mod for added immersion. Overall I came out quite pleased with the experience. Anyone who’s played a VR game know the difference in actually being “in” the game and Valheim with VorpX is no different. Walking around your house or wandering in the misty forests manages to enhance the already amazing atmosphere even more. Wandering the land at night and seeing the glowing eyes of a greydwarf in the distance definitely gave me the chills!
I will quickly mentioned the other game I tested out: Hollow Knight. The game fits quite naturally to the way VorpX adds 3D as it already have elements such as foliage that are placed in the foreground and others behind you character, creating a sense of depth. Those elements manage to pop-up in VR additionally enhancing your perspective. Overall, I enjoyed testing out the game quite much and I’m thinking of replaying it in this mode.
So while I came out very impressed by VorpX, the question still stands: is it worth buying? If you want to do it just to play Valheim in VR, I would go ahead and say “no”. While it is a cool new way of experiencing the game, the asking price is just way to steep for such a novelty. Also, bear in mind that a mod that add VR functionality was just released. I would suggest to try the free solution first and decide whether it suits.
If you are interested in the software, I would advise you to check what other games you have that are compatible and make your decision based on that.
The “How to” part
If you have decided to go ahead with the VorpX plan here are the steps on how to enable it for Valheim:
- Start the games normally at least once: this will ensure all files are created.
- Start your VR software. Do not start VorpX prior that as it might not attach properly afterwards.
- Run VorpX. An icon will appear in your system tray bar. Doubleclick it for additional settings.
- In the Config window navigate to the Cloud profile tab. As the game is currently not officially supported by the app you would need to download a user-created profile.
- Type the name of the game in the App/Game field. Note that you would need a registration in order to use this feature.
- Select the profile you would like to use and click on the Import profile button.
- You can make sure that the imported profile is pointing to the correct executable by navigating to Local Profile and searching by name. The Assigned profile filed shows which file is expected to be run in order for VorpX to attach.
- Currently there are 3 user-made profiles, but they worked the same for me. I would still suggest to try them out for yourself and check whether one of them provides a better experience.
- You can also create a simple profile based on a template. As mentioned, all Unity games have VR functionalities so you can search in Local Profiles for Unity 5 Base profile. Select it and click on the Create a new profile based on this one. Mark the two options that are presented and then add the executable.
- When starting the game, you should see a window popping up with the “Attaching to valheim.exe” message. You should also see the VorpX overlay and tooltips showing up once in game. Not seeing this is a strong indicator that there is something wrong with the attachment attempt. Possible culprits include any program that adds an in-game overlay, antivirus software, even Skype. If disabling the above does not help, I would strongly suggests checking the full list of possible conflicting programs.
Once in-game, hitting the DEL key will bring up the VorpX menu. Here I would suggest to experiment with the options and see what works best for you and your hardware setup. A few tips:
- The 3D-Strength/Scale determines changes the relative size of objects in the game. I found values between 0.80-1.20 to work best for me as otherwise everything looked too big or too small.
- All profiles make Valheim a bit too dark. You can try to rectify this by adjusting the Gamma slider in Image Settings tab. While the end result is not the best, it will still help you see during nighttime.
- It is best to disable anti-aliasing and FOV in the Valheim settings, as those options do not play well with VorpX.
- While playing in Full VR it is absolutely impossible to see the HUD or the in-game menus. Press and hold the middle mouse button to bring the screen back to Immersive mode. Releasing it will bring you back to Full VR.
- You can enable head tracking for even closer VR experience, but be careful with this option. To do it, navigate to the Head Tracking Settings panel and turn the option on. Usually when you look around, the whole screen moves. Head tracking simulates looking around and I quite liked the feature, but it can be quite nauseous as well. Be mindful if you wish to use this feature.
Playing this Valheim VR version, while not perfect was still an interesting experience for me. If you already have VorpX or you have some free cash laying around, I would suggest you try it, too. Let’s hope that the astonishing success the game has allows the developers to create an actual VR version of the game. Until then players would have to do things the old PC way, by modding and breaking the game until it looks and plays just the way we want it to.