Unplugged VR PC with impressions from Valve’s index controllers
The PC VR version of Unplugged is still worth a look, but the delicate controller tracking makes the Quest version the better of the two. Read on for our impressions!
Against all odds, Unplugged on Quest is a triumph of sorts. As we said in our release review in October, the game handles surprisingly well with manual headphone tracking, allowing you to strum through a solid setlist, without a controller. It was undoubtedly held back by the limitations of this tracking technology, but it still made for a good time which will hopefully only get better as new hardware arrives.
The PC VR version of the game isn’t quite the same story, although by no means was it a train wreck.
Unplugged PC VR prints
Unplugged is coming to SteamVR with support for Valve Index controllers (which, as you might have guessed, are decidedly not controllerless). The same finger-tracked gameplay is in place, requiring you to hold your numbers on a corresponding color in different places on a fretboard and then strum it with your other hand. The handle and trigger on Index controllers have touch sensors, so in theory it knows when you are holding a given finger.
I expected the game to be weird with controllers in hand, but hadn’t considered some of the benefits of this approach. First off, you have a better idea of holding the guitar with a controller in hand, which makes the experience a bit more tactile. The biggest benefit, however, is the small vibration you will feel when you strum the strings, which gives you a much better idea of making a connection with the guitar when you strum.
The real concern, however, was whether the Index controller finger tracking would be able to perform as well as the hand tracking on Quest. Historically, I haven’t had much experience with my own Index controllers on this front. My hands aren’t huge and when playing Half-Life: Alyx I often found that holding my pinky finger would bend it as well as the finger next to it on virtual hand models, for example. It was boring, but it wasn’t crucial for the gameplay.
However, such issues just couldn’t fly with Unplugged. Fortunately, it looks like developer Anotherway and publisher Vertigo Games are fighting this directly. While that doesn’t tell you in the tutorial (which is just a modified Satchel version of the Steel Panther’s Quest intro with the manual tracking calibration segment cut out), the PC VR version does offer a “calibration dynamic ”, which prompts you to drum the fingers of your hand fret along the grip of the controller before the start of a song. This gives you a good idea of the position of your fingers and suggests that the game is trying to explain its own potential mistakes.
And the game certainly remains playable. I’ve tackled a handful of opening songs on Easy and Hard difficulty and generally found that I can keep up with the chord changes quickly for the most part, and the song mapping seems to be the same from track to track. the other. But as I studied my hand through these parts, I noticed times when the fingers didn’t drop or extend fully on command and forced me to try again, costing me notes and combos. Okay, it all depends on the size of my hand; those with bigger hands might find the experience more accurate. But, generally speaking, I found myself having to spend more time focusing on where and how I was pressing my fingers than on Quest. It’s also a bit odd that your index finger is held in a different place than the rest of your fingers because of the trigger, although I found that I got used to it pretty quickly.
Controllers also detract from Unplugged’s brilliant accessibility. The great thing about the Quest version is that you can hand the headset over to just about anyone and let them take it on their own, but it’s not as immediately graspable with a controller in hand. It won’t be a problem for dedicated gamers, of course, but the standalone version is without a doubt the more impressive and easier to show of the two.
Unplugged on PC VR therefore has its ups and downs. From what I’ve seen, it’s certainly not unplayable, and the developers seem to have done a decent job of taking into account at least some of the Index controller’s shortcomings. But, even with the added benefit of tactile feedback, we still recommend the Quest version as a way to play the game as it is generally more accurate and delivers the Unplugged experience as originally intended. Hopefully we’ll see a popular headset that can provide accurate PC VR hand tracking soon, as it would put this version of the game on par with Quest.
Have you played Unplugged on PC VR? Let us know what you think in the comments below.