FlyInside: FSX in VR with the HTC Vive

If you've not spent enough money for flight sim things already and you're thinking: "What else can I buy for my setup to make it better?", then you may not even have considered VR an option yet. Well, you should, especially if X-Plane 11 - or whatever big next generation simulation may come - brings native support, and headsets get improved. For now however, there's FlyInside and the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Disclaimer: I kept having issues with my specific setup and encountered many crashes; I'm blaming my FSX install with way too many addons for this, as others do not share my somewhat negative experience. Additionally, the FlyInside team has generously offered their help and are working with me to resolve these problems, therefore I'll focus on the other (great) things instead!

UPDATE: As I have posted here I did not experience the frequent crashes anymore since sometime in November '17.

"Damn, that engine is HUGE!"
My first thought after loading up the Twin Otter

VR offers a lot for immersion - I shouldn't really need to explain why. The experience of 3D is pretty cool on it's own, and some of you might have tried out 3D glasses for example. But VR is so much more than that. You actually turn your head 360° at a 1:1 scale, which makes a quick look over the shoulder so much less disorienting than it is when using TrackIR or changing the camera view. You can also "touch" controls using the Vive controllers or LeapMotion - I haven't tried the latter though. But most importantly the size of everything is so just amazing. The scale, which you can never experience on a screen, seems so real, you just can't describe it to someone without the other person seeing it. It's real life scale! Incredibly impressive. And if the scale seems off, you can adjust it on the fly (literally) until it feels right.

One issue, which is not really FlyInside's fault, is the framerate FSX can push. Even on a high end setup FSX is usually capped at 30fps to eliminate fluctuating frame rates. With FlyInside it's the same, in fact the high resolution and rendering of two scenes for VR take their own toll on performance. For someone who gets motion sick quickly the framerate of 45 or 30fps might be too low, so make sure to try that before buying it.

Another downside is FlyInside being incompatible with DirectX-hooked addons things like TacPack's experimental features, ENBseries or SweetFX. While this makes the visuals a little bit less impressive it's a very minor issue to be honest, especially since FlyInside offers sliders for contrast and saturation, which helps a lot with the washed out default colors.

(A "workaround" for those issues would probably be the switch  to Prepar3D. But in order to afford that and all the addons I'd have to sell my Vive again...)

The final drawback is the low resolution (low pixel density) of VR headsets, from which all games suffer. Native VR games are optimized so you can read text etc. but FSX was not built for virtual reality - and it shows. To make it easier on the eyes, FlyInside has a neat zoom button so you don't have to squint quite as much when reading gauges. It reduces FOV significantly when activated, hence enlarging what you look at. The magnification can also be adjusted using hotkeys.

Another cool feature: You can show windows from, uhm, Windows (duh) in the cockpit, though I've found a Twitch live stream in Firefox to murder my framerate even more than FSX already wants to. Not really a surprise, but I had to try it, right? Either way it's a neat feature for checklists, charts or whatever you want to read while flying; you're able to place it anywhere in the 3D cockpit.

You can also interact with sim menus and desktop all from within VR, which means you won't have to pull your headset off every time you want to change settings or airplanes, even when using something like ActiveSky. Also nice: Whenever you pull up the menu FSX pauses automatically until it's closed again, so you won't crash the plane while adjusting stuff.

To sum it all up, it's well worth it's money and a great experience! The VR optimized features make it more than simply "FSX seen in VR" and you can tell the developers really put some thought into it. The immersion is amazing! I would recommend any flight sim fan who owns a Vive or Oculus to at least check out the free trial, which allows for 15 minutes of VR flying per session. Plenty enough to go around your local airport! Available for FSX, P3D and X-Plane.

9/10 cause it's cool but FSX sucks :( - Mazzn

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