What Nuking Dogmeat in the Face Taught Me About Fallout 4 VR

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I had my reasons.

The first thing I did when I stepped into Fallout 4 VR was walk right up to Dogmeat and shoot him point blank with a Fat Man.

To be clear, I also did other, less psychotic things with my time. To move around, rather than walk, I used my left HTC Vive controller to point to a nearby standing location. Pressing the trigger teleported me to that spot, so I spent a good chunk of time gleefully blipping around Red Rocket, Dogmeat faithfully chasing me from point to point to point. Bless his soul (all that was left of him after that nuke).

Roughly two minutes into my teleportation power trip I realized I was on a power trip, and feared what it could mean for Fallout 4’s finer elements like heated combat and a fear of dying that’s fairly signature to the Wasteland feeling. I got a fraction of an answer upon the arrival of a raider party. My first instinct was to duck behind cover, a movement not easily available to me. My second strongest bullet-avoidance instinct – running in a zigzag – was a no-go as well, unless I wanted to manically pop around the field. Then I remembered, I could manically teleport around the field.

I jumped circles around my enemies, flashing behind a wall to avoid their fire then reappearing by their side and giving them the gunpowder equivalent of a wet-willy. Writing this, I now realize they received swifter deaths than my loyal canine companion.

I don’t regret it, you know. And if you aren’t convinced I’m insane by now, I’ll try to explain why.

Friendly fire isn’t a new video game phenomenon; I’d even wager to say that attempting friend-icide is among the first things we test out. What is new is looking down at your hands, staring up at the leaves in the trees. Seeing that Vault-Tec poster you’ve seen a million times, but this time it’s right in front of your nose, spanning into your peripheral vision. Standing next to an in-game newspaper and, in a surprise to me, spontaneously smiling just because it’s there. Virtual reality is about experiences – outstretching my arms, pulling a trigger, and feeling the reverberation in my hand. The blinding flash filling my vision. Tilting my head down as he dropped. Giggling with guilt. Frowning with realization. The realization that I’m a monster.

It’s how I knew Fallout 4 VR could matter. Despite the definite limitations of the experience, it was real enough to give me a sense of moral attachment where we tend to feel none. It’s pretty high up in the air whether or not Bethesda can make this more than just a series of brief moments, tacked together by a string of novelty that will grow thinner and thinner, but diving into a beloved RPG is a start. I may never run, jump, and survive the same way, but the immersion, at least initially, works wonders. I know, because I murdered my friend.

So to wrap, I guess everything I did in Fallout 4 VR was a little psychotic.

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