Awhile back I had received a 3dRudder to check out and wanted to share some key points after spending some time with it. Consider this a TLDR version of the a review, the full review went a bit long so I thought this would be a better option, but will link at the end to the full thing if anyone wants to check that out as well (hopefully that is ok)
Looks and construction -
It’s a rather interesting shape with a flat disk on the top and a rounded underside, it almost reminded me of those 80’s pogo balls with the top cut off. The construction however is pretty sturdy, mostly heavy duty plastic and metal. Durability does not appear as though it would be an issue.
It attaches to the PC via a 2m (~6.5 ft) USB 2 cord
What does it do? -
The 3dRudder is designed to allow 360° movement along the X,Y, Z and rZ axes along with a few extra button/key/mouse presses.
The 3dRudder was originally designed to use with CAD software but as it turns out, can be used in a myriad of ways including gaming.
How Do I Use It? -
Even though you might think it’s meant to stand on, it absolutely is not and they go out of their way several times to let you know it’s meant to be used while sitting on a chair.
The software is pretty well designed and allows for set up for to use the 3dRudder as or in conjunction with a Mouse, Joystick/HOTAS, Keyboard and VR with either the HTC Vive and Windows AR devices or the Oculus Rift.
There are pre-configured set ups for a good number of games, but of interest to folks here, DCS is on the list as well as a good number of FPS titles. Last count there were near 125 profiles for games, but that number has grown already and continues with each software update.
There is the ability of course to tailor the device to any game, or tweak the settings. For flat screeners this mainly includes Dead Zone, Movement and Acceleration. VR adds a few more options in the mix, such as Smoothness, but overall it is easy to tune and is probably a little easier to get just right than TrackIR.
Only complaint is that the software does run automatically at start-up without an option in the software to keep it from doing so. Not sure what the impact is exactly as windows refused to measure it countless times.
“Traditional Gaming” -
I started off with BF1, as it had a profile already to test. I was actually quite impressed with it’s performance here. The movements felt natural and even though it was my first test I only needed a few seconds to feel comfortable using it in game. You certainly aren’t handicapping yourself by using it in an FPS either. It is at least even with keyboard or joystick movement but with even more time it might even been an advantage.
I had a little fun the next game and gave the original Megaman a go just using my feet. It did work, although the default settings for deadzone and the like will require a good deal of tinkering. I wouldn’t recommend solely using your feet for a game like this though as, the additional button presses are performed by lifting your heel on one foot and the front of your foot on the other and visa versa. It worked well for jumping and crouching in an FPS, but not so much for jumping and shooting in a platformer.
They’re really trying to push this as a VR peripheral but right away there are two issues.
Issue #1 - The cord. Depending on your set up a 2m cord might be enough to get you clear of any and all obstacles and in the center of your room-scale play area. I wasn’t able to and need to buy another 2m USB extension to give myself enough space.
Issue #2 - Immersion. Playing something meant to be played in room-scale while sitting down is going to drop the immersion factor no matter which way you look at it. If you are of able body, this isn’t going to make your experience better.
Obvious issues aside, I gave L.A. Noire the first chance to test out the VR side of things, again with a pre-made profile. Getting the device to work in VR is slightly tricky though and required me to run the game first, then launch the profile and settings, basically the opposite of TrackIR.
It took me less than 5 seconds to nearly loose my lunch. Whoever made the profile has a far more iron stomach than I do and that first turn came very close to my last turn. Cause? Speed seems the most obvious (which can be adjusted) but sitting while your character is standing already does a little to that equilibrium.
I tried a new approach and lowered all the settings as far as they could go and loaded up Gunheart, fantastic game for an Early Access offering btw. This was of course too slow, but I got a better idea of the 3dRudder’s working in VR. Using the VR Unleashed mode, you can take a game that is teleport only and move in an analog fashion. That’s the plus, the negative, besides having to sit down, is that you have to be careful to stay in the boundaries, as it’s entirely possible to explore the whole room, as in, behind walls, above the ceiling or below the floor.
Since the 3dRudder has CAD roots I wanted to try something as close as possible to that and gave Tilt Brush a whirl, again turning down the settings for my comfort. It feels right at home here and I can see some real benefits to using it. Since you are painting in 3d, doing things like trying to get the top or bottom of your masterpiece would normally require squatting, kneeling or standing on your tip toes. Here you can comfortably sit and move your position around and even keep a steadier hand.
*not me in picture
Flight Sims? -
It is called a 3dRudder after all, so can you use it as one? Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes but I wouldn’t know why you’d want to. At $139 the 3dRudder is in the same ballpark as your saitek and ch rudder pedals, but those are purpose built for the task. Sure this can reasonably mimic them, there is a DCS profile after all, but I wouldn’t ever choose this over a regular set of rudder pedals. Although, if you wanted something more spaceship like for Elite Dangerous this would fit the bill.
Multi-faceted - I covered most of the basics, you really can use this for anything that you’d use a mouse and or keyboard for, nearly unlimited potential in that regard.
Accessibility - If there was one rather obvious benefit it’s this. If you have trouble using a regular controller due to a physical issue, or even just standing for long stretches of time this has the potential to be a real game changer. Being able to substitute your feet for your hands to play a game might mean a whole new experience for someone, same can apply for room-scale VR for some of those who might not be able to.
Works well with most “traditional games” - I know we have a good contingent here who enjoy their FPS games. This really seems a natural fit as the movements don’t need to be as precise as a platformer, plus physically moving your feet the direction you want to move doesn’t require much thought either.
I covered the fact it has a cord and that it is a bit of an Immersion killer already.
The device has a tendency to “walk” across the floor if you are continuously twisting to one side.
It’s hard to get your feet in place and keep them there in VR. Since you can’t see your feet and there really are no physical markers other than some footpads on top it’s hard to get them back in place while doing so blind.
The accessibility factor and it’s jack of all trades nature do make this an intriguing option if you are in need of something like this. It does seem to shine in CAD and other design operations, I tested the gaming version, but there are also business and design versions that come with plug-ins to use with various other programs. If you were looking at this purely for a VR peripheral however I would probably hold off. Partly because this spring they are set to release a new version that is wireless, has some foot holds and includes an active dead zone. That doesn’t solve the immersion issue, but should make a world of difference in VR performance at least.
and if you didn’t believe me that this is the TLDR version, here is the whole thing