Tried VR sim'ing finally

As mentioned in a different thread I finally purchased a VR headset, a Quest 2. Here are my general impressions for anyone who may be thinking about it.

TL/DR: Mixed, it can be neat, but not gonna get me away from pancake any time soon.

So first the obvious, yes the Quest 2 is the previous generations hardware. Newer VR hardware may give a better experience. I’ll discuss what might make me move away from pancake to VR, and how hardware might play into that later.

For flight sim’ing I tried MSFS, DCS, and VTOL VR. VTOL VR is obviously less of a simulator than the other two, but it is definitely far more complex than a lot of the golden age titles we all learned on. Hardware wise I am running older generation components with an i10750, a 2070 w/ 8 gb VRAM, 32 gbs of DDR4, and SSD’s. This is in a MSI GP75 gaming laptop, there is no thermal throttling if I kick the fans on high. The display is standard 1920x1080.

I have done a lot of flying in pancake, mainly using a thumbstick for looking around, and when I can get to my man cave and a larger monitor, using my TrackIR (2 or 3 I don’t remember). As a baseline, my usual DCS settings gets me around 50 FPS over large cities in Syria down low, and in MSFS I very rarely dip into the 30’s around large cities with my normal settings there flying most things.

So on to the VR. First off running DCS with the Quest 2 is a GIANT PITA. Honestly if I wasn’t so committed to trying it out, I probably would have just decided to not mess with it at all. I’d hazard I have 5-7 crashes/disconnects for every time I’m able to get in the cockpit. More complex missions and aircraft seem more problematic, but honestly I’ve had it crashes out on a simple mission in the Caucuses with FC3 aircraft too. It’s always issues loading the mission editor, or just starting DCS. If I can make it into the cockpit things run fine. I have near 0 stability issues when running DCS in pancake. The loading times may be longer for large missions and complex AC, but it almost always runs just fine.

The in-cockpit experience in VR is cool, not gonna lie. Being able to see things with some depth to them is neat. However, the visual quality/readability of gauges and screens even with the resolution turned up to where things are nearing slide show frame rates is very lacking. It is exceedingly difficult to read a gauge that should be crystal clear at the distance from my “eye”. At the current resolution available on the Quest 2, it’s not very feasible to use any AC that requires me to be able to visually resolve a gauge or screen. Something like setting up my A2G programs in the Strike Eagle, is pretty much a no go without doing some very unrealistic leaning to get “nose to screen” close in VR. Using the default DCS VR visual settings gives me good frame rates (40’s most places, dropping to the low 30’s over most large urban areas and occasionally lower), but the visual clarity suffers even more.

Having simulated depth perception to work with makes it easier to fly head out of the cockpit, as it’s much easier to track the horizon, detect roll and slip, etc. However, if I need to be at 350 knots for my attack profile, or my turn point is in 24 seconds the lack of clarity is very much a handicap. The feeling of motion is good, and once I got over the initial conflict with my vestibular system, I only get the occasional very brief bit of “unease” from the simulated motion of flight.

DCS is what I would classify as a procedural or system simulator, that focus very heavily on the “how” of flying a combat aircraft and employing its weapons. VR IMO opinion hinders this with the current lack of resolution and the extremely awkward requirements of switch flipping/button pushing when using a VR headset. Maybe with a full cockpit and the Quest 3 pass through, the switch flipping issue would be fixed but the visual clarity would still seem to be lacking. The feeling of motion is there, but it seems muted as it were. I get the same perception of speed in VR that I do in pancake, which has always seemed lacking in DCS.

Moving over to MSFS the ease of using VR in the sim is leaps and bounds easier and more consistent than in DCS. I think I had to setup 2 additional key binds, and it’s literally one key bind to switch VR and switch it off. I can do so at will, letting me do things like set the sim up and fly near something cool (like the pyramids) in pancake, pause, let me wife get set under the headset, switch VR on, unpause, and fly her around while she looks around and I basically keep it in a pylon turn. DCS could definitely use some of the ease of use that MSFS has.

MSFS seems to more gracefully tolerate high visual settings, as running VR with my normal pancake graphics settings still puts me in the high 20’s. I know for some that might as well be a series of pictures in a newspaper, but I find it perfectly flyable just not as smooth as I like. When using the default MSFS VR settings, it in the mid 40’s the majority of the time. I have the same complaint with MSFS as I do DCS, the clarity of gauges and displays is very lacking in VR, at least on the Quest 2. Switch flipping/button pressings has the same issues as DCS, but I have much less of it to do in most aircraft compared to DCS so it’s not quite as noticeable. Also, with just a keypress I can be back in pancake and do things easily with the mouse if necessary.

The feeling of flight in MSFS is good, being able to look around parts of the AC easier to sight see if nice. The perception of speed in MSFS has always felt better to me than in DCS and this remains the case in DCS. Most of MSFS flying is scenery gazing, and VR does this well, enhancing the experience over pancake somewhat with more of a feeling of “being in the plane.” I find the lack of visual clarity detracts from specific points of interest if they are highly detailed.

I have by orders of magnitude less time in VTOL VR (I think I still have under 2 hours) than either of the other two sims. The systems that are “simulated” were designed from the ground up to be used in VR and this is apparent, in how well they are useable while under the headset. The graphics were designed for VR as well with pretty much everything be clear and readable under the headset.

To be continued later today when I have time to finish…


… Everything IMHO.

I just think you need to adjust expectations a bit?

For genuine head out of the cockpit flying where gauges aren’t ‘all that important’ and something that would probably run OK on your current hardware, there is - but not something I could purchase right now if I didn’t already own it - IL2 Flying Circus?


Strange that you are having so many crashes and connection issues with the quest 2 in dcs … I get some pauses when going to the mission editor or moving the map around, but very few total crashes ( except me into the ground whilst looking at the f10 map) loading textures at the start of a mission is pain and takes upwards of 30sec

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That’s quite impressive that the laptop can keep the temps in check! Keep in mind when shopping, that being laptop components, it means they are clocked to run at a significantly lower power budget than desktop equivalent, especially video cards.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts, @jenrick!
I do recognize several of your sentiments…
Flightsims demands a lot of your PC hardware. It has always been the case. We flightsimmers need to put a lot of time and effort into tuning our gear, for optimum perfomance. We usually add quite complex controllers to the equation, which often require further effort.
But throwing VR into the mix creates a whole new level of complexity…
And just because you are an avid flightsimmer doesn’t automatically mean you will be smitten by VR.
But, it also means you need to give it a little time.
And I second the esteemed Mr.@Harry_Bumcrack’s suggestion Flying Circus, and IL-2 in general… I’ve said it many times before, but VR was made for WWI dogfighting! :salute:


My friend who has a quest 2 has just started having problems with it and DCS - not sure but we think it’s something to do with the latest quest software. It’s happened in the last week. Like you said, crashes getting into DCS and random disconnects while playing.

Prior to that update the headset has been solid and I was seriously considering grabbing a second hand one to replace my windows mixed reality headset since Microsoft has gone done us wrong and discontinued WMR support!


I don’t disagree if I wanted to be content with VR currently. As I am perfectly content to fly pancake, I may just wait a couple more generations of VR before I jump back in fully.

It does a very passable impression of the Harrier with water injection on trying to make a max weight takeoff when the fans are on full. Fortunately I have good headphones.

Does anyone know if VR works with Rise of Flight or Over Flanders Fields (OFF), those are the two WW1 sims I have a lot invested in. I’d certainly be willing to give them a shot in VR.

Well glad it’s not just me, it definitely put a damper on things having to fight the hardware so much to even experiment.


Not that I know of. I know some people have tried using VorpX to make it work in RoF, but I’m guessing that’s adding yet another complex layer… :wink:


RoF pretth much became il2 flying circus. So yeah.


Part 2:

The use of the VR controllers for everything in VTOL VR works surprisingly well. There is a definite learning curve to using them for the virtual control sticks, but it is workable. A big compliment to VTOL VR, is it just works. Buy it, install it, click play, off we go. Every way I’ve connected the Quest to PC it works, wireless has the occasional micro stutter, but it’s still very playable. Wired is of course butter smooth the whole way. I find the sensation of flight to be decent, but not as good as MSFS or DCS. I think part of it is terrain shading reducing the sensation of speed, and the fact most of the AC seem way overpowered leading to what my brain considers “unrealistic” flight. On the flip side even with “unrealistic” (or as I prefer to think of it "90’s art style) art style, the immersion is excellent, button pressing my MFD’s, flipping switches, etc.

Doing some googling before bed this morning, there are possibly some answers to my DCS and MSFS gripes about control interactions via hand tracking. That would be very helpful and would address some major issues I have. Same for MSFS, though the ease in switching from VR to pancake and back makes this much less of an issue (and usually the lack of need to do so in an expedient manner like a combat sim).

Part 3 to come when I have some time this evening


Good writeup there.

I’ve been flying in 2D more lately than in the last several years (just easier when I have to test things) and when I do I feel like a fish out of water.

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I wish the noise map in DCS would/could be improved - more ‘high frequency noise’ in close. When we [ever] get 150+ degrees FOV headsets, oh my, that should really do the trick. I’d imagine some kind of wrap-around 2D setup would help here too.

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I used to think that the lack of sim visual clarity in VR was due to a lack of resolution in the headset. But then I tried Aerofly FS in VR, and the graphics are so razor sharp, that I had to admit that there must be something else going on.

I’m not sure what that something else is exactly, but there’s an obvious “X” factor of some sort.

As for the difference between the Q2 and Q3 visually, yes there is a noticeable visual variance, most especially in the shocking contrast between them caused by the huge Q3 “sweet spot”, but in actuality, what made even more difference was dumping the Quest link software and switching to SteamVr (free) or the pay-ware Virtual Desktop with their ability to automatically vary their wireless streaming settings according to the speed of your connection and the power of your hardware.

Finally, I suspect the fact of attempting something as intense as DCS/MSFS in VR on your current hardware (8GB Vram, etc) is going to be a bit of a lift, and may not give you the best first impression of what 3D has to offer.

One wonders if that may also be contributing to the crashes…

You’ll probably have to do quite a bit of dialing in, to find the perfect compromise between speed and acceptable graphics.

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This! VD (and now SteamVR) work exceptionally well. I had trouble with the USB link cable, dumped it and got a WiFi 6E router thingy cabled to the PC and have zero regrets. Smooth as cake!

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I apologize for this being in three parts, finding time to sit down and type can be difficult somedays.

Part 3

I am a big believer in being able to show marked improvement if I’m going to spend significant resources on something. Yes getting a new graphics card yearly will show improvements, but for the cost of staying at the edge I don’t find it worth it. Spending the same money every 5 years, I will see significant and measurable improvements in frame rates for example.

So lets talk about what VR brings to the table versus pancake. The biggest is depth, in terms of things appearing to have actual depth/distance. Absolutely this is an improvement over pancake, there is only so much you can on a monitor to simulate this, and a VR headset blows pancake out of the water at this. The next thing I would say VR provides a definite increase over pancake is a feeling of motion. This is obviously related to the feeling of depth that VR provides. In titles that don’t create a good sense of speed in pancake VR will not automatically fix it.

Next is immersion. I will say this is extremely subjective. For me personally, poor graphics clarity and difficulty interacting with the simulated environment decrease my immersion significantly. Having depth and a feeling of motion can some what compensate for this, but for me it’s not an even trade. VTOL VR does an excellent job of providing visual clarity (even if the art is not what many would consider realistic), and the ability to interact with the environment is well done. Combined with a reasonable illusion of depth and motion, I find it way more immersive than either DCS or MSFS. Doing carrier landing practice in VTOL VR was more engaging than doing ACM/BFM in VR with DCS, even though I usually much prefer the latter.

At the moment with my current setup I don’t see VR as a must have for flight sim’ing, maybe more as “nice to have if it’s your thing.” Even with a high end setup, with the difficulties in environmental interaction right now, I don’t see my opinion changing. Yes I can bind all my controls to my HOTAS, but if I’m flying a P-47, it doesn’t have a HOTAS in the first place. Having to lean over and find the fuel tank selector lever, then turn it is part of flying a P-47, versus just turning a rotary on my throttle base is part of the immersion of flying that particular aircraft.

Do I regret spending the $250 on the Quest 2? Absolutely not, there are plenty of other things to do in VR besides sim, and the fact my wife enjoys it makes an even better investment. I will probably hold off getting another headset for at least a generation or two specifically for sim’ing. I might get a Quest 3 for other gaming if I get a chance to test one out and like it. As mentioned my gaming rig could use a refresh, so that’s another thing I can pair with another dive into the flight sim’ing VR world. For now I’ll probably still mess with it and see what I can get running how I like, it beats doing housework.

As an aside, if I ever win the lottery I will hire the guy behind VTOL VR to recreate the golden age sims in VR. DI’s Tornado for example, in VR would be amazing. The graphics level would be perfect for smooth fluid action, the control schemes and systems modeling weren’t complicated and expected 2 button joysticks at most. Being able to reach out press buttons and flip switches would removed all the keyboard commands we had to learn.

I’ll respond to folks comments this afternoon when I have some time.


Fwiw I was a lapsed flight simmer in the 2000s. I flew some falcon 4 and il2 but my interest trailed off and for years I didn’t even own a flight stick.

Then about ten years ago, a buddy lent me his oculus development kit. I got terrible headaches from walky shooty stuff, but dcs, well that worked. Soon thereafter I got the oculus rift and the rest is history.

I have spend daddy-hobby money on building a rig (5800x3d, 3080ti, 32gb) a cockpit full of boutique hardware and a reverb G2. Without VR, I am not flying. Pancake just won’t do it for me no more.

FWIW in my G2 I don’t need to lean in to read an MFD. Only when trying to pick out a cold truck target with the FLIR do I tend to lean in. But the joy of VR is looking outside of the cockpit. Manoeuvring in space while knowing where things are and how they’re moving. Getting those high angle snapshot gun kills. Rolling in on some poor crawlies in the harrier. Things like that.


As @troll mentioned if you have any of the il2 battles stuff vr is amazing … even the tanks, the ww1 circus is superb,

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Oh,oh… did you have some other CPU prior to this, teamed with the 3080Ti - and are able to comment on the improvement, if any? I’ve seen some prices on the 5800x3d that are tempting me (before they disappear compeletely). I currently have a 5900X + 3080Ti.

Same, I was all but done after 25+ years of the ‘hobby’. I was getting bored; for DCS anyway, it had seemingly become a dogfighting-only, procedures [button pressing] simulation - with great flight models for sure. In VR I can always, at the very least, just go ‘flying’ - or feel like I am inside something that is moving.

I roll my eyes at the “P” and “I” words when I hear them anymore (‘presence’ and ‘immersion’) but that really is it.

I made a post here a few years ago, observing that it seemed like the older you were - or the earlier the generation of flight sims you were exposed to (4-color, 320x240 graphics + beeps, and squeals for sound for me) the more you were likely to prefer VR. Or something like that. The I-phone, et. al., may have had something to do with it too.

I still do even when I run the Aero at ‘eye resolution’ - I’d have to do it in a real aircraft too though as my eyes ain’t what they used to be (I am far-sighted).

It’s good to have 2D, especially for doing videos (‘cinematics’ that seem to be what DCS is becoming - a cinematics generator :slight_smile: ) ; those physically limited; etc. VR just isn’t, yet, as easy as picking up an I-Phone. We’re getting there; the clarity was the only real hurdle I needed them to surmount, and it has (at a cost).


I have a very similar system to yours (5900X, 64GB DDR4-3600, 3080Ti).
From what I have heard you will see some improvements provided you don’t have any other bottlenecks that are holding you back. If you don’t need the additional cores and higher clockspeeds (e.g. for video editing) and you can find a 5800X3D at a good price then there’s no harm in getting it. In games it’s still competitive even when compared to pretty high end modern CPUs (one of the reasons it’s still fairly expensive unlike other Ryzen 5000 Series processors).