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The Truth About The GTA 5 VR Mod

Earlier this month marked the release of the R.E.A.L. mod for Grand Theft Auto 5, which finally seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what GTA 5 would truly look like in virtual reality. R.E.A.L. was created by modder LukeRoss00 and it certainly seemed like a game-changer. 

Even though there still hasn't been any kind of official VR release in the Grand Theft Auto series, R.E.A.L. got as close as possible to the — well, the real thing. At last, GTA fans could steal, drive, shoot, and get up to all manner of illicit activities in first-person VR. While many mods have been developed for GTA 5 over the years that have added new missions or weapons, few of them have fundamentally changed how the game is played.

One of the coolest advantages R.E.A.L. has over other GTA VR mods is the ability to truly experience the entire game in virtual reality, including the cutscenes. In other words, it feels like you're really sitting in on the pre-heist meetings with Lester and the rest of the gang.

However, the presentation isn't entirely perfect. There are a few limitations to R.E.A.L. that may be seen as insurmountable, especially for some gamers with weak stomachs. As explained by Polygon, this comes down to how VR tends to work. 

"To create a stereoscopic 3D effect in virtual reality, you have to show each of a player's eyes a slightly different image," writes Polygon's Charlie Hall. "To make it comfortable, a game needs to keep serving up those images at a rate of about 90 frames per second." 

Unfortunately, 180 frames per second is pretty much impossible for a game as vast as GTA 5. To get around this, LukeRoss00 utilized a process called "alternate eye rendering," which essentially switches frames between eyes at rapid succession. In slower sequences, like walking around town or hanging out at the game's casinos, this is perfectly fine. However, when engaging in some more high-speed activities like motorcycling or flying a jet, this method of viewing the game isn't quite sustainable. The rapid switching can cause headaches and even nausea for some players.

As explained by Polygon, there are options for folks who can't take the disorientation that may come with alternate eye rendering. However, this comes at the cost of the overall 3D effect, which sort of kills the whole point of playing the game in VR in the first place. At that point, you might as well just sit super close to the television screen (oh, your poor eyes).

Meanwhile, some are reporting having issues within the cutscenes as well. UploadVR states that the cutscenes are often zoomed way in, making the characters blurry and the action occasionally hard to follow. This is a shame, since the characters in the game are a real blast, getting up to all sorts of shenanigans over the course of GTA 5's wacky storyline.

That's not to say that the VR conversion was at all sloppy. In fact LukeRoss00 has laid out the many, many issues he had to overcome while creating the mod. This included uncoupling the camera from the player character in order to allow players to look around them at all times, including while running or in the game's many shootouts. While these action sequences may not flow perfectly in R.E.A.L., they are certainly more immersive than during normal play.

So, sure, the GTA VR experience is far from perfect. However, it may give you a pretty great idea of what a full-fledged GTA game could be like in virtual reality. The amount of effort that was put into bringing R.E.A.L. to life is obvious in the sheer scope of the project. With all of the geniuses at Rockstar Games' disposal, there's no reason to think that the developer couldn't make it work. Maybe that's one of the innovations that could come with the long-awaited Grand Theft Auto 6, whenever that happens.

The Grand Theft Auto series is full of terrible things that it likes to make us do, so it's probably not ideal that the animation itself may make some stomachs turn. It's hard to imagine participating in GTA 5's infamous torture scene when you're already feeling dizzy and out of sorts. Still, this mod gives us hope for a full-fledged (and official) Grand Theft Auto VR experience. Maybe the successes of this mod will cause Rockstar to stand up and pay attention. We want the ability to commit hilarious virtual crimes from the safety of our own headsets ... and no tummy aches, please?