PSVR 3dRudder Foot Motion Controller Review
Reviewed on Sony PSVR
PlayStation VR is a fantastic platform that has come on leaps and bounds since its induction in 2016. The games are more immersive, bigger and the quality of gameplay has gone through the roof. We have had some classics this year, AstroBot, Ghost Giant and Blood and Truth, just to name a few. It seems like the developers are really getting to grips with the hardware and we as the gamer are really reaping the rewards.
Even with all this praise, PSVR is nowhere near perfect. It uses outdated technology and has been surpassed by new VR headsets on the market. It has too many cables, its camera and move controller tech is from days gone by and has its limitations. We know that an updated model will arrive at some point and most of these limitations will likely be a thing of the past.
One of the major flaws is that its hard to control both movement and hand actions with the old and outdated move controllers. Playing something like Sairento, even though its workable is quite difficult. You cannot fight and move effectively or quickly enough with the limited movement options and hardware available.
This is where the 3dRudder comes in, I saw a trailer for it a while ago and know it was something I would like to try. It takes away movement controls from your hands and transfers them to your feet. Leaving your hands free to manipulate your environment or combat your foes. I was definitely curious to see what it was like in practice. It sounds like it will alleviate one of PSVR's main shortfalls.
I was sent not one, but two products to test. Firstly there was the 3dRudder itself and there was a new prototype included too, the Ground Gripper. The Ground Gripper was a new addition to the 3dRudder, it was a base that stopped the 3dRudder sliding on whatever floor service you are playing on. It was a hefty piece of kit and I can definitely see why they included it, more on that later.
Both packages were nicely made and looked the part. The foot rudder was especially nicely packaged, the boxes were branded and were of a certain high quality. The rudder came with a small and concise manual, its relevant cables and everything you need to get started. I had no issues with the packaging whatsoever and it all certainly looked the part.
First off I will say one thing, this product is very well made. It's weighty and feels very solid underfoot. When you put your feet on it it never once felt like you could break it and it felt very sturdy. The USB cable included seems long enough for most households and I was right next to my console so it was perfect. All you had to do for setup was slide in the two fins on top, plug it into your PS4 and you are away.
The included Ground Gripper sits underneath your rudder to stop it sliding around. I can see why this was included as I think the rudder would move around on my carpet otherwise, especially in the heat of battle. It weighs a lot, has some non-slip material on the bottom and really does an amazing job at keeping the rudder in one place. I never had an issue with the rudder moving around at all when it was inserted into the gripper.
As I stated earlier, I was expecting more setup steps but I plugged the rudder into a spare USB port and it was good to go. I booted up a supporting game and I was off. It was very simple, worked very well and has no hassle at all. I was very impressed. You cannot ask for more than that, it was definitely a plug and play device and the setup was flawless.
Obviously, the 3dRudder will not work with all games. At launch, there are more than 20 supported titles with new titles being added in the future. All that will be required is a patch to add in support for each individual game. I don't think a lot of work is required by the developer to add it to their game as it's only a control device that mimics the dual shock controller's thumbsticks, support will hopefully be quick and forthcoming.
The current list of supported titles are listed here, they include Sairento VR, Xing:The Land Beyond, Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cypher, Undead Citadel, Ultrawings VR, Bow to Blood, Pirate Flight, DWVR, The Wizards-Enhanced edition, Red Matter, Operation Warcade, Beat Blaster, Honor and Duty : D-Day, Honor and Duty : Arcade Edition, Nature Treks, Mind Labyrinth, Scraper VR, Affected : The Manor, Telefrag VR, TrainerVR, ProzeDarkness Roller Coaster, Vertigo-Home, Contagion VR, Shadow Legend and Blind. This list will hopefully be updated regularly and added to on a regular basis.
So what's it actually like in practice? Does it really help? Does it change the gameplay for the better? I think the only way to answer this is to play a few of the games with 3dRudder support and see for myself. I will have a go on a few games and see how I feel on a game by game basis. As you can see from the trailer at the top of the article, the 3dRudder is tilted forward, back, left or right to move or strafe and rotated to turn your character. Its very simple to use but very functional in its application.
The first game I tried was Sairento VR and the change was magnificent. It took a bit of adjustment and I had to forget everything I had learned in the title so far but it was certainly worth it. Even though the title was great anyway, I always had issues strafing and moving while in combat. It was difficult to control your weapons and your movement together efficiently with the limited move controller technology.
After a short adjustment period, everything started to click and become second nature. I could strafe left and right while shooting or attacking, it was transcendent. Gone was the difficult control scheme and the 3dRudder really helped elevate the combat flow significantly. I could rotate in the air and headshot enemies, I could peek around corners and attack with ease. For the first game I had tried with this new device, I was extremely impressed.
Controlling movement with your feet felt weird initially but started feeling very natural after a short period of time. I completely forgot I was using the foot-rudder, controlling my character became second nature and I was just left to concentrate on how to tackle the enemies and how to kill them in style. In Sairento VR the difference of using the foot-rudder and not using it was night and day. I can't play without it now.
I then tried The Wizards: Enhanced Edition and again, the rudder really helped. It was especially prominent in the combat sections, again alleviating any issues performing two actions at once. I could cast spells while on the move, evade away from enemy fire and the whole experience was better for having this foot peripheral to control my movement. I could strafe and fire fireballs at the same time effectively and it really helped me up my game.
Next, I played The Mages Tale, which in gameplay terms is quite similar to The Wizards but I wanted to make sure I got a few games in for this review. The advantages of using the foot-rudder in this title were roughly the same as the other titles and I was starting to see a pattern emerge. The movement was much better, the combat was much easier and more reliable. When your hands are free to be used just for combat, it makes the games a lot less clunky and makes it easier to do what you want within the game.
Finally, I played Xing: The Land Beyond, which did not work straight away but I had not played in so long I was a few patches out of date. After the patch had installed it worked, the same as all the other games, with no hassle and right out of the gates. Moving around the serene landscapes was a joy and completing the puzzles was so much more natural. I found myself moving more efficiently and fluently through the stages using the foot-rudder and it was a joy to behold.
Overall, I was bowled over by the 3dRudder and the improvements it brought to VR gameplay. It's an absolutely amazing peripheral and a welcomed addition to the platform. I don't think I can go back to playing PSVR without it, especially in certain fast paced, movement heavy games. Sairento, for example, I cannot go back to controlling both movement and combat with my arms. It now feels so inaccurate and cumbersome. Using the 3dRudder makes it smooth, easy and so much more fun.