How To Run DIRT 5 in VR Using VorpX
DIRT 5 doesn't have native VR support like the DiRT Rally series, but VorpX is able to make a pretty decent VR experience out of it anyway. It's limited compared to many other games in VorpX that I've talked about, but it works quite well in the context of DIRT 5, where you don't need the most realistic settings.
The fundamental limitation is that it doesn't render in Geometry 3D and only works in Immersive Screen Mode. As such, the 3D effect isn't as good or as accurate as a native VR game (or VorpX Geometry 3D mode). That said, the Z-Normal mode actually works quite well, especially when playing from a third person camera view. As a bonus, there is very little performance penalty rendering in this mode, so it runs great even on older hardware.
In this guide, I will show how to get DIRT 5 running in VR and talk about what the experience is like for both the cockpit and third person views.
What You Will Need
VorpX - $40
VorpX is the program that can make a traditional 2D game render in stereoscopic 3D in a VR headset. I know VorpX has a mixed reputation, but if you are interested at all in playing racing games in VR, it's an incredible tool. You can read my overall thoughts on the program here.
You will need to download the DIRT 5 cloud profile. DIRT 5 only runs on DirectX 12, which means if you are using an Oculus Headset, you will have to go into the VorpX Control and switch your device to SteamVR. VorpX will actually prevent the game from launching and tell you to do this.
From then on, you just start VorpX and launch DIRT 5 as you would normally to play in VR.
The game plays best from a chase camera view, which is nice since the VorpX Z-Normal rendering works very well in this view. It's common to have some visual artifacts with Z-Normal rendering, but I haven't noticed anything in the course of normal gameplay. In fact, even if Geometry 3D was available, I would probably use this Z-Normal anyway because of the minimal performance impact.
It's in the menus and sections after the race that you will notice these artifacts. They don't break anything, they are just a little annoying. I like to switch to the EdgePeek mode with the 3D effect disabled during these parts. (It's an option in the VorpX menu to disable the 3D effect for EdgePeek.) Using a controller, you just click the right stick to toggle EdgePeek, so it's very easy to deal with.
The cockpit view is another matter. The Z-Normal rendering doesn't render the cockpit at the right scale. It makes the cockpit too big compared to the track. It's not a huge distraction, you can still play just fine from this view, but it's not correct.
The cockpit view effectiveness depends entirely on which car you are driving. You will find that the visibility can be a real challenge in many vehicles. This is actually true playing the game normally, but it seems even worse in 3D. If you are playing this with a wheel and pedal set from the cockpit camera, expect that certain races will be much harder than others simply because of the visibility issues. Even with those issues, though, it's still a lot of fun.
I did try to get the Full VR mode to work, where you could look around the cockpit with your head, like a native VR title. VorpX has to emulate a gamepad to do this, translating your head movements into the gamepad's right stick. Unfortunately, DIRT 5 wants to consistently snap the camera back to the center position, which ruins the illusion and causes terrible motion sickness. It's a shame because it would have worked if it weren't for that unfortunate quirk.
DIRT 5 Settings
There are only two settings in DIRT 5 that I would say need to be changed because of VR.
In HUD Settings:
Driver Names don't look right in 3D and are quite distracting, so I turn them off. The rest of the HUD actually works fine, so you can leave whichever parts you like on.
In Driving Aids:
The Camera Shake is exaggerated in VR and can lead to motion sickness. I recommend turning it off or, at most, setting it to Low.
Better than non-VR?
I always like to ask if a game is actually improved by the VR experience, or if it is more of a curiosity that doesn't add anything to the core gameplay. Generally, racing games truly benefit from having the depth perception added by VR, perhaps more than any other genre.
In DIRT 5, though, VR isn't really going to give you much advantage. Since the game isn't rendered in true Geometry 3D, you're not going to have that perfect depth perception of a native VR title. The 3D effect in DIRT 5 is more to add immersion to the experience, though the added depth perception doesn't hurt.
DIRT 5 is an arcade game first and foremost and playing in 3D adds to that experience nicely, but it doesn't drastically change the gameplay as VR can do for some titles. This game just doesn't need the kind of precision required of simulator-style games, where VR makes a big difference.
If you already have VorpX, absolutely give this a try, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend buying VorpX just for DIRT 5. I found that DiRT 3 and DiRT 4 were much more affected by having VR added to them. That said, it's still a lot of fun.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.