No Hands Needed: Going ‘Foot’-on with 3dRudder’s PlayStation VR Compatible Controller
Locomotion in virtual reality (VR) has been (and still is) a highly debated topic depending on your viewpoint and comfort level in VR. And it’s all to do with immersion, whether certain movement options should always be included, and in particular direct locomotion. This is the ability to freely wander around as you would do in a standard non-VR title, yet in VR this can cause issues for some players. To help with this issue, French company 3dRudder created a foot controller back in 2016 for PC users, and will soon be releasing a version for PlayStation VR which VRFocus got to try during CES 2019.
What’s a ‘foot controller?’
3dRudder realised that while VR players had motion controllers or gamepads in their hands their feet were relatively stationary. This certainly doesn’t help when walking in VR and your brain isn’t receiving any signals from your feet. This also happened to be in an era when a lot of VR experiences were seated, making the idea of an input method foot controlled a logical idea.
With a flat top for your feet and a curved bottom, 3dRudder can perform any number of actions including forward/backward motion, strafing left and right as well as turning on the spot. If you’ve ever used sports equipment like a snowboard, surfboard or skateboard, for example, some of the actions will feel very natural and familiar.
Why PlayStation VR?
3dRudder is a foot controller that’s purely designed to be used seated – don’t stand on it! More and more Oculus Rift and HTC Vive videogames are tending to veer towards roomscale – where you can stand and walk around a small area – removing the viability of 3dRudder. PlayStation VR, on the other hand, tends to offer many more seated experiences thanks to its single camera system, either with PlayStation Move or the DualShock 4 controller.
Not only is PlayStation VR a much more natural fit for 3dRudder nowadays, but the console-based headset also has a significant user base that’s over 3 million, making it commercially important for any VR peripheral manufacturer.
What’s 3dRudder like to use for PlayStation VR?
The controller has been slightly modified since the original, with the upcoming launch on PlayStation VR helping to showcase the design changes. While the internals remain the same with wired plug’n’play connectivity, on the top section you’ll notice two additional fins. Located on the inside of each foot next to the big toe, they are there to aid twisting whilst keeping your feet in place. The top of the controller does have a rubber grip area, but if you’re not pushing down firmly enough this doesn’t always work. Having the additional fins certainly seemed to help when frantically moving around playing The Wizards: Enhanced Edition, turning and strafing together or in quick succession.
Even on a more casual title like Ultrawings, gently flying a plane through a succession of rings, when any tight turns were required 3dRudder had no issue and feet weren’t suddenly in the wrong place.
The only thing you really need to watch when using 3dRudder is what you’re sitting on. Now this will be slightly different for everyone, but on a super comfy sofa – or one that’s fairly low – 3dRudder seemed harder to use with the range of motion somewhat restricted. On a higher office or gaming chair, this didn’t cause as much of an issue.
Does it suit PlayStation VR?
PlayStation VR and 3dRudder look to be a much better combination when compared against PC VR headsets. This is especially so when considering PlayStation Move. Unlike Oculus Touch or HTC Vive controllers, PlayStation’s motion controllers can only activate teleportation mechanics as they lack, thumb stick or touchpad inputs.
With 3dRudder PlayStation VR players will soon be able to let their hands do the interacting whilst their feet do actually do the walking, improving immersion massively. Sure it’s a $119 USD accessory, but 3dRudder maybe the closest this current generation of headsets comes to roomscale VR.