You can't play Onward if you're under 5'6", as dev struggles to bring VR shooting to all

Onward VR

Onward, an Arma-like squad shooter made for VR and currently in early access, has a minimum height requirement of 5’6”, excluding 13% of American men and 78% of American women. However, head height can be a problem in many VR experiences, and solving it is far from trivial.

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The issue in Onward was first raised on Reddit by metalforever, who said “I was considering buying your game, but I realised I can’t play it because I’m [an] adult woman who is five foot five. Please fix this for all the gals that like shooters.”

Developers Downpour Interactive are aware that the height requirement is a problem. They published a ‘near-term road map’ on the game’s Steam page which includes the goal “lowering minimum height required to play”, so presumably we can expect a fix at some point in the future. That said, this roadmap was published over three months ago on September 6th, so it's taking a while.

Software engineer Mike Schneider claimed on Twitter that handling varying player heights in VR is easy, pointing out that Stress Level Zero solved it before launching their game, Hover Junkers, on early access. They did this by allowing players to manually adjust the head height, which is also an option in Job Simulator.

This article by VR Influx discusses the implications of these solutions for multiplayer shooters like Onward: "if the hit box for the player is set to a body model, does the hit box change when the head height changes? Players may exploit this by choosing the smallest body model possible so as to avoid being hit."

VR developer Steve Bowler made this point in reply to Schneider on Twitter, suggesting Downpour haven't allowed shorter players until they "can figure out how to balance/correct for" any gameplay advantages they may get. Onward is still in early access, after all, and as important as accessibility is, it's understandable that some design challenges have yet to be overcome.

Indeed, VR Influx conclude that some may be insurmountable, as VR takes us another step toward true realism in games. "Take it from me, the real world isn't always accessible."

Onward is on Steam early access now. Check out its website for more info.

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Ralligaator avatarJenks avatarTriforceWisdom avatarRichard Scott-Jones avatarJimbob avatarDustyGerkin avatar+2
Ralligaator Avatar
9
1 Year ago

That's 167.5 centimeters.

1
bone Avatar
1
1 Year ago

wow, its oddjob all over again.

(at least now some people have a legitimate reason to "be him" in a game)

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tedmoojent Avatar
1
12 Months ago

IRL bigger people are easier to shoot, and can carry more stuff. Maybe make it so people who select a shorter player height will reduce their maximum load of ammo, and secondary weapon options?

1
Jenks Avatar
346
1 Year ago

I don't understand what the point of this was. It's on their roadmap of issues to resolve, so they're aware it's an issue. Then you reference someone else saying it is easy to fix. Are you just trying to shame them by implying they are inept?

An ill conceived article spawned from browsing reddit.

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TriforceWisdom Avatar
42
1 Year ago

Well I thought it was pretty interesting. I don't own a VR headset and height restrictions isn't something I had considered or heard about before.

2
Richard Scott-Jones Avatar
73
1 Year ago

This is what we were going for - the interesting design challenges VR can pose in established genres. For clarity, Downpour is just one guy, and what he's produced here is undeniably impressive.

1
Jimbob Avatar
13
1 Year ago

I'm partially disabled and discovered there are quite a few games I cant play on my Rift. It's a bit of a bummer but I guess it's just the way it is.

With some games there is nothing that can be done, what's more annoying is games I could play if designers just put a tiny bit of effort in.

Same for deaf players, often games don't bother with subtitles, it's not like it would be much work to put them in.

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DustyGerkin Avatar
190
1 Year ago

Same here. Not something I'd thought of. Interesting to hear of design issues and how different studios have addressed them (or not).

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