The Nintendo Labo VR sets were sold on the promise of small, VR experiences that could be had with some cardboard and the Nintendo Switch. The Labo VR sets are not meant to compete with the likes of Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR, but there is a difference in price that cannot be ignored, with the Labo VR equivalent being several hundred dollars cheaper than the alternatives on the market.
When the release date for the Labo VR sets was approaching, Nintendo announced that Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would both be adding Labo VR support. Super Mario Odyssey adds a specific mode that reuses assets from the levels in the game, while The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild promised that the whole game could be played in VR.
The Labo VR updates for both Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are now available and we've had a chance to test them out. Will the Labo VR sets bring us to the realms of Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom or will it send us running to the bathroom?
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild VR
The ability to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in VR was easily the most enticing reason to buy the Labo VR Goggles and it was the game I played straight away when the updates became available.
Usually, when a game receives a VR mode it is altered so that it can be used comfortably with a VR headset. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not one of those games, as the VR mode seems like an afterthought and no additional work was put in to make it comfortable for the player.
The VR mode in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild essentially puts the player in control of the camera directly behind Link. The setup will quickly make the player feel ill, as the movement of the camera isn't accommodating to the player's head movement, which means that you will still be expected to use the right stick for camera movement. The only feasible way to play a game with as much action and exploration as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in VR is on a swiveling office chair, as anything less will require the player to use the right stick. The use of the right stick is the quickest way to make a player feel ill, as a forced movement of any kind is usually a big problem in VR.
The graphics and framerate have some issues when using the VR mode, with the most notable being a motion blur effect whenever the player looks around, which is another major source of illness, even when only moving the camera with your head. The graphics and framerate can take a hit in the more detailed areas of the game (such as the area where the Master Sword can be found) and the visuals become more pixellated when things get busy, especially the water effects.
As someone who has used PlayStation VR for extended periods of time without issue, I was surprised to find that I couldn't last more than five minutes with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I only had minor issues using the Labo VR Garage and Blaster games (mostly when I tried leaning on a table), yet The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is easily the worst VR experience I've had to date.
The only positive aspect of using the VR mode in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the gyroscopic aiming when using the bow and arrow, which feels even more comfortable and accurate than before. It's just a shame that it comes at the sacrifice of so much else.
It bears mentioning that everyone reacts to VR in different ways and the person reading this might not have the same kind of issues that I had. I'm speaking as someone who has almost never had issues with motion sickness using VR in the past.
The idea of playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in VR mode for an hour makes me feel ill, which is to say nothing of the tens (if not hundreds) of hours it takes to finish the game. If you feel any queasiness regarding VR, then stay away from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Labo VR mode at all costs.
1 Out Of 5 Stars
Super Mario Odyssey VR
Super Mario Odyssey has a separate VR mode that is tailor-made for the Labo VR Goggles, where the player gets to explore small levels made from existing stages and can complete simple tasks, such as finding instruments for musicians in each area.
After the horrors of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's VR mode, it was surprising to see that Super Mario Odyssey used the VR features in a much better way. The player watches Mario from a fixed point and can move the camera either through head movement or repositioning the camera with the right stick.
The VR levels in Super Mario Odyssey are reminiscent of the 3D stages in Super Mario 3D Land, in that they feel purposely made for what they are trying to accomplish. Seeing Mario running around the stage as if it were a diorama laid out before you while seagulls fly in front of your vision feels far more tailor-made for what Nintendo was trying to accomplish with Labo VR.
The only issue with the VR mode in Super Mario Odyssey is that there isn't too much to it, which is what Nintendo promised from the start. The stages are small, though this actually helps with keeping track of the action and not forcing too much movement on the part of the player. The VR mode in Super Mario Odyssey is a fun little distraction and a good reason to boot up the game again, but there isn't much more to it.
3 Out Of 5 Stars
The prospect of being able to return to incredible titles like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and play them in VR was a huge draw for Labo VR and was likely a key factor in a lot of purchases for the Labo VR sets.
Super Mario Odyssey does some fun things with the VR mode, but they are over all too quickly, while The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild feels like its VR mode was tacked on and should only be played by someone with an iron stomach.