MSFS: How to Get VR Up & Running

This guide will ease you into setting up VR for Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) if you are having problems.

Configuring for VR

For those that are just about to configure MSFS for VR and want some confirmation that they are heading in the right direction.

Note: I made this list as a Rift S user, however you can still use it as a general guide to show you the type of things you need to bear in mind as you get your system into a usable state.

  • Ensure Microsoft Flight Simulator is completely up to date.
  • Ensure your PC system is up to date.
  • Ensure you have the latest graphics drivers.
  • Install the Windows Mixed Reality Portal app from the Microsoft Store
  • Install the Windows Mixed Reality OpenXR Developer Tools app and
    • Install OpenXR for Windows Mixed Reality from the ‘home’ tab
    • Set ‘Use latest preview of OpenXR runtime’ to ‘on’
  • Use a text editor to ensure OpenXR has an ActiveRuntime key that leads to a JSON file that is correct for your computer (Refer to ‘Check the Active Runtime Path).
  • Enable the use of beta versions of Oculus and SteamVR software:
    • Oculus users should open their OculusClient app (the one that provides the connection to the headset in VR), find the settings page and enable the Public Test Channel. Close and reopen the app to collect and install several updates.
    • Steam users should opt in to the SteamVR Beta via the SteamVR properties.
  • Be sure to collect updates for the beta versions then restart your PC. Check for more updates and restart again as necessary.
  • Launch MSFS
  • Launch Oculus or Steam VR etc as you usually do for VR
  • Be sure to set a control in MSFS to reset your view in VR as this will be the first thing it will ask you to do when you change to VR mode.
  • To switch to VR mode go to Options > General > Graphics > VR Mode and press ‘switch to VR’.
  • You should now see an image in VR.
  • Use your mouse to interact with MSFS. Put the cursor over the sim display and click the mouse buttons to bring a cursor into view.

If you have any problems getting into VR, check that your ActiveRuntime path is still set to the correct JSON file.

Check the Active Runtime Path

This section is a duplicate of the article you can find here:

How to install OpenXR
https://flightsimulator.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018555179-How-to-install-OpenXR-
(check this link for any recent updates)

If your VR isn’t working this is the most likely cause. You will need to edit the registry and insert the correct path as described below. Its relatively easy to change the active runtime by mistake simply by pressing buttons in OpenXR user interface – – they don’t tell you that you are tripping yourself up.

Windows Mixed Reality Headsets

 No action needs to be taken if you are using a Windows Mixed Reality headset.

Non-WMR Headsets

Oculus users opt-in to the Oculus Rift Public Test Channel to enable support.
(Note: this link just tells you to enable Beta versions on the Beta tab of OpenXR).

Before using VR in Flight Simulator with an Oculus headset, the computer needs to know the location of the OpenXR runtime to use. Follow the steps below to set this location in the registry:

  1. Right-click on your Start menu and select Run.
  2. Type in “regedit” (without quotations) and hit Enter. This will launch the Registry Editor.
  3. Locate the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Khronos\OpenXR\1
  4. For ActiveRuntime change its value to the one that matches your platform (note: default path is shown below): C:\Program Files\Oculus\Support\oculus-runtime\oculus_openxr_64.json
  5. Close the Registry Editor. You are now ready to enter VR with your Oculus headset.

SteamVR users opt-in to the SteamVR Beta to enable support:
https://www.vive.com/us/support/vive/category_howto/optin-to-steamvr-beta.html

HTC VIVE Cosmos users please opt-in to the VIVE Cosmos OpenXR Developer Preview to enable support: https://forum.vive.com/topic/9046-vive-cosmos-openxr-developer-preview/ 

For other VR headsets, please contact your headset manufacturer to see if they support OpenXR with Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Optimise Your Settings

You can find a list of the settings and adjustments you can make to MSFS here in order to get the best out of the system you have.

Sea in the Microsoft Flight Simulator

Which VR Capable Graphics Card?

Most of us are waiting to get our hands on the new AMD or nVidia graphics cards, but Asobo Studios have done such a good job on the graphics that it actually runs very well on last-gen cards at a reasonable 2D size.

The Reverb G2 VR Headset

For price vs quality the G2 headset is the leader at the time of writing, however, I have a few nagging quibbles that stop me from buying it:

  1. Controllers with a 7 hour battery life
    Each controller also requires two high voltage batteries that can be drained in 5 to 7 hours. EU and USA owners can use the required Ni-Zn 1.6v batteries and chargers, but UK batteries are more commonly Ni-Mh at 1.2v which have issues. Compare this with Rift S controllers can last weeks on a single battery.
  2. Weak connectors cause noise in the signal
    I have read that the cable supports and connectors are prone to breaking. Users have been reporting flickering displays caused by the connector between the headset and the data cable. Users’ DIY solutions involve strengthening the connector and reducing strain by supporting the affected area with zip-ties.
  3. No head strap adjustor
    The G2 models do not have an adjustable dial at the back of the head strap to tighten and loosen the strap. This is a low-cost omission that users will encounter 100% of the time, along with the problems it causes.
  4. The need for a good graphics card to drive the displays
    A combination of Covid19, distribution problems and Ethereum currency mining has made it very difficult to buy the new graphics cards required to be able to drive the displays to their best advantage.

Fortunately I have been able to delay the need for a headset upgrade after replacing my PC: now I can super sample the final image (i.e. create a bigger initial image and then scale it down). Super sampling has the effect of increasing the clarity of the final image even when projecting onto the same number of pixels.

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