Hands On: Crytek Unveils Oculus Rift Exclusive Title ‘The Climb’

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crytek_logo-white-bgCrytek is widely known for best-selling titles like Crysis and the Far Cry series, but today they’re announcing an exciting new VR-exclusive game called The Climb. When coupled with previously-announced VR games Robinson: The Journey and Dinosaur Island, it shows that Crytek is serious about virtual reality, and is devoting significant resources into developing for this emerging technology.

Road to VR was on hand for an early look at The Climb, coached through the game by David Bowman, Director of Production at Crytek.

David places me in an engineering version of the Oculus and starts the game. Directly in front of me is a sheer rock face, save for a few nearby handholds stained with chalk. Looking left and right, I see beautiful rendered vistas of the mountains and waterways of south-east Asia.

Then I look down.

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I’m precariously perched a hundred feet above the ground. A slight wave of vertigo sweeps over me before I remember this is virtual reality. Still, better safe than sorry, my brain says, so my heartbeat quickens a bit. David explains this is a mountain climbing game and talks me through the basic controls.

I’m handed an XBOX One controller which, as those following along will recall, Oculus announced will be the standard shipping controller for the consumer version of the Rift. This immediately prompts the question of whether Oculus Touch will be supported, as the game naturally lends itself to a split controller; I’m told that Touch controllers will be supported when Touch ships.

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I see two two hands floating in front of me, which move as my head moves. My first instinct is that the Xbox controller is tracked in space (similar to how PlayStation VR can track the DualShock 4 controller) even though I know that isn’t supported. Instead, I’m coached to look where I want to place my free hand and, if the hand changes to a gripping gesture, I can pull (and hold) the left or right trigger button to grip that spot. It wasn’t an immediately intuitive control scheme, and it’s easier to show than describe, but only took a minute or so to become comfortable.

Grip point, with a checkpoint tantalizingly close
Grip point, with a checkpoint tantalizingly close

Two game mechanics are exceptionally anxiety-inducing: having to “jump” using the A button, and having to swap hands. Jumping releases both grips and gives a small boost upward, during which you’re either expected to find a new handhold, or plummet to your death. Swapping hands—which involves positioning your free hand above your gripping hand and doing a simultaneous release and grab—is no less stressful.

See Also: Hands-on: Crytek’s ‘Robinson The Journey’ Prototype is a Visual Feast, Built for Motion Controls

Over the next 18 minutes, I carefully make my way up the mountain by grasping and releasing handholds, periodically ‘chalking up’ my virtual hands using left and right bumpers to keep a sticky grip. There isn’t always a clear line up the mountain, and on a few occasions I needed to climb back down one or two positions to take a different approach. Thankfully, checkpoints are scattered through the level, though several times I fell within one or two moves from a checkpoint, prompting audible gasps and laughs from those in the room watching. (They’re rooting for me. It’s a social experience, even if I’m the only one playing.) Mercifully, the game fades to white halfway down your death plummet.

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The 10 Best Games for Oculus Rift

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Even though this was an easy level, it still required some interesting maneuvers. Harder levels will be more technically challenging and offer a variety of grip types to choose from.

A VR mountain climbing game may seem like an odd choice for Crytek compared to their traditional gaming portfolio, but makes sense as a VR offering. Crytek has created a fun, engaging game, which is something every studio, regardless of size, strives for. The Climb appeals to a more diverse audience than a first person shooter would, given the familiar mechanics and simple controls. More strategically, it demonstrates CryEngine is a viable engine for VR gaming, and allows Crytek developers to gain valuable in-house experience designing for virtual reality.

The Climb will be exclusive to Oculus and is set to launch around the same time as the consumer version of the Rift, currently slated for Q1 2016. Oculus Touch will be supported once Touch becomes available some time in Q2 2016.

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  • Zobeid

    “…it shows that Crytek is serious about virtual reality…”

    And yet, it’s exclusive to Oculus. How serious is that? Is this what the VR industry is going to be like?

    We’ve got companies delaying and delaying their headsets because they want to make a good first impression to consumers, but they’re also going down this Betamax vs. VHS path. That doesn’t make a good first impression. We’ve all been burned by that sort of thing before.

    • user

      i thought it wont happen until a big vr economy exists in some years but it seems that we should not buy an hmd until we know which platform offers the better content.

      • Lolo

        You’re right, we should wait until every HMD will be tested and compare to others. Then people will know what HMD is better for theirs needs and what HW like GPUs, CPUs performs better.

        • Hawk1290

          Exactly, you guys should totally wait- that way I have a better chance at getting the first batch of preorders ;)

    • Steve Man

      Oculus funded this game. Why would a company spend resources building/funding for other headsets when they are worried about their own product. You would rather not have crytek be funded on any headset as opposed to one company funding their own product. Makes perfect sense.

      • Jeff K

        No, it doesnt make sense at all. Its called standards. They dont have to spend resources and money to support other headsets. Its like OpenGL or DirectX, OpenCL, etc.. You write your program once using an open standard and your program works on all sorts of platforms. If you do it right from the beginning, then you dont have to waste money and resources making changes to get it to work on every seperate platform. In VR’s case it is far simpler then what those graphics and computing standards have to accomplish, since there is really nothing unique about the different VR They all work in pretty much the exact same way. So their is no excuse to release a product that wont work on what you have, whether its OSVR, Occulus, HTC Vive, Gear VR, some google cardboard derivative, or whatever. We need developers like Crytek to make the smart choice and do things right from the beginning, so we dont end up with all these non-compatable systems, and games that only work on one system.

        • Steve Man

          Oculus paid them to create a game using their sdk. If crytek or any other game companies want to go out on their own with no funding and make a vr game for every platform that would be great! But to assume a company like oculus to pay devs to build games to support the competitor isn’t a wise business decision.

          • james hoggatt

            omg who gives a shit! just enjoy the game or dont and shut up about it.

    • brandon9271

      Oculus paying devs to make exclusive content just makes me want to buy the Vive even more. Valve wants VR to be open and i commend them for that. Oculus should know that the money to be made in VR is from publishing content. Making a game exclusive only fragments the audience and gives them LESS people to sell to.

  • iUserProfile

    Wow. I have envisioned a climbing game like that for quiet some time now and came up with the same controls while thinking about it. Glad to see that idea realised to an extend for i am not able to make it happen.

  • DougP

    What a shame Oculus+xbox controller as default for this game. So much better suited to HTC Vive.
    Shows what (Facebook-)money can buy.

  • pc

    I’m tired of these gimmick vr releases. When are they going to release more games for VR? Gamers are going to carry this technology so please give us more gaming content.

  • Daniel

    I can already feel how amazing it would be if they implemented gloveone into this! Real view, real hands, real adrenaline in a fake world

    • Michał Stadnicki

      Don’t be to enthusiastic, You know how it is, gloves SDK could be some other company excusive.

  • Michał Stadnicki

    I am really disapointed, my friend pick the Vive I’v picked the Oculus. Now we will not be able to play together. This is sick we are in the middle of some VR war.

    • Exarkon

      Just buy anything that has Rift support from Steam. Most VR games, except those that need motion controllers or the Oculus exclusives, are avaiable with Rift support on Steam too. That way you can play with your friend and don’t need to support the company that fragments the market.

      • Michał Stadnicki

        Absolutely! I agree. This seem to be the only resonable solution for the moment.