Indie VR title Vanishing Realms brought Zelda-esque room-scale RPG action to the Vive all the way back at the headset’s April 2016 launch. The game is one of the top rated titles on SteamVR, but remains in Early Access more than two and a half years later. Communication from the title’s sole indie developer have been extremely sparse, but a fresh update today affirmed that work is ongoing and aims to bring major changes to the game… eventually.

Update (November 16, 2018): Some 10 months after the last substantial communication, Vanishing Realms developer Kelly Bailey today offered a fresh status update on the Early Access project, affirming that work continues on the title, including what sound like forthcoming significant changes to the overall shape of the game. Specifically, Bailey says that he’s been working hard to move from a purely linear to a more open world gameplay experience.

“This feels like the most challenging game design task I’ve ever worked on. Sticking with exclusively linear design would be significantly easier, but I am just personally fascinated by the sense of exploration in larger outdoor fantasy landscapes in VR,” he writes in the update. “I’ve spent tons of time working on this, and I’m tentatively optimistic.”

What’s more, Bailey has been spending time overhauling the game’s melee combat to feel more reactive and immersive. A physics-based animation system has been in the works, which could allow players to, for example, use a weapon to push an enemy’s shield out of the way to create an opening for attack in the midst of combat.

While Bailey says it wasn’t his intention to let the game linger in Early Access for so long, he has come to deeply embrace the designation—to the dismay of some fans.

“Over time, I’ve come to realize that early access lets me feel it’s ok to continue to try significant experiments with the design and tech, and attempt new things that I would likely avoid if the game were ‘finished’. I really value that creative and technical freedom, and I think early access remains an appropriate label to describe how I’m treating the code base and design.”

Ultimately he says writing of new code is winding down, and most of his development lately has been focused on building out content with the tools and systems that he’s created. As ever, he’s not willing to even hint at a timeline for when fans can experience the game’s forthcoming third chapter, and we’d have to guess that 2018 is off the table by now. But, he assures, work continues, and he has no intention of abandoning the project.

Original Article (July 2nd, 2018): Kelly Bailey is the brains and sole developer behind Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel, and a former Valve employee who worked on the Half-Life series. His indie VR title has been praised for its embodied room-scale VR gameplay. The title comprises the first two chapters of Bailey’s vision, while a third chapter has been on the roadmap for some time.

The game’s last substantial update came in September 2017, in which Bailey said an upgrade to the game engine “will allow the world of Vanishing Realms to expand in the future, enabling the possibility of a more open-world game design.” But since then there’s only been one minor update to the game in January of this year, and little communication from Bailey about the state of of the game’s development.

However, he recently made a rare appearance on the game’s Steam forum, responding to a player asking if Vanishing Realms had been abandoned, and affirmed that he’s still working on the title.

“Hi the_immortal, additional content for the game is still in the works, albeit ridiculously slowly.”

It’s a minor but meaningful glimmer of hope for the game’s fans, many of whom say Vanishing Realms ranks among their top VR titles to date.

Vanishing Realms Review

Bailey is up front about the pace of the game’s development, saying back in 2017, “as it required over 2,500 hours of dev time to create ch1 & ch2, I’ve concluded it’s quite beyond me to accurately estimate a delivery date for new chapters!”

The last time he talked about the title’s roadmap was back in September 2016, where he promised that the game would come out of early access and eventually see a third chapter of content, likely deployed as DLC. As far as we know, those plans are unchanged, but as Bailey says, he’s become hesitant to commit to any specific timeline.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • DanDei

    It is highly rated and it sold well. Just get an investor and hire a couple of people!
    Developing in Valve time just sucks for your customers.

  • Andres Velasco

    one of my favorites

  • Str][ker

    This was a great game and I highly recommend it. It’s one of the few games which I played through to completion and I loved every minute of it. I am really looking forward to additional chapters and can’t wait to see more.

    To quote Fry from Futurama..
    “Shut-up and take my money!”

  • HybridEnergy

    Finally, it’s been forever.

  • M Rob

    Still my fav made-for-VR game.

  • impurekind

    One of the best games in VR, so I really hope he keeps working on it and polishing it to high Heaven. I can’t remember if it has it, not as I recall, so just want to say that full support for the Oculus Rift, particularly mapping of the controllers and actions and stuff, would be awesome. Keep up the brilliant work.

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    It was a great game when I first bought it, but so many games have entered since then. I long for an RPG like this to use the combat physics of Gorn, archery and some climbing like to the top.

    • Anthony

      Check out Vengeful Rites on steam. No physics combat but it’s got some really fun swordplay with active parries and you can’t just wiggle your controller. Also has archery and climbing like you mentioned, plus magic, character upgrades, puzzles, bosses and a ton of other stuff.

      • David

        No where near as good as Vanishing Realms. The guys that made Vengeful Rites had never made a game before and still have a lot to learn. I was hopeful for this game but its not going to dethrone Vanishing Realms anytime soon.

    • Dungeon Knight has alot of those things, but no “Gorn” style physics. It’s a rough game, but not bad in CoOp.

  • ArSh

    This game got all the VR mechanics for an RPG right, and I still haven’t seen anything since that comes close. I struggle to drag friends away from it.

    • Anthony

      Check out Vengeful Rites — just released on Steam and there’s a demo.

  • paul

    Best VR game I have played. Can’t wait to spend more on it.

  • Bryan Ischo

    Well I have to give a dissenting opinion. Don’t hate me because I am different, but I genuinely didn’t enjoy the game. I thought the gameplay was pretty thin and the whole thing kinda bored me. And it was very short at that. Sorry, didn’t like it. I hope the next one is better.

    • benz145

      That’s fair. I’m curious, did you play it around the time it came out or more recently?

      • Bryan Ischo

        I think I played it sometime in mid 2016. Has it changed since then?

        • JustNiz

          Despite the developers many promises, there’s only been minor tweaks to actual length/content since it first came out.

        • HybridEnergy

          If you didn’t like the first chapter if it then don’t bother going back, the added section was wave based and worse.

  • impurekind

    Still one of my fav experiences in VR–I hope the big changes he’s making don’t ruin what made the original design so fun and compelling–and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

  • Mike

    If you liked Vanishing Realms check out Vengeful Rites! It’s very similar Vanishing realms but with better combat, more involed puzzles, magic, and some character customization!

    • David

      Thanks, I’ll give it a try. I had a lot of people try to steer me towards games like Karnage Chronicals or Dungeon Knight, but the combat never felt right to me. Seems pretty easy to pull off shooters in VR but melee combat is hard to nail.

      Gorn comes pretty close but its just an arena fighter. Still waiting on someone to pull off a proper full-length VR melee combat RPG.

    • David

      So I gave Vengeful Rites a try and wasn’t really impressed. Even the devs say this is the first game they ever made and they are still learning. Its not bad and I hope they keep at it but it really is no where near the level of polish that Vanishing Realms had, even when it first came out.

      I’m really just waiting for someone to come along and nail the made-for-VR Action RPG genre. There’s been quite a few contenders and so far I would say overall Vanishing Realms is the leader of the pack. Its just too bad the amount of content in Vanishing Realms is pretty lacking.

  • I seem to recall alot of stock art resources being crammed into a so-so dungeon crawl. The only thing that was noteworthy was it’s early entry into an empty market. Now, I can’t imagine why you’d want to play it. After all, we have Skyrim! I put another 150 hours into that game (in addition to the 120 when it was first release) and still haven’t touched half of it. I have forged so… many… DAGGERS!

    • David

      Skyrim VR is good but it was not made for VR. The combat is pretty lackluster even if you’re using a bow.

      • namekuseijin

        yes, but to be fair, the combat was even worse in flat version. The story, environment, all that kind of detail is incredible in VR, but combat is really lacking, specially controls.

        I’m just having a lot more fun with Trickster, although the AI and level of detail are not the same level, but all those individual orcs being halfwits give some real trouble in group…

      • HybridEnergy

        Skyrim had terrible melee combat even on the regular monitor. I knew it would translate bad. However, I don’t see anything wrong with the bow, it’s pretty awesome.

  • Str][ker

    I really enjoyed this game. It’s one of the few which I played through to the end. I just really liked the look and feel to the game. The creatures fought were fun and had while not overly challenging to defeat, required the right amount of time and effort to kill. I was disappointed when the game ended because I was having so much fun. Add me to those eagerly awaiting the next chapter!

  • Firestorm185

    Wow, thank goodness road’s comment section still works. I swear the only time Upload decides not to load it’s chat section is when it’s published an article criticising the VR community for having a control scheme preference. Laughable.

    • JustNiz

      UploadVR is a joke, especially since they hired Heaney as a writer, who is a known hardcore oculus fanboi troll on Reddit. I won’t even go there any more.

      • Firestorm185

        Well some of their news articles about leaks are still good, but yeah, some of their other content just seems to be the same as Road’s. And troll’s aren’t good, but I’m an Oculus owner too…

  • NooYawker

    One of the first VR games released and still one of the best.

  • HybridEnergy

    The first chapter was awesome, but the second chapter was a wave based arena game, it sucked. Hope it’s more like the first.