The Climb

PC

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper/pub­lisher For­mat Ori­gin Re­lease Cry­tek PC Ger­many 2016

Aprod­uct of Cry­tek’s vir­tual re­al­ity ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, The Climb has grad­u­ated from pro­to­type to fully fledged Ocu­lus Rift launch ti­tle. The game re­pur­poses the glo­ri­ous land­scapes with which the stu­dio made its name, dis­pens­ing with stealth and guns in favour of free climb­ing. The threat of bul­lets might have gone away but perched hun­dreds of me­tres above the ground and cling­ing to a rock face by your fin­ger tips is no less dan­ger­ous a task.

“The cool part about The Climb is that it re­ally al­lows you to feel that same kind of ten­sion that I see in the Climb­ing World Cup boul­der­ing fi­nals,” ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Eli­jah

Free­man tells us. “You think, ‘I’m go­ing to reach for this, I’m go­ing to try for that hold,’ and the ex­pe­ri­ence is very vis­ceral. It re­ally makes you be­lieve that you’re there.”

So con­vinc­ing, in fact, that the team watched on in amuse­ment as play­ers’ thumbs whitened while tightly grip­ping their con­troller dur­ing demos. You might need to break out the chalk ball while play­ing, then, but the con­trols are sim­ple and in­tu­itive. Each of your dis­em­bod­ied hands is mapped to a trig­ger – when you squeeze it, you’ll grasp the rock face. You aim your free hand by look­ing around, and if you need to make a risky trans­fer to an­other hold, sim­ply tap the jump but­ton, let go and then quickly grasp the trig­ger again.

Leap­ing and per­form­ing dif­fi­cult ma­noeu­vres will in­crease your heart rate and cause pro­tag­o­nist Aln to sweat more, re­sult­ing in slip­pery hands and a greater chance of fall­ing. You can chalk your free hand by tap­ping the shoul­der but­ton, and then switch grip in or­der to at­tend to the other hand. The need to en­sure you have enough grip for your next move makes the process of as­cend­ing each course more in­volved than sim­ply bound­ing from hold to hold, adding a light layer of strat­egy and de­ci­sion-mak­ing to your timed runs. While chalk­ing is cur­rently the only form of in­hibit­ing stamina ac­tive in the game, the stu­dio is in­ves­ti­gat­ing other po­ten­tial me­chan­ics for the fin­ished build. And, of course, the game will also sup­port Rift’s Touch con­trollers when they’re re­leased later this year.

While the only peak to be re­vealed so far is set in Viet­nam’s Ha­long Bay, the fin­ished game will in­clude sev­eral dif­fer­ent moun­tains to at­tempt from across the globe, and you’ll be able to choose your route up each one as you nav­i­gate the game’s open en­vi­ron­ments in your own way. While The

Climb is a solid demon­stra­tion of how de­vel­op­ers can im­bue VR worlds with con­vinc­ing phys­i­cal­ity, it also has the po­ten­tial to be some­thing of a dual gate­way, both demon­strat­ing the po­ten­tial of vir­tual re­al­ity and spark­ing an in­ter­est in solo rock climb­ing and boul­der­ing for those who have yet to try it for real.

“I agree – it feels like it’s go­ing to be that cross­over game. I think there’s some cross­over that’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Free­man says. “We have sub­ject-mat­ter ex­perts in-house who are rock climbers and they

love it. The open world and the fact that you can choose more than one route or course up the moun­tain – they love that idea, and they’re try­ing things that they wouldn’t try in the real world, tak­ing a lot more risks. So it’s open to all kinds of play­ers. If you want to just try to nav­i­gate up, and you want to ex­pe­ri­ence the beau­ti­ful vis­tas and the won­der of vir­tual re­al­ity, that op­tion is avail­able to you. How­ever, if you’re ad­ven­tur­ous, and you re­ally want to try some dif­fi­cult moves, then you can do that too.”

But while climbers might not be daunted by tow­er­ing el­e­va­tions and the need to con­tort them­selves to work with avail­able holds, the tow­er­ing pric­etag of an Ocu­lus Rift al­lied with a ca­pa­ble PC might yet prove a stretch too far. How­ever, Free­man is con­fi­dent that it won’t be a lim­it­ing fac­tor.

“My purview is de­vel­op­ment, so I re­ally don’t know how that’s go­ing to im­pact the game,” he says. “But to me, if you build good con­tent, the play­ers will come. And that’s ex­actly what we’re do­ing – build­ing some­thing that’s awe­some.”

You can chalk your free hand by tap­ping the shoul­der but­ton, and then switch grip

There will be mul­ti­ple moun­tains to climb in each lo­ca­tion, and each one will fea­ture a va­ri­ety of po­ten­tial routes

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Eli­jah Free­man

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