One of the key talking points at this year's E3 was virtual reality. Heck, VR has been a talking point at most gaming trade shows and conferences since late 2015. Well, one demo in particular managed to get IGN's attention and it's called Everest VR from Solfar Studios.
The outlet did a hands-on preview of the docutainment title, which mixes in an enriched virtual tourism feel with actual in-game interactivity. It's designed to mimic the kind of visceral, unbridled feeling one gets when watching a documentary, but it also contains entertainment values in scaling Mount Everest using the VR controllers.
IGN explains how they scaled up the mountain, passed through the Hillary Step, and tried to maintain balance while gusts of wind swept by, creating unparalleled moments of fear and exhilaration.
The gaming outlet partook in the demo in a closed door session at this year's E3, where companies like Solfar Studios are trying to enrich the VR space with tourism-style titles where gamers and non-gamers alike can experience exotic locations and dangerous adventures without stepping foot outside of their home.
So how is this all done? Well, IGN's little VR demo experience was powered by none other than Nvidia's GeForce technology. The article doesn't go into detail about the specs but if I were a betting man I would certainly put money down on the idea that the demo was likely powered by a GTX 1080, which is Nvidia's newest line of GPUs designed specifically for 4K gaming and virtual reality experiences. It consumes half the amount of energy as a GTX 980 and outputs more pixels per square inch at faster frame rates.
If you check out the old demo footage below from back in February of Everest VR you can see how the demo looks in action running on a GTX GPU. Some scenes almost had me fooled as if I were watching actual documentary footage of the famous mountain. Check out the trailer courtesy of Virtual Reality Rebels.
Aside from the 3D characters and disembodied hands obviously giving away that this is a 3D interactive program, the one thing that made me realize that the mountain was rendered in 3D was the fact that the specular highlights are a little too bright. There's too much glow from the sun. Also, if I didn't know any better, the lighting almost looks as if it's being rendered by global illumination, but it's kind of tough to tell just from a single video with sporadic panoramic shots of the mountain.
Even still, IGN's preview makes it known that the Everest VR demo had them feeling as if they were actually there. In the video above you could see other people helping the one guy out as he was walking across the ledge, feeling as if he were actually on that thin little bridge. I do wonder how well this would work in an actual home where people might not watch where they're going and could end up falling over because of what they're seeing in the VR app?
According to IGN, the Everest VR experience will only be two hours long, no fail states and no actual gaming elements outside of just climbing on things and walking across things. They don't give a release date but the Everest VR experience is set to arrive some time this year for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.