Taking climbing to new heights in virtual reality

As soon as we first prototyped climbing in VR, we knew we had a special experience on our hands. Even in an early, very basic development stage, climbing in VR just had that 'wow' factor. It didn't matter that the mechanic and environment was in an embryonic form - word spread about the prototype and everyone in the studio wanted to try it out. It was fun, right off the bat. Of course, climbing has been an engaging part of many games for years, usually as an enjoyable gameplay mechanic within a much wider experience. However, with the presence delivered by VR, it became clear that climbing had far more potential to take center stage.

Simply put, VR absorbs you into an experience in a way that traditional gaming platforms can't. The actions you perform are far more immediate, and the sensations you feel are more real in VR. It was just a perfect fit for realizing climbing as a fully-fledged sports game with distinct depth, immersion, and challenge, thanks to the unique power of VR.

Free solo rock climbing is, of course, one of the most extreme, exciting and dangerous sports on the planet. In many ways it is the ultimate expression of climbing - man versus Mother Nature, climbing without the safety net of a rope. The world's greatest free solo climbers can ascend huge rock faces unaided, conquering their fears and risking it all. Understandably, few people (and it has to be said, none of the climbers on the team!) would attempt this form of extreme climbing in real life. However, In The Climb you'll climb, negotiate different kinds of ledges and terrain, and work out routes on the fly, all with a real sense of being high up on a rock face, but without the risk. That's not to say you won't feel fear and tension, though…

In the Climb, we go further to let you do things that even the greatest free solo climbers wouldn't attempt in the real world and give you the kind of challenges that are deliberately far more fun than realistic. However, at the core of The Climb, we can give players some of the feelings of real life climbing, such as a fear of falling, the adrenaline rush of jumping, the satisfaction that comes from working out your route and, of course, the sense of accomplishment when you've completed an ascent.

Some of the real world actions you perform when you climb are perfectly brought to life by the head tracking technology featured in the VR headset, making them feel really natural and maintaining your absorption into the game world. For instance, as in real life, when you're on the rock in the game, you instinctively look around for your next grip as you work how you're going to negotiate your path up. It's very simple, but those head movements where you can peer around a corner, look up to analyze what is ahead or simply take in the scenery is intuitive in VR. Combined with the fact that the way climbers move – one grip at a time – naturally addresses many of the issues surrounding motion sickness, playing The Climb is very accessible. Gameplay becomes in many ways instinctive - anyone can quickly get a real sensation of what it's like to climb.

Climbing through nature is a perfect way to experience VR too. With the camera in control of the player, rather than the game designer, the detailed environments that we're able to create are so much more immersive. Intricately detailed rock faces and lush vegetation appear much more real under close inspection in VR, while the beautiful vistas players see as they rise up our rock faces become increasingly dramatic. Climbing is just a great way to move through these environments, allowing players to take in the (many) views of their choosing.

We're finding that when players, including people who have experience of climbing in real life, try The Climb for the first time, they're just blown away by a sense of realism. The feeling of being so close to the wall, the intimidating curvature of the cliff – you really get that sense of presence in the game when you put the VR headset on. And it's that presence that drives the tension, the adrenaline and ultimately the sense of accomplishment that lies at the heart of our vision for extreme free solo rock climbing.

The Climb Team

December 22, 2015

Welcome to The Climb: Base Camp

Thanks for stopping by The Climb: Base Camp! This is our shiny new blog for our shiny new VR game, The Climb. It’s really exciting for us to finally reveal what we’ve been busy working on in super-secret at Crytek and over the coming weeks and months ahead we’ll be sharing information, screenshots, videos, and updates right from the studio, right here.

The Climb is being created in partnership with Oculus, and uses the immersive and unique ‘presence’ of VR to give a sensation of free solo rock climbing. Free solo rock climbing is one of the most intense activities in the world, and climbing rock faces without the safety net of a rope is something most people would never dare to do in real life. With VR and The Climb, anyone can get a taste of the thrill of this style of rock climbing from the comfort of their own home.

Because you really feel you’re ‘there’ in The Climb, VR opens up a new way of experiencing this exhilarating sport. You’ll scale huge heights, pick your route as you ascend, explore different rock faces, and take in some incredible views, all made more immediate and ‘real’ because of the power of VR. Our goal is not only for players of all abilities to be able to intuitively enjoy the feeling of rock climbing, but also to provide real depth and challenge for experienced gamers too.

As a team, we are excited to use CRYENGINE to create a fully-fledged, fully-featured game that exists on the cutting edge of this brand new medium, VR. It’s also a great challenge – creating a great VR experience requires a different approach to how we develop the game, and how we think about gameplay. Our team really is breaking new ground. We’ve tried things that haven’t worked, found new solutions, and we’ve been thrilled to realize possibilities that couldn’t have been achieved creating this style of game in any other medium.

There’s plenty more to come. We’ll be talking in depth about various locations in the game, features, the challenges and opportunities of developing in VR, and more good stuff as we go along. We hope you’ll enjoy coming with us on this journey and, of course, you can also stay in touch with The Climb by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, and following us on Instagram.

The Climb Team

December 15, 2015

The Climb: The FAQ

Excited about The Climb? Want to know more? Check out our FAQ!

Q: What is The Climb?

A: The Climb is the world's first VR rock climbing game from Crytek and Oculus. In The Climb, players will feel the rush and thrill of free solo rock climbing through beautiful environments, all from the comfort of their own home. The game is easily accessible for players of all ages and experiences, yet also delivers depth and challenge for veteran gamers.

The Climb makes players feel truly present in the game world and features breathtaking locations and immersive action made possible by CRYENGINE.

Q: Will the game use the Xbox One controller or the Oculus Touch controller?

A: It will support both.

Q: How many settings and locations will there be?

A: Our first setting is Asia. It's inspired by Vietnam's famous and picturesque Halong Bay, but also draws upon other features and landmarks from all over the continent to create an exciting rock climbing environment. There will be more settings and locations around the world too, which we will reveal in due course.

Q: What game modes will there be?

A: The main game mode comes with various settings and difficulty levels, and there will also be a Training mode.

Q: How is the sport of climbing represented in the game?

A: The Climb uses elements of the real life sport in gameplay to give players the sensation of rock climbing. For example, gameplay revolves around exploring rock faces to find a path to the top, and you must find different grips or holds, each with their own challenge, to lift yourself as you chart your own route. Rock climbing in real life is physically demanding. As athletes climb they sweat and chalk is used by climbers to return grip to sweaty hands. This is reflected in the game, as the more active you are, the more you'll need to use chalk on your in-game hands so you can stay on the rock!

Q: Is there an in-game character?

A In the Climb the player is represented by a pair of hands. By removing the body of a character, the player's view is not obstructed and the movements made in the game feel much more intuitive and natural.

Q: Will there be achievements?

A: There will be achievements, and we'll have more information as we move towards launch. Stay tuned!

Q: Where is The Climb being developed?

A: The Climb is being developed at our Frankfurt headquarters by our VR Team.

Q: What technology is the game being developed with?

A: The game is being developed on CRYENGINE which gives us the power to deliver a truly immersive VR experience.

Q: What is the age rating?

A: There is no age restriction.

Q: When will The Climb be released?

A: To be confirmed.

Q: Will the game feature microtransactions?

A: We are not planning to have any microtransactions in the game.

Q: In which languages will The Climb be localized?

A: We are currently planning to release the game in English, French, Spanish and German.

Q: What are the minimum requirements to run the game?

A: We are planning to release the game to run on Oculus Rift's recommended specs:

CPU

Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater

Memory

8GB RAM

GPU

NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater

OS

Windows 7 SP1 or newer

Display

Oculus Rift, native resolution

The Climb Team

December 15, 2015

The Climb: The Reveal!

Adrenaline and adventure collide in Crytek's Oculus Rift Title, “The Climb"

Feel the unrivalled adrenaline rush of free solo rock climbing and encounter the majesty of nature like never before in The Climb – a new virtual reality game from Crytek – coming exclusively to Oculus.

The Climb invites thrill-seekers to experience the ultimate in extreme sports by going beyond the point of no return and scaling deadly cliff faces unaided. The game boasts hyper-realistic climbing locations from around the world, and players will discover the freedom of gaming with the Rift using either an Xbox One controller or Oculus Touch controllers as they soak up their awe-inspiring surroundings.

Oculus Head of Worldwide Studios, Jason Rubin said: “Crytek is renowned for leveraging their CRYENGINE tech to create beautiful, immersive games. Their early VR demos really captured public imagination, and to see their ideas come to life with Rift is incredible and not to be missed. The Climb is a beautiful combination of art and thrill that's bringing an entirely new level of adventure gaming to Rift."

Also commenting on the collaboration, Founder, CEO & President of Crytek, Cevat Yerli, said: “Gaming has always given us the opportunity to place ourselves in otherwise impossible scenarios, and VR technology such as the Rift makes us feel present in those scenarios like never before. The Climb invites players to experience the intensity of one of the world's most dangerous sports, and they'll truly feel the thrill of being thousands of meters above the ground with nothing but their skill and a few precarious handholds to rely on."

December 15, 2015

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