Scale, developers will often tell you, is one of virtual reality’s (VR’s) best features. In traditional videogames we’ve gazed up in wonder at giant stone colossi, and multi-limbed, world-invading mechanical Scarabs, but we’ve never been able to appreciate the true size of these creations like we would if we were actually there. VR, however, changes all that. That’s why we’ve seen so many experiences that plant you next to a dinosaur, or at the top of a cavern. But one of the best examples of scale yet seen in VR is out of this world.
SETAPP’s Escape Velocity launched on Gear VR earlier this year to little fanfare. It’s a shame, because this short, free experience is well worth the ride for any experienced VR user. But if there’s a defining moment within this Gravity-inspired set-piece, it comes right at the start of a new game. Swiping a menu aside, the player’s character heads towards a door on the International Space Station (ISS) to head out and make some repairs.
There’s a moment’s pause at a window here, however, and it’s enough to drop your jaw. You approach the small, circular pane of glass with a small section of our planet in sight, but when you reach the door and are able to get a proper look, you’ll see on of Gear VR’s best sets yet. Before your very eyes the Earth stretches out in all of its enormity. This isn’t the same sphere that most of us have being staring at on 2D screens over the past few decades, but instead an unimaginably gigantic behemoth that both intimidates in its sheer size and yet hypnotises with the glimpses of the world that it holds within it.
So massive is our home that you can’t even see the entire thing from the window. It’s now until you’re let out into the abyss that you can gain a true sense of appreciation for the planet and how it dwarfs you. It makes for a fascinating few moments that I won’t soon forget.
Ultimately, Escape Velocity wants to dazzle you with its blockbuster action sequence and liberating freedom of movement, but this is the real treat. Gear VR runs on a smartphone, true, but it’s still capable of offering some of the best sights in VR today. With both this and the excellent Neverout under its belt, SETAPP is certainly a developer we should all be paying attention to in the VR scene right now.