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Hands-on with The Climb’s Oculus Touch Update

The Climb originally launched as an Oculus Rift exclusive back in April of this year, and was met with a mixed response. While its gorgeous visual design and sense of scale were beyond compare, the actual act of climbing – the singular component to the gameplay – failed to command attention as long as it perhaps should have. A new update looks to change that however, as The Climb throws away the Xbox One controller and moves to motion-control with Oculus Touch.

The Climb screenshot

For a videogame in which the player takes control of a pair of disembodied hands, The Climb’s use of motion-control input should be relatively obvious. The player uses a controller in each hand to navigate the ascent through several mountains, reaching from one handhold to the next. The incredibly precise tracking of Oculus Touch is perfect for this type of gameplay; wherein the only panic comes from the player’s own mistakes and adrenaline comes from not action, but relief as you find yourself perched high upon a ledge overlooking the vista below.

Aside from the personal momentum of grabbing between handholds and pulling your body along, The Climb also features two further mechanics: chalking and jumping. Chalking your hands is essential to maintain grip as you look for the next handhold, and is simply conducted via button press. Jumping is a more complicated affair however, with the player required to swipe both controllers in tandem in the opposite direction to that which they wish to travel. This gives the feeling of having to shift your bodyweight, pushing from left to right in order to propel your body beyond the starting point of your hands.

The illusion of momentum is carried across to the Oculus Touch extremely well, though this should perhaps be expected given the context of a videogame concerned only with direct hand movement being adapted to hand gesture inputs. What is more surprising is just how much this new control system aids immersion. The Climb is almost an entirely different experience with Oculus Touch: one that show the concept truly does have legs in VR, despite the initial – perhaps unfortunate – release as a control pad based videogame.

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The update for Oculus Touch is expected to arrive for both existing and new purchases of The Climb at the launch of the input device later this year. More details will be revealed at Oculus Connect 3, San Jose, next month and VRFocus will be there to deliver you all the latest details.