One minute I was in Shoreditch; the next I was roaming round a small island, the sea lapping below me. I was of course still very much in Shoreditch, but sat on a wheely chair in the corner of the Ustwo offices it certainly didn’t feel that way, ensconced as I was in a large virtual reality headset and thoroughly enthralled by the strange new world around me. This world was that of Ustwo’s new game Land’s End, a virtual reality game launching at the end of October that sees users work to “awaken a lost civilisation” through a series of beautiful ever-changing landscapes.
It’s a confusing but wonderful experience; and one that I’m keen not to spoil for anyone hoping to play. Even for a non-gamer (I’ve only ever played Street Fighter, very unsuccessfully) the interface is hugely intuitive. The design of the landscapes takes cues from different sites around the world, “from the soaring cliffs of northern Europe to the harsh beauty of the Sahara, and neolithic sites and artefacts such as Stonehenge,” according to Ustwo.
Through five different levels, the user draws on nothing but the power of their mind to further their journey using a gaze-based mechanic that feels fluid and dizzyingly real. Rather than having the experience of playing a video game, the experience is more akin to something therapeutuic – forcing the user to slow down and take in what’s around them before being able to move elsewhere.
Land’s End has been in development for over a year, and is Ustwo’s first complete VR game, and can be played using Oculus Home headsets. Ustwo Games technical director Peter Pashley says: “The most powerful thing about wearing a VR headset is the sense of presence, so with Land’s End we’ve been able to create a world that invites you to enjoy its surroundings and discover its possibilities.”
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