What is the first thing that pops into your mind when someone mentions virtual reality? I’m willing to bet that images of spectacular worlds where everything is possible are immediately starting to swarm in your head in glorious HD. Or, at the very least, you’ll think of spectacled teenagers that are being sucked into cyberspace where they’ll fight malevolent computer programs using throwing identity discs, batons and other made-up digital weaponry. Yep, I know, I too have watched Tron, The Lawnmower Man, Arcade and all other VR themed flicks.
The concept of virtual reality has been around for a while, but, due to a number of limitations, even the modern VR games sometimes seem as opposite of what virtual reality ideally should be. Thankfully, we are living in interesting times where technologies that just up to recently belonged to the domain of Sci-Fi are catching up with our vibrant imagination. Stormland is a game that seems destined to change it all and become a milestone in the history of VR games. Designed for Oculus Rift by Insomniac Games (who already on a number of occasions showed that they know how to make a great VR game), it seems that Stormland will be everything we could ever wish for from a VR game, possibly even more.
The first person action adventure is scheduled for release in 2019, and when that finally happens, the lucky owners of Oculus Rift headsets will be able to experience a strange alien world unlike any other – a planet that looks like a celestial archipelago made of islands floating mid-air, connected by a turbulent ocean of mists, vapors and clouds, teeming with aerial leviathans and other outlandish creatures. It is obvious that developers intend to showcase the complete potential of Oculus Rift hardware and their game engine, by placing the game in an environment that will enable you unrestricted exploration on both horizontal and vertical axis. However, the great thing about it all is that Stormland won’t be just a massive benchmark for the Oculus Rift, but it will also have a great, emotionally engaging story.
You’ll take the role of an android gardener tasked with keeping and cultivating the plant life of this alien world. It seems that, at some point, the planet was severely damaged by a destructive force of unknown origin, which resulted in its partially shattered landscape. Now, everything was peachy until the idyll was broken by the return of malevolent entity known as Tempest (presumably the same which devastated this world once before) and its robotic minions. Like everything that’s caught in its destructive path, the humble android gardener ended up ripped to pieces and was left to rust, while his coworkers were dismantled and enslaved. However, as if by some miracle, the android was granted a second chance and was returned to life by the very plants he once so diligently preserved. Although broken and discarded, this android revenant will prove that he’s not scrap heap material yet, and that there’s still some power left in his circuits and servomotors.
With your help, this gardener turned vigilante will scour the shattered world in search of his coworkers, fighting the Tempest’s minions that recklessly cross your path, ultimately finding the way to resist this phantom threat and save his endangered world. Of course, all this sounds very interesting, but what makes the experience uniquely immersive is the way you’ll participate in the action. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to fiddle with Oculus Rift, you know how sensitive its motion sensors are, and how fatefully it translates your movements, which is especially important for a title such as this. Stormland is a completely open world game, which means that you’ll get to explore its wonders without any restrictions – virtually every point or location you see should be accessible to you. You’ll be able to climb mountain peaks and sharp cliffs protruding from the sea of mist, walk, and even glide (or slipstream as developers call it) between floating islands. This experience will be that thrilling because Tempest will continually modify the configuration of the terrain in order to stop you or present you with new challenges and enemies.
One extremely important aspect of the game will be the augmentation of your abilities. You’ll start the game as a ramshackle clunker that’s barely holding together, but along the way you’ll scavenge different robotic parts and thus upgrade yourself – so far developers promise shields, cloaking technologies and electrical attacks that should transform you from an ordinary gardening unit to an assault droid of the first class. Of course, a primary way of dealing with the Tempest’s cybernetic army will be a vast arsenal of different weapons. In addition to single player, Stormland will also feature multiplayer, so you’ll be able to join forces with other players in co-op and explore the game and its perpetually changing environment together.
As for the visual component, it seems that the fantastic world of Stormlands will be rendered with an incredible amount of detail. Thanks to Oculus Rift, Stormland will reconcile two conflicting tendencies that innately exist in a game such as this – the wish to create as fantastic and bizarre world as possible, and the need to make it sufficiently convincing so that players could immerse themselves into the experience. In case that you’ve started to doubt that we’ll ever get to witness its full potential, Stormland will bring back the faith in virtual reality.