VR classic "The Blu" makes a free comeback - with new content
TheBlu is an iconic VR experience that left mouths agape in 2016, demonstrating room-scale virtual reality. Now it's back.
The original was released in time for the launch of the HTC Vive in April 2016.
You will face a whale on the deck of a shipwreck and look into the eyes of the majestic animal, find yourself in the middle of a coral reef and glowing jellyfish and sea turtles, or dive down with a flashlight into the pitch-black deep sea where a gigantic underwater creature awaits you.
You can move freely within the locations and interact with the realistically rendered environment thanks to the Vive controllers. That was a technical sensation in 2016.
As a reminder, the Oculus Rift, launched the same year, did not support room-scale virtual reality and shipped with an Xbox gamepad instead of VR controllers. With VR experiences like TheBlu, Valve and HTC stole the show from Oculus and Facebook. The Blu was probably the most played VR demo, along with Tilt Brush.
Swimming with hammerhead sharks
Almost seven years on, the studio responsible, Wevr, is back with a refresh of the VR classic.
A new version of the VR experience has been released on Steam, which is optimized for DLCs and comes with new features and content.
"We re-architected the product from the ground up to make it easier for us to collectively make and share new episodes going forward, which can be accessed as DLC," the studio writes.
TheBlu is now accessible for free, with the whale encounter free and the remaining episodes DLC paid for, including the brand new episode "Hammerhead Cove". This one transports you to the Caribbean, where you'll encounter peaceful hammerhead sharks and other shark species and fish in a light-filled sea.
The studio has also updated navigation and artificial locomotion to today's standards, as well as added support for hand tracking.
TheBlu is currently only available on Steam, but a Quest version is expected to be released soon.
TheBlu becomes a platform
The team holds out the prospect of more content.
"Going forward, we’ll continue to develop new unique DLC episodes, and… we’re going to open up TheBlu to creators around the world developing all kinds of new ocean encounters with myriads of species and habitats," the team writes.
Wevr has created its own cloud platform called WVS (Wevr Virtual Studio) for this purpose, through which developers can collaborate and create new content for TheBlu. The update to the VR experience was developed with WVS by professionals from Los Angeles, Florida and the Netherlands.
You can find TheBlu on Steam. DLC costs $2.