VR diving with realistic graphics shows the immersive power of virtual reality
A solo developer creates graphically elaborate underwater experiences for a VR game - the first videos are spectacular.
The dives in realistically murky water come from a yet unnamed VR game: The solo developer "Khena B" is working on a diving trip to an alien planet using the Unreal Engine. In keeping with the theme, the creator reserves a certain amount of artistic freedom, so don't expect an exact diving simulator.
But the first video snippets would do well in a simulation. The virtual hands create believable waves on the surface and after diving, the floating particles give the feeling of gliding through algae-clouded water.
VR diving is simply better than monitor diving
In the late summer of 2022, the developers experimented with a virtual reality water shader, a particle waterfall, and various effects such as authentic sea spray. After encountering performance issues, they switched from Unreal Engine 5 to version 4.
The developer is keeping the option open to switch back to Unreal Engine 5 at a later date. To avoid problems, the wave system currently does not use tessellation, which could make simple objects physically more complex. Meanwhile, Unreal Engine 5 also supports the new "Nanite" feature in virtual reality, which can automatically scale high-resolution assets in the engine.
The game, which is currently only planned for PC VR, revolves around exploring the underwater world. Players glide forward with natural arm movements, similar to the real swimming movements in the VR shooter Hubris. A smartwatch on the virtual wrist keeps track of time underwater.
The developer is keeping quiet about further details, a publicly playable demo is not planned at the moment. Maybe some ideas developed with ChatGPT will find their way into the game. Khena B published some screenshots of a brainstorming session with OpenAI's chatbot.
Praise from underwater VR pioneers
Another studio has taken notice of Khena B's demo: "Wevr" co-founder Anthony Batt has already expressed interest in using the "brilliant" technology in his revived underwater experience "theBlu." The VR classic, released in 2016, is currently receiving new DLC episodes.
Theblu was great, you guys did some good work
— Khena B (@Khena_B) January 26, 2023
The VR underwater adventure Subnautica, on the other hand, doesn't seem to serve as a role model: On Twitter, Khena B repeatedly points out that he has not played the survival title.
If you're now in the mood for some VR water fun, you might want to check out the equally graphically impressive Kayak VR Mirage. Already available for SteamVR, it will be even more beautiful when the Playstation VR 2 launches.
The stealth game Phantom: Covert Ops also puts you in a kayak. The VR experience Biolum takes you deep into the ocean.