Massive update adds new graphics, features and CV1 support.
Back in 2014 Discovering Space blew the VR community away with its ability to let players explore the Solar System at will, with an amazing sense of immersion and at times sheer spectacle. Now its developer Simon Phillips (AKA Siphi) is back with the next iteration of the game: Discovering Space 2.
This isn’t an all-new game, but instead a massive update with new features, graphics and CV1 (Oculus Rift consumer headset) support. Here’s a quick round-up of what’s included:
- Planetary detail – terrain, textures, atmosphere, all through new custom shaders. See Earth and Moon for examples of what is to come for all the other planets
- Graphical detail – optimisations enable cranking up rendering sub-sampling (which has a profound effect on DK2).
- Audio richness – engines, ship, environment and background music all improved.
- Planet sizes more correct, distances much larger.
- Cockpit displays / HUD enable easier navigation.
- Propulsion model enhanced (to cope with the larger distances).
- Near speed of light effects – Red shift, view contraction and “headlight”
- Jump gates / hyperspace effects enhanced.
- Re-entry effects through the atmosphere.
- Subtle sunset and sunrise when in orbit around a planet.
- General polish, feel and thrill to the experience.
We’ve been fortuntate enough to get some hands-on time with the latest build and captured some highlights in the video above. In short, this is a huge update, with some really neat features. Perhaps the most prominent is how light alters depending on the speed of your craft. Go full throttle at the speed of light and anything coming towards you is shifted towards the blue spectrum, while anything behind is shifted red. It’s a clever (and realistic) feature that adds a slightly psychedelic feel to proceedings. Another subtle change is the sheer scale of the Solar System, which is now more accurate in size. Travel from Jupiter to Saturn at the speed of light and it’ll take approximately five minutes, while travelling at sub-light speeds could leave you with a journey that takes months.
Graphical changes are easier to see. The game isn’t finished yet, but new models and textures have been implemented for all the planetary objects, which means you can really fly up-close (and often down the the surface) for a better look at each planet and moon. They make a massive difference, often being photorealistic as you hover miles above their surfaces.
There’s no release date for Discovering Space 2, but Simon is hoping to release it for both the DK2 and CV1 headsets later this summer. In addition, a beta release for select gamer’s will be ready towards the end of April.
It’s great to see such a prominent VR game come back to life, and we can’t wait to get more hands-on time with future releases. In the meantime you can download the first release (for free!) from both The Rift Arcade Market and Oculus Share.