HTC Vive/VIVEPORT VR Review: Everest VR
This review was originally created in August 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Mount Everest is Earth’s highest mountain above sea level and is located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, with the international border between Nepal and China running across its summit point. This majestic mountain, with an elevation of 29,029 feet (8,848 meters), has called to climbers for hundreds of years, but it took until 1953 for the first successful ascent to the top. Today, despite claiming hundreds of lives over the years, Mount Everest attracts hundreds of climbers and other visitors a year, becoming a popular destination for thrill-seekers of all stripes.
Considering the financial, logistical, and flat-out dangers of climbing such a mountain, it seems rife for virtual exploration. This is where Everest VR comes in.
Everest VR does not bill itself as a game, but instead as an “accessible experience” that’s a “powerful first introduction to VR.” That means limited interactivity. Fortunately, there are some benefits to these restrictions, including getting to see all of Everest VR‘s impressive visuals even if you’re not a skilled gamer.
Visually, Everest VR delivers sights that few other virtual reality games can match, let alone many regular games. In fact, if your computer has the necessary horsepower, you can crank up the visual fidelity even further in the settings, although it’s unfortunate there’s no support for the Vive Pro and its higher resolution display as of yet.
Even without its settings cranked up or the nice-to-have of Vive Pro support, Everest VR recreates Mount Everest and its surrounding areas in striking detail. There are three major modes, including the core game where you join an expedition to reach the summit, God Mode, and The Seeker Expedition.
In the core game, you play through five iconic scenes. In the first scene, you prepare for your expedition at the basecamp. In the second scene, you traverse the Khumbu Icefalls, considered one of the most dangerous stages of the South Col route to Everest’s summit. In the third scene, you spend a night at Camp 4. In the fourth scene, you ascend the Hillary Step, a nearly vertical rock face with a height of around 39 feet (12 meters) located high on the mountain. In the fifth and final scene, you place a flag on the summit.
In God Mode, which is unlocked after you play through the core game for the first time, you can experience the Himalayas in a unique way. You’re placed far above the mountain range and gain some insight into its true scale.
In the Seeker Expedition, you explore a photogrammetry reconstruction of the mountain, which delivers a 360-degree view using hundreds of thousands of real images. You also experience first-person stories from climbers and Sherpas who have actually conquered Mount Everest’s peak.
As you might expect, Everest VR is a standing, room-scale experience. Despite the epic scope, it does a good job of dynamically adapting to the relative constraints of smaller room-scale environments, so those with limited space should still be able to enjoy much of the same experience as their better equipped counterparts. Both Vive controllers are used to warp between locations and perform the rudimentary activities in the core game, such as picking up and placing various objects or climbing a ladder.
If you go into Everest VR expecting a climbing or survival game, you’ll be extremely disappointed. If instead you go into Everest VR expecting a little bit of gameplay as an excuse to present an experience you’ll likely never have yourself – complete with stunning visuals – then you’ll be in for a treat.
Score: 4 out of 5 stars.
Everest VR is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.