Virtual reality developer Sólfar Studios has launched Everest VR, a simulated first-person trek to the summit of Mount Everest available exclusively for HTC Vive headsets.
Designed in a partnership with Nordic visual effects and animation house RVX and powered by Unreal Engine 4, Everest VR includes five playable scenes that simulate a complete expedition from Base Camp to Everest’s summit.
Rather than approach the project as a traditional game, developer Sólfar Studios built Everest VR from the ground up as “an accessible experience that focuses on the strengths of VR to transport you to an impossible real world location.” Though the game features climbing mechanics and traversal goals, players are encouraged to explore their surroundings for the best possible view of the famed mountain range.
If climbing to Everest’s peak proves too daunting, Everest VR players can instead opt to traverse the Khumbu Icefalls, experience an overnight stay at Camp 4, or climb the Hillary Step, a massive rock wall that marks the end of the Cornice Traverse. Early Steam reviews note that Everest VR can be fully explored in 30 minutes or less.
“For the first time, people will be able to experience the thrills and milestones of climbing Mount Everest from the convenience and safety of virtual reality devices,” Sólfar Studios CEO Kjartan Pierre Emilsson said.
“While many have called 2016, ‘The Year of VR,’ a majority of the public is still unfamiliar with the space. We see the release of Everest VR as a way to showcase the power of the medium, by delivering a transcendent experience that goes far beyond the goal of winning a game — allowing users to experience the physical and emotional sensation of conquering one of world’s greatest wonders.”
Normally priced at $25, Everest VR is available for $22.49 during a launch-week sale via Steam. The game requires an HTC Vive headset with tracked motion controllers for input, and VR mountaineers need to clear a room-scale space in order to play while standing.
As with recent VR-focused releases like Trials on Tatooine and Nvidia’s VR Funhouse, Everest VR demands some fairly intense hardware. The game requires a Windows PC with an Intel i5-4590 or greater CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card equivalent at minimum. Recommended specs bump hardware requirements to an Intel i7-4790 or greater with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, in order to deliver the full experience.