For game developers, the most befuddling problem in VR right now is traversal – the simple task of moving from one point to another without causing motion sickness. Unless you’re playing a game that utilizes the HTC Vive’s “room scale” capabilities, there’s a good chance you’ll get a one-way ticket to Barftown if the experience requires too much movement. It’s been a tricky proposition for game developers looking to create the kind of vast worlds they’re accustomed to. The upcoming Lone Echo is perhaps the most convincing attempt yet to solve this problem.
A first-person exploration experience set on part of a helium mining operation out in the rings of Saturn, Lone Echo has you take the reins of a robot-piloting AI named Jack, serving alongside a human crew investigating a mysterious anomaly in deep space. The game is being developed by Ready at Dawn, the studio behind last year’s PS4 third-person “narrative shooter” The Order: 1886 – a beautiful, exposition-heavy cover shooter that launched to lukewarm reviews – and several highly-regarded God of War games for Sony’s PSP handheld. Designed exclusively for Oculus Rift and its Touch motion controllers, more than half of Ready at Dawn’s Irvine, California studio (some 60 developers) are working on it, making Lone Echo one of the biggest VR projects in production right now.
Lone Echo attempts to solve the traversal problem in novel fashion, by removing gravity and effectively replacing the player’s legs with their arms. Nearly every surface in the game can be grabbed onto or pushed off of, creating a movement mechanic that feels like some combination of Spider-Man, air hockey and a game of Twister.