At one time or another, you’ve probably looked at the Oculus Rift and thought to yourself, “I bet those would make some bangin’ underwater goggles.” That may not be the exact sentiment expressed by the developers at Vertigo Games, but in our GDC 2014 preview, I was told that the form factor of the new piece of tech did in fact provide the initial inspiration for World of Diving.
World of Diving is a first-person multiplayer online adventure game with an emphasis on exploration and user-generated content. In it, you’ll discover procedurally-generated underwater worlds that are inspired by real locales, take on developer- and player-created missions, and design your own content with the in-game toolset. You’ll start out with a small personal island featuring a little swimming pool and Bioshock-style underwater tubes that will eventually lead you to the ocean, and you can customize everything from your appearance, gear, vehicles like boats and submarines, and real estate.
Although the Oculus Rift will not be required for play, I think using it will provide for a far superior experience than a traditional display. World of Diving has some amazing lighting effects, beautiful seascapes, and great ambient sounds, and using the Oculus Rift paired with a solid set of headphones adds substantially to the immersion. The version I played utilized a gamepad for basic movement and controls, and the visor allowed me to look around at my environs, party member, and even my character’s body, and I was impressed by how well the tech worked. It was a very early build, to be sure, but the demo ran very smoothly and I was able to complete a few missions, take underwater photos (including a selfie!), and get myself tangled in some corral without issue.
World of Diving is very group-friendly, and supports up to sixteen players per instance. The game allows you to invite your friends over to your personal island for pool parties, and you can even bring them onto your boat and explore the high seas in search of diving points. You’ll of course also want to play their created missions and review them with the game’s UGC rating system, and invite them to do the same with your own aquatic adventures. The underwater kingdom is not free of predators, however, and you’ll want to avoid creatures like sharks, which will initiate button-mashing minigames if they manage to attack you. There’s no actual combat in the game, and sharks can’t do damage to you or vice-versa, but still, their presence in the water is no less terrifying!
Vertigo Games is comprised of a small but highly motivated team, and they’re keen on releasing the game as soon as possible and adding new features as it grows. Pre-orders for World of Diving are already available for 20 USD, and the game will offer vanity customization items, half of which will be free, with the other half being supported by microtransactions. Your pre-order will give you access to your starter island swimming pool and allow you to get active in the development process by giving the developers feedback on things like how movement works and what kinds of features you’d like to see.
The team at Vertigo Games is developing the game for multiple as-yet-unannounced platforms, and I can definitely see it working well on both PC and consoles. The game will also support an iPad companion app that will tie in to many different in-game features, like allowing you to view an aquarium filled with all of the different types of fish that you’ve seen.
World of Diving is slated for launch by the end of this year or the beginning of next, pending the Oculus Rift release.
Som Pourfarzaneh / Som has been hanging out with the MMORPG.com crew since 2011, and is an Associate Director & Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.