Crytek’s spectacular virtual reality in Back to Dinosaur Island 2 – try it out

Seated, with real-world views blocked by Oculus Rift’s Crescent Bay dev kit, they put the pad in our hand with one recommendation: “Hold R1 and don’t let go for any reason.”

What will it be, on the other hand we are about to try Back to Dinosaur Island 2, Crytek’s virtual reality demo, and the question arises: “Why, what happens if I let it go?” The answer does not have time to arrive that the viewer screen comes alive and before our eyes we see the virtual arm clinging to a mechanism, the left arm in the void, below us the precipice.

We start like this, with a nice lump moment in the throat, hanging from who knows how many hundreds of meters high along a rocky wall. The self-confidence that comes from the virtuality of the experience makes a mocking smile appear when we decide to let go to enjoy the fall: the body would like to contract with fear but we maintain the necessary aplomb to resist and not lose the air of journalists at work for that second or so that separates us from the screen that goes black. R1 and start over.

Now we can also press the left trigger to cling with both hands to the mechanism, which at the same time begins to move upwards by moving along a diagonally stretched cable. When he arrives at his destination after a short journey we look around and the impression of having a stupid expression on his face is corroborated by the comment that accompanies it: “Wonderful, isn’t it?”.

Looking around you really get the feeling of being on a fantastic planet, and the dinosaurs are both terrifying and inviting.

Yes, it is wonderful. Around us pterodactyls fly threateningly, we can glimpse waterfalls on distant rocks and the sky is that of a mysterious planet. To move on to the next mechanism and continue to climb you have to physically move your head forward and lean out, the positioning of the Crescent Bay works very well and the ascent now proceeds quickly even if clearly everything has been designed to work with the new Oculus Touch controllers. announced just a couple of days before.

The path is dotted with scripted events: a dinosaur nest, the fall of some rocks (to be dodged by moving the head), and the close encounter with huge pterodactyls stationed in an alcove. We know that it is all fake but there is still a moment of hesitation in passing by.

At the top we arrive at what in the will of the developers is the most amazing view, but which, to be honest, suddenly highlights the true limit of the experience. We look at a large valley, our eyes are lost among dinosaurs that graze placidly, mysterious buildings and points of interest to be investigated only by staring at them.

If you let go of the triggers you fall into the void, but the flight lasts a little more than a second and then it’s all black.

You want to go check it out in person but you can’t. We cannot move, we are stuck at the end of the demo and the first question we ask once the helmet is removed is related to the player’s movements.

Virtual reality is spectacular, immersive but not even Crytek gives a convincing answer. “There are so many ways to move”, says the developer at our side sibylline, alluding to the mechanism that took us to the top of the mountain, but as much as that phase worked, as soon as we arrived at our destination we felt connected and the immersion breaks. .

What proved should be a prototype capable of giving an idea of Robinson: The Journey, the experience Crytek is working on and which promises to be one of the most spectacular for virtual reality. In fact, there is no doubt about the ability of the creators of the Cryengine to amaze on the technical front, but for now it remains difficult to imagine a game that gives one hundred percent of the movements in the hands of the player.

The illusion works as long as you are physically forced in place: tied to a chair, hung over a void or inside a ___pit and only your head and hands can move, but what happens when we are free to walk?

For now the question remains unanswered, as well as the platforms planned for production (even if it is difficult to imagine it on consoles, given the spectacular graphics), but we would like to say that it is fine anyway.

Even if it were just a collection of experiences like the one we tried it would be worth it, as there really is no such thing as the feeling of being clinging to a rock face surrounded by flying dinosaurs.