Galleon and you’ll find yourself stood on the virtual deck of a pirate ship. You’re far out to sea, with no land in sight, and man-eating sharks in the water below. The decks are filled with interactive objects, which highlight as you approach then come to life with a press of the B controller button. Climb the Crow’s nest and you’ll get a brilliant sensation of vertigo, while the lower deck is cramped, dark and packed with loot. We don’t want to give everything away, but by watching our five-minute gameplay video (embedded above) you’ll get a good idea of what to expect in Galleon. You’ll get to play as a seagull to explore the world by air, explore the Captain’s cabin and get drunk on Rum, climb up to the Crow’s nest, navigate shark-filled water, spy a semi-naked mermaid through binoculars and much, much more. There’s a lot to see in this game, and finding it all will take some time.
Controlling the game is easy enough, especially with the Xbox controller where the left thumbstick controls movement and the right moves your head. Tapping A causes you to jump, B interacts with in-game objects and Select resets the camera orientation. Integration with the Oculus Rift is nice, with the game automatically booting in VR and displaying an easy to read in-game menu. The sense of scale is also accurate, causing vertigo in high places and letting you lean over railings to look into the sea below. However, there are a few niggles here and there. Launch into “seagull mode” and the camera is placed above its head, causing its wings to occasionally flap into view. We also felt some VR sickness while swooping through the sky, caused by the dual control method that lets you control the seagull using both your head movements and the Xbox controller.
"EVERY MOUNTAIN YOU CLIMB HAS MANY PATHS THROUGH IT".
The Climb is planned for release as part of the Oculus Rift's "launch window," which will be some time during the first quarter of 2016. It will debut on Rift exclusively, but Bowman says that Crytek owns the intellectual property, and future versions could come to other platforms.
Galleon is a wonderful-looking game. Tropical waters ebb and flow around the boat, detailed textures cover every surface and the lighting is rich. There’s also a lot to see. The boat itself is nearly overflowing with cannons, treasure, buckets and more. Once you leap overboard you’ll also find an entire tropical island to explore (if you manage to evade the man-eating sharks) with huts, towers and tree-lined paths to navigate. All this detail comes at a cost, however: framerate. Using the recommended Oculus Rift specifications (that’s a Core i5, NVIDIA GTX 970 and 8GB RAM) we saw stuttering from the moment we loaded the game. Thankfully there are five graphical pre-sets that change the detail to make the game run buttery smooth, and all you have to do is press 1-5 on the keyboard (with 1 being the lowest setting and 5 the highest) to swap between them. We found 4 to be the sweet spot.
It's a beautiful game, but the graphics are not overwhelmingly bright; they're easy on the eyes. He says that wearing a VR headset with an overly bright game is "like being on the beach with no sunglasses."