Image: Better Than Life
The simulation Kayak VR: Mirage already wowed me on the PC. The PSVR 2 version is now set to go one better.
Since the triumph of Meta Quest 2, there are hardly any VR games that are developed exclusively for PC VR and make full use of the platform’s graphical performance. Kayak VR: Mirage, released last summer, is one of those VR games that pushes the limits of what is technically possible and strives for photorealism.
It lets VR players paddle through ice caves in Antarctica, along the coast of Costa Rica, under Norway’s northern lights and through Australia’s canyons. Whether you compete with other players and climb the leaderboards or relax and enjoy the scenery is up to you.
Special attention is paid to simulating the sea and wildlife. You will see penguins jumping off ice cliffs, turtles making their way from the beach into the water, and dolphins swimming alongside the boat as you pick up the pace.
Realistic paddling and boat physics
Kayak VR: Mirage uses one of the distinctive features of virtual reality: spatial tracking of the hands (via the controllers). In the VR game, you paddle with your hands as if they were holding a paddle. A realistic and intuitive way of moving around that fits the medium perfectly.
VR paddling is made possible by sophisticated physics simulation, the studio’s second major focus alongside graphics. Paddling is supposed to feel so real that beginners can quickly learn the basics of locomotion, while more experienced kayakers can maneuver with a precision they would expect from a real kayak.
The physics simulation also affects other elements of the game world: Plants, ice floes and boulders react realistically to the kayak and the paddle.
Sharper than ever thanks to PSVR 2’s foveated rendering
Now the studio announced that Kayak VR: Mirage will be a launch title for Playstation VR 2. According to the developers, the PSVR 2 version will look better than ever thanks to two special features of the VR system.
One is the OLED displaywhich offers brighter colors and higher contrast than the LC displays used in most VR headsets.
“When we first saw the game on the PSVR 2 we couldn’t believe how vivid the worlds felt,” writes studio founder Leon van Oord on the Playstation Blog. The OLED display supposedly adds “a new dimension” to the night levels.
The second feature is Foveated Renderinga VR-specific rendering technique that uses the Playstation VR 2’s eye tracking to calculate the area that game players focus on at a higher resolution – with impressive results.
“The Foveated Rendering allows the game to look sharper than we have ever seen it,” van Oord writes. Even Sharper than with the HP Reverb G2 PC VR headset (review) at maximum resolution, the studio writes in a tweet. Playstation VR 2 is the first consumer VR headset to support this rendering technology.
Those who own a PS5 and buy Playstation VR 2 can plunge into the virtual waters from February 22.