Earlier this year Australia-based indie studio MarineVerse released their first VR title, an interactive sailing game called VR Regatta for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Now the studio is also bringing the open seas to mobile headsets with a toned down version called Big Breezy Boats. The title was shipped to the Oculus Store today for Gear VR and the newly launched Oculus Go at a $4.49 US price tag. Big Breezy Boats is a relaxing sailing experience that lets you man your own private yacht on the open seas. So I decided to let my hair down, put on my Gear VR and take a jaunt on the jolly seas in a bid to find some tranquility.
There are about three things on the boat to interact with, including two winches that changed the direction of the sails, and of course, the wheel to steer the boat. So interaction was overall very limited and there isn’t much more to do than look at the open ocean all around. Which would have been much nicer if there had been some variation in the surroundings, weather, or even water – but nothing ever seemed to change. I just kept sailing on flat blue water that looked the same no matter where I turned to and a semi-cloudy sky with a perpetually setting sun. At least throw in some distant thunder or a seagull or two is all I’m asking. Overall, the visuals are passable for a Gear VR title.
The locomotion in Big Breezy Boats consisted of fixed teleportation to nine available spots on the yacht. Some of which I only visited once due to the sails flapping right through me which felt quite disturbing. As for handling the aforementioned wheel and winches, this is done by pressing on the Gear VR touchpad and then turning your head in a circular motion. It felt extremely awkward and took a while to get used to, but I understand that the developers had to work within the device’s limitations. Even so, there could probably be a better way to handle that if they had been a little more creative with it. It’s much easier with a controller of course, and the game also supports a gamepad if you have one.
Check out the video below:
After I managed to reach a constant pace of around 3.6 knots, the black and white parts of the boat started glitching between each other. Presumably, the mesh textures were a little too thin, resulting in the floor of the yacht looking like a spastic chess board for most of the game.
Big Breezy Boats did kind of achieve its goal of making me relax, if only for about five minutes as that’s about the longest I could manage to make my imagination work overtime to convince me I’m on a yacht, sailing across the seas. What ultimately made the experience disappointing, however, is that there really wasn’t much to do.
There was a floating opaque arrow above my head that kept pointing mainly in one direction with some small changes here and there, but after following it for about 20 minutes with no change in scenery or gameplay, I simply gave that up. I would also have liked an educational approach of some kind, especially since the studio is trying to market this as a useful tool for training. I’m not at all convinced that’s the case though.
So overall this deep-sea experience ended up feeling extremely shallow, with little to no engaging gameplay, unless you count staring at a big patch of blue very engaging.