CATAN VR from EXPERIMENT 7
About Experiment 7
Experiment 7 is a VR games studio based in New York and San Diego. We develop high quality strategy games with broad market appeal. Our staff combines battle-tested game design leadership with unparalleled game data expertise and a dream team of VR, mobile, console and PC veterans. We believe in collaborative creative development, sound quality of life and an uncompromising commitment to product quality.
Catan VR allows tabletop fans and new players alike to experience the best-selling board game in a fresh, fully-immersive format. Take on other players around the world or play against Catan personalities and watch the island come to life in VR for the first time. Catan VR brings everything board gamers love to the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR (with additional VR platforms to follow).
Classic Catan Gameplay, Now in VR – Experience the award-winning strategy classic for the first time in virtual reality.
Custom Catan Environment – Wheat sways, a mandolin strums, and clouds roll over the mountains as you play on the iconic island of Catan itself.
Invite-a-Friend & Matchmaking Multiplayer – Enjoy a game with longtime friends or take on the world-wide Catan community via online matchmaking.
Catan AI Personalities – Play vs. classic Catan AI opponents designed with guidance from Catan creator Klaus Teuber.
Cross-Platform Play – Rift vs. Gear? No problem.
Developer: Experiment 7
When I first got the GEARVR for the SAMSUNG Android phone I expected to find a glut of VR games available for it. I looked at PLAY STORE and found a number of games to download, mostly variations of Roller-Coasters or First-Person Shooters, but also mostly free to download and play. Naturally I tried a number of these, but as good as the GearVR visuals were, and for the main they were pretty darn good, the games were mainly inane five-minute-wonders. I asked amongst the companies publishing VR games but apart from the few available for the PS4 (the VR equipment for that costs about £390.00) most games published are for Occulus Rift or Vive, not GearVR (yet this still has a rrp of just under £100.00 which I find facinating but also weird - why is it still fairly expensive if no games are being published for it?).
Then I found [SETTLERS of] CATAN VR and WOW! WOW! WOW! the beauty of GEARVR blossomed and suddenly I found myself in a virtual world of reality playing Catan against clever A.I. opponents, though for some reason I have yet to fathom we are all wearing animated masks - have I perhaps stumbled into Catan Anonymous ?
As a reviewer of fairly limited means I now have a problem. How do I convey how good CATAN VR is without providing screenshots that I have taken myself? The answer is, "I cannot!" I do not know if 3D VR screenshots can be taken while playing and if so I have no idea where I would find them, so suffice it to say that if you have played and enjoyed the board game of CATAN then CATAN VR will put you in another dimension, literally. I have spent so much time playing it as a single person game (with AI opposition of course) I have yet to experience or explore the possibilities of playing it with other real people (assuming I am a "real people" to begin with. It is the first game that I have come across which can be played multi-player with opponents using two different systems, something that only came up as a topic of discussion the other day when we were trying to play a well known war game with a friend who lives 30 miles away. He has an XBox (I cannot remember if he said it was a ONE or a 360) and I have a PS4 and thus there is no cross over and we couldn't work together as we had hoped.
Playing CATAN VR is very similar to playing the boardgame and with free MESSENGER video chat through FaceBook you could emulate the virtuality and play across the world via your computer/s. However, I have read that Klaus Teuber, the designer of the boardgame, has been playing CATAN VR with his family overseas using a combination of Occulus Rift and Gear VR so if it works for Herr Teuber then it's good enough for me.
I searched the internet and have found a few photo's of screenshots (presented below - they had no (c) or "rights reserved" on them but I will happily give credit to whoever posted them) though I have no idea how they have been taken and of course the 3D or VR quality cannot be seen in a 2D flat. However they do give you the idea of how the game will look to you once you have the VR headset on. Look at these pictures and use your imgination to visualise the "floating" articles as being in 3D and right in front of your face. With the Gear VR on you truly feel that you could reach out and move the pieces, they are that realistic.
CATAN VR is a good way to introduce players, particularly younger players who spend most of their day glued to their phones and iPads etc, to the playing of boardgames. They could then interest their friends in boardgames, whether the VR version or the actual boardgame tabletop version. I have to wonder whether this will be the first of many CATAN VR games as there are almost so many expansions for the boardgame that could be plug-ins or add-ons for this virtual version. Seafarers, for example, would be amazing as an animated 3D addition. It offers great possibilities of sailing ships, Islands, work crews and busy harbours where the resources are being exchanged; it was made for VR 3D. However, as I said, my guess is that it's (hopefully & fingers-crossed) to come in the future.
The game uses a set of easy mechanics which involves you looking (turning your head) to the right or left and pin-pointing the action required with your laser pointer. Using this you can choose cards, select resources to exchange, place building pieces, just like you do when playing the board game. Your opponents take their turns fairly quickly but are quite selective in their actions, they "think" before they act just like actual opponents would. The setting of the game is far more than just a game board and some virtual pieces - the Buildings and Roads appear within a second of you selecting them and the required location. Not sure what else I can say about CATAN VR. It is a great, true, representation of the boardgame. It is super to see it in larger than life realism and good to play against opposition who obviously know the game. I have already driven (that's a meant pun btw) my wife crazy as she drove us out the other day with me in the passenger seat, GearVR on my head and CATAN VR playing. I don't recommend you doing this by the way, every bump in the road (well it felt like every bump) made me hit the wrong button or choose the wrong card - can you sue the Highways Department for loss of game play ?
There are many dissenters who believe that 3D and VR is just a short term distraction but if companies such as Asmodee Digital and Experiment 7 continue on the path they have chosen then Virtual Reality Boardgames, especially those that can be played multi-player across hardware platforms and without the competitors being in the same room, or even the same County, or Country or Planetary System ... okay I'm getting a little ahead of myself there; but if there is intelligent life on other planets I hope they have passed the "You enter a room and see a sword" (I pick up the sword) "I see no sword" computer game genre. Seriously, the scope is not short term or narrow, think of Football (NFL or the real game) being played in leagues around the world from the comfort of your armchair, or going on warrior missions like in MMOs but in a 3D interactive world. MMOs are already played by millions and millions around the world but as good as they are they would be amazing in full 360 degree 3D virtuality, like CATAN VR is.