Virtual reality as it exists is generally an isolating experience. Plenty of VR worlds are sparsely populated, inhabited by robots, or empty. There are social platforms for VR already, but MetaWorld, an upcoming collaboration between UK-based Improbable and Berkeley-based HelloVR, will expand the horizons of social VR – expand them nearly 10,000 square miles, to be exact.
MetaWorld doesn’t strive for photo-realism, as you can see from the screenshots included here, but it does shoot for the moon when it comes to scale. Using SpatialOS, which is an engine created by Andreessen Horowitz-backed Improbable and designed to provide the basis for huge, sophisticated and complex game worlds, HelloVR will create a 10,000 square-mile playground for VR users to enjoy together.
MetaWorld players will be able to create things in the world, building stuff like buildings and houses together in VR. If you’ve ever tried Fantastic Contraption on the HTC Vive, you’re probably already excited about the chance to do similar things in real-time with other players. Other co-op activities planned for launch include group camping, farming, archery, fishing and more, making it sound a little bit like a co-op Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, too.
Other features include a persistent world, so that players can always come back to their collaborative creations; there’s also a private “volume” that gives players their own space, and the ability to play alone if you’re not in a multiplayer mood. Also key to the experience is Improbable’s assertion that their engine will allow for all of this to exist without loading, and without “fake backdrops,’ meaning that if you see something in the distance you can travel to it in the virtual world, including simply by walking there step-by-step.
Multiplayer VR could use an “aha!” moment, and MetaWorld sounds like it could potentially provide that. It arrives this year as a “Pioneer Edition” in open beta, with support for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR.