The Climb 2 drops today on Oculus Quest and we held on tight to bring you our thoughts. Check out our The Climb 2 review right here for more details!
The Climb 2 Review
I never really thought that The Climb was a game that needed a sequel. Crytek set out to make a game about climbing mountains in VR and they achieved that. Thankfully, I was wrong.
The first game originally released on Oculus Rift for PC VR way back before the Touch controllers were even out, using just a gamepad and trigger buttons at first, but has since been adapted for motion controllers (obviously) and was even ported to Quest. Now the sequel, the aptly named The Climb 2, is out exclusively for the standalone Quest platform. And it really excels at iterating and expanding on what made the previous game so compelling.
The Climb 2 Review – The Facts
What is it?: A VR ‘rock climbing’ game that spans urban and exotic natural environments
Release Date: March 4th, 2021
Given the fact that The Climb 2 is a game that prides itself on its vistas, it’s a bit weird to not even have the option of playing it on a PC-powered headset to really push as much detail to as many pixels as possible. Hopefully it gets ported to PC eventually like Myst VR.
Despite the fact that the visuals are clearly held back by the mobile processing power of the Oculus Quest, The Climb 2 still manages to look absolutely breathtaking at times. When you’re in the thick of things, clinging on for dear life, desperately scanning the side of a cliff trying to find the next handhold, you don’t tend to notice the muddy up close textures, but they’re still there. Or when you’re standing at the top of a mountain and looking out at the gorgeous landscape you don’t usually notice that the water isn’t moving or that the natural landmarks are a tad blurry, even though they are.
The original announcement trailer for The Climb 2 included a footnote that footage shown was captured on a PC and yet the game isn’t available for PC VR headsets. That’s a bit misleading in my opinion because, even though The Climb 2 does look nice, it doesn’t look anywhere near as sharp or detailed inside the headset as they made it seem in the trailer.
That being said, visually it did impress me far more than the original’s Quest port. That felt like a massive downgrade compared to its PC counterpart, so releasing this one on Quest first is probably a smart call so if it does get a PC port that will be viewed as an upgrade, rather than the reverse.
When compared to other Quest games though, and especially when played on a Quest 2, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the best looking games on the platform by far. Especially in the more rocky and mountainous courses, where the art style really excels best. I wasn’t a fan of the visual style in the city environment, all of the buildings looked like they were made of plastic rather than actually feeling realistic.
They’ve done a great job of expanding on the controls in the previous game and luckily if you never played the first one, it doesn’t take long to run through the tutorial and get up to speed. You simply reach out and grab ledges, ropes, ladders, and so on using the trigger and keep an eye on your stamina rings on each wrist. The harder your squeeze a ledge with one hand the more stamina depletes, while grabbing with both hands recovers both, or you can hang with one hand to recover the free hand. You can press the grip button and shake your hand to re-apply chalk as well.
However, things get interesting once you master the art of half-gripping and jumping, or what I like to call ‘throwing yourself’ across levels. For a half-grip you simply only press down the trigger partially and it won’t decrease your maximum stamina, which means you can can go longer without re-applying chalk, but it’s tricky to get the pressure of your squeeze just right.
Then if you can combine this with a jump/throw, you can clear large gaps and huge distances without even losing much stamina at all. Most courses can take upwards of 10 minutes to clear on your first try, but there were special rewards for doing some of them in under four, for example. You’ve got to throw and leap all over the place to make that kind of blistering pace happen.
There’s a lot of new nuances here as well with the ropes, zip lines, sharp rocks, breakable rocks, and more. Plus, even if the city levels didn’t look as good up close as the mountain regions, the diversity of levels here is fantastic. There are five total regions (such as Alps, City, Canyon, etc) and each region has three climbs with two difficulty modes each.
If you choose the ‘Easy’ mode then your time and score won’t be tracked on the global leaderboard since chalk and stamina aren’t required, but it’s a good way to learn the layouts. On ‘Professional’ difficulty you’ll have to keep track of stamina and keep your hands nice and chalky.
The difference in difficulty between ‘Easy’ and ‘Professional’ is pretty drastic, especially on some of the harder courses. Regardless of the one you pick you can always tap a button for arrows to pop up and provide guidance for which way to go and you get one free ‘rewind’ ability to reset back at the previous checkpoint without losing any time.
The difference is in stamina management. Since you don’t need to worry about chalk on ‘Easy’ it just totally changes the dynamic of the whole game, but like I said before, it’s still handy for learning layouts.
The Climb 2 is a convincing experience, if for no reason other than how good it looks. I played with a fan pointed at my body most of the time to simulate a nice cool breeze and that really helped a lot too. After just two or three climbs, each of which usually take 10-15 minutes depending on familiarity, my arms were already getting sore.
The Climb 2 Review – Comfort Settings
The Climb 2 doesn’t really have any comfort options since the entire experience of simulating climbing necessitates all of the design decisions the developers made. If you have a fear of heights or get squeamish from artificial camera movements, this might not be the best game for you. That being said, physicality has been known to alleviate those feelings in some cases, which means the reaching, arm-swinging, and jumping you do while playing this in real life might sidestep VR sickness for you.
I know the Quest 2 Touch controllers don’t weigh much, but they absolutely feel like they do when you’re climbing mountains in VR. The Climb 2 seems like a contender for being a really good accidental VR workout experience. I didn’t get into the unlocks much since it doesn’t really change how I play the game, but there are dozens of gloves, wristbands, and more to unlock.
The Climb 2 Review – Final Verdict
The Climb 2 is held back visually by its target platform, but it more than makes up for it with some thrilling climbs, incredible vistas, and excellent new game mechanics to really help keep you grounded. I don’t have a fear of heights or anything like that, but I absolutely did feel my stomach fall in fear when peeking out over the ledge a few times. It may not be as pretty as it could be with some poor texture quality here and there, but my arms are sore and I had a blast so it’s hard to say that affected my experience all that much overall.
For more on how we arrived at this score, read our review guidelines. This review was conducted using a digital pre-release version of the game on a Quest 2 headset.
The Climb 2 releases today for the Quest platform on the Oculus Store at a price point of $29.99. Let us know what you think if you get a chance to try it down in the comments below!
Amazing levels with gorgeous vistas
Tons of variety in map design and locales
Inventive climbing and stamina management system
Satisfying and addictive level layouts
Draw distance on hand holds isn't great
Some textures look muddy up close
Grabbing is sometimes a little finnicky
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