Do you remember Pilot Wings 64 for the Nintendo 64? Have you ever wanted to play the game in VR? Bitplanet Games’ open-world flight game, Ultrawings, may fulfill that fantasy for you.
In August 2016, Bitplanet Games announced that development was underway on its first Oculus Rift game. The developer was working on an “open-world, aerial-themed” game based in an “island-themed world” called Ultrawings that would feature Touch support and simulated flight control mechanics.
Bitplanet Games’ Studio Director, Chris Stockman, described his inspiration for the game in a blog post:
“The original idea behind the game came some 25 years ago when I had a dream that I was flying an Ultralight over an ocean (no idea which one!),” Stockman wrote. “I can vividly remember the wind and mist hitting my face as I came in for a landing on top of an aircraft carrier. The dream was so real that I was actually disappointed when I woke up and quickly realized I was in my bed! Fast forward to almost a year ago, and this dream popped up when we were thinking about ideas for VR games. And now here we are today a very unique flying game that is unlike anything you’ve played before.”
Ultrawings features three different aircraft you can choose from, including a glider that lets you soar through the sky and an acrobatic Sports Plane for doing barrel rolls and other stunts. And, of course, Stockman’s coveted Ultralight is available, too.
Bitplanet Games considers Ultrawings an “accessible” flight simulator. The developer said the game is built on a realistic flight simulator engine with modifications “so that each aircraft is really fun to fly.” The developer isn’t calling Ultrawings a simulator because of its realistic gameplay--the jobs you must complete to unlock each world include popping balloons with a dart gun as you fly by.
Bitplanet considers Ultrawings a flight simulator because of the flight control mechanics in the game. You can play Ultrawings with a gamepad, but you need touch controllers to get the full experience. If what Bitplanet said turns out to be true, it could be the precursor to a new level of realism for serious flight simulation games.
“Honestly, we highly recommend playing the game with Oculus Touch as it’s, without a doubt, the most immersive way to play the game,” reads the Ultrawings FAQ. “There is a bit of a learning curve as even hardened flight sim enthusiasts have never quite flown an aircraft like this before but once you’ve mastered the controls, you’ll quickly realize that it’s the only way to play the game.”
Stockman also noted that the company received feedback from early test subjects who suggested that the Touch controllers help reduce simulator sickness. Stockman said he noticed the phenomenon, too.
Bitplanet received funding from Oculus to help front the development costs, so Ultrawings is an Oculus exclusive for the time being, but the developer hasn’t ruled out other platforms. BitPlanet said that “We're not quite ready to discuss other platforms yet. Stay tuned, though!” in response to a query on Facebook.
Bitplanet Games’ Ultrawings aerial flight game is available today (Feb 21) at 9am PT on the Oculus Home Store.