There are lots of VR experiences that take us to Mars, but Red Rover from indie developer Alan Chan is using real-world imagery of the red planet to deliver a surprisingly authentic experience.
Set to release tomorrow with optional Oculus Rift support, Red Rover is a Mars driving simulator. You control a land rover on the surface of the planet, driving across terrain that’s rendered from images from NASA’s HiRISE Mars orbiter. Chan himself has already been using the app for years as a personal project that allowed him to explore Mars, but now he’s bringing it to Steam with a VR mode that brings you even closer to the distant planet.
Red Rover will give you nine areas, each with about 5km x 5km of terrain to drive around in. There’s not much ‘game’ here; you’ll largely be driving around to take in the sights in the knowledge that this is what Mars actually looks like. And it’s not all just barren red desert, with sites including the Becquerel Crater, Western Cerberus and South Olympus.
There are some neat features, though, like a controllable day/night cycle that can make the scenery look pretty dramatic. Your Rover is also fitted with jump jets, Mass Effect style. Chan also hopes to add more maps over time as more datasets are released.