Discovery

Discovery is a new VR experience that closely resembles Minecraft, but possesses a few new features that make it unique and a joy to play.  The main goal of Discovery seems to be expressing your creativity through a seemingly endless means of resources and styles of blocks.  Your creations take on a life of their own in VR as the eye-popping graphics add a dimension never seen by Minecraft.  This alone makes Discovery a worth-while endeavor. 

 

Objective

 The selection screen for materials

The selection screen for materials

One of my favorite things about Discovery is that the game stresses and challenges you to push your creativity.  Unlike Minecraft, which has a survival component to gameplay, Discovery is all about creation and observation from your omnipotent VR view.  Depending on the person, this can be a pro or con.  The game encourages you to make anything you can wrap your mind around with a vast variety of block designs, electric components and various other sprites.  Seriously, the possibilities are endless.  

Gameplay

One of the novel things about Discovery is the intuitive design and simplicity of its gameplay.  It is definitely a game in which you can pick up play with little or no learning curve.  Discovery doesn't need instructions or tutorials because all controls are labeled on your controller and it feels right.  L1 adds blocks, R1 deletes blocks, the directional pad browses the available sprites and each of the four main buttons operate a separate function.  This allows you to lay down blocks quickly and effectively, eliminating the monotony of building. 

 One of my many creations in Discovery!

One of my many creations in Discovery!

Because of the complexity of the game and the many maps that you can build and save, there is some load time associated with the game.  I was impressed with how quickly the game loaded up, it only took maybe 20 seconds.  This was also the only loading that took part in the game, which is always nice. 

The most impressive part of the Discovery experience is its levitation or floating feature.  Rather than your character being restricted to the ground, the right joystick allows you to float in the air.  This provides you with the optimum view of your creation as you make your next move.  It makes this experience so much enjoyable being able to soar over your world and view it from every angle.  It also makes actual construction much easier and less time-intensive.  

One feature a game like this needs to be successful is variability in building materials.  This is one thing Discovery does not skimp on.  There is a wide array of blocks from bricks, stones, bedrock, wood, solid colors, patterns, etc.  There are sprites for doors, tiles, shingles, walls, grass, water, street signs, numbers and many many more.  If I listed them all you would have an article 8 pages long.  So many blocks exist that it would fulfill everything you would need to make any structures, designs or environments you would want.  

 The fire animation as well as a real time shadow of your character

The fire animation as well as a real time shadow of your character

My favorite aspect in terms of the blocks is the fact that several of them have animations associated to them.  If you jump into water then a splash emerges.  By running into some of the slime blocks you will see animated slime swooshing around.  However, the most impressive is the fire sprite.  The fire actually adds light to surrounding area and looks very realistic.  It is hard to capture the look of the fire, so it is best is you just see it.  I was very impressed with the animation for the fire and think that small things like this is what really elevates Discovery into a great game. 

A feature I was not able to partake of was the multiplayer co-op mode.  That is one aspect of the game that would be a blast. Working with another player to build an awesome creation would be an extremely rewarding aspect of the game.  I could easily see spending hours with a friend creating a mansion or some crazy tripped out castle. 

 I blocked in a ton of sheep because....why not?

I blocked in a ton of sheep because....why not?

Potential improvements

Although Discovery produced a high caliber experience, there are still two small drawbacks that I have to mention, but thankfully are very small nuisances rather than actual game-depriving problems. 

The first problem is that your character moves extremely slowly.  As you float through the air you move at a very slow pace.  If you are building anything large it will take you considerable amounts of time traveling back and forth adding blocks.  There is a jump feature that lets you quickly teleport to nearby areas, but I have never been a huge fan of this either.  I attempted to find ways to speed up your movement but was unable to do so.  I understand that in VR it is very easy for players to get motion sickness and a quick moving character who floats through the sky may induce this sickness, but it would have been nice to have the option. 

My only other complaint is that while building there are night and day transitions.  This is actually a pretty neat feature overall, but during nightfall the world gets entirely too dark.  So dark in fact that it was very difficult to see what I was doing, even if I was placing white blocks.  You can set some fire around the building then continue, but if it didn't get too dark it would be nice.  Again, this is a very picky complaint, but when you are rolling on a build and then progress is halted due to poor lighting conditions it gets somewhat annoying. 

 My little house on the prairie 

My little house on the prairie 

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Discovery and recommend it to everybody.  I was never a huge Minecraft guy so I had my doubts, but I am very impressed.  Discovery is for the Minecraft fans as well as non-Minecraft fans alike.  The VR immersion really sets this game apart and there is nothing else like this on the market for PSVR.  Gameplay was fast, intuitive and really fun.  The re-playability is off the charts due to the vast amount of building options and endless possibilities for creations.  Discovery took the best parts of Minecraft, added some new content and successfully integrated the gameplay into VR.  It is very well done and I encourage everyone to give it a try.