Explore Chernobyl before the meltdown in this VR experience

Thirty years ago, the Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear reactor went into meltdown. It caused the worst nuclear disaster in history. Unlike Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, which went into meltdown in 2011 after a magnitude nine earthquake triggered a tsunami, which in turn caused the machinery to fail, Chernobyl was caused entirely by human hands.

Now, 30 years on, Chernobyl is a no-go zone, encased in a concrete shell to contain its poisonous radiation. Naturally, the surrounding city of Pripyat is almost completely devoid of human inhabitants – making it a popular spot for ruin-porn photographers and horror games such as Stalker and films such as Chernobyl Diaries.

Soon, though, everyone will be able to explore the wilds of Chernobyl and Pripyat thanks to a new virtual-reality immersive visual tour coming to Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive. If you’re running Chrome, you can watch the 360 trailer below – otherwise it’ll just be one of those dull, flat YouTube videos instead.

Developed by Polish game developer The Farm 51 (developer of the still-unreleased photo-realistic Get Even FPS), the virtual-reality game will merge the current Chernobyl ruins with apparitions of past life in a 360-degree immersive experience. It looks like a haunting experience and a realistic window into life before the fallout.

If you’re wondering how it looks so photo-realistic, The Farm 51 were granted special access to shoot on-site with stereoscopic 360-degree cameras. Like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and this incredible 4K Unreal Engine 4 demo, the Chernobyl VR Project will use photogrammetry to create a realistic environment.

It’s not all about building an experiential game – The Farm 51 says the project is designed to raise awareness and money for survivors of the catastrophe. Thirty-one people died in the disaster, but millions have been affected within the fallout zone, and its repercussions have been felt around the world due to nuclear winds.

Expect Chernobyl VR to land this June on Oculus Rift, with other formats to follow.

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