Game Modes: Chill, Train and Compete!

The Climb came from a simple idea inspired by climbing in real life – that the climbing motion would be fundamentally cool in VR. And it was! Since it was first prototyped in whitebox, we took that core mechanic and turned it into to a full-scale production sports game with real depth, complete with a range of game modes to help you learn, practice, explore, and compete. In this blog, we'll take a look at the game modes you'll get to experience in The Climb, with additional insight supplied by Game Designer Niklas Walenski.


The Climb's core game mechanic is intuitive, but we know there's a lot that's new with the game. It's a new way to experience rock climbing in a game, VR is still a massively new “thing," and we're aware that The Climb might just be a player's first experience with an HMD. In The Climb, you will have moments when you need to physically lean forwards to reach a grip or look around a corner, which is most likely a new game mechanic for most players. So rather than throwing you straight into the game, we open up with a tutorial that explains the basics, so you can comfortably and easily play the first level in the game. After you've translated what you've learned into beating the first stage, we'll give you a second tutorial which introduces some of the more complex moves and grips you have to take on.

In addition to the tutorials, which you can replay at any time, we also have a training wall available as an endless wall. In this mode, you simply keep on climbing, and grips get more and more complex as you ascend. It's a good place to experiment with different ways of playing, to brush up your technique, and to see how far you can go.

"Our training walls are very clean, minimalistic, and kind of futuristic in design. It makes for a nice contrast from the environments in the other game modes, and the design decision is quite deliberate – we want you to focus on the climbing and your technique, rather than being distracted by all of the pretty stuff we fill the game stages with. For instance, if you want to perfect how you negotiate crumbling grips but then a plane zooms by, you might be distracted and look at the plane instead."

Niklas Walenski, Game Designer, The Climb


Our main game mode is Free Solo mode. In each of our environments, we have three ascent difficulties to master, each featuring different routes and split into stages with checkpoints. With multiple ways up the rock, secret routes to discover, and a few Easter eggs to find too, there's plenty to discover as you improve your time and score on each stage. The Climb isn't just about beating all of our levels though – it's about how you can get quicker, climb more smoothly and efficiently, and compete on the leaderboards. You can also download ghosts from your friends and other players on the leaderboards to compete against, although it'll always come down to you against the rock. All of the game mechanics – including chalk and stamina – come into play, so while there are only a few physical inputs on the controller, as you shoot for quicker times and a better “flow," there is real depth to the gameplay, which will lead to real competition to be the best. The Climb isn't just about getting to the top – it's about doing it quickly and with style too.

We score your performance in a range of different ways. Of course, time is probably the most obvious, and we think the competition will be really intense. It certainly is in the studio! But we also score you on your 'flow' across a range of other mechanics. Can you beat the stage without dying? Without chalking? Without rewinding? Did you climb smoothly? Did you use harder grip types? Did you do cool stuff like huge leaps or hold onto grips with the trigger just half-pressed, something pretty tricky to do? There's a huge range of ways for you to improve your score on every level. "

Niklas Walenski, Game Designer, The Climb


We have two bouldering stages in each of our locations. Now, they are shorter… but don't be fooled, these are the hardest challenges in the game. Inspired by real life bouldering, which is often considered far more intense and challenging than climbing on a wall with a rope, our bouldering stages are devilishly difficult, with extremely tough grip placements. They are as much a test of your skill as your problem solving ability, and the challenge is made harder because we take away your chalk, which gives you extra grip, too. You'll try and die, and die again. But when you own the boulder, it's a real achievement.

It's kind of the Dark Souls bit of The Climb. It's very definitely a firm (but fair) challenge, but there will be points where you might think it's impossible! Completing them will take a lot of practice and real skill, but it's really addictive. It gets to the point that making the next grip feels like a real accomplishment, let alone completing the level. We really wanted to capture that feeling of achievement in bouldering, putting you into really intense runs where every grip you make feels awesome."

Niklas Walenski, Game Designer, The Climb


Tourist mode is available for each of our locations from Free Solo mode. In this mode, there are no scores or achievements, and some of the additional game mechanics which require your attention as you play are stripped away – you're free to climb each route at your own pace as you immerse yourself in the environment. It's a great way to explore new routes in each location and take that knowledge back into competition – or simply enjoy climbing at a more relaxed pace rather than going for high scores or quick times.

Tourist mode is great if you want to show the game off to friends or family who aren't very experienced with gaming, or indeed VR. It strips the game back to its core mechanic and is a chilled way to explore, climb, and feel immersed in the game world. We kind of call it 'Grandparents' mode in the studio – it's super-accessible – and it provides a nice change of pace from the main modes in the game, as well as providing a good way for you to explore different routes if you want to improve your rank on the leaderboards. "

Niklas Walenski, Game Designer, The Climb

Whether you want to chill or compete, how you play is up to you. But topping those leaderboards will be a challenge for even the most experienced gamers.

The Climb Team

April 20, 2016

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