Nick Lachance | Blue Moth Creative
March 14th, 2016

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On April 26th 1986 a catastrophic meltdown occurred at the number four reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant located in Pripyat, Ukraine.

The explosion spewed millions of radioactive particles into the atmosphere and surrounding areas. Pripyat was evacuated 24 hours after the initial explosion, displacing some 50,000 Ukrainians. Initially planned as a three-day evacuation, once the magnitude of the accident was acknowledged the evacuation became indefinite.

Aerial view of the damaged core on 3 May 1986. Roof of the turbine hall is damaged (image center). Roof of the adjacent reactor 3 (image lower left) shows minor fire damage.
The nuclear reactor after the disaster. Reactor 4 (center). Turbine building (lower left). Reactor 3 (center right).

Since then the exclusion zone surrounding the city and reactor has been largely off limits to anyone not involved in cleanup efforts or research. Though radiation levels in the area have lowered over the past three decades, it is still impossible to stay for extended periods of time. Since 2011 the Ukrainian government has opened the area up to tourism, but the idea of “post-apocalyptic tourism” may not be high on many vacation lists.

So for the faint of heart or those unable to make the journey, beginning next month anyone can visit Chernobyl without ever leaving their home.

Panoramic view of Pripyat in May 2009.

Polish game developers The Farm 51 have been producing the game “Get Even” since 2013, which puts players in the ruins of Pripyat. They were granted unprecedented access to the exclusion zone to properly research for the game, and collected thousands of high-resolution photos, stereoscopic 360 camera videos and drone footage to bring their vision to life. Somewhere along the game’s development process, the idea evolved into a separate project.

The Chernobyl VR project will allow players to explore some areas of Pripyat in an open world 3D environment, and others will be presented as non-interactive 360 movies. Players won’t just be there to watch however, developers want the Chernobyl project to be an interactive experience so they have hinted there will be tasks the players have to perform to advance the tour. No word on exactly what players can expect, but the developers have hinted interaction with the environment will make the player consider what they are doing there.

Beginning on April 26th 2016 anyone with access to a VR headset will be able to visit Pripyat. The experience will be supported by Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR and other consumer VR headsets including Google Cardboard.

To learn more visit The Farm 51 website.