So, I’m browsing the Destination Guide, looking for a suitable place to cover in my “Virtual Destinations” series, when I come across a new set of premium-only regions labelled “Premium Wilderness”.
The regions appear aimed at another Premium membership promotion, and to showcase some of the new pathfinding capabilities coming to SL. At the time I started my explorations, the blog post had yet to appear, so intrigued by what I’d seen in the Destination Guide, I read the byline in the Destination Guide Jump into the adventure that is the Premium Wilderness and set sail for adventure in this new experience – and jumped.
My first stop was Tapir – although as the six regions are all grouped together and have a common theme, you can start in any one of them.
I arrived on a small pier on the edge of a river. A click me sign provided me with the following information:
Welcome to the Jungle! Feel free to explore at your leisure.
Take a boat ride and enjoy the scenery. Just click on the boat when it arrives at the dock and enjoy the ride!
Follow the paths, you never know where they might lead!
Click on the things you see, you never know what you will find!
There is a lot to click and play with – touch a multi-hued frog and it will hop around you and then lead you away from the pier…then disappear into the reeds at the edge of the river. There’s a boat that swings by which you can catch for a cruise along the river, or there are inner tubes you can paddle and diving kit for the really adventurous.
How you get about is up to you – walk, ride, swim – and there is plenty to see along the way, with the 6 sims forming a dense jungle-type environment complete with ancient ruins, brought together in a very atmospheric mix – moreso if you can run with shadows enabled.
The experiences within the regions vary widely in content and use. You can, for example, meet a jaguar and play “fetch” with it, or wrestle with a crocodile, or play round-up with a herd of capybaras and corral them. There are also places where you need to watch your step.
Interestingly, when encountering things you can touch, you’ll often get a chat message, such as:
Acoustic Guitar – po: Look in your inventory for Guitar. It should be in your Object folder. Or click on the Recent Items tab at the top to locate it. Right click and select Wear. Right click and select Detatch to take it off.
One assumes this is for the benefit of those new users who have chosen to take the plunge and sign-up directly for Premium membership as a part of the promo offer.
The regions appear to be intended as a social experience as well – there are numerous places for getting together and chatting / sharing. Some of the experiences are also geared towards sharing – the boat rides through the sims, the Tahr racing on the beach or Tahr rides through the jungle, using, I assume, the pathfinding capabilities.
While visiting the regions, I was surprised to see comments start popping-up in Group chats that were somewhat negative – including one that suggested the regions are a means for the Lab to “recycle” abandoned land, which strikes me as cynical.
In terms of presentation, the regions are very atmospheric – and I recommend a visit with shadows enabled if you can, especially if you are using Exodus with HDR / Gamma Correction or Niran’s with its advanced rendering options.
In terms of experience, I have to admit it’s a mixed bag. The regions are immersive, and offer a lot to see and do – but there were some oddities. While accepting that this might be another example of the “publish-test-polish” approach seemingly beloved of Rod Humble – but it does seem odd that other new capabilities coming to SL are seemingly ignored. The game of fetch with the jaguar, for example, requires you accept a stick into your inventory each time you touch the jaguar – and one wonders why the capability to attach the stick to your avatar, bypassing inventory altogether wasn’t used. Particularly as you are repeatedly prompted to accept the stick from the jaguar after each throw, leading to a possible small accumulation of sticks. But this is a minor niggle in the scheme of things.
Overall, the regions offer an interesting diversion for those with a Premium account who might like to spent time exploring something a little different. So why not give it a try?