VR for Everyone

When VR really works, it’s because it shows what it can do brilliantly and differently from other media. When VR does become mainstream, it will be because of the quality of the content on offer for users.

BBC Worldwide and Google have teamed up to bring one of the world’s most respected and loved natural history brands to VR in a completely unique real-time experience.

BBC Earth: Life in VR is a meticulously researched and crafted experience, which takes the users to the Californian coast, and to an underwater world bursting with life.

Designed for audiences new to VR, the experience adopts Preloaded’s low threshold design approach, putting great emphasis on ease of use and the overall comfort of the experience. Honed over many months of testing, the Life in VR experience and format has been created to capture the imagination of the BBC’s Natural History content, and build on the passion for VR.

Featuring some of the most popular animals viewers encountered in the Blue Planet II TV series (including a sea otter and sperm whale) users come face to face with some of the planet’s most fascinating sea creatures, experience life at a microscopic scale, and dive into the ocean abyss with giants of the sea.

BBC Worldwide and Google have teamed up to bring the world's most watched and respected natural history content to VR in a completely unique real-time experience.

A new format for new stories

Inspired by a love of Natural History documentary filmmaking, Life in VR uses a strong narrative voice to tell a core story, with an open world design which provides agency and rewards exploration.

BBC Earth: Life in VR is a groundbreaking VR format that moves the user from being a passive viewer to being an active participant, providing VR-only moments which have never been experienced by audiences before.

The format is engineered around offering face-to-face animal encounters, bringing closer access than ever to their behaviour and characteristics. The animals also provide the primary method of locomotion, allowing the user to catch and lock-to the animals and witness first-hand their behaviours and habitats.

Just like a traditional documentary,  the experience is set across a variety of locations and focuses on the animals that live there. A core story runs through the experience and connects the animals, revealing the behaviours and relationships, which sustain this ocean’s rich and diverse ecosystems.

Whilst this core story can be experienced seamlessly and delivers a strong narrative arc, the player is also free to explore the world in their own way. As they explore, they can discover side-stories, complementing the core story and deepening comprehension. There is also a ‘discovery’ system which rewards the inquisitive and drives replayability.

The experience is divided into chapters, mirroring the narrative, and comprising a journey through key environments and animal encounters whilst also providing a quick way to return to or share the user’s favourite moments.

A groundbreaking VR format that moves the user from being a passive viewer to an active participant.

A factual and authentic real-time world

BBC Earth: Life in VR takes the user on a journey through a number of ecosystems, from the kelp forests of the coastal waters to the deep trenches below the Pacific Ocean. Working closely with BBC Studios, each location has been authentically reproduced, allowing the users to discover real stories from the natural world, all within the comfort of a VR experience.

In BBC Earth: Life in VR the user can dive with sea otters as they forage for food to sustain them and their families, and learn about the vital role kelp forests play in the health of our oceans. The user can also become microscopic and discover how zooplankton are the building blocks of the ocean. The user can then witness the diurnal vertical migration of Humboldt squid as they return from their shallow hunting waters and seek cover in the darkness of the depths. Players can witness the hunt of a mighty sperm whale bull as he dives to depths of over 1,000 metres in a hunt for giant squid. They can also learn about other animals such as the ferociously territorial Garibaldi fish or maybe even encounter a patrolling great white shark looking for an easy meal.

What makes the experience different is that users don’t just watch these authentic stories unfold; they experience them in real time – as interactive VR ‘stories’. The animals react to your presence and exhibit behaviours unique to them and their situation. The result is an experience that is always different, and one that rewards exploration and replayability.

Working closely with BBC Earth, each location has been authentically reproduced, allowing the users to discover real stories from the natural world, within the comfort of VR.

Core story design
Sea Otter
Gardibaldi
White Shark
Humboldt Squid
Sperm Whale

Spatialised and dynamic sound design

Life in VR also features original music from long time Preloaded musical collaborator Pete Mauder.

Written to accompany the user’s journey from kelp forest to deep ocean, the score echoes the emotional arc of the core story, whether what’s taking place is playful foraging or the final ominous dive into the ocean abyss. In order to support the user’s agency and open world design, each composition dynamically adjusts to reflect changes in mood and tone of the locations visited and animals encountered, allowing users to maintain emotional resonance and relevance to what is being experienced at any given moment.

Sound plays a vital part in delivering immersion in VR, but for this project it was also critical for delivering a believable underwater world, complete with new and recognisable animals and phenomena.

Utilising Google Daydream’s Spatial Audio SDK, the experience is rendered immersive by a rich spatialised audio experience.

BBC Earth: Life in VR is published by BBC Worldwide and created by Preloaded in collaboration with BBC Studio’s VR team. It is available now from Google Play as a free downloadable app.

Each composition dynamically adjusts to reflect changes in mood and tone of the locations visited and creatures encountered.

B+W Concepts
B+W Concepts
B+W Concepts
B+W Concepts


The experience truly showcases the unique capabilities of the interactive and immersive format of Daydream to provide a platform for deeper understandings of our world.”

Kellee Santiago , Sr. Producer for Daydream Apps