Dig VR puts the spotlight on the underappreciated digger

This casual simulation game makes learning to operate a two-ton excavator a fun and relaxing experience.

Just Add Water

A few years ago I tried PowerWash Simulator on a whim, and it quickly became one of my guilty pleasures. I washed down every dirty car and building the game had to offer, which then led me to download similar titles like House Flipper and Unpacking. I found a sense of zen simply tidying things up or doing seemingly mundane tasks using tools I didn’t know much about. That said, I didn't expect Dig VR to be in the same genre, and on name alone, I thought it would be about mining ore in a cave before I played a private demo of the game during GDC 2024. But to my surprise, it was actually an excavator simulator. And by the end of my 30-minute session, I only wanted to dig up more.

Be shovel-ready

Dig VR Preview Garage Digger
Back at the office, you can customize your diggers in your garage

SOURCE: Just Add Water

Guiding me through the Dig VR demo at the appointment with publisher Wired Productions was Ben Hinchliffe, lead designer of the UK studio Just Add Water, who sat me down in a chair and helped me fit a Meta Quest 3 headset over my glasses. Holding the left and right Meta Quest 3 controllers, I learned how to operate an excavator in the game, using one hand to move the digger around the field and the other to control the crane. Twisting my hand moved the shovel attachment of the digger as well, so it took a while for me to get accustomed to the complexity of the controls. For several minutes, I felt like I was Jeremy Clarkson trying to drive his enormous Lamborghini tractor in Clarkson’s Farm. But after a few attempts, I finally got the hang of it.

Similar to PowerWash Simulator, the objective in Dig VR is to use a digger to complete a variety of jobs throughout the quaint town of Diglington. The first task, being that it was essentially a tutorial, had me removing enough dirt in a backyard to make room for a pond. Various lines on the grass marked where I was supposed to dig, and since the game judged how well I was able to stay within bounds, I spent more than a few minutes aligning the digger for top marks. If I didn’t want to be graded, I could turn on Zen mode where I didn’t need to worry about any time limits. Either way, I listened to the classical radio stations on DIG FM to make the experience more relaxing.

Striking pay dirt

Dig VR Preview Bowling Mini-Game
Bowling with a digger... why not?

SOURCE: Just Add Water

After that, I played through another mission that replaced the shovel with a circular saw extension so that I could chop down a few trees. Later missions in the full release will involve fixing pipes, setting up a festival, trimming hedges, and finding dinosaur bones. For a welcome change of pace in between these more straightforward tasks are various mini-games, like knocking down bowling pins, navigating obstacle courses, and scooping out balls from a pit. Missions can also be played with a friend, though that wasn’t available in the demo.

After finishing each job, I earned some cash and returned to the main office where I was able to wander into the garage and inspect my fleet of diggers. The game started me off driving a mini-digger, but if I were to progress through the 12-hour campaign, I would have unlocked larger and larger excavators, many of which are required to complete specific jobs anyway. Additionally, the shopping catalog would be filled with additional attachments, such as trimmers, claws, augers, and compactors, along with more customization options that include skins, paints, and decals for the digger.

Dig VR will release on PC for Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest 3, and Meta Quest Pro, with the possibility of a port to PSVR 2 following that. A release date for the game has not been set.

This preview is based on a private beta demo provided by the developer and publisher at GDC 2024.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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