Virtual Reality will soon no longer be a part of the distant future. A VR revolution is nearly upon us, even if Sony says that the technology is not for kids. So many companies are starting to throw time, resources and their overwhelming support for virtual reality experiences that it’s being predicted that it will cement its spot in the marketplace.
Many developers are working in the darkest of shadows to keep their VR projects secret. There are games slated for release which are expected to be used with VR but their compatibility remains a mystery (looking at you No Man’s Sky), while PlayStation VR is known to definitely be getting a VR game based on one of its new franchises in Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. But what other major series will get involved with VR? Well two big multimedia franchises that have their own VR projects in the works should have fans intrigued. They are Assassin’s Creed and Star Wars.
The Star Wars VR experiment, which currently has the working title of Trials on Tatooine, is led by Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects team behind the Star Wars movies and so many other big blockbuster movies. A demo video of the project has surfaced online (hat tip Gamespot) and it shows the user wearing HTC and Valve’s Vive headset, suggesting that it could be an exclusive for the Vive. A controller is also used, while the footage takes them to Tatooine and the Millenium Falcon is seen landing before shots of familiar droid R2-D2, Tie Fighters and an Imperial Lander. The trailer finishes with style and the moment that any Star Wars VR project would need, wielding a lightsaber to deflect laser fire from Stormtroopers.
With the project being labelled as an ‘experiment’, it is worrying that that could mean it will not eventually make its way to the consumer. It could just be a showpiece for investors and what could be done in terms of combining VR technology with the Star Wars property. The HTC Vive itself is released in April and will cost $800. Consumer Editions of the headset comes with two wireless controllers, two base stations that are used to connect to your PC and Vive earbuds. It also comes with two games, Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption. More games will be available via Steam.
On the other hand, the Assassin’s Creed VR experience will definitely be available commercially and while it may make you think that Ubisoft have suddenly reversed their decision to not release a title in the franchise this year, the boss of Practical Magic who is in charge of the project wanted to make it clear that it is ‘not a game’. Instead it will be based on the movie that comes out later this year. Ubisoft tweeted confirmation of the project with no other significant details to go on. Practical Magic is developing this VR experience in partnership with FOX, which already has a sequel to the Assassin’s Creed movie planned. All we know about the film version of the game, is that Michael Fassbender stars as a modern day character as well as his 15th Century Spanish ancestor. They will be missing a trick if it doesn’t include making a couple of leap of faiths.
With GDC this week and E3 just a few months away, it’s safe to expect a lot more announcements like these - and soon the future of gaming could be sitting in your living room with a headset on, waving your arms around like lightsabers.
We'll bring you more details on the Star Wars and Assassin's Creed VR projects as they become available.