ILMxLAB has unveiled the trailer for Vader Immortal, a new episodic Star Wars experience for the newly-announced VR headset Oculus Quest. Described as a "story-based immersive entertainment experience," Vader Immortal is set for release in 2019.
The Oculus Quest is a midpoint between the high-end Oculus Rift headset and the mobile Oculus Go headset, which until today had been developed under the codename Santa Cruz. The virtual reality gaming system was announced during Oculus' annual developer conference, and will release in 2019 with a price point of $399. Unlike the Rift, Oculus Quest is entirely self-contained and doesn't need to be hooked up to a PC or games console. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Oculus' parent company Facebook, said during his keynote address that his ambitious goal is to get 1 billion people using VR.
Helping Zuckerberg try to attain this goal of mainstream VR adoption is Darth Vader, the star of Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series. There will be three episodes in total and the story (which was written by David S. Goyer) will be part of official Star Wars canon, set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Speaking to Variety, Goyer clarified, "It’s not a game, it’s a story with a beginning, a middle and an end... It has some elements of immersive theater. It’s sort of a hybrid." The trailer sees the protagonist/player pulled out of hyperspace and brought face-to-face with the Sith lord himself, who says, "You may wonder why I have brought you here."
While Vader Immortal certainly looks intriguing, the Oculus Quest requirement is a considerable barrier to the experience. Even the most devoted of Star Wars fans will likely pause before shelling out $399 for a VR headset just so they can play through a spinoff story. Vader Immortal will be an Oculus Quest exclusive at launch, but it's possible that it will later be ported to other VR platforms, like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.
The Star Wars franchise already encompasses movies, TV shows, books, comics, board games and video games, so it's only natural that it's expanding into virtual reality as well. ILMxLAB previously developed a VR experience called Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, which allowed players to experiment with using a lightsaber in combat. Vader Immortal looks to be considerably less interactive, but will offer a more substantial story as a trade-off. We're definitely intrigued to find out more about the series, and how exactly it fits into the overall Star Wars canon.