Last night I stopped by my best friend Randy’s place and tried the Rogue One VR mission added to Star Wars: Battlefront. The add-on pack is free to anyone with Playstation VR and a copy of Star Wars: Battlefront. It was an experience to say the least.
When the add-on begins, you see a giant AT-AT walking. The AT-AT feels about as large as the one Luke Skywalker ropes up to and blows up with a bomb and a lightsaber. It was really cool. However, your position is fixed. So you can watch it walk by but you can’t run between its legs or anything. My dream to be stepped on by an at AT-AT, full-on Dak Ralter style, was not realized. The background is completely white like you’re in that weird place from THX-1138. Was this because they wanted all the power to rendering the vehicle? Probably.
The next phase is pretty much the same thing with fixed points as you inspect your X-wing. I was fascinated by the ship but the white background made it less than immersive. At the same time, you get to inspect a life-sized X-wing so I’m not complaining. It was cool to see an R2 unit rolling around.
Once you take off, the add-on really begins. If you look down, you’ll see your orange X-wing pilot jumpsuit is on. When you press left on your controller, you’ll see the X-wing pilot’s hands moving the control stick left. Inspecting the cockpit was way more fun than I imagined it would or ever could be. When you look out the window, you’re looking out of the window of an X-wing but from the vantage point of the pilot. I know you know that, but doing it is something so different than what I imagined it being. It is very hard to describe how awesome it is and how it is something you likely have never experienced before. When you fly your X-wing you feel the width of the ship in a way you never have in a game before. The laser guns on the wings are somethings you find yourself worrying about as you don’t want to scrape the side of the ship next to you. You feel like you’re in control of a large fighter and you are.
I immediately turned around and looked at my red astromech droid “Lou.” He saw me looking at him and beeped at me. I looked over to the right and saw the medical frigate Luke Skywalker was on in The Empire Strikes Back. I see a Rebel blockade runner and other X-wings. I speed up and fly towards the ships to get a closer look at them and then get into formation for a jump to hyperspace. We then spend some time flying through an astroid field, destroying the smaller rocks and clearing a path for the X-wings. I was living the dream!
I was surprised by the way things I have seen hundreds of times felt completely new and different. When you’re with the fleet and cruising along, you feel like you’re with others. But once I jumped to lightspeed, I felt a strange sense of isolation, almost like being under water, and then I was reunited with the fleet once again and we were no longer in the twirling tunnel of light. I’ve seen that happen in Star Wars so many times and never did I experience it until last night.
What is supposed to be a routine mission is actually a mission to save K-2SO’s U-wing and to transport his cargo (a lady) to Yavin IV. As you can put together, it is Jyn Erso. It never says that outright. Protecting the U-wing has us face off against TIE fighters and eventually take on a Star Destroyer to help get them to Yavin IV.
One of the best moments in the entire experience is when a Star Destroyer sneaked up behind me and then passed over me. You just feel the size of thing come over you and swallowing up all the space around you. I then had to fight off the TIEs and free the U-wing from its clutches. One of my pilot buddies got into trouble and I didn’t get to him soon enough and he died. Don’t worry–I didn’t know him that well. His death is not forgotten throughout the rest of the mission and even at the end it is a bittersweet victory because we lost a pilot that the story doesn’t let go.
At the very end we come out of hyperspace and the fleet is front of me. To my left is a giant red planet, Yavin IV. It was amazing to see it like that. Flying with the fleet at the end was just as much fun at the end of the add-on as it was at first. I did a pass on the medical frigate to see the place where Luke and Leia stood at the end of Empire. It was lowly textured and not very neat to look at. It was a small detail but one that was kind of disappointing. I didn’t expect to see little people walking around in there or anything magical, but it looked very cheap like something you would see from 2002. There are little things like that which make some of this feel a little rough around the edges.
The experience was full and whole. But it was also very short. So the question I am faced with is do I need Playstation VR because of this add-on? I’m conflicted and leaning toward not getting one. However, if another VR add-on was available soon, I would most certainly get one. We need a full game of this content. I would play a game where I was just a tourist in the Star Wars universe. The action was great but the opportunity to explore the Star Wars galaxy and “be there” was what really worked for me.
If you have a few hundred dollars burning a hole in your pocket, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. But in the big picture, for Star Wars fans, a few hundred dollars for a 20-minute level is a lot of money for such a linear experience. I think I will throw down on one once we get solid word more content from the Star Wars galaxy is going to Playstation VR. Until then, I will of course be breaking into Randy’s house to play the game while he sleeps.