Shortly before the Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series panel at Star Wars Celebration 2019, I was lucky enough to give the game demo a go on the show floor. One of the most memorable parts of Star Wars Celebration London back in 2016 was when I had the chance to test out what was deemed an ILMxLAB virtual reality experiment, Trials on Tatooine. For anyone who’s spent their life steeped in Star Wars and dreaming of wielding a lightsabers, Star Wars VR is essentially the closest thing to true wish fulfillment. In 2016, using the HTC Vive, I was able to feel the hum of a lightsaber in my hand. Trials on Tatooine was a true blast – no pun intended – but Vader Immortal kicks things up a notch in a number of respects.
First off, Vader Immortal is canon. The story is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and turns the player into a smuggler working near Mustafar, Darth Vader’s home sweet home. In the short demo, however, the large majority of the experience takes place in a Lightsaber Dojo where your saber-wielding skills are put to the test and assessed by Vader himself. Similar to Trials on Tatooine the haptics of Vader Immortal on the Oculus Quest system are truly mind-blowing. Not only does the saber vibration contribute to making the real world melt away, but so does the incorporation of certain sound effects. At first, you’re challenged to block blaster bolts shot from afar and then from a single sparring droid. But, in round three, you’re surrounded by these droids and must rely on audio cues to know who’s going to attack next and where. The fact that the Oculus Quest rig is entirely untethered is key here.
This Lightsaber Dojo will feature open-ended play that I suspect will have an addictive quality. (I felt it even after just a few minutes of gameplay.) But the real meat of Vader Immortal is the 45 to 60 minute storyline featuring the voices of Scott Lawrence as Darth Vader and Maya Rudolph as a new droid co-pilot named ZOE3.
Vader Immortal will be the launch title for the Oculus Quest headset, and the series will also be coming to the Oculus Rift family of headsets as well, including the upcoming Rift S. If the goal of ILMxLAB is to let fans completely lose themselves in a galaxy far, far away and interact with Star Wars characters like never before, the Vader Immortal demo felt like a pretty significant step in that direction.
You can watch my Vader Immortal demo in the brief video at the top of this article. You can also watch the Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series- Episode I official trailer below: