Upcoming 'Star Wars' VR Experience at Disney Parks Will (Apparently) Explore Darth Vader's Castle

Friday, 04 August 2017 - 10:16AM
Technology
Virtual Reality
Science of Star Wars
Friday, 04 August 2017 - 10:16AM
Upcoming 'Star Wars' VR Experience at Disney Parks Will (Apparently) Explore Darth Vader's Castle
Image credit: Disney, Lucasfilm
For those of us who had life-affirming experiences playing Star Wars video games (Knights of the Old RepublicJedi KnightShadows of the Empire, etc.), the idea of stepping inside a Star Wars video game feels like one of those cyber-fantasies that would never quite come true. Turns out, we were wrong. Lucasfilm has announced Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a VR experience that takes place in a selection of new locations operated by THE VOID, a virtual reality theme park of sorts that puts a bunch of people in the same physical space as they walk around and interact with VR set pieces.

Both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida will host one of these new attractions, but they won't require a park ticket to enjoy—instead, patrons will likely (it's not been made completely clear at this point) purchase a separate ticket solely for entry into THE VOID so that they can wander around in a CGI Star Wars experience alongside their friends.

THE VOID works by taking a big empty room and crafting a social VR experience in which several people can interact at once—motion controls track the user's movement across the room so that when they walk in realspace, it's translated into movements within the VR world. In doing so, THE VOID solves some of the big problems with VR: there's no motion sickness, as the user movement in-game matches their movement in the real world, and thanks to the expansive real estate that THE VOID takes place in, users are able to do more than explore three or four square feet of space (as is the case with some home VR equipment such as the HTC Vive).

If Secrets of the Empire works anything like other, similar technology, players will likely take on digital avatars within the world so that they can keep track of where other people are (and avoid bumping into anyone). The hope would be that this new VR experience will allow users to choose their own Star Wars skin, becoming a wookiee or trandoshan or Jedi knight, but considering the name of the experience, Secrets of the Empire would probably run a lot smoother if everyone simply becomes a nondescript Stormtrooper (even those who would naturally be a little short for this role).



Imagine entering Darth Vader's doom fortress on Mustafar, seen in Rogue One (if the experience's promotional artwork can be believed). While you and your friends are milling around this space, an action scene that feels like it was ripped straight from the movies happens around you, pushing you to different sides of the room as you watch a huge battle explode in front of you. There could be tasks to complete as you become a hero in your own personal Star Wars story, experiencing a video game in the most immersive way possible.

Unlike the upcoming Star Wars: Edge of the Galaxy area at Disneyland, this won't be an experience that's punctuated with gift shops and tourists wearing socks and sandals. Everything before your eyes will (hopefully) feel real and believable, and for a brief period you'll be sucked entirely into the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
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