'Star Wars' VR Experience Gets a Trailer as Tickets Go On Sale

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 - 7:52PM
Star Wars
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 - 7:52PM
'Star Wars' VR Experience Gets a Trailer as Tickets Go On Sale
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YouTube/Star Wars
One of the more interesting new additions to Disney's vast array of attractions at their many theme parks is the upcoming Secrets of the Empire, a virtual reality experience with a more tactile presence than anything released on Oculus Rift for home use.

Tickets for the new event have now gone on sale, with the immersive attraction opening for guests on December 16, 2017 at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida, and on January 5 at Southern California's Downtown Disney shopping complex (presumably everyone at Disneyland is annoyed to have just missed a lucrative holiday season for the attraction). The price is $30 for a thirty minute experience, which is far from the priciest thing at a Disney park.

Created by The Void, a Utah-based tech company that's essentially crossed lasertag with adventure games, Secrets of the Empire will have attendees don a virtual reality headset and backpack as they walk around a physical environment designed to match up with the VR experience they see before them. Essentially, certain objects in the virtual reality world are remade in the real world (minus all the lava and Stormtroopers) so attendees can physically interact with them.

If there's a table or a chair or a doorway in VR, players will be expected to step around real-life counterparts as they journey through a story-rich experience. Reaching out to touch anything in the VR world will mean feeling something tactile in their hands, removing a lot of the airy, wishy-washy impermanence of most virtual reality set-ups. See for yourself in the trailer below:

What's really significant, though, is that because this VR adventure tracks the guest's movement through the real world and reflects that accordingly in their display, it severely reduces the chances that anyone wearing a headset will find themselves needing to vomit all over the attraction. Motion sickness isn't as big of an issue if the brain isn't being told contradictory information from a person's eyes and their other senses.

Truth be told, this experience isn't perfect - there aren't enough motion sensors to perfectly track every element of a person's body, meaning that this still does have some of the weightless feel of a first generation VR game to it. The trick is probably to look at the cool Mustafar-esque environment, rather than worry too much about what your legs look like (if they even exist at all).

What's more, it's hard not to feel that Secrets of the Empire would feel more immersive if the VR equipment at least vaguely resembled Stormtrooper gear - surely this wouldn't be too hard to achieve when you're getting your customers to dress up in bulky equipment anyway, and it would go some way to disguising the fact that you're wearing a heavy computer-filled backpack to begin with.

Regardless, with VR not quite taking off in homes the way Mark Zuckerberg might have liked, this is definitely going to be one of the more worthwhile virtual reality experiences that Star Wars fans can enjoy in the coming months and years. This is certainly a lot more immersive and believable than anything you could possible experience on PS4 VR - even if it promises to put you in an X-Wing cockpit.

Secrets of the Empire may not be quite the same as sitting really close to your parents' CRT television when you were twelve, but as far as recapturing childhood imagination goes, there are worse ways to get your Star Wars kicks.
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