When visiting the Warner Bros. booth on the last day of E3, I had a rare opportunity to try out one of the new and most interesting games they have announced at the start of the convention – Batman Arkham VR.
Rocksteady’s Dax Ginn led me into a room where a few of the game’s developers were waiting for me, together with a PlayStation VR headset and two PS Move controllers. After fiddling with it for a bit, as it was my first time trying it, I managed to get reasonably comfortable, gave the mark I was ready to become Batman, and the demo started.
I found myself standing next to a piano in one of the rooms in Wayne’s Manor. I wasn’t able to move around the room, but I did get to look around and see a few of the objects near me, including an old family photo resting on top of the piano. I reached out an grabbed it using one of the Move controllers. As you might expect, each controller represents a hand, and you can freely pick up and examine most of the objects you see around you. While I was trying out my new virtual hands, Alfred appeared from out of the shadows next to me.
“Catch!” I yelled at him, throwing the framed picture in his general direction. The butler remained unimpressed as the picture flew right through him and crashed on the floor. “Oh well,” I though to myself, “he’ll clean it up later.” I then directed my attention to what Alfred was holding. It was a small key, which I immediately snatched up. No on-screen prompt appeared, and neither was I given any sort of directions on what to do next – I needed to figure out where this key goes on my own. Luckily, there weren’t a lot of options in my limited surroundings, and I quickly figured out I needed to key to unlock the piano’s keyboard cover. Using my classical training, I was able to use both Move controllers to randomly bash the keys until something happened.
And something did happen. The piano slid back and I was lowered into the Batcave. Seeing the huge cave in VR really gave a sense of the space I was in, and it was quite the awe-inspiring experience. Once inside the Batcave, I had to figure out how to put on the Batsuit, which again was very intuitive. You pick up the bat logo and press it against your chest to activate the suit, and you put on the cowl just like you would in real life. You can even look at your arms and see the details of your new armor, if you don’t believe you are truly Batman. It’s all kinds of cool. After admiring my new suit and throwing some batarangs, I decided it was time to move to the second part of the demo.
The second part consisted of a murder scene investigation, very similar to what we experienced in Batman: Arkham Origins. You move through the crime scene while replaying and rewinding the scene’s events as you try to establish a timeline. Seeing the fight that led to the gruesome murder unfold around you in full 360 degrees is impressive to say the least. I won’t reveal exactly what happens, or who the murder victim is, since it might be crucial the final game’s plot, but trust me when I say it’s pretty darn cool. Once I gathered all the clues and found my next lead, I held up my arm and fired the batclaw. I launched upwards into the night’s sky and the demo ended.
The crime scene investigation seems to work perfectly in a VR environment, though it would have been nice to be able to walk around on my own instead of teleporting to predetermined locations, but the demo proved it can work. Apart from that, it’s hard to tell which other aspects of the Arkham games can make the transition into virtual reality. I can see myself driving the Batmobile in first-person, since there are already quite a few piloting and driving games utilizing VR, but the series’ signature combat might be a bit trickier to pull off.
I’m hoping Batman: Arkham VR will be more than a few detached scenarios strung together by cutscenes, and will actually tell a full coherent story through an engaging campaign. Rocksteady have proved time and time again they know what they are doing when it comes to Batman, so it will be interesting to see how they will tackle the new medium of VR gaming. The game already fulfills my childhood fantasy of being the Batman, so now all it has to do is let me punch the Joker in the face and awkwardly flirt with Catwoman, and I’m sold.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.