Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR mission
A short time ago on a sofa very, very close…
I lived out a fantasy that persisted through my play patterns as a small and nerdy child.
EA and DICE released a virtual experience that is an absolute treasure and a swift middle finger to the haters that criticised Battlefront for it’s lack of space combat. Not only that, but the mission is a free DLC addition!
My first of very many playthroughs was an immediate treat to the 30 something year old nerd that I am right off the bat. I’m presented with an empty white space and a Battlefront logo that is very quickly interrupted by the colossal footfalls of an AT-AT lumbering from left to right overhead. My inner child absolutely squeaked with glee and awe as I truly felt the scale of such an iconic vehicle towering over me. My neck craning upwards at the undercarriage of a metal monstrosity that felt like it was right there. It seems like such a minor detail, but I was already beyond amped for what was to come.
Progressing onwards beyond the title screen I find myself standing before a full sized X-wing in my living room with a chirpy little astromech droid rolling merrily around me. Pointing your head around the docking station allows you to take different perspectives on the vehicle to truly appreciate the fine and faithful detail work on the model.
I make my way to finally take my seat in the cockpit to prepare my first flight as a rookie rebel pilot on his first mission with his squadron.
I say his, but ladies haven’t been passed over in the options. Once seated in the cockpit you are presented with some simple pre-flight options, such as control setup and pilot gender, which affects the voice of the rebel pilot that you will be playing.
Looking around the cockpit is incredibly detailed. The flightstick in the footwell, the various arrays of flashy little buttons, the dirt on the windows. Turning your head to look behind you even reveals that your little astromech droid is onboard with you in his interfacing slot.
To start the mission, prompted to look directly at a white button on your dash and hit the cross button on your Dualshock 4 controller (I’m case you were wondering if you required Move wands) and load up into a galaxy far, far away.
You emerge from darkness into open space. A spiral galaxy swirls beneath you as a dialogue is exchanged between you and your droid counterpart. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful scene disrupted by an entire rebel fleet warping in behind you. My jaw dropped in awe as I looked up to see a massive rebel blockade runner coating overhead, Y-Wings, Frigates and the other four X-wings in my squadron flying in formation and communicating through the headsets.
The premise of the mission is that there’s a U-Wing stranded in an asteroid belt hiding from the empire. They’re stuck in attack mode and thusly are unable to warp. The U-Wing is carrying a person of import that must be escorted to safety.
I don’t want to give everything away, so I’ll let you in on some of the details that are more than likely to be expected.
You’re most assuredly going to run into the Empire by way of a Star Destroyer carrying a fleet of TIE fighters.
Combat is absolutely incredible, fluid and does things in VR that can only truly be done in VR. The shape of the X-wing’s cockpit gives a great field of view from the shape and visual periphery. Simply turning your head to look allows you to naturally track TIE fighters and take stock of your surroundings. Engaging TIEs in a dogfight is exhilarating and satisfying. Watching one sail right by your nosecone in a near fatal collision is indescribable. Blasting one apart directly in front of you has the incredible audio sensation of debris clattering against the window of your own fighter.
Speaking of audio, everything about it is so authentically Star Wars. The scream of the TIEs in flight, the roaring thrusters of a Star Destroyer you’re way too close to. A shining star in the audio is the incredible John Williams score hitting every iconic moment to match the tone of the scene. The voice acting has an authentic cadence and delivery to it with a likeable cast of faceless characters that you feel so bonded with over the comm links.
The VR mission nails every box for me graphically, too. Going into hyperspace and watching the way the lighting plays against the surface and angles of the cockpit was a real treat. Seeing the sparks jumping out of your dashboards right in your face when you take a pretty serious hit.
X-Wing VR Mission rewards multiple playthroughs as well. There are a set of challenges to earn stars and currency rewards for the main game, an alternate ending that hinges on a situation and there is a friends only leaderboard for most TIE fighters destroyed in a playthrough.
The game is also full of cool features that I hadn’t noticed right away inside the cockpit. Looking directly at any of the buttons allows you to click on them with the cross button, to which they all appear to be functional. One of them can be clicked repeatedly to determine a fire pattern mode from your 4 lasers between alternating (default) fire, 2 at a time or all 4 lasers in unison; another button I found extends the targeting computer that you see Luke Skywalker use in Episode IV during the trench run.
I cannot fault anything about this VR experience beyond it leaving me wanting more. I would love for DICE to produce a full sized game like this. They truly nailed the source material and created an original experience for fans that plays and feels like everything in my childhood fantasies. Any complaints that I may have are about the hardware itself.
If you’re a Star Wars fan and, for whatever reason, intend to experience VR once…let it be this.