One of the amazing feats of virtual reality is that it can make the most mundane tasks feel incredibly rewarding. For me, during the Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine experience, that was fixing the Millennium Falcon by smashing a sequence of colored switches.
For context, Trials was made by ILMxLab for the HTC Vive and is the first Star Wars VR experience. After an opening crawl (if seeing this doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what’s wrong with you) the “experience” plonks you, Luke Skywalker’s apprentice, in the sandy desert of Tatooine.
By the time I’ve managed to take in my surroundings, the Millennium Falcon flies in and parks itself right above me. Han Solo then pipes up (not voiced by Harrison Ford but by a convincing voice double) and tells me he’s come to drop off a package as R2-D2 rolls out the ship to greet me.
Naturally, it’s not long until we’ve got company with the familiar screech of TIE Fighters overhead. They fire a few shots at us and I twitch to dodge out the way, but I’m safe – it’s all very passive. But now Han is asking me to help him fix the ship, so I pull down a panel to reveal a load of components and wires in need of servicing.
After unceremoniously pushing some buttons, R2 ejects a lightsaber which I take, and then things start to get a lot more interesting. I press the Vive’s touchpad to eject the blue beam and hear that familiar hum. This is it – I am finally a Jedi and I’m never coming back. They’ll have to wrestle the headset from me.
But I don’t have much time to think about it as Stormtoopers soon appear in the distance and start shooting at me, so I use the lightsaber to deflect their blasts back at them.
Like the combat remote Luke uses to train with in A New Hope, this part of the game is a test of my reactions and accuracy. Unfortunately the Stormtroopers are too far away for me to cut them up – even with the mobility of the Vive – so I have to just keep hitting the blast shots. I’m pretty terrible, and it takes me a few minutes to finish them all off.
I finish the job and start swinging my lightsaber around in a flurry like a proper Jedi Knight, appreciating the fact I am living out my childhood dream. Most of our childhood dreams, actually.
And then it’s over. The assistant is removing my headphones and I come crashing down to reality once again.
And that’s my only real problem with the Trials demo – it’s just a demo. I want so much more, including an all-out lightsaber battle. This week, Sony and EA announced that Battlefront is coming to PlayStation VR, so it might not be long until that dream is realised.
For now, Trials on Tatooine is awesome for a bite-sized Star Wars VR fix. But we’re getting bored of being teased by these concepts – it’s time for something more comprehensive.
As for when you can get to try Trials on your own Vive headset (when it arrives in a few weeks time), we haven’t been told an official release date, but techradar understands that it will be rolled out around the time The Force Awakens arrives on DVD and Blu-ray.
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