Take a peek at what Vader is up to when he’s not conquering the galaxy for $9.99.
Available May 21st as a launch title for the Oculus Quest, ILMxLAB’s Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series is a three-part immersive journey that will take users deep into the lore of the Star Wars universe for a one-of-a-kind look into the life of the galaxies most feared Sith Lord.
During an interview with EW, the projects creative team shed new light on Episode One, including new details regarding the role of the user in the experience and the adventure they’ll embark on throughout the trilogy.
Set between the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Stars Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Vader Immortal has users taking on the role of an unsuspecting smuggler who finds himself/herself a captive of Darth Vader after being drawn to his base of operations on the hostile planet Mustafar. Turns out you’re actually a ‘force-sensitive’ and Vader wants to use your untapped power to unlock an ancient mystery that will bridge the gap between life and death. You know, just you’re average day-to-day Sith activities.
Users begin the experience exploring the confines of their ship alongside their droid side-kick ZO-E3 (voiced by SNL alumn Maya Rudolph), who will serve as your mouthpiece throughout the experience.
“What we did instead was say, ‘Okay, well, we’d need to use our sidekick droid, Zoe, to give you a voice,” said Vader Immortal director Ben Snow while speaking to EW. “One of the great aspects of being able to get Maya Rudolph to play Zoe, was we needed the character to be your guide. The character had to be worldly, knowledgeable and feel assured and confident. And also, she had to lighten the mood sometimes.”
Upon landing on Mustafar, users will spend the rest of the episode acting as Vader’s apprentice-in-training while simultaneously attempting to escape the clutches of the tortured Sith Lord; I don’t think Stockholm Syndrome will be a factor in this series. You’ll navigate the caves beneath Vader’s private temple, interact with a Mustafarian priestess tasked with protecting ancient secrets from the Empire, and explore Vader’s sprawling castle.
While acting as Vader’s trainee, you’ll assist in various spiritual tasks, as well as fight side-by-side with him during intense lightsaber battles with ancient droids. When you’re not playing side-kick, you’ll be sneaking around his labyrinth-like castle in search of a way of escape. It’s during these moments that users will gain an extremely rare look at Vader during his personal downtime. As you continue to spy on the terrifying figure, you’ll gain a better understanding of his motivations and desires, offering a unique perspective on the character previously unexplored in the films.
“Vader is in constant pain,” said Snow. “He has a constant headache, and his whole body is in pain. I think that help makes him such an iconic and rich bad guy.”
“I raised a question, ‘What does Vader do when he’s not Force-choking people?’” added writer and executive producer David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel). “What does he do when he walks into his meditation chamber, and his shoulders slump, and he doesn’t have the weight of the Empire on him for that moment? What does he think about? We tried to start to get at that in that [spying] scene as well.”
More than a film, but not quite a full-fledged game, Vader Immortal’s creators are careful in how they describe the role of the user within the experience. While users cannot speak during their journey (ZO-E3 will be doing enough for the both of you) they do participate in a handful of interactive activities, from navigating the dangerous exterior of Vader’s castle to engaging in lightsaber battles with their Touch controllers.
“We didn’t want to say ‘player’ because that connotes a video game,” Goyer added. “We didn’t want to say ‘viewer’ because the experience is much more immersive than just viewing.”
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg for ILMxLAB. The creative team is already teasing several new gameplay elements for upcoming episodes, including the possibility of voice interaction with in-game characters as well as a potential decision-making system that will have an impact on future experiences.
Vicki Dobbs Beck—ILMxLAB Executive in Charge—claims that, eventually, “what you do in one experience will actually influence other experiences. Eventually not only does your choice matter for you in that individual experience, but the choice that you made actually impacts what others experience as well.”
One thing we know for sure is that Episode Two will feature large portions of direct one-on-one time with Vader as he attempts to train you in a variety of awesome force powers which you’ll employ throughout the experience. According to EW, Episode One of Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series will be available for $9.99 at launch May 21st.