VRFocus has talked about the possibilities of virtual reality (VR) superhero videogames before. While we’ve discussed the issues of bringing the genre to life with an Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus head-mounted display (HMD) before, the potential for experiences based around characters such as Spider-Man, Batman and Iron Man have also been explored. But it wasn’t until this week’s reveal of the X-Men VR experience from 20th Century Fox at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) that Marvel’s mutants sprang to mind. It doesn’t take long to realise that the series is perhaps the best superhero fit for VR.
The SDCC experience casts players as Professor X and allows them to control the mutant-finding machine Cerebro. It’s a clever use of the device given that Cerebro itself straps to the user’s head. Thinking beyond that, a range of other X-Men have powers that would go hand-in-hand with VR. Wolverine, Cyclops, Iceman and Jean Grey are just some of the characters that could take direct advantage of the technology.
Take everybody’s favourite X-Man, Wolverine. His iconic claws that stem from the back of his hands would be ideal for many of the motion controllers that have been designed with VR in mind. All players would need do is hold perhaps the Razer Hydra or Sixense STEM in their hands to have complete control over the deadly weapons. We wouldn’t need to worry about the logistics of holding a sword or gun that wasn’t really in our hands, rather simply wave our arms about to swipe enemies. Perhaps best not to play such an experience in a room with other people, then.
Then there’s Cyclops, the team leader who has the ability to shoot optic blasts from his eyes by simply removing the protective shades he wears. It’s easy to see how this would work in VR, with users simply looking at targets to unleash an attack at them. For full immersion users could even use a motion controller to bring their hands up to their eyes to attack, much like the character can be seen doing in his comic books and movies. A similar approach could be used for Jean Grey, whose powers of telekinesis could be used to throw enemies and objects around with a HMD’s head-tracking for empowering results.
The list goes on. Forging an ice path to slide on as iceman, summoning the elements as Storm, even assuming the role of the villain and bending metal to your will as Magneto could all make for stand-out VR experiences.
As for piecing all of these individual characters into a single videogame, there’s undeniable potential to create the ultimate VR co-op experience here. Having each player pick one character, much like in the X-Men Legends dungeon-crawling videogames, and tackling missions together could prove to be one of the first true realisations of the VR dream that many have been having since before the Oculus Rift suggested that they could become a reality.
SDCC’s X-Men experience offers just a taste of the franchise’s potential in VR. Let’s hope we see that potential expanded on in the future.
‘Make it a (virtual) Reality’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes the videogames we already know and love and looks at how virtual reality (VR) could enhance them. From retro classics to modern blockbusters, we examine the pros and cons of bringing a franchise to VR headsets.