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Respawn Boss Wary of Making Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond Too Realistic

Virtual reality (VR) fans got their first glimpse of Respawn Entertainment’s first VR title back in September when Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond was finally unveiled. Reviving the classic franchise for the VR market has certainly garnered plenty of interest, with VRFocus pleasantly surprised by the demo shown at Oculus Connect 6 (OC6). In a recent interview, the team reveal they’re aware of the challenges in VR, not only making a comfortable experience but one that’s historically accurate, whilst treading carefully when it comes to realism and killing.

Vince Zampella, Respawn Entertainment

Talking to the Los Angeles Times about VR and the in-development videogame, Respawn Entertainment co-founder Vince Zampella says: “As fidelity gets better and VR gets more immersive, you kind of feel like you’re there. That translates to, ‘Am I harming another more realistic-looking human?’ That’s something we’re going to have to be very wary of. When you know the setting is life-and-death and it’s a historical thing — while you may be causing harm to virtual humans you’re doing it for the good of other virtual humans — in that simulation it’s something that was valuable to the world.”

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is set during World War 2, in the early 1940s with players taking on the role of an Allied agent of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Missions revealed so far include fighting through a European town and infiltrating a hotel filled with Gestapo. Aiding the immersion are historically accurate weapons – which have their own reload mechanics – as well as scenery and background items.

So to ensure the experience is both honest to the time period whilst honouring those who served and the horrors they faced,  the studio also aims to help players empathize by including veterans of the conflict. It was previously revealed that Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond would feature story gallery so you can sit and listen to stories from survivors.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond

Leading development is Peter Hirschmann who goes on to say: “We just got a rough cut of a guy named Frank who served in the Pacific, and the stories he tells about what he went through in the submarine service are just crazy. So again, we try to help it hit home that this really happened. These were 19-year-old kids. And you know, often that’s our target audience. So it’s always good if we can build empathy and ignite people’s imaginations. Then maybe they’ll come away understanding the conflict a little more.”

Zampella will be splitting his time in 2020 between Respawn Entertainment and another EA studio DICE LA, which operates independently from DICE Stockholm, known for Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefront among other titles. He’ll be overseeing projects at both studios.

As development continues on Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, VRFocus will keep you updated.