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Vader Immortal: VR Star Wars game gets trailer

VR gamers will soon get to immerse themselves in the Darth Vader experience.

A gameplay trailer for the highly-anticipated Vader Immortal: Episode I debuted today at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention, and was subsequently posted to YouTube. The game will see a release on all Oculus platforms, including the Rift, the all-in-one Quest, and the high resolution Rift S. (via Polygon)

Vader Immortal will put players into the shoes of the captain of a smuggling ship, the Windfall, who is captured and held prisoner at the Dark Lord of the Sith's castle fortress on the planet Mustafar (as seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). With the help of a hovering droid named Zoey (voiced by Maya Rudolph, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part), your lowly smuggler must navigate the castle's halls, attempting to escape as Vader (voiced by Scott Lawrence, Star Wars Resistance) struggles with the darkness gripping his heart. It won't be simple: the Dark Lord has a task in mind for you, convinced as he is that you're a force-sensitive who is the key to his gaining even greater power. 

The trailer showcases all kinds of nifty gameplay elements, including (of course) the ability to wield a lightsaber for both defensive (deflecting the laser bolts of a phalanx of oncoming Stormtroopers) and offensive (good old fashioned dueling) applications. The game's developers also revealed that it will feature a "lightsaber dojo" mode, which will allow players to practice and experiment with the iconic weapon "endlessly." We're going to go out on a limb and say that not only will this feature add massively to the game's replay value, but that there's certain to be a strong contingent of gamers who will play Vader Immortal for the lightsaber dojo, and nothing else.

Of course, the game's story does seem pretty exciting and varied; the trailer shows the player character solving a puzzle to help free a fellow prisoner, dangling from a cliff over a river of lava, fighting off a lightsaber-wielding droid, and piloting a spaceship with TIE fighters in hot pursuit. Although the game's developers weren't too keen on offering fans any story details beyond what was revealed in the trailer, Lucasfilm executive Matt Martin did let slip that, thanks to corporate synergy, there are a few clues were to be found if you happen to like comic books and Star Wars (a tiny cross-section, we know). This would be the current Marvel comics series Darth Vader, which Martin hinted might come in handy in helping gamers find their way around Vader's monolithic fortress.

The game was developed by ILM Experience Lab (or ILMxLab for short), a division of Lucasfilm founded in 2015 with a focus on exploring new ways to deliver immersive, entertaining stories. According to io9, the 45-60 minute "experience" will be the first of three episodes telling a story that falls between the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope — and yes, it has the official stamp of approval. Said ILMxLab narrative designer Mohen Leo, "It was important to us that this was a story that would become part of the canon, so it really becomes part of Vader's story." While the first episode will lean heavily on developing the player's proficiency with a lightsaber, later episodes will see the player character develop Force abilities — which, honestly, sounds like an absolute blast in VR. Anybody who has ever wanted to force choke a dude, bend somebody to their will by way of a Jedi mind trick, or use one of an advancing squad of sentry droids as an airborne weapon against the rest with a wave of their hand has got to be looking forward to that.

Conspicuously absent from the demonstration was an actual release date for Episode I, which was teased as coming in "Spring 2019" — which, we feel compelled to point out, could very well mean "later this month." What we're saying here is that if you haven't already jumped on board the Oculus Train, now might be a very good time to do so. So far, game developers have had a bit of a tough time delivering anything that would be recognizable as an actual gaming experience in VR, but Vader Immortal looks like it just might be the title that gets casual gamers (not to mention hardcore Star Wars fans) on board with the technology. Industry insiders who have been lucky enough to give the game a spin have responded very positively; Game Informer executive editor Andrew Reiner called it "a cool VR experience," while Peter Sciretta of Slashfilm simply tweeted, "Wielding a lightsaber never felt so good."

Be excited, fans; be very excited. The Star Wars film series might be taking a bit of a break following this December's Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker — but with theme park installations, new original series getting ready to launch on the upcoming Disney+ streamer, and bold new storytelling ventures such as Vader Immortal in the pipeline, we feel safe in saying: the Force will be with us. Always.