Star Trek is getting its first virtual reality game, and they gave it a hell of a debut.
“Bridge Crew,” created by Ubisoft and Red Storm Entertainment, was teased earlier this month and was played in front of cameras for the first time, to create a promotional video. For that, they recruited three stars from across three Trek iterations: LeVar Burton, Jeri Ryan, and Karl Urban. While the game was shown to the Trek stars in early June 2016, it will get its worldwide debut at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — an annual trade show for the interactive industry — on June 14th.
Ryan was amazed. “This wasn’t anything like you see on the show,” she said. “When we were shooting it, the bridge set was all plywood and plastic. When you’re looking at the ship’s monitors, they were either green screens or just big openings in the walls. This was incredible. It’s what it would be like if it were real.”
The game uses Oculus Rift headsets and hand-held controllers, and players use their heads and hands to scan the bridge and operate their consoles, much like the popular non-VR game Artemis Bridge Simulator. It takes place in the J.J. Abrams universe, in which the crew of the Aegis explores an uncharted sector of space in search of a new homeworld for Vulcans who weren’t on their planet when it was wiped out in the first Star Trek reboot. The designers put a lot of focus into making the console exciting to operate. Users can fire torpedoes, raise shields, turn on a red alert, and more. And the game’s stories aren’t just shoot-em-ups; players get to experience exploration as well. Crew members make the same kind of difficult decisions that came up in Star Trek episodes, making tough calls about who to save. Is it the Vulcan scientists, or everyone on the planet? “It’s not binary,” said David Votypka, senior creative director at Red Storm. “It’s just like the show. There’s not any one right answer.” And players have to work together, with up to four of them in the same game at once.
Burton took the captain’s chair for the demo, and made his avatar female. “That’s what ‘Star Trek’ is all about,” he said. “It’s infinite diversity in infinite combinations and a respect for all life. I think it’s great to be able to role-play.”
Urban was also wowed by the experience.
— Karl Urban (@KarlUrban) June 11, 2016
Since he rarely gets time on the bridge and certainly never sits behind a console, it gave him a better understanding of what his fellow actors are up to on set, but kicks it up a notch. “When you’re playing the game, it’s almost like you’re not pretending. You’re actually doing it. In some ways, it’s one step closer to the experience.”
Want to join the fun? (YES!) The game launches this fall for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. Engage!
We will bring you more news after its worldwide debut at E3 on June 14th.
*UPDATE* Ubisoft has released a promotional video featuring gameplay footage as well as interviews with LeVar Burton, Karl Urban, and Jeri Ryan: