Teamwork – the notion of working together to achieve a common goal – is a touchstone of Star Trek and a key component of the upcoming Star Trek: Bridge Crew, the first virtual reality Star Trek game from Ubisoft and developer Red Storm Entertainment. I got a chance to try the game and spoke to one of the developers.
UPDATE: Release date pushed back to March 14, 2017.
UPDATE: 10/21/2016 – Ubisoft has just announced that the release date for Star Trek: Bridge Crew will be pushed back to March 14, 2017.
The game developer did not give details as to the reason behind the delay, saying only that they want “to deliver the best game experience possible at launch”.
I was able to play a few weeks ago at Mission: New York and was completely blown away by its immersive nature and breakneck pace. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to realizing my childhood dream of standing on the bridge of a starship. If the designers can offer enough mission variety this game has the potential to be something special.
The action takes place in the Kelvin timeline aboard the U.S.S. Aegis, a new starship tasked with exploring uncharted areas of Federation space in hopes of finding a new home for the Vulcans, who lost their world in Star Trek (2009).
The Aegis bridge is very similar to the Enterprise bridge seen in the last three films, and gives you clear line-of-sight to your other colleagues, which is key in a game like this. There are four different roles to play: captain, helm, tactical, and engineering. All of them have unique challenges and control schemes and all require the players to do their jobs efficiently and work well together in order to succeed.
The game was running on Oculus Rift and required a headset as well as two motion controllers, which act as your virtual hands. It was surreal to put it on the headset, look down, and see myself wearing a Starfleet uniform. Looking around the bridge, I could see the other players also trying to get their bearings. When the captain (one of the game’s developers) spoke to me, he looked right at me, just like you would in reality. All of this occurs in real time and the effect is very powerful. I bought into the idea that I was on a starship very quickly.
I was assigned to engineering, and my primary tasks were to redistribute power based on current mission needs, run the transporter, and make sure the warp coils were charged in case we needed to get going in a hurry. Sounds boring, you say? Not at all. The game is designed to keep you on your toes and forces you to pay attention to what others are doing, in case your particular skills are required at a moment’s notice.
During our mission, we ran afoul of some Klingons while responding to a distress call. While tactical was busy fending off the attack, I was required to beam all the survivors aboard, make sure enough energy was allocated for weapons and shields, and be ready to prime the plasma coils for warp, which takes time. As the helm maneuvered us into transporter range, I had to coordinate with the captain and tactical to allow the shields to drop just long enough to bring survivors aboard. While all of this was happening, the ship was being buffeted from Klingon attack, with NPC crew members being flung about, cracks forming on the bulkheads and sparks shooting from consoles. Luckily, there was just enough juice left in the coils, and we were able to make a getaway.
The entire experience was an adrenaline rush and it took me a good ten minutes to come down from it. It may not be a holodeck, but it’s pretty damn good.
While the demo I played had everyone sitting in the same room together, the game is designed to be played online. If you don’t have enough people for a full crew, the game will substitute NPC characters so that you can play anytime the mood strikes.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew will be released for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on November 29, with the PlayStation VR version arriving a week later. All are priced at $59.99. Ubisoft released a trailer a few months back, which features LeVar Burton, Karl Urban, and Jeri Ryan playing the game and relating their experience:
The cost of buying into this can be prohibitive. Oculus Rift requires a very powerful PC to run on in addition to the headset and controller, which costs $600. The HTC Vive also requires a high-end rig and is even pricier at $800. The upcoming PlayStation VR system, which must be used in concert with a separate PlayStation 4 console, is the cheapest option, with the launch bundle priced at $500.
The announcement of a virtual reality Star Trek game engendered a lot of excitement and a lot of questions. We spoke to David Votypka, the Senior Creative Director of the game, to learn more.
TrekMovie: The game will be released simultaneously on three different platforms with different hardware specs. Is the experience identical on every system?
David Votypka: The game missions are identical on every system and the game will be optimized for each platform.
TrekMovie: How many missions will be included with the game?
Votypka: There will be campaign missions as well as randomly generated missions that are available to play. As missions are randomly generated it’s not possible to give an exact number, but players will be kept very busy with different adventures!
TrekMovie: Are there plans to make additional missions available?
Votypka: Right now we’re focused on finishing the game, but we do plan to continue to support it after launch.
TrekMovie: After the game was announced, some of our readers were curious as to whether there would be a way to play on the Original Series or Next Generation bridges. Are there any plans to do that?
Votypka: We have a few months until the game comes out and we have a lot more to unveil before then.
TrekMovie: Is this game the beginning of a licensing partnership with Ubisoft?
Votypka: We’re thrilled to have the license for Star Trek: Bridge Crew. As for what’s upcoming, we’ll have to wait and see.
Reminds me of Artemis Bridge Simulator.
Needs more lens flare.
A very cool concept, although it seems unlikely that most people would have three friends who also have VR on the same platform.
The article states, “If you don’t have enough people for a full crew, the game will substitute NPC characters so that you can play anytime the mood strikes.”
No option to play as the science officer? Kind of strange for all those people who identify with Spock not to have a role here…
The ship looks like the Kelvin Timeline version of the Ambassador class.
No neck and all, I just realized they should have sent this ship to the planet in STBeyond. Would have saved them a lot of trouble building a new Enterprise.
was thinking this would be a cool game, but we MUST have a VR headset? no option to play without?
Kind of a bummer.. Gaming for elitists
What bothers me about games like these is that I suffer from a condition called mono-vision.
I have a paralyzed muscle in my left eye with has its slant up, and my brain developped the protection for this by having me focus/control on one eye at a time (with the other being unfocused/peripheral vision). That means that I cannot see in 3-dimensions and that the 3d glasses offered in theaters for certain movies don’t work for me (a tedious movie experience).
The same limitation holds for devices like the Occulus Rift. Meaning that no matter if I could buy it or not, I wouldn’t be able to profit from the experience (the device depends on focus from both eyes).
The cooprative aspect of this game is very enticing, but the lack of support for non-Rift users worries me about the trends for future games I would love to play, but wouldn’t be able to due to such limitations.
It looks like the gameplay is optimized for the VR interaction, so I doubt it would be much fun outside of that environment.
For the next few years, VR games will likely be a niche product, as only high-end PCs can handle the gear. Only truly serious gamers would drop $500 – 800 for a headset that lets you only play a limited number of titles. And in addition to the visual issue Zoberraz describes, a good percentage of people will get dizzy using VR helmets, so it’s unlikely that developers will start to ignore non-VR users anytime soon.
i hope Vive version lets you walk around the bridge.
Hey, where’s the lens flares for JJ’s bridge?
The exterior shots of the ships didn’t seem all that impressive, in terms of graphics… and how do you ‘see’ the exterior view if you’re on the bridge?
Looks like a fun game, but one that I’m destined to rent at a VR facility instead of owning myself.
Graphics are a bit Meh!….Cool concept though.