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Batman: Arkham VR Demo at San Diego Comic-Con Was No Bat From Hell, But It’s Still Pretty Cool

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If you’re reading this, odds are you really wish you had been able to go to San Diego for Comic-Con. You really should have been a part of the San Diego Comic-Con 2016 fun this past weekend. As if you needed another reason why you should’ve gone, am I right? Well, here I am with one more: a demo of Batman: Arkham VR on the show floor.

The DC booth had a square of space tucked away in one of its corners with two demo stations of the game. Each station had identical walls with the logo of the game, along with plenty of signage advertising #BatmanArkhamVR. Developed by Arkham pros Rocksteady Studios, the PlayStation VR exclusive title ran, of course, on the Sony headset, complete with a custom Batman themed pair of headphones. Facing you is a tripod mounted PlayStation Camera, which provides positional tracking for the headset to translate into in-game head movement. Compared to when I tried the headset back in 2015 at E3 and Comic-Con that same year, the headset still fit and worked pretty much the same.

After adjusting the headset and headphones to my liking, the booth attendant slipped on the wrist straps of the two PlayStation Move controllers, one on each of my hands. With the Moves secured, I was directed to look to the left part of the game screen to begin the demo by pressing the Move button.

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The demo begins with you looking at a piano in a parlor area. With the entrance of Alfred, a longtime servant of the Wayne family as portrayed in the comics and movies, it quickly becomes clear that the home you’re in is Wayne Manor. After asking Bruce if this is what he is looking for, Alfred passes you a key, which you must reach towards and grab with either hand. The piano on the rostrum (a fancy word for a raised platform) has a locked cover for the keyboard, the lock of which Rocksteady went to great lengths in the demo to highlight to be of importance. Using deliberate gestures to pushing the key into the lock, turn it, and finally open the cover was satisfying. Call me what you will for saying, much too much of a basic activity for VR.

I admit, I didn’t know I had to play the piano until the attendant prompted me, and once I did, my jaw truly dropped. My memories of the animated Batman series and my short-lived attempt at catching up with the comics suddenly all hit me like a pallet of bricks–I was descending into the Batcave.

The entire platform started lowering, nearly giving me a heart attack and motion sickness in the process. Being fully able to look around you 360 degrees gave me awe-inspiring views as I descended. At one point, I was met with several stations prompting me to initiate different gestures in order to don the Batsuit and test out and equip different gadgets, tools and weapons. Not gonna lie, this part was pretty awesome, but I was a little let down by the auto-aim of the Batarangs even if my throw was completely off.

Despite that small complaint, having to physically look down and around the suit in order to get more of what you need during testing of each gadget, tool or weapon, then finally needing to consciously put it where it needs to be placed on the Batsuit was a new experience I wholeheartedly welcomed and frankly loved. However, no combat or practical use of core game mechanics against enemies or for navigation were included.

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The demo abruptly ends after you descend into a chair in front of a big complicated control console.

All in all, Batman: Arkham VR looks promising, with many of the features I highly enjoy and value in other VR games. We should, however, stay away from setting our expectations too high, since we haven’t really gotten any real taste of what combat and navigation could look like, and since the core game mechanics shown in the demo and past previews haven’t really been seen in full action with live enemies.

What do you guys think of Batman: Arkham VR? Let us know in the comments below!

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