You might remember a couple of years ago when Ubisoft partnered with Fox to release a feature film based on the Assassin’s Creed game franchise. You might also remember there was a VR experience created alongside the movie that released to tepid reactions from most people. We are probably still a long way off from any official VR integration on the part of Ubisoft for its biggest property, but what we saw at E3 could at least be a step in the right direction.
On Monday night we attended a private Ubisoft preview event that had demos of all of their upcoming non-VR games such as The Division 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and several others. Space Junkies and Transference were nowhere to be found unfortunately (although we got time with Transference elsewhere on Tuesday) but that doesn’t mean there was no VR at all at the event.
Tucked away back in a tiny corner, away from all of the other demos, was a small cube-like structure with a few walls and panels inside that looked like a very tiny maze. As it turns out, the box was called the VRMaze and it was put there by a company called Triotech.
To be perfectly clear, this was a very obscure partnership between Triotech and Ubisoft. So obscure, in fact, that all of the full-time Ubisoft PR and marketing employees that were stationed at this prevent event had no idea that this cube existed nor that it was setup in the corner of one room. So yeah, it’s that kind of obscure.
The VRMaze uses an HTC Vive (in this case a Vive Pro) along with two base stations, two Vive wand controllers, and a wireless backpack PC in order to provide an extremely immersive VR experience. It’s only being developed as a location-based experience (LBE) but the quality alone elevates it above a lot of other LBE games I’ve tried.
Here’s what the little mini maze looks like:
See how the boxed area in the middle has red-tinted see-through glass barriers instead of solid walls? That’s so that the Vive base stations can still track your controllers and headset as you move around. Surprisingly, it actually worked. I noticed tracking would get lost every now and then if I was in a corner, looking down, or otherwise occluding view, but that could easily be solved by using multiple 2.0 base stations in the future I’d assume.
The experience itself wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was at least fun and immersive. I was playing as one of the franchise’s titular assassins as I creeped around inside of an ancient Ehyptian tomb. The setting appears to be along the lines of Ubisoft’s previous game, Origins, instead of the upcoming Greek-themed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
In total it only lasted about 10 minutes. I shot a few enemies in the distance, dodged arrows they shot back, and peaked around corners to take out unsuspecting enemies along the way. Combat never got much more advanced than that, but I did get to fight a giant mythical snake at the end, which was pretty neat.
At the very end I walked off the ledge of a scaffolding and was sent rocketing towards a hay pile in a classic maneuver that’s been a staple of the franchise ever since the very first game. The other most memorable moment involved a rickety walkway across a splintering wooden plank. Obviously I knew that I was not at risk of falling, but the immersion of the environment, with walls in the real world mapped to the digital world, was enough to really sell the illusion for me.
Triotech doesn’t currently offer the Assassin’s Creed VR experience at any of its locations, but it’s coming soon. There’s a Minotaur Maze and a Virtual Rabbids experience already out in the wild, though. There are over 300 locations around the world and you can see an interactive map of each right here.
Would you play a brief Assassin’s Creed VR experience like this? Let us know down in the comments below!