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May the Fourth (and the Metaverse) be with you

Here at The Metabite we couldn’t let the 4th of May pass without celebrating George Lucas’ epic space-opera. Star Wars’ Metaverse presence is currently dominated by a handful of high-budget, AAA virtual reality (VR) games by Lucasfilm’s entertainment studio ILMxLAB. These are available across several VR headsets (Oculus Quest, SteamVR, and PlayStation VR) and include: Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge; Vader Immortal: Episode’s I, II and III; and Star Wars Pinball VR.

Back in March, we reported on Disney’s decision to appoint Mike White, Senior Vice President for Consumer Experiences & Platforms, to lead its Metaverse strategy. More recently, Mike has been developing Disney’s Metaverse strategy with other Disney leaders including Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution Chair Kareem Daniel, and Parks, Experiences and Products Chair Josh D’Amaro, as well as creative executives from parks and Imagineering, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. Disney’s huge back catalogue of globally recognized intellectual property, in the form of brands, movies, characters and stories, provide a fantastic Metaverse opportunity.

To celebrate the 4th of May, we have re-visited Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge, which landed on the Oculus Quest 2 headset on the 19th of November 2020. Meta are currently offering a 50% discount on the Star Wars Tales + DLC bundle currently, which includes Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge and the Last Call add-on, but this deal ends tomorrow! This goes for the excellent Vader Immortal pack, a steal at 54% off. For those who haven’t played the game before please be aware of potential SPOILERS below.

In Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge you are a droid repair technician. What starts off as what is supposedly a normal day on a droid part freighter soon takes a turn for the worse, as you are attacked by space pirates or, to be more precise, a Guavian Death Gang led by the Cthulhu-esque Tara Rashin. After blasting your way through the invading pirates, you end up on an escape pod bound for the remote frontier planet of Batuu. And this is where things get really meta, in the truest meaning of the word.

On arriving on Batuu, your first port of call in Seezelslak’s cantina, the in-game hub located near a spaceport in Black Spire Outpost. Now, if you’ve visited Disneyland Park in California since May 2019, or Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida since August 2019, then you’ll be familiar with this particular locale. This is because the Black Spire Outpost is also the setting of the real-life Galaxy's Edge themed areas – the vista that greets you on looking out of Seezelslak’s in-game cantina is pretty much identical to the theme park version, Millenium Falcon included. Mike White might want to capitalize on these existing assets and connect virtual and physical worlds through future downloadable content that allows players to engage in theme-park activities, such as building your own lightsabre in a virtual Savi's Workshop or a custom astromech droid at the Droid Depot.

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge is a first-person shooter at heart, with missions spent dispatching members of the Guavian Death Gang, utilizing the game’s environment to avoid getting shot in return. The near-open world design (you’re only really restrained by the layout of the levels) enhances the tension and delivers a solidly immersive experience. Alongside an assortment of blasters, you also have access to a variety of weapons and technology including: a combination torque wrench, arc probe, and fusioncutter tool, used to help solve various in-game puzzles; a hoverpack that allows you to reach higher areas; and a variety of spherical training remotes – the ones made famous in the Star Wars films as Luke Skywalker’s lightsabre training opponents.

With the Last Call add-on, players can continue their VR adventures in the Outer Rim. But what comes next? With a suite of existing physical and digital assets Disney are well positioned to benefit from the Metaverse. They could choose to enhance visits to theme parks through augmented experiences such as the addition of alien creatures and spaceships continually landing and taking off. Or perhaps by offering visitors the chance to gain unique digital assets, that can only be acquired by completing tasks in the physical world. One thing’s for sure, the at The Metabite we can’t wait to see Mike White’s Metaverse roadmap.

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Brian McGowan/Unsplash

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