Ubisoft is betting big on virtual reality. The publisher announced two VR titles in early June, Star Trek: Bridge Crew and Trackmania Turbo VR, and debuted Eagle Flight, a stylistic virtual reality title that has players take flight as birds in search of prey over a labyrinthine city, at its E3 press conference Monday.
Here is the basic premise: You’re a hungry eagle who must swiftly dive, duck, and twist around obstacles to nab agile prey (rabbits, in this case). Eagle Flight is a multiplayer experience, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey explained on the Ubisoft stage, and features a capture-the-flag mode that has you maneuver between the steeples, clock towers, and thatched roofs of a Paris city overgrown with wildlife. It’s much like a classic dogfight: you catch prey by swooping quickly downward, and win the match by bringing as many rabbits back to base — or nest, if you will — as possible within the allotted time.
Traversal, judging by the look of it, is a challenge. You’re often flying in close quarters, with mere seconds to determine your next turn’s direction, and constantly vulnerable to attack — players can inflict turbulence by blasting wind in your direction. Despite the chaotic motion, though, the experience seems to be a visually smooth one, a crucial method of mitigating the motion sickness virtual reality can induce.
Eagle Flight is set for release “this fall,” Ubisoft said. And although it was demoed on the Oculus Rift on stage at E3, the publisher said it’ll debut on all major VR platforms.
It’s not difficult to see why Ubisoft is eager to jump on the burgeoning VR market; it’s expected to reach a collective $30 billion by 2020, according to some estimates. And Ubisoft’s not the only one — Bethesda announced that a virtual reality edition of its post-apocalyptic Fallout 4 role-playing game would hit retail in 2017.