Last weekend, Disney announced "Marvel Powers United VR," a new virtual reality game designed in conjunction with Facebook's Oculus VR subsidiary, which will launch exclusively for the Oculus Rift headset in 2018.
At the time, Disney confirmed three playable superheroes: Hulk, Rocket Raccoon, and Captain Marvel, with a promised roster of 12 to be revealed in the fullness of time. On Wednesday, a new character was announced: Deadpool, the foul-mouthed mercenary at the center of the 2016 smash-hit movie.
I had the chance to get some time with "Powers United" at an event earlier this week — including a stint as Deadpool himself. And maybe I'm biased because I'm a full-fledged, front-faced, true-believin' Marvel fan, but man, this game has a lot of potential to be a big selling point for the Oculus Rift.
The basic setup here is simple. Every level, an artificial intelligence named Friday gives you and up to three other players a mission. Then it's up to your team to punch, zap, and slash your way through each level and fight the boss at the end. In the demo level, the Inhumans' Lockjaw teleports you to Knowhere to fight some Kree, which is a totally sensible sentence if you're big into the Marvel universe.
It's pretty basic, but it's a lot of fun, with each hero's unique abilities providing you with lots of different opportunities to smash, bash, and crush your enemies.
Hulk is a bruiser, Captain Marvel shoots energy blasts from ground and sky, and Rocket Raccoon lugs heavy artillery around via his jetpack. You can combine your powers, too, like using Hulk's strength to pitch a bad guy into the air for Rocket to shoot down. The multiplayer aspect is a huge plus, making you really feel like part of a team.
There's definitely a risk of the game being a little repetitive, based on what I played. Still, the chance to literally inhabit the body of a superhero — if you look down at yourself, you'll see your own costume, lovingly rendered in gorgeous 3D — is too good to pass up.
And then there's Deadpool.
Merc with a mouth
Deadpool's primary asset is the variety of firepower he brings to bear. By using the Oculus Touch controllers, you can literally grab submachine guns off your waist, or swords from your shoulder, throwing stars from a wrist holster, or pistols from your lower back.
Just reach your real-life hands down to your waist and push the button, and you'll be armed and dangerous. Each hand can hold a different weapon, too, meaning you can multitask with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. Plus, Deadpool can teleport in front of or behind enemies, making him a highly mobile killing machine.
And yes, there are quips. Endless quips, as you shoot at bad guys or get shot back. At one point, Deadpool asks bad guys out for tacos.
It's actually very impressive that Deadpool's gameplay feels so distinct from Rocket Raccoon, who also shoots guns, and Captain Marvel, who blasts at bad guys with energy beams.
There's a long way to go between now and 2018, when the game is released. Hopefully, the game has more cards up its sleeve with regards to deepening the game and increasing its longevity. In the meanwhile, "Marvel Powers United VR" has the makings of something that's going to be a lot of fun, particularly with friends.