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Ten Moments that Mattered: Batman Expands into Virtual Reality

Ten Moments that Mattered: Batman Expands into Virtual...

By Tim Beedle Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

To make your mark on the future, it helps to take stock of where you’ve been. 2017 promises to be an exciting year for DC and its fans, but before we celebrate the new year, we thought we’d look back on 2016 and consider some of the places we’ve been. DC made some bold choices in the worlds of comics, film and TV, and many of them set our course for the months and years ahead. The past year was full of memorable moments, but some of these moments held real significance. Some of them really mattered. So as we do every year at this time, we thought we’d discuss a few of them. These are DCComics.com’s “Ten Moments that Mattered” for 2016.
 

When Batman: Arkham Knight was announced in 2014, it came packaged with a memorable tagline: “Be the Batman.” However, it wasn’t until 2016 that gamers really got the chance to do that.

Fittingly, it came courtesy of Arkham developers Rocksteady. Batman: Arkham VR , which was both announced and released this year, is DC’s first venture into virtual reality gaming and it does a spectacular job of showing the potential this new medium has for the world of super heroes.

There’s always been an element of wish fulfillment in entertainment. We cheer on our heroes for doing the things that we wished we could do, and it the world of DC, no one seems to embody this better than Batman. It’s the super powers thing. He doesn’t have them, which has always suggested that with the same level of resources Bruce Wayne has at his disposal, any one of us could potentially become Batman. Well, now thanks to Batman: Arkham VR, ALL of us can.

The experience starts innocuously enough, with you talking to Alfred in Wayne Manor. But even this rather straightforward moment seems unreal for a reason that takes a moment to become clear—Alfred’s looking at and speaking directly to you. For most of us, this has never happened. Even in the Arkham games, characters talk to Batman on screen, not us. We may be in control of Batman, but we aren’t standing in his place. That changes with Batman: Arkham VR, and it only gets more surreal—and awesome—as it goes on. After playing a few keys on Bruce’s piano, you find yourself descending into the Batcave, which completely surrounds you. Soon enough, you’re suiting up and throwing batarangs, and in a standout moment in the game, are confronted by a mirror’s reflection of you in the cape and cowl. You may be looking at Batman from the Arkham games, but he moves as you move. The illusion is remarkable and the suspension of  disbelief is complete in all by the biggest skeptics—you are Batman.

Admittedly, Batman: Arkham VR is a pretty short experience. As a game, it can be completed in a matter of hours. Also, the current limitations of VR technology mean that the immersive nature of the experience only goes so far. The game itself is a mystery that focuses on Batman’s skills as a detective, tasking you to solve the murder of a beloved member of the bat-family and eventually bringing you face to face with several of Batman’s classic villains. However, if you’re looking to try your skill at some of Batman’s signature martial arts moves…well, that’s going to be pretty hard unless you happen to hold a black belt in jiujitsu or taekwondo in real life. (And if you do, we’d suggest taking off the VR goggles before busting out the kung fu—you might accidentally knock out a nearby friend or family member.)

But Batman: Arkham VR matters because of what it represents—a bold, exciting first step in a new medium. More than any game before it, it allows you to become a super hero. It places you in Gotham City, asks you to see that justice is done and gives you the tools to do it. It forces you to do more than just play the role of a hero. It insists that you step into the shoes of one and stare down the challenges they face directly. It makes good on the possibility that with the right skills and tools, anyone could become Batman. But whether you’re as effective as the Dark Knight—well, that’s up to you.
 

Be sure to check DCComics.com again tomorrow for another moment that mattered in 2016.

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