e3 2015

Starbreeze Unveils Project StarVR With The Walking Dead Demo

by Mike Futter on Jun 13, 2015 at 06:35 PM

Starbreeze and 505 Games are getting the jump on E3 with an unexpected hardware announcement. We've known since Gamescom that the developer has been working on a cooperative shooter set in The Walking Dead universe. Today we had a chance to see a parallel virtual reality project.

Project StarVR is Starbreeze's own headset with the help of InfinitEye. The difference here is that Project StarVR features a 210-degree field of view and 5K display. The effect is enhanced peripheral vision.

We were given a ten-minute a vertical slice demo that worked like a rail shooter, with the character in a wheelchair. Partway through, I was handed a pump-action shotgun (both in the game and physically). A camera tracked the headset and the markers on the gun, made by Trinity VR. That company repositioned itself in the burgeoning market after its unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign.

Tracking was quite good, with hand movement in-game interpretted by the position of the gun. Aiming worked well, and I was able to use the shotgun to remove the heads of oncoming walkers.

While the end of the demo, which featured a zombie crawling up my leg while another had lunch on my neck, was potent, the hardware has some room to grow. There was some pixelation and screendoor effect. This is a problem that Oculus solved with the Crescent Bay demo at Oculus Connect in September. With more time (Starbreeze and InfinitEye have been working on the project for just a year), these problems can be solved.

Likewise, the weight needs to be improved. The StarVR headset is currently too heavy for long-term comfort.

There's no timeframe for release at this point and, of course, no pricing. What we do know is that this won't hold up Overkill's The Walking Dead. The vertical slice we saw was made for the announcement, and may evolve into its own project.

Starbreeze is off to a good start, with a focus on improving field of view in the exploding VR arena. With a while before release, the company will need to keep an eye on competition in order to retain its uniqueness.