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Play Life, Live Games column: Star Wars Day brings surprise gaming announcements

Dusty Ricketts
dricketts@thedestinlog.com
The Destin Log

I wasn’t expecting to write about Star Wars gaming two weeks in a row, but Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) ended up being a lot more exciting than I expected.

While the biggest Star Wars news stories of the day had to do with film and television announcements (“Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi will direct and co-write an upcoming Star Wars film and “Russian Doll” creator Leslye Headland is developing a new Star Wars series for the Disney+ streaming service), several big gaming announcements also took place.

The biggest one for me, and the most surprising, is that “Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series” is coming to Sony’s PSVR headset later this summer.

“Vader Immortal” is a three-part episodic game that was released last year for the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. The game was developed by Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB and Oculus Studios, which makes games exclusively for the Oculus headsets.

As much as I wanted this game on PSVR, I never expected it to come. The PSVR port of the game will include all three chapters, with each one taking about an hour to complete, along with the lightsaber dojo for some additional challenges.

The game’s story is set between the events of the prequel and original trilogies and is set mostly in and around Darth Vader’s castle on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. The game’s story actually explains how Mustafar became the volcanic hellscape seen in “Revenge of the Sith” and “Rogue One” and why it looks different, less volcanic at the beginning of “The Rise of Skywalker.”

“There are so many parts that grab you in the experience, but my favorite is still early in the first episode. The moment when Darth Vader first approaches you is something that can’t really be explained (but I’ll try),” said Mark. S. Miller, executive creative producer at ILMxLAB, in a post on the PlayStation Blog. “It’s intense when his gaze follows you and he speaks directly to you. I’ve seen some people stand up taller and get in his face, and some shrink a bit or even step back, but his presence is intimidating, and unforgettable.”

The most powerful experience I’ve had in the PSVR headset so far has been seeing an AT-AT walk across the screen at the beginning of “Star Wars: Battlefront” VR mission. I cannot wait to come face to face with Darth Vader in “Vader Immortal.”

But that wasn’t the only big gaming news we got on Star Wars Day.

“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” received a surprise update on May 4, bringing with it a lot of new features gamers have been requesting since the game launched in November of last year. The update added two new combat challenge modes to the game that lets you fight waves of enemies, including going back to the game’s excellent boss fights. It also added a new game+ mode, where you can replay the game’s story while keeping some of your past progress from previous playthroughs.

I’ve been wanting to get back into the “Jedi: Fallen Order,” and it sounds like now’s the time.

Finally, we received some updates on the upcoming “LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga,” which is coming out later this year and will adapt all nine of the Skywalker Saga films into one game. Among the new details released this week is the fact that the game will feature nearly 500 characters, with many of them playable. While no released date has been announced, they share the game’s cover artwork and it’s adorable, pulling scenes and characters from all three of the different trilogies.

So even though new content on “Star Wars Battlefront 2” has ended as I wrote about last week, there’s still a lot to look forward to in the coming months when it comes to Star Wars gaming.

Dusty Ricketts is the editor of The Destin Log and The Walton Sun newspapers and can be reached at dricketts@thedestinlog.com.