Lucasfilm is bringing another tiny piece of the Star Wars universe into virtual reality with the latest experience from its experimental ILMxLab technology group. Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay puts you in the role of a mechanic for the Resistance against the New Order from The Force Awakens. Droid Repair Bay works with HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR, but it is launching first as part of a promotional campaign with car manufacturer Nissan. People who visit certain Nissan dealerships in North America will have a chance to try it out soon, according to Lucasfilm.
In Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay, you work on General Leia’s ship. Using motion controllers, you must find ways to fix up BB-8 and other similar-looking droids. Lucasfilm is promising to introduce new astromechs that have personalities distinct from R2-D2 or BB-8.
This is the second Star Wars VR experience from ILMxLab. Last year, the studio released Star Wars: Trials On Tatooine, which is a 10-minute narrative adventure. As part of that tiny game, players helped Han Solo repair the Millennium Falcon before fighting off a wave of stormtroopers with a lightsaber. Separately, Electronic Arts had developer Criterion Games build a VR X-Wing mission for Star Wars: Battlefront, but that did not involve ILMxLab.
Lucasfilm first revealed Trials on Tatooine at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March 2016. At that time, the company said it was looking into ways to use VR for storytelling. That has now led to Droid Repair Bay, which combines that storytelling with one of the big trends for VR tech: location-based attractions.
Virtual reality has a high-barrier to entry for the typical consumer with expensive headsets running on expensive PCs or consoles. The more affordable alternatives, like mobile VR, are a lot less impressive. This means that a lot of VR developers have turned to business, like Nissan, to fund the creation of location-based experiences that will get people in the door.
I’ve reached out to Lucasfilm to ask if it has plans to eventually release Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay for home use, and I’ll update this story with any response from the production company.