We Lived a Full Marvel Studios What If…? VR Experience

We Lived a Full Marvel Studios What If…? VR Experience

Sure, Thanos eliminated half of all existence, but at least he did it in style. Jetting across the galaxy, collecting priceless gems to put on his blinged-out glove, Thanos may be one of the most evil, murderous villains ever, but he was definitely fun to watch. Now, in a new Marvel Studios release, you not only get to hang out with the Mad Titan, you get to do what he did: collect Infinity Stones and maybe, just maybe, snap with them too.

That’s the central conceit for What If…?: An Immersive Story, a part-VR, part-AR, “mixed reality” experience coming exclusively to Apple Vision Pro on May 30. A collaboration between Marvel Studios and ILM Immersive (formerly known as ILMxLAB), it puts the player into a brand new Marvel What If…? scenario where you are trained in the mystic arts and portal across the multiverse using Infinity Stones to save the world.

From a visual standpoint, What If…?: An Immersive Story feels just like an episode of What If…? the TV show. ILM was able to almost perfectly replicate Marvel Animation’s style for the show so, as you go through the hour-long experience, you feel as if you are standing in an episode. The story also lives up to that standard, blending characters we know, some we don’t, and some we’re seeing in different ways into this epic adventure. Then, in typical Marvel fashion, things really escalate at the end, resulting in multiple endings—each of which is radically different from the other, depending on your choices.

The Watcher shows you your future.

io9 was invited to play What If…? at Apple’s offices in Culver City, CA and can report that it’s a fun, albeit slightly flawed, experience. After a quick tutorial on the Apple Vision Pro (which my Gizmodo colleagues over in tech have had plenty to say about) the gameplay starts with a message from the Watcher before you meet your guide, Sorcerer Supreme Wong. He takes you through how to do things like make shields and use spells. Once that’s over, you find yourself on a multiversal adventure across three primary locations before the big finale.

Each of the scenes has a look and flavor all its own. You’re on Titan in an epic ruin. You’re in Siberia in a secret lab. You’re on Knowhere among the Collector’s collection. Each scene starts with a few minutes of story before the whole world engulfs you and you are part of the action. This, however, was the main issue with the experience. You don’t really… do much. Block a few things here, grab a few things there, shoot a couple guys, it’s not particularly difficult or rewarding. Basically, as I was forced to do stuff, I found myself just hoping to get the actions over with so I could get back to the story.

Later on, those actions become a bit more entertaining when you learn a few new moves, such as the creation of portals. Moving your hand in a circle just like we’ve seen Doctor Strange and Wong do is kind of awesome. You only wish there was more of it.

Making portals with Wong.

But even with that gripe, the game’s story has some excellent twists and turns throughout that give it not just a thematic resonance, but some replayability. (Not much, but some.) After finishing the game, I immediately used the chapter select feature to go back and see how a choice I didn’t make played out, and was rewarded with a completely different set of circumstances.

Would I buy an Apple Vision Pro just to play What If…? No, not at all. If there were like 15 or 20 of them available, though? I might. Because it’s that fun to be inside an episode of the show. However, if you already have Vision Pro, or if a friend has one you can borrow, I would 100% give this your time. It’s quick, fun, easy, and will give you a lot of good laughs along the way. Plus, it may even connect to… nope. Never mind. Don’t even want to spoil anything.

What If…?: An Immersive Story is out May 30 exclusively for Apple Vision Pro. Learn more at Marvel.com/WhatIfImmersive or ILMImmersive.com/WhatIfImmersive.

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