PAX East 2018 – Defector is the James Bond VR Game You’ve Been Waiting For


VR is in a tough spot. It’s extremely expensive to invest in, it’s not something that’s easy to set up for most users, and there haven’t been many great games released on Vive, Oculus, or even PSVR. Enter Defector, a brand new spy fantasy game from the developers at Twisted Pixel. It may be the first VR game I can see myself going out of my way to play, and that’s a big first step for the industry.

I played Defector at Oculus’ Game Days event at PAX East, amid a gaggle of my fellow journalists and Oculus staff, and Twisted Pixel – the makers of Wilson’s Heart, 2016’s best in show VR game at Gamescom. The premise is simple: you’re a spy, and you’re doing spy stuff. There will be a larger branching narrative in the final version, but for this demo, we started right off the bat in front of a mirror – placing an augmented reality contact lens on my eye, and a comms earpiece in my ear using the Rift Touch controllers. One of the best things about VR is how it allows you to really do these things. It’s a gimmick that doesn’t get old.

Next, my coworker and wingman in my earpiece directed me to go meet the mark I’m supposed to orchestrate a deal with – a typically shady high-tech black market dealer. Your eye pieces lets you discern things about people you meet. A sort of digital rap sheet is there off to the right of your vision, letting me know this guy doesn’t like jokes, and he’s not one for beating around the bush. As you talk to him, you select options a la BioWare RPGs, and since you know his personality, you must select the right ones to advance the conversation. If you’re not careful, he’ll catch on to you or get bored of you and kill you off.

Failure doesn’t always mean death though, as I learned that sometimes your choices simply direct you down a different patch to experience different parts of the game. Twisted Pixel expects Defector to be a 8-10 hour long experience when all is said and done, and it’s going to be very replayable at least a few times to see all the branching paths and endings.

In the demo, while the video above shows you putting the jumpsuit on the knocked out bad guy, you can also choose to put it on yourself, and jump out of the plane, dodging debris, and latching onto the plane in mid-air. You then physically have to climb, hand over hand, stretching as you go climbing the plane’s falling wreckage and make it to the goods you were supposed to buy off the bad guy.  It was a genuinely thrilling experience, the sound of the wind rushing in your ears, sparks, flames, and debris in your face… if someone turned a fan on my face, I’d have thought it was real.

The best part of the demo? Free movement – unlike a lot of first-person VR games, you’re not stuck to the ground. You can just use the joysticks on the touch controls to move as you would in any first-person game. Your head can do the looking, but your right-hand does the aiming with your weapon, and the left does the walking. It worked REALLY well…even when I kept dropping my gun during training.

Defector is due out later this year, and may be the first game I’m glad I have a Rift to play.

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