SDCC 2017: Piloting A Spinner In Blade Runner 2049’s Replicant Pursuit

by Ian Hamilton • July 20th, 2017

Gear VR owners only have to wait until tomorrow (July 21) to try the Replicant Pursuit tie in for the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 film, but we got an early sneak peak at Comic-Con in San Diego enhanced with D-BOX motion chairs.

It begins inside Gear VR in the cockpit of a spinner, also known as one of the flying cars from Blade Runner’s near future. You’re tasked with tracking down a replicant who is also in a spinner. The creators used the D-BOX chairs perfectly to enhance immersion and give the impression the vehicle was actually making its way around the city.

Movie tie-in projects for major films are sometimes flawed, with creators occasionally rushed to produce something that might ultimately release too close to the actual movie to have any effect on ticket sales. This project doesn’t suffer from those issues, with the film’s release coming in October there’s plenty of time for Replicant Pursuit to build some buzz for the movie.

“It was important to create something that wasn’t just an advertisement for the movie,” said Head of Experiences at Oculus, Colum Slevin. “We wanted to make something that could stand on its own narratively.”

I’m a big fan of the original Blade Runner film and right from the start I was taken by the use of sound to draw me into the world I’ve known from the original. The music sounded like a combination of old and new, with Vangelis’ original themes seemingly inspiring what I heard and causing a smile to grow on my face.

The pervasive holograms seen in the trailers for the film have a strong presence in the virtual world and left me with some lasting memories. You know that scene in Back To The Future 2 when Marty encounters the holographic Jaws? I don’t want to spoil it, but those kinds of invasive advertisements are pervasive through the world of Blade Runner 2049 and one particularly memorable section of Replicant Pursuit plays with this well.

The software includes light interactivity — encouraging the visitor to target other vehicles with your gaze and scan them for replicants, but they’ll also seem to auto-target if you don’t look at them. It isn’t much but it is enough to keep a visitor immersed in the virtual world through to its conclusion.

As soon as the headset comes off visitors were greeted by the actual spinner used in the film. A wall had lifted in the room where the D-BOX chairs and VR headsets were installed to reveal the vehicle on a street and bar populated by a collection of peacekeepers and “the ordinary masses who didn’t make it off world,” as a photo at the entrance to the overall experience suggested.

The virtual world was put together through a collaboration between the production company behind the movie (Alcon) as well as Facebook’s Oculus and developer Turtle Rock Studios. Replicant Pursuit is the first of three experiences promoting the film from different developers, with the last two debuting closer to October.

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