John Wick: Chapter 2 releases in theaters around the world starting today. The reviews are in and it looks like a certifiably fantastic follow-up to the engrossing original action film. There aren’t many traditional, straight-laced, and pure action franchises these days, but John Wick sits near the top of the pile in regards to the best of the best. The first film showed off a unique world of assassins complete with some of the best fight scenes in recent memory. The second films cranks things up a notch to deliver an even more intense, pulse-pounding follow-up, complete with a sprinkling of jokes and dry humor to break up the action.
In the case of John Wick Chronicles, the VR game designed to lead up to coincide with the release of the second film, you take on the role of the titular assassin himself. The game was designed in collaboration between Starbreeze Studios, Grab Games, and Big Red Button. At its core, it may be just another wave shooter with tons of enemies to mow down, but it’s also one of the most frenetic and polished VR experiences to release so far clocking in at approximately 2-3 hours. It’s been shown in activations nad live demonstrations for months with an abbreviated demo, but is now finally releasing on Steam for home audiences to indulge in.
In preparation for the launch of John Wick Chronicles today, we spoke with Peter Levin, President of Lionsgate Interactive, about what the game means for the franchise and how they tried to capture the brutality of what it means to be the Keanu Reeves-portrayed iconic killer.
UploadVR: John Wick is highly regarded as one of the best pure action movies in recent years. How does the game capture that same sense of adrenaline?
Peter Levin: The John Wick films are all about relentless action, and that is exactly what John Wick Chronicles focuses on. We designed this to be an arcade style shooter, except in VR you get to move around, and in our game, you do that a lot. The goal for us was to create an experience that captured the physicality and energy of being John Wick. So while you are limited to a room-scale play space, the game design has you ducking and dodging, maybe even diving and rolling on the ground.
Wick is a highly-skilled assassin — something that no one playing the game will be. How difficult was it to make people feel badass and still make it an accessible game experience?
Peter Levin: We focused very heavily on making the input mechanics simple and intuitive. We love that our activations around the world are attracting a wide spectrum of players – gamers, VR enthusiasts and non-gamers who have zero experience with VR. Even newbies, so to speak, are diving in and having a great time, much like you would expect with an arcade game. But of course John Wick is infamous for taking on impossible tasks, so we have included three difficulty levels – Daisy (lovingly named after Wick’s dog), Mr. Wick and Baba Yaga. We also offer players two styles of gunplay. Arcade Mode, which allows for quick reloading by bringing the gun to your waist, and Simulation Mode, which requires players to load and rack the weapon.
How closely connected to the first and second movie is Chronicles?
Peter Levin: Part of the reason we were so excited to make a John Wick game is that the first movie sets up a universe that is begging to be further explored. This game immerses players into that world with a distinct storyline that is not tied to the first or second movie.
Chronicles allows limited roomscale movement, but the game is relatively wave-based with stationary locations and objects to hide behind for cover. Players won’t be able to engage in frantic hand-to-hand combat or freely run and jump around rooms. How did you account for this relative lack of mobility when compared to how fast-paced Wick is in the films?
Peter Levin: The gameplay was built from the ground up to maximize the play space and encourage players to be active within it. At our activations around the world, players are traversing across their space, crouching, sliding along the ground, diving, even rolling to avoid getting shot and to get a better angle on their enemies. It makes for a fast paced (and exhausting!) experience.
Does the game include some of the assassin meta elements from the films? For example, it takes place in the hotel, but do you earn the same currency as they did? Can you spend it on better weapons or on health throughout the game?
Peter Levin: Gold coins are indeed featured in the game and we threw in some other fun Easter eggs.
For more on John Wick Chronicles, read our detailed hands-on preview with the game and stay tuned to UploadVR for a full review in the coming days after we dig into the completed experience. The game is set to release on Steam today with official HTC Vive support at a price point of $19.99.
Are you excited to see John Wick: Chapter 2 in theaters? Will you be playing the game when it releases today? Let us know in the comments below!