Medal of Honor is getting its overdue resurrection in the form of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond [hands-on preview] later this year exclusively for VR on the Oculus Rift platform from Respawn Entertainment.
The developers behind Titanfall, Apex Legends, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are hard at work on the Medal of Honor revival. It will feature a lengthy single player campaign spanning multiple acts and plenty of multiplayer options, but we don’t know much about those yet.
Speaking in the past, Respawn has mentioned their desire to be “authentic” but “not necessarily” realistic in Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond and that carries through into how they’ve approached gameplay as well. Since VR headsets and software are getting more and more visually impressive with higher fidelity and increased immersion, a historical war game that features thousands of digital soldiers getting shot and dying, the topic of violence is at the forefront for the game industry once again.
“As fidelity gets better and VR gets more immersive, you kind of feel like you’re there. That translates to, ‘Am I harming another more realistic-looking human?’ That’s something we’re going to have to be very wary of,” Respawn CEO Vince Zampella says in an interview with the LA Times. “When you know the setting is life-and-death and it’s a historical thing — while you may be causing harm to virtual humans you’re doing it for the good of other virtual humans — in that simulation it’s something that was valuable to the world.”
In my hands-on preview for Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond I did take note of how the game doesn’t really employ an ultra-realistic art style, but instead feels almost like the original series had its box art come to life. When you’re in the headset it absolutely sells the illusion well, but in flat screenshots it’s hard to appreciate the detail. This is Respawn’s first VR game and they seem to be taking a very considerate approach.
“We just got a rough cut of a guy named Frank who served in the Pacific, and the stories he tells about what he went through in the submarine service are just crazy,” Game Director Peter Hirschmann says. “So again, we try to help it hit home that this really happened. These were 19-year-old kids. And you know, often that’s our target audience. So it’s always good if we can build empathy and ignite people’s imaginations. Then maybe they’ll come away understanding the conflict a little more.”
We still don’t know the release date for Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, but are hoping to learn more soon at PAX East and GDC last this year.