It’s time to jump back into a galaxy far, far away once again with the latest Star Wars VR experience, released just in the nick of time to promote next week’s release of The Last Jedi. Whereas we’ve previously wielded lightsabers on Tatooine and piloted X-Wings, Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay embraces the lighthearted side of this beloved universe, and it’s all the better for it.
Droid Repair Bay is another 10 minute VR experience that’s available for free on Steam with native HTC Vive support (though I ran it in Rift without a hitch). In it, you play as a droid onboard a resistance ship that, yes, repairs other droids. The adorable soccer ball robots from the new trilogy — including everyone’s favorite new addition, BB-8 — arrive one at a time in the bay and you have to pick them up with a crane, bring them over to your station and then replace their broken parts before taking them on a little test run.
Though it might sound simple, I found Droid Repair Bay to be a much more memorable Star Wars VR experience than what’s come before despite the lack of laser blasts and force powers. It packs one of the liveliest, most endearing worlds I’ve yet explored in VR; miniature robots busily scurry around your feet as you work while an assistant droid approvingly beeps and whirrs as he oversees your operations. Once you’ve fix a droid — which resembles looking at P-Body’s insides in Valve’s Portal VR experience from The Lab — you can use a laser pointer that they’ll chase around the room like a cat.
There’s nothing quite so charming in all of VR as to lean down next to a fully repaired BB-8 and give him a knowing pat on the back (if he technically has a back), and there’s playful fun to be had in getting him to chase the laser. I can imagine kids had endless fun with this.
Brilliantly, the end of the piece capitalizes on the connections you’ve grown with your robotic buddies in such a short amount of time, with a clumsy mishap worthy of R2-D2 and C3-PO. It brings the surprisingly busy cast of the piece together and ends on one of those amazing VR moments in which, just for a second, you feel like a real being is actually interacting with you, and then fades before the illusion can be broken.
Short as it may be, Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay kept a huge smile on my face the entire time I was playing it. It’s a great exercise in VR scene-building, conjuring up a believably bustling environment that could have been taken straight out of the set of any of the movies. As a free experience, you shouldn’t miss this.