Let me take you back 16 months to E3 2015 — we’ve just introduced Battlezone for PlayStation VR, and we’re calling it the return of “the father of VR gaming.” Was that a little bombastic? …Maybe.
Now let’s go back 36 years to a classic arcade. Sticky carpets, cigarette burns on the cabinets, and a medley of beeps and bloops. My brother and I are there and we’re playing the original Battlezone. I’m putting my face right up against the cabinet’s periscope display, and for the life of me it feels like I’m there in the game’s green vector tank, shooting down the enemy.
The 1980 Battlezone was really trying to put you in the game, so much so that it arguably became the first ever first-person shooter. Before Battlezone came along, games didn’t really do first-person perspectives and reticules. So maybe we weren’t being bombastic enough?
Fourteen years later my brother Chris and I released our breakthrough game, Alien vs. Predator for the Atari Jaguar — a first-person shooter that maybe wouldn’t have existed without Battlezone. It’s hard to truly overstate its influence on modern gaming, let alone VR gaming.
If I could show my 1980 self the Battlezone we’ve created, I don’t think he’d believe me. But I’d tell him it was his admiration of the original Battlezone that’s made our vision a reality.
It was because of him I found myself on the top floor of a very tall New York building in 2013, where we bid for and acquired the Battlezone IP. In many ways it was a perfect storm; we had this license that had inspired us as game makers, meanwhile the next-gen of VR was starting to become a reality. It made sense to us. Here was this game that wanted to put you in its world, and now we really could.
And now, Battlezone and PlayStation VR are nearly here. It’s incredibly exciting for all of us here at Rebellion. But on a personal level, it’s genuinely momentous to bring Battlezone to life like this.
I imagine for some of you, this blog post is your introduction to Battlezone. We’ll be talking about the game here in much more detail throughout the week — what it’s like to play mission-to-mission, the depth of the campaign, and things we’ve not yet announced! So please do stay tuned — there is plenty, plenty more to come, and if you’re not yet convinced, we want to show you why we believe Battlezone is going to be a Day 1 must-buy when PlayStation VR launches on October 13.
But since I’ve talked today about what inspired us to bring our game to life, I’d like to touch on the look of Battlezone. If you’re one of those seeing the game for the first time, I imagine you might be thinking of the movie Tron — we’ve heard that comparison a lot before! But did you know Tron was actually influenced by the original Battlezone — yes, Battlezone came first!
With Battlezone we wanted to create something that felt like its own reality, something that feels virtual, even digital. I think our art team’s done an amazing job — we’ve got so many gorgeous stills of the game that don’t even do it justice of what it’s like to be inside our tank and feel the sense of scale and wonder of our retro-futuristic world.
To us, we think of the game’s world as a digital unreality. Rather than trying to recreate real life, we are transporting you to another world, something that feels virtual, game-like, and atmospheric in its own right — like the original did. When you try Battlezone on PlayStation VR for the first time, I hope you’ll feel that same all-encompassing feeling I felt 36 years ago — like you were actually inside the galaxy’s most powerful tank.
Thank you for reading and we can’t wait to unveil more this week.