Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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In October, you too can be the Batman (for the cost of VR)

In October, you too can be the Batman (for the cost of VR)

A prominent part of the ongoing Batman mythos is that the Bat has access to cool tech. That’s mostly because Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, is filthy rich. And rich dudes with a vigilante itch can afford weird badass tech. Beyond comics and the first terrific animated series, Batman’s ultra high-tech tendencies—the ones of the more cyberpunk-ish holographic, beyond our actual current-day-tech variety—have only recently been realized in the breadth of film (like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy) and videogames (Rocksteady’s own Arkham series). It’s only natural for Bat-tech to make the next logical leap into the actual world of our own: through VR.

Using fancy tech to solve crimes

Batman: Arkham VR was announced during this past E3 in June by Rocksteady, to a resounding “I thought y’all said you were done with Batman but alright, I guess I’m down.” (Or maybe that was just me.) The clip first shown during the conference showed nothing at all, really, though press in attendance had the opportunity to try a demo of the project. According to various press outlets, the demo displayed a reimagined version of the quieter bits of the Arkham games: being The World’s Greatest Detective and using fancy tech to solve crimes (similar to “The Perfect Crime” string of side missions in last year’s Arkham Knight). “It’s not surprising [that] VR lends a sense of brutality that’s borderline disturbing,” wrote Kotaku in a write-up of the demo. “The things I love about the series aren’t there,” wrote The Verge in theirs. Crimes are grotesque IRL, and there appears to be no fist-flinging action. Sounds alright to me.

Recently, at Comic Con International, fans in attendance got the chance to try the demo for themselves. Their reactions, in addition to our first real peek at new footage of the game, became the content for a new official trailer for the game. The trailer’s about 70 percent fan reactions, 30 percent footage of the Batcave (with a brief Nightwing cameo). It features Bruce throwin’ on that mask, picking up batarangs, and whatever else that crazy bat does when suiting up. It’s still a mystery regarding if you can pull up holographic Skype-like calls on your arm (as with the other Arkham games), or even pay a visit to Oracle’s tech-addled communications tower. Who knows? Anything’s possible in VR when you literally become the Batman.

I hope there's no remote-controlled batarang action in this game!
I hope there’s no remote-controlled batarang action in this game! Those are the worst.

My admiration for the Arkham series, and Batman as a whole, is mostly positive. Arkham Asylum (2009) is great, and genuinely one of my favorite games of the PlayStation 3 generation. Arkham City (2011), not-so-much (a controversial opinion, so I’ve learned). I didn’t bother with Arkham Origins (2013), a prequel game still within the “Arkham” canon, though not developed by Rocksteady.

But I did enjoy my time with last year’s Arkham Knight quite a bit. I found its side missions fulfilling and its open world to be much more engaging than City’s. Unfortunately, with a rocky PC-launch and shoehorned tank battles, it wasn’t received as positively as my personal experience with it was. A shame, really. Those Batmobile bits weren’t that bad. But here’s to hoping Batman: Arkham VR lets me don that cowl to the fullest and push some buttons on my suit to make cool things happen.

Wear the cowl when Batman: Arkham VR is released for $19.99 in October for PlayStation VR exclusively. View the new trailer for the one hour long experience here.

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