‘Echelon’ AR Board Game is Like Star Wars ‘HoloChess’ for HoloLens


Created by Helios Interactive, Echelon is a multiplayer board game played on Microsoft’s HoloLens that, as an proof of concept, gives us a look into what sort of games we might be playing in the future when we’re not engaged in the many augmented reality productivity-based activities like navigating with turn-by-turn directions or skyping with a work colleague.

Using cards to spawn creatures, the game’s developers say Echelon builds on gameplay mechanics as seen in many traditional physical board games but ‘augments’ them with creatures and game pieces, enabling the players to experience an immersive augmented reality gaming experience.

Helios Interactive Producer Devin Fuller Knight says the project highlights “the fact that you can actually interact with another player in a HoloLens and [while] being in a HoloLens is really fun, it’s such a solo experience. The idea of actually being able to interact with another player and both being able to see the same world exist in the same [space] is really fun.”

Video Gives Us a Peek Into the Future of How AR and VR Will Work Together

“When I saw the HoloChess game in Star Wars,” says Helios developer Kristafer Vale, “I immediately wanted to play that game, and I had to wait until now for us to have the technology like Unity and HoloLens to be able to realize that dream.”

There’s no word on when the game will be available on Window’s Holographic Store.

image courtesy Microsoft

While HoloLens presents the user with a fairly limited field of view (as seen above), a near-field object like a game board plays to the headset’s strengths. Still costing $3000 however is a big barrier of entry for prospective AR developers, which is precisely why so many people are experimenting with Apple’s ARKit.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    AR is the road to nowhere.

    • Ian Shook

      I think you’re pretty wrong about that. The Hololens does sort of suck – at least from a comfort and usability standpoint, but the concept of AR and its potential is really great. The devices will get smaller – lighter, easier to use and better UI will come out eventually.

    • Lucas Rizzotto

      Let’s see if you’ll be saying that in 5 years ( :

      • sumdumgoi ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵖʳᵉᵐᶦᵘᵐ

        Lucas, since you’re about 12 years old, I understand that you haven’t seen VR and AR come and go over the past two decades.

        • sumdumgoi ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵖʳᵉᵐᶦᵘᵐ

          Its always a road to nowhere.

          • lovethetech

            The cars are driving themselves today. Please join the “today!”. AR is already here. In a few years, it will be there for every one. You should try it if not yet.

          • Treblig3

            VR is not the same as AR, AR is the future. One day it will be cheaper to get an AR device than get a video monitor

        • Audel Kabristante

          i agree with your experience but the AR before sucks. just search hololens in youtube and you will get an idea why the future is today

        • Revolutionary

          Well, I’m not 12 and I disagree with you as someone who has 40 years experience with tech including 1980’s version of VR (oh god the memories!)

          There is two things that is holding back massive scale adoption of both AR and VR right now.

          1. (my pet peeve) – The resolution and cartoon nonsense SUCKS. Photo-realism will bring the masses to the YARD! If I want cute little cartoon characters I can get craptons of those on my phone. Not what I am looking for in VR or AR….think Startrek Holodeck here to see where I am going with this…..and this is what gen 1 should have started out with, not some generation 5-10 years from now after they have convinced the masses to pay for their research and profit them for a decade…

          2. Consistent, constant, reliable high speed internet. And I sure as hell am not talking about that IDIOT who is dismantling net neutrality as we speak idea of high speed internet either. We will need gigabit connections for photorealistic environments that hundreds of people can use like a Facebook or a World of Warcraft. Those are the apps that are going to bring all the boys….and girls to the yard.

          You may be right though. If you are, it will be because of corporate greed and not a lack of technological knowhow because that is here already.

          The oyster’s pearl is sitting there waiting for us to grab it but right now there is a shitton of greed between us and it……

          Reach out and tell those who are a part of this that you are absolutely DISGUSTED with their progress as its being offered today.

        • Lucas Rizzotto

          Solid ageism argument. I’m a content creator and technologist working actively in this space day and night. I’m quite acquainted with the history of both and AR and VR and it’s clear that this time it’s completely different.

          If not 3D, where do you think computing is going instead?

  • Joe Black

    Good old D&D would probably be epic with HoloLens.

  • Michael Gardner

    Someone needs to turn the opening credits sequence from Game of Thrones into a VR/AR boardgame.

  • evil_santa

    Why there was not a single scene of people moving the pieces when using Hololens? This all looks great but how do you move your pieces (characters)?