It’s been confirmed that the soon to launch Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission on PlayStation VR is powered by DICE’s coveted Frostbite Engine, a strong hint that more AAA VR development is on the way from the company.

Star Wars Battlefront is easily one of the best looking games ever made. That’s thanks in no small part to the proprietary Frostbite game engine, created originally by Battlefield developer DICE, and eventually sucked up as part of an EA acquisition of the company. Now the game engine powers some of the best looking games of this generation, like Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Battlefield 4, and the aforementioned Star Wars Battlefront.

Speaking of Battlefront, the company is just about to release the PSVR exclusive Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission, giving players the first glimpse of Battlefront’s (and EA’s) take on virtual reality.

star-wars-battlefront-rogue-one-x-wing-vr-missionAnd while the easy path would likely have been to take one of the readily available built-for-VR engines—like Unreal Engine or Unity—to develop a one-off Battlefront VR experience, the developers behind the X-Wing VR Mission have confirmed that it is indeed the Frostbite engine powering the experience. That means two things: 1) it’s likely to look as amazing as Battlefront itself (PSVR limitations withstanding), and 2) EA has adapted the Frostbite engine for virtual reality.

That’s a good indication that more AAA VR content will be coming from EA. Adapting Frostbite for VR rendering lays a foundation to take the countless man hours poured into the engine and huge franchises like Mirror’s Edge and Battlefield, and apply them to VR content. You can imagine that the X-Wing VR Mission will benefit from many of the assets, effects, rendering capabilities, and much more that came from Battlefront’s budget, which likely approached $100 million.

Facebook Founder Says Company Invested $250M in VR Content, Will Invest $250M More

In 2015 (to this very week, in fact) DICE confirmed that it was “building a small and collaborative VR team,” and at the time was seeking four full time senior VR positions, which would become the ‘Frostbite Labs’ team.

In may of this year, Frostbite Labs lead Johan Andersson revealed that he had “[demoed] a few Frostbite VR experiences” to Hideo Kojima, the renowned director of Metal Gear and more. Those unnamed experience were shown in photos running on an Oculus Rift, which suggests that Frostbite’s VR capabilities go beyond just PlayStation VR, and are likely generalized for major headsets including the HTC Vive.

Work done by the Frostbite Labs team is likely to have led toward the engine’s VR capabilities, and may have directly made the X-Wing VR Mission possible, though it would be EA’s Criterion Games team that would lead the development of the experience itself.

Given all of this, including additional hiring at Frostbite Labs and EA for positions pertaining to VR, the X-Wing VR Mission seems more than a simple test of the VR waters for the company.

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  • Me

    Yeah well, hopefully they won’t make them platform specific. I would die to be able to experience “Death Strands” from Kojima in VR on a PC…

    • VRgameDevGirl

      I can’t wait for Battlefield in VR!

      • Raphael

        You will have a long wait. The VR industry is still largely terrified of upsetting the nausea clan who demand all VR games use teleport. it’s great to finally see opposition to teleport emerging in a big way. I’m reading more and more feedback from people who are sick of not being allowed full locomotion. Arizona Sunshine is one example where the game is crippled by teleport and quite a few angry comments from people asking for the option for full locomotion.

        If people continue to petition to be given the choice in VR games then we could one day see a battlefield in VR with no ugly teleport. Onward and upward I say….

        • Psycold

          Yeah I’m not buying Arizona Sunshine until they add trackpad locomotion. I can’t do teleport anymore, it’s just terrible.

          • AndyP

            You should buy it, try the dreadful teleport and get bored of it quickly, then get a Steam (“not fun”) refund and report this to their forum – for maximum impact. As soon as they realize it’s costing them more money to treat us like kids and not give us a free roaming option they will introduce it, or go bankrupt.

          • aphexguy

            Oh man this is one heated debate, but debate is good. Just my 2 cents here, speaking as a VR dev who happens to take locomotion and adoption very seriously:

            The issue that many devs are facing with allowing free “stick” locomotion is the risk of alienating customers due to nausea before VR has even gotten to a comfortable saturation point. It would be a much less risky to give into demands of “put in stick locomotion or us gamers walk” when there are millions of potential customers. Trouble is, we are currently looking at a market in the hundreds of thousands, so for us to be profitable and keep making games we need to garner a majority of the current player base.

            That’s not to say we don’t want to support all the player’s preferred control schemes. We just know that for the majority of people, that kind of motion currently makes most people sick. At this point in the expanding VR industry, we need to make games appealing to most and not deter them from adoption. Hence the “safe” choices of teleporation, or seated games, or other tricks like arm movement.

            Having said this, I have no doubt that as time goes on and more brilliant folks become interested in developing for VR (likely as a result of playing a VR “safe” game), we will see further exploration of better and more innovative movement mechanics.

          • kool

            The aim seems to offer the best solution. It’s not the front back side to side that causes sickness . It’s the unnatural head movement caused by looking with a stick instead of your neck.

        • Me

          You have to educate people first, this takes time. If you scare them completely, then you won’t have any chance at all to convince them of the benefits of full motion. I too at first was very sensitive to VR sickness. Once I understood what’s causing my sickness I learned to cope with it and now I’m eager to try more intense games. If you had told me there’s only one way to play a VR game, I would have ignored it and went elsewhere…

        • towblerone

          If I have to use a goddamn analog stick to move in a game, I won’t even bother with it. Give me a more natural, realistic form of movement, like arm sway or something. Let the gamepad kids play their games on a console.

          VR hasn’t even gone mainstream and frickin’ gamers are already highjacking it and forcing their preferred methods of control into it. Annoying.

          • AndyP

            The entire industry is built on the money from gamers pockets.

          • towblerone

            That’s the problem. I can’t wait for VR to detach from the gaming industry. VR as a medium has so much more potential beyond frickin’ video games. Until it does it will be tethered to the tropes and standards of gaming development and gamers’ habits.

            VR should be taking more cues from reality–since it’s attempting to simulate reality–instead of taking cues from gaming, which has used contrivances for controlling avatars that are unnecessary now that we have VR and true motion controllers.

          • Doctor Bambi

            I think those analog sticks could come in handy in lot’s of non-gaming applications. Like scrolling through a spreadsheet, or rotating/scaling objects in your virtual storefront. Those are dumb examples, but you get the idea.

            The gaming industry was in the most opportune position to take advantage of VR since it already had the tools and know-how to build complex 3D models.

            The other industries will follow suit given enough time to change their hiring structure and integrate those tools. I know Microsoft already has some big plans in the works.

          • towblerone

            I wouldn’t even say analog sticks are useful for that. See, at this point we’re looking for ways to incorporate control schemes used for gaming and that’s completely unnecessary. It’s just what we’re used to. It’s like asking someone who uses a smartphone primarily for gaming how we should interact/move in VR. Obviously they’d say sliding a finger along a touch-screen because that’s all they know.

            It’s called virtual reality because it’s trying to mimic and simulate reality. In reality I don’t use an analog stick or touch screen for anything else but to interface with computing devices. Unless you’re in VR and in some meta-moment you have to interface with, say, a virtual console to play a video game WITHIN the simulation, then using a gamepad is pointless.

            In the real world if I need to flick a light switch, turn a door knob, lift a lid, flip through a magazine, I don’t walk around with a gamepad pressing buttons to make this happen. I reach out with my hands and interact. We have motion controls so gamepads/analog sticks can stay where they belong: to interface with consoles hooked up to flat, 2D TVs.

            The gaming industry is great because it provided the development tools for VR, but that’s it. The problem I have is gamers who’ve been using gamepads for 20 years insisting we use them in VR as opposed to our bodies which we’ve been using since time immemorial.

          • Doctor Bambi

            If the intent of your VR program is 100% mimicking the real world, then yes, attributing everything to physical actions would be desired. But the great thing about VR is that it takes our sense of reality and fuses it with the digital, which means we don’t have to play by the same rules and the same rules don’t always work like we expect them to.

            Even the scenario of swinging your arms to move has design implications. If your app requires a lot of navigation, it could lead to arm fatigue. What if you want to interact with something while you’re moving? How does the system know if you’re walking forward or backward? What if you’re performing an action and the system misinterprets it as walking?

            Ideally, in a professional setting, technology should make us faster and more efficient at doing our jobs. Mapping every possible action to physical movements would actually do the opposite.

            You seem to have astigmatism of, analog stick = #gamerlife and is therefore a silly gimmick. But it’s versatility as a tool reaches far beyond gaming, and I think Oculus sees that.

          • towblerone

            “the great thing about VR is that it takes our sense of reality and fuses it with the digital, which means we don’t have to play by the same rules and the same rules don’t always work like we expect them to.”

            Yeah, no. That’s a long-winded excuse for just falling back on a useful method of control for a medium that has zero to do with VR other than the development tools. You’re looking for ways to incorporate tools you’re familiar with that have no place in the medium they’re being forced into, like a square block in a round hole, not for maximum effectiveness, but out of laziness and fear of change.

            “in a professional setting, technology should make us faster and more efficient at doing our jobs.”

            VR isn’t a job and you’re not in a professional setting. The goal of VR is IMMERSION and the more you rely on contrived methods of control that aren’t natural, the brain will undoubtedly assume the simulation as fake and then there’s no reason for you to even be experiencing it.

            “versatility as a tool”

            The BODY is the most versatile tool there is; the gamepad/analog stick is a redundancy that gamers are only insisting on BECAUSE IT’S SOMETHING THEY’RE ACCUSTOMED TO and that’s it.

            Why in the heck would I need to hold a gamepad to push a button to make my avatar in a first-person VR simulation throw a punch when I HAVE ARMS TO DO THIS? It adds unnecessary redundancies to the entire experience just to retain the relevance of a tool(gamepad) that was made for an entire other frickin’ medium. Why not using TV remote controls for video games while we’re at it?

            If VR remains the more-expensive and more cumbersome little brother of console gaming, then it will remain a niche product. VR deserves better than this. It deserves its own tools, its own natural control mechanisms(since the whole point of VR is to engage us in worlds indistinguishable from reality), its own genres and sub-genres that are completely detached and free from gaming. That’s the only way VR will come into its own.

            In reality I don’t float around on an invisible plane, my movements controlled by some external device to slide me around; I use my body. I would expect VIRTUAL reality should mimic this instead of mimic something that itself is an analog of reality like video games.

          • beestee

            In reality, swinging your arms is not walking, it is swinging your arms.

          • towblerone

            You swing your arms WHEN YOU WALK, dummy. How many people do you see walking with their arms pinned to their sides?


          • Doctor Bambi

            No need to get salty, flavor.
            You swing your arms when you walk, but only to counterbalance the propulsion of your legs. If you swing your arms without walking forward, your brain is still going to say, “wait a minute, my legs aren’t moving me forward, this is fake.”

            But moving your arms would still be a more natural way of conveying movement compared to using an analog stick. Sadly though, the idea of a perfectly matched immersive experience is really a false summit. There will always be little things that your brain isn’t going to agree with. At some point you have to let your guard down and tap into your suspension of disbelief.

          • kool

            When you have a gun and flashlight in your hands or any two handed object this system falls apart.

          • towblerone

            No it doesn’t. You swing the arm with the gun or the flashlight. Try shooting while walking in real life and see how far that gets you. It won’t get you far.

          • kool

            You can walk and shoot in real life, it requires both hands to be on the gun eyes down the sight. You can get a pretty good pace going while aiming.

          • Doctor Bambi

            Apologies for misreading your post. I thought you meant you don’t care for playing games in virtual reality and were more interested in professional uses. Really you’re just saying you want to engage with VR experiences in the most natural way possible. That’s totally understandable, but I think it’s only a small portion of the entire concept of VR.

            I still think the analog sticks will have plenty of uses in VR. Locomotion obviously is not ideal, but there are hundreds of other use cases. Once we get our hands on applications like Medium, I think their utility will become clearer.

          • kool

            The PS aim is as good as it gets right now. I wish the camera could pick up your arm and hand movements one to one which will come. As far as locomotion idk if running in place with out seeing the floor is safe. It will also require you to adjust the hmd too often.

          • towblerone

            I’m not for running in place, i.e. raising your legs off the ground. Arm-swing doesn’t demand you do this. It’s the absolute best all-around locomotion option. You could MAYBE utilize analog stick/trackpad for very, very select moments for when, in real life, for some reason you’d have both arms forced to be in a static position when you walk but those moments are extremely rare.

            You can run when holding a two-handed weapon and need to stop moving while swinging/shooting it anyways. Arm-swing for 99% of movements and trackpad for the 1% of times you absolutely cannot move your arms, so a hybrid of both.

          • kool

            I’ve never tried the arm swinging mechanic, so I can’t really say if it feels natural to me or not. But I don’t like to move too much this early in vr.

          • Raphael

            I like the arm sway mechanic I tried in a few games. I always prefer the most realistic control methods.

          • towblerone

            Exactly. Gamepads/controllers were made largely to control characters viewed in a third-person perspective on a flat, 2D screen, like a puppeteer controlling a marionette. The idea that we use those same control schemes to move OURSELVES in a first-person perspective in a virtual reality environment is redundant and ludicrous.

            In VR there is no puppeteer because WE are our avatars; we don’t control them through indirect means.

        • Doctor Bambi

          I see what you did there, *Onward* and upward ;)

          • Raphael

            I was hoping someone would catch that :)

        • TheSlythe

          Its a shame. I was playing cod the other day using the psvr virtual screen. It felt like i should be able to just look around, and felt wierd when the whole screen moved with my head.
          I think if it was in vr id feel less nausious.

        • glyphery

          With no rancour, I confess I’m bewildered by those who apply adjectives like “ugly” to the teleportation mechanic in VR. It’s no “uglier” than having to drag yourself around the virtual space by shoving thumbsticks on a console controller you hold in your hands. These are merely different approaches to solving a known problem. You may like one more than the other, but neither of these solutions could seriously be described as “beautiful”.

          For me, I feel the sense of presence and physical embodiment is preserved far better – at least in room-scale VR setups – when you maintain as much as possible a one-to-one correspondence between the movements of your own body in the real world and those of your avatar in the virtual one.

          Titles that apply teleportation successfully – e.g. The Solus Project, Wandering Realms, The Gallery: Call of the Starseed – permit you to spend something like 95% of your actual time moving about in the game with complete physical realism. That is, you can simply wander about in whatever physical space you’ve managed to set aside for your VR setup, and your virtual body will precisely match those movements. Granted, the remaining 5% of your locomotion will involve “blinking” from one area to the next, but then you can immediately resume perfectly-coupled physical interaction with your new location in the virtual environment.

          By contrast, in games that instead force you to abstract your physical motion into movements of the console controller thumbstick, you’ll spend closer to 0% of your time in VR moving about with anything approaching physical realism. So I’m baffled whenever people so passionately decry how teleportation “ruins” VR for them. Is it really so awful? Does the suspension of disbelief required to accept teleportation really outweigh the nearly complete loss of kinaesthetic locomotion that thumbstick abstraction imposes upon users? I’d personally much rather take the 5% “realism hit” of occasional teleportation than the 100% “realism hit” of thumbstick locomotion.

          Of course, everyone has their own preferences on this, which is why we can all (hopefully!) agree that VR developers should endeavour to support as rich and varied a spectrum of locomotion options as possible. That way each player can choose what works (and feels) best for them. But perhaps we can agree to stop calling one approach or the other “ugly” just because it’s not our personal preference?

          • Raphael

            Impressive dissertation on VR motion and why teleport can’t really be described as ugly. I do agree but it’s the blink teleport that offends non-nausea players because they don’t want that disconnect every few seconds. So it becomes a choice of whether to sacrifice some realism and have continuous motion via thumb pad versus being able to walk physically within an area and then teleport to the next.

            I would like to see different options in games. For a fast fps like battlefield I don’t want the disconnect of a blink teleport and I feel any teleport would impact the gameplay. Using a thumb pad is unrealistic yes but I feel it’s more enjoyable having that smooth motion.

            You have to ask yourself why there’s a growing resentment of teleport in VR games. I tell you why… because the teleport makes a game feel like you’re playing an adventure (I.e. Myst) rather than a fast paced action fps.

            Arizona Sunshine and Raw Data present this conflict… faced pace games that have adventure-like movement mechanics. Teleporting feels like it belongs in a sorcery adventure not a fast paced action fps.

          • glyphery

            I can see where you’re coming from. I’ve played quite a few FPS games over the years and can certainly understand the desire not to have dislocative movement mechanics feature in their VR analogues. In a few years — assuming VR achieves a lasting hold on the public consciousness this time around — we should start seeing “infinite locomotion” solutions that are both functional and affordable for the average consumer. At that point we can achieve the best of both worlds: fully-coupled kinaesthetic movement within a tracked RL space, plus free-ranging traversal of VR terrain without teleportation… unless, as you say, the genre or plot of the game justifies it. ;-)

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Well Death Strandings has ‘sony interactive entertainment presents’ on it, and the trailer had ‘PS4’ at the end, so don’t count on it coming to the PC.

      • crazysapertonight

        It was confirmed for PC by Kojima before exact anounce. He told that his new game will be timed exclusive for PS4. Thought I am still not sure, that it will be released for PC.

        • Me

          Ah, good news !

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Well, hate to burst your bubble, but the only mentioning of the project coming to the PC is in a deleted Q&A and that was before there was a real commitment by Sony. So don’t count on this game coming to PC in the near future.

          • crazysapertonight

            Statement about his new game coming to PC was after he signed contract with Sony

  • Torben Bojer Christensen

    For now Unreal Engine is terrible for VR, on behalf of the deferred rendering and the [for VR] crappy post rendering FXAA but no true MSAA. (Unreal engine we’ll be getting MSAA when the Forward Renderer lands, so at least there is hope for some future Unreal Engine VR titles)

    Luckily frostbyte should already support forward rendering, so this should be very good news for VR and how good games can look in the HMD :-)

    • Rogue_Transfer

      In the past, UE certainly did feel terrible in VR experiences to date. I look ‘forward’ to what happens now that Unreal Engine have released their VR forward renderer two weeks ago:

      Though, personally, I’m sticking with Unity for the time being.

      • Torben Bojer Christensen

        Agreed. The catch is that the forward rendered UE titles have yet to be developed and released. Until then Unity and Source 2 titles for sure have been looking the best in the HMD.

    • Zerofool

      As Rogue_Transfer said, UE 4.14 which was released recently supports the forward rendering path. I can say that UE with fw rendering and MSAA looks awesome! You can all see what it could look like by trying the updated demo of “The Wake”, it was built with the 4.14 preview1 I think.

      • Torben Bojer Christensen

        Sounds great. I’ll give it a try when i get home :-)

    • DiGiCT Ltd

      I dont know how long time ago you uses UE4 for VR, if you only seen some VR products made in UE4 does not mean the engine is bad, but rather the devs did a bad job instead.
      Latest UE4 support forward render and i have seen UE4 VR apps that looks amazing in older builds.
      The most important thing for forward render is the MSAA and defered render uses fxaa with post process filtering, FXAA does not look that bad, but i agree MSAA looks better.
      Eventually those will not be so big issue in future anymore as soon as screen res goes up much higher.
      The entire AA is just because there are not enough pixel to render in the screen..
      If i play games on 4k screen AA on or off does not realy be noticable anymore, the pixel densite is so big that you really need to look hard to see non smooth edges.
      VR will eventualy end up on that too.

      • beestee

        I’ve seen some good VR content produced in UE4 as well, and on a DK2 no less. I think the demos that I remember were made by UE4Arch.

      • Torben Bojer Christensen

        The Enigne is in it self as such fine I’m sure. I’m not saying it is bad in it self. However FXAA sucks for VR, while MSAA does wonders for the visual fidelity and quality in the HMD, especially with a high-end GPU. But only Forward Renderering allows for true MSAA, so i am VERY happy to hear that UE 4.14 finaly was released apr. 2 weeks ago with Forward Renderering :-)

        I Hope a lot of UE games will get a forward render remux and I look forward [pun intended] to much more future UE titles allowing for MSAA.

        ps. I am a gamer, not a developer.

        • DiGiCT Ltd

          Ok i understand, all be fine dont worry.
          You need to understand that many devs did not have the upgraded tools yet in the time their VR product, as it takes months to make one.
          All Nvidia 10x series VGA are good enough for VR, below it I strongly suggest not to go.
          Upgraded my gtx970 to a gtx1070 and see many apps actualy run and look better as they did in my 970, without changing anything.

  • FIFA 2018 in VR?

  • crazysapertonight

    Battlefront VR mission just timed exclusive