John Wick – The Impossible Task is an upcoming shooter from Starbreeze Studios working in collaboration with WEVR, Grab Games and Lionsgate that throws you into the John Wick universe for dual pistol-wielding action. We went hands on with the demo shown at this year’s GDC at Valve’s booth running on the HTC Vive.
The experience starts out in the lobby of The Continental, the film’s sanctuary for assassins that has a strict ‘no business’ policy. Walking up to the lobby’s reception desk, a phone rings. Picking it up and holding it to my ear with the Vive controller, I hear a mysterious voice on the other end telling me to get the concierge. I ring the bell, and a photorealistic Chanor, the hotel’s manager played by Lance Reddick, welcomes me back. Reaching into my briefcase I pull out a fat stack of 500 euro bills, but Chanor isn’t having any of it. This hotel only takes gold coins, and I just so happen to have one in my briefcase.
I grab the coin and slap it down on the desk and Chanor graciously accepts by slipping it into his pocket. An elevator rises from the floor below me and I enter the wrought iron elevator, flipping an old timey crank lever to take me to the hotel suite above.
The elevator ascends through a hatch in the middle of the ceiling, revealing a plush interior dotted with top shelf liquor and a giant screen TV. Like the lobby there are interactive items everywhere, including a Payday mask on the floor, Starbreeze’s nod to the upcoming cross-promotion of the John Wick character making an appearance in the Payday. I activate a button and the John Wick trailer pops up on my home cinema screen, but is quickly hacked into by the mysterious man on the other end of the phone. It’s a set up, and he tells me I’m going to die.
Visible red lasers stream in from two opposite exterior windows and start blowing away bottles and picture frames in a hail of gunfire. By this time I’m ducking behind the bar, and desperately pawing at the elevator call button. The elevator pops up from the floor and I crawl inside, returning me to the lobby below.
Next up was a 360 shooting gallery where I could double-wield pistols, MP5s, and lob grenades at moving popup targets. The shooting didn’t feel heavily assisted as the paper targets zoomed concentrically around me, and the most satisfying part of the shooting gallery was leading a fast-moving target with your gun and blowing off his head in a single shot.
Targets began popping up opposite to each other, and this is the moment when I really stepped into the shoes of John Wick. Two MP5s in hand, I extend my arms out left and right (of course refusing to aim like all badasses do) and fire away where I think the offending paper targets have popped up. With my clips freshly empty, I take a peak at both paper targets, untouched save a single bullet hole in the leg of the left target. I drop the submachine gun and pick up a Glock, aim carefully, and blow away his paper head in a single shot.
The shooting gallery doesn’t give you action hero moments on a silver platter, or noticeably assist your shots. I had several very close misses to show for it too. You have to take aim, lead targets, reload constantly—making your own action hero moments like any well-established desktop or console FPS would require you to do.
I walked out of John Wick: The impossible Task without a clear idea of exactly what it will become. Making conjecture from Starbreeze Global Brand Director Almir Listo however, who told me that one of the unrevealed scenes will take place on the roof, it seems like the game is focusing on taking you floor-by-floor via the elevator in a shooting gallery-style experience that will have you fixed in a single spot, but without the ability to teleport or somehow change positions in-game. I asked Listo what he thought about in-game locomotion.
“What we’re doing is utilizing what we’ve got with the Vive. The narrative experience is very calm and [created] for you to just focus on the story. Because let’s face it: we’re at the beginning of VR. Most players of VR won’t be experienced. It’s highly likely that this will be their first experience, so that’s why we’re doing a more calm experience instead of having you move around different places,” said Listo.
John Wick: The Impossible Task will be releasing later this year to on multiple VR headsets. We can at very least expect HTC Vive support, as the game requires you to have complete 360 autonomy so you can shoot around you without occluding hand controllers.