At the heart of all good Marvel stories is a complex character. This will be the case again for Marvel's Iron Man VR. Gamers will be given an opportunity to suit up as the Armored Avenger, taking flight and using all of the weapons at Tony Stark's disposable courtesy of his high-tech suit. However, the heart of the story comes from Tony Stark as a character and his relationships to the other faces familiar to Marvel fans which will be surrounding him. Speaking to ComicBook.com, Iron Man VR director Ryan Payton of Camouflaj and Bill Rosemann, VP & Head of Creative at Marvel Games, opened up about how they made sure to put character at the forefront of the immersive experience.
"That was part of Camouflaj's and Ryan's one-two punch," Rosemann explained. "The first was that, just with the demo they made, just with the gray-box city, flying around as Iron Man, they completely nailed the experience of flying. So we're like,'"Okay, they get it and they can do it.' Then, number two was Ryan and the team's complete understanding and thinking in that what make Marvel characters, both the heroes and the villains, so unique amongst all other IP in the world is that when Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko set out, they said, 'We're going to put the human in the superhuman. Our characters are not going to be perfect, and we're not just going to focus on them while they're in their costume. We are going to fully explore who they are out of costume.'"
According to Rosemann, Camouflaj immediately understood how to prioritize the human elements of Iron Man for this virtual reality experience. "They completely understood the idea that, often, Tony's greatest challenger or greatest foe can sometimes be himself in that he has such grand plans and he's trying to do so much, and he wants to save the world, he wants to basically build armor around the world, and sometimes that catches up to him. Not to mention his past," Rosemann explains. "His true heroic arc was realizing that by creating weapons he's harming the world with his creativity, and, instead, he was going to turn himself into a weapon that would instead protect people. That said, he is still wracked by guilt about his past, which many people can identify with."
Tony's character will not only be tested against a villainous Ghost, a character whose inclusion is truly a coincidence with her Ant-Man and The Wasp appearance, and other familiar faces, locations, and brands from the Marvel universe.
"We as a group at Camouflaj and the lead writer, Brendan Murphy, we're really big into story," Payton adds. "I think if you look at our first title, it's game called République, I think we told a really, really important and good story, and we really leaned into the strengths of the platforms that we released the game on, but I'm the first person to admit that I think the moment-to-moment game play was a bit lacking. That's when I knew that we had something really, really magical because it was almost the inverse. From the very beginning of the Marvel's Iron Man VR project, we had nailed the gameplay, and then I could go with confidence to Bill and the rest of the Marvel group and say, 'And we're going to nail the storytelling, because we've done that as a group previously.'"
Payton opened up quite candidly bout his dedication to the gameplay experience, expressing a great enthusiasm for the reactions to the Iron Man VR demo, but also revealing Camouflaj listened to critiques and edited some mechanics to satisfy gamers.0comments
"Specifically for Marvel's Iron Man VR, it was about putting players into the actual shoes of Tony Stark, seeing his full body realized, and putting him into situations that help allow Tony to confront his past but do so in a way that leverages the unique and immersive storytelling strengths of virtual reality," Payton explains. "What I mean by that is that, as you know because you played the demo, seeing other characters up close and personal in VR is really, really magical. So what we wanted to do is to not do a really broad story that touches on all sorts of different themes and have dozens and dozens of villains showing up and coming in and out. We wanted to put players in front of classic Marvel characters and have them get to really know you and have you really get to know them, and watch them transform as the game moves on."
Marvel's Iron Man VR is available on PS4 on July 3.