Innovation

Star Wars VR comes to Google Cardboard: How to start your mission as a Jakku spy

Leading up to the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm and Google Cardboard have partnered to release a serialized VR experience. Here's a look at what it involves.

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Image: Lucasfilm

If you're wondering whether or not to check out the new Star Wars VR experience, the answer hinges on this question: Do you want to see the Millennium Falcon fly over your head?

If so, keep reading.

The VR experience is actually a part of a larger Star Wars app that launched December 2. Within that app, you'll find Jakku Spy, a partnership between Lucasfilm and Google Cardboard.

The premise of Jakku Spy is that you, the viewer, are stationed on the planet Jakku as a spy for the Resistance. Your job is to watch for enemy activity. Messages from the Resistance are delivered to you by a droid.

There really is something quite cool about watching the iconic Star Wars opening scroll backed by John Williams' score in 360.

As virtual reality has picked up more and more press, critics are quick to point out that VR experiences strictly for entertainment, for example, aren't strong enough use cases to keep audiences coming back.

For Jakku Spy, the thing to keep you coming back, at least for the next couple weeks, is adding new VR segments to the experience—new messages from the Resistance. The first message involves the aforementioned Millennium Falcon and BB-8. Lucasfilm described them as a "series of story-driven installments." As a small extra incentive, each message unlocks a little collectable image. Like much in tech these days, I'm not sure what you do with it, but it's cool.

In its official announcement, Lucasfilm said "There's never been Star Wars storytelling quite like it."

The app also offers a bit of augmented reality, as well. It requires an additional free download, but the feature lets the users scan one of the movie posters (don't worry, you can pull it up on Google Images in case you don't have a Star Wars movie poster handy) and see either BB-8, a stormtrooper, or one of the new flametroopers. They're animated and you can save images.

In any case, if you don't have to have a Cardboard viewer to watch the experience, you can still watch it on your mobile device. Though, having one definitely enhances it. Any Cardboard viewer will work, just make sure you follow the prompt to calibrate the experience to the viewer. The viewer's QR code will tell the Cardboard app if you've got a viewer from 2015's Google I/O event, for example, or if you stopped by your Verizon store and picked up one of the official Star Wars Cardboard viewers.

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Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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