Apart from books and movies which capture our imagination with detailed other worlds, the only platform which has the ability to transport us to another world, making it feel magical is Virtual Reality. And seems like the makers of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” have found the perfect way to promote the movie and let the users experience the magical world with VR.
Warner Bros. has released a new “Fantastic Beasts” VR experience, exclusively for Google’s new Daydream VR headset. The experience lets the users enter the study of Newt Scamander, who is the main character of the movie. The experience starts with Newt informing the viewers that he has to leave for the U.S. while, instructing to take care of three of the creatures he had to leave behind. The whole VR experience involves tracing a series of figures with a magic wand, which is being controlled with the help of the Daydream controller and it is very much like drawing spells in the air. Just not that, but there’s also a little bit of potion mixing involved, and one even has to grind down a few chubby roots with a mortar and pestle.
The experience being produced by Framestore, the same VFX studio that has worked on the visual effects of the actual movie, leads to great visual details throughout the experience. Like the study is fully crammed with old books, scattered manuscripts, and mysterious potions. To say the least, having a Thunderbird spread its wings right in front of you is quite a sight.
But what the “Fantastic Beasts” VR experience offers in visual richness, it lacks in actual interactivity. The frequent spell-drawing quickly becomes boring, and the individual beasts don’t actually react to anything but two or three pre-defined spells. Even if you continuously wave your wand at the beasts, there is no effect at all, despite the fact that Scamander keeps warning that they’re easy to startle. Not just that, but the study also gets boring very quickly. Most of the objects there offer no interaction at all.
Though, Google’s Daydream system offers a handheld controller with an integrated gyroscope, meaning that it can track tilting and pointing; however, unlike higher-end systems, it doesn’t use positional tracking, so the device doesn’t actually know if and when the controller moves through the space in front of you.
Giving some points to the maker, the “Fantastic Beasts” VR experience was never meant to be a full-fledged game or a cinematic VR experience on its own, but instead a promotion for the actual movie. In that case, it very much works as an interactive experience and is better than many others. But, for the world that promises magic, “Fantastic Beasts” VR still falls short.