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Wearable Tech

Always be yourself, unless you can be Deadpool or Hulk

We tried Marvel's official VR game early. Now our colleagues hate us.


Marvel Powers United VR puts you inside the bodies of these heroes. (Literally!) (Almost.)

GIF by Christopher Cox/CNET

VR is hard for some people to grasp. It's not necessarily hard to get into, but it's pretty hard to buy into. And not (just) because of the price, but because VR's biggest problem is that you aren't hyped about it -- and you can't be an evangelist about it -- until you try it.

But sometimes, you find that game that changes everything and makes it oh-so-tempting to drop hundreds of dollars right now on something as tactile and fun as this one is. 

That game is Marvel Powers United VR, coming exclusively for the Oculus Rift and its Touch motion controllers

The bad news: The funnest game on Oculus won't be available till next year (we have to wait for-ev-er). The good news: The funnest, most accessible game on Oculus won't be available till 2018 (we have time to save!).

It's not a fighting game with epic player-vs.-player duels, instead, you join with your friends in online co-op missions to run errands and take down Marvel's meanest foes, complete with voice chat. (So far, it appears to be four-player co-op.)

By launch, the game will have 12 characters from across Marvel comics canon, of which we got to try four: the previously announced Hulk, Rocket Raccoon (from "Guardians of the Galaxy") and Captain Marvel, who's getting her own movie in 2019 -- and newly announced Deadpool, everybody's favorite madman. 

More heroes may arrive later on: "We're not going to be able to get to the entire universe -- because as we basically know, the Marvel Universe is infinite -- but we'll be able to get a great number of your favorite characters," says Jason Rubin, head of Oculus Studios.

Playing your favorite Marvel character sounds like a fan's dream. Was it?

Sean: Oh yes. Particularly if you're a fan of acting like an ass. You can dance in VR because the game has a rough idea of where your body is -- and all your friends in the game can see. So when I looked down and saw I was wearing Deadpool's red and black leather suit, with the oh-so-tight crotch, you'd better believe I shook it.

Deadpool was just added today. The game'll have 12 characters at launch.


The other things that makes Deadpool such a satisfying show-off are his gigantic arsenal of weapons and tendency to break the fourth wall, and they're both here in spades. 

When I finished dealing cartoon death with his giant Desert Eagle pistols, laser-sighted MP7 submachine guns, twin katana swords, wrist-mounted throwing stars and grenades -- you can grab practically anywhere on your suit and come away with a gun -- he'd throw out lines like "What did he drop? Did you guys get an exotic weapon or something?"

(That's a hilarious Destiny reference, by the way.)

Note that there's no blood, and you can't slice off limbs. It's a mostly family friendly game.

Caitlin: Well jeez, now I wish I'd played as Deadpool. 

But seriously what was nice was that even for me, someone who has never actually owned a gaming console, it was sooooo easy to pick up the Touch controllers and feel like I was actually contributing to the team and helping us win.

Hulk being Hulk.

GIF by Christopher Cox/CNET

Immediately, I felt like Hulk, spinning, avoiding low-hanging screens and basically just walking around picking up bad guys and throwing them. Sure, HULK SMASH is of course a move and so's his classic Thunderclap, but nothing felt as great as throwing those rag dolls.

Full confession: I've never been very good at game controllers. But the Touch controllers made it so easy to smash or shoot, or even just give my teammates a thumbs up. Plus, I really liked seeing Rocket's tiny paws in the game shooting and throwing grenades.

We actually both played as Rocket, which is maybe the cutest Trash Panda in any game ever. Plus, he flies!

VR no longer feels like the future to me, it feels like the present -- and it is way more fun than button mashing.

OK, but is it worth it? Would you buy an Oculus *just* to play this game?

Caitlin: Ehh. Can I say ehh in writing? I mean, I know Oculus just introduced a "spiffy bundle" with the headset and the Touch controllers, but it's just not enough for me -- yet. Will I someday own a VR headset? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that day will come, it just won't be super soon.

Marvel Powers is actually the first game that's ever made me seriously consider getting an Oculus though, and that feels huge.

Such a cute little nose. And those paws!

GIF by Sean Hollister/CNET

Sean: I know I'm going to play the heck out of this game -- for a month. That's about how many waves of nameless Marvel foot soldiers I'll be able to tolerate shooting/slashing/exploding/Hulk SMASH-ing before I'll decide I'm done grinding for additional cool costumes. Like this one.

I mean, maybe if they add a character I really want to play, like Cyclops from the X-Men with optic beams I can shoot from my eyes… oh wait, the question was whether I'd *buy* a VR headset? (I got carried away for a sec.)

The answer's still no, I'm afraid. Not this first generation of VR headsets, anyways.

I'm really happy I get to play with them for work, and this is one more fun game, but add up all the Oculus titles and I still can't quite justify the $399. I'm still waiting for that one killer app, the Zelda that'll consume my every waking moment for months on end.

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