No, I didn’t get to play Halo 5 in virtual reality. I wish. But I sure as heck just stepped into a sci-fi video game dreamland at E3 2015, thanks to Microsoft’s amazing HoloLens. Getting briefed for a mission by a holographic soldier? Cross that off the bucket list.
My first stop at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo was Microsoft, and I knew things were going to be rather interesting when I spotted a certain phrase on my badge:
The last time Microsoft gave me an “optic calibration,” so to speak, it was to measure the distance between my eyes so as to properly adjust the HoloLens headset.
But once inside that armoured door, sure enough: a rack of HoloLens headsets were waiting for me and my fellow journalists. The room was decked out as a sci-fi marine barracks, complete with a glowing bench and lockers—clearly the inside of some heavily armoured mammoth spacecraft. Called one by one, we sat down on the bench as staffers dressed as Halo scientists helped us fit the mixed reality headgear to our skulls.
Then, the headset took care of the rest—giving us glowing, floating waypoints to follow down the spotless grey armoured bulkhead of a hallway. Just like a video game! We emerged in a command centre, where a giant translucent table with huge metal railings gave each of stations at which to stand—and in the centre, a floating starship. The UNSC Infinity.
Go ahead, click the magnifying glass to see that hologram at full resolution. I’ll wait.
Sadly, Halo’s favourite holographic lady Cortana didn’t make an appearance—flitting about the galaxy with Master Chief, no doubt—but the imposing Commander Palmer made a decent substitute, decked out in aggressive Spartan-like armour. She briefed us on the skirmish we were about to face in Halo 5’s new 12 vs. 12 multiplayer mode. You know: here are the objectives you should capture, the enemies you’ll face, things like that. Except each of the buildings and foes she showed us appeared to exist, ghost-like, in the centre of that table. Trust me, it’s a real trip.
Only after her speech was over, our handler asked us to take off our HoloLens headsets. That was it? Well, not quite: we also got to go play Halo 5 for a bit. Which was fun! But yeah, no Halo in virtual reality. Not yet.