'Star Wars: Jedi Challenges' May the Fourth Update Adds AR Lightsaber Duels
Perhaps the coolest way you could possibly celebrate May the 4th in 2018 is by picking up your lightsaber and playing Lenovo’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges because the AR experience just released a new update enabling player-versus-player lightsaber duels. Which means you can finally battle your nemesis in the most realistic lightsaber fight imaginable, without having to worry about prop swords smacking into your knuckles.
At an event hosted by Lenovo in New York City on Wednesday, Inverse was able to test out the new Jedi Challenges update ahead of launch. This author was soundly defeated in two separate duels by Seth Davis, the Director of Product Management Connected Services at Disney, who’s the project head on Jedi Challenges. You might say he’s the sole Jedi Master when it comes to this game.
“AR has been part of the Star Wars experience from the very beginning,” Davis noted to Inverse, “There’s Princess Leia’s original message and then the Holochess on the Millennium Falcon.” VR doesn’t really have a presence in the Star Wars universe, but AR is there in holograms and even that targeting display Luke refused to use at the end of A New Hope. So not only does wielding a replica-quality lightsaber hilt feel so good in your hands, but the whole thing feels in the spirit of Star Wars.
Jedi Challenges utilizes a headset and an app on your smartphone to let you fight enemies from the Star Wars universe by superimposing hologram-like visuals upon the real-world. To people watching you, you’re waving a footlong metallic stick around, but to you, you’re deflecting droid blaster shots or dueling the likes of Darth Vader or Kylo Ren — or now, you’re fighting your friends.
“We’re taking the real world and making it a video game,” Davis said, which encapsulates everything that AR is all about. When most people hear “AR,” they probably think of the craze around Pokémon GO. But Jedi Challenges is only called AR out of technicality — with the headset, the whole thing feels far closer to budget-friendly VR, which could mean it beats out even full-on VR games like Trials on Tatooine.
Since Jedi Challenges came out in November 2017, it’s been perhaps the best immersive lightsaber-focused experience you can buy. (You can find it for $149.99 on Amazon right now.) In both the single-player and new player-versus-player modes, your Force powers predict your enemies’ actions, which translates to visible prompts that tell you to dodge, block, or slash in any direction. The new duels are procedurally generated and pre-scripted, which means you can’t freestyle your battles but you’ll never have the same fight twice. You and your opponent follow the same kinds of on-screen prompts from the single-player missions, but making mistakes leaves you vulnerable to attack.
As of right now, the only colors you can choose for your saber are blue and green, so you might as well consider this Jedi training rather than a duel to the death. Or, you know, that fateful confrontation when Luke tried to kill Ben Solo in his sleep. Jedi Challenges does support an unlockable purple blade in the single-player campaign. Davis loosely admitted that adding more colors seems like a natural next step for the experience.
Who knows, maybe down the line you’ll be able to pick any Jedi or lightsaber you want or even design your own to get projected into AR? For now, fans will be more than happy to hear the swoosh and feel the rumble when your lightsaber strikes your enemy’s.