It's Action Hero Week at Gizmodo, which means we're exploring how technology could give you superpowers. You know: exoskeletons, biohacking, cool stuff like that. Here's a simpler idea: just strap on a virtual reality headset and feel like a hero without all the blood and sweat!
Assuming you have access to a VR headset, that is. Most of these demos require Samsung's new Gear VR headset or an Oculus Rift and a gaming PC. A few of them aren't even out yet. But at the very least, you can see what you're missing in these two-dimensional videos.
You Are Iron Man
Wear Tony Stark's Iron Man suit, check out your reflection in the window, and calibrate your repulsors and shoulder-mounted missiles with a holographic user interface. Then blast through Ultron's robot minions in glorious slow motion while assisting your fellow Avengers. Sadly, you can't control the Iron Man suit — it's like a Disneyland ride where you just turn your head — but the official Marvel: Battle for Avengers Tower VR experience is not to be missed.
And you can get a pretty decent look at it even without a VR headset: just fire up the video above in Google Chrome (or with the YouTube app on an Android phone) and you'll be able to watch The Hulk, Thor, and Cap tear robots apart in 360 degrees. [Framestore]
Visit The Batcave
Available for Oculus Rift dev kits on Windows or Linux
Step into Bruce Wayne's shoes as he plans his latest mission to thwart crime in Gotham City. Take a creaky old elevator down into a vast cavern where bats and high-tech crimefighting tools live in strange harmony.
Stare in amazement as a holographic interface appears out of thin air, and an artificial intelligence shows you exactly where, in the vast city, your mission lies. Get up close and personal with the Batmobile. Sadly, you can't go for a ride. [Kite & Lightning]
Become a Cybernetic Avenging Angel
Available for Oculus Rift, Gear VR, and Google Cardboard
You've always wanted to pilot a flying, fighting Japanese robot mecha suit, right? Vanguard V lets you do that out in space while blasting through space parasites and dodging debris and asteroids.
It's a pretty simple game, just repeatedly locking onto targets by looking at them, then blasting away, but decent music, voice acting, and the little things like the reflection of your eyes in the visor make it surprisingly immersive. [ZeroTransform]
Fly Around Town As a Cartoony Secret Agent
Available for Gear VR for Galaxy S6, coming to Gear VR for Note 4
Because you've always wanted a jetpack. Remember Jetpack Joyride? Instead of tap-tap-tapping to keep a jetpack in the air, you're actually piloting one around a 3D world. Oh, and that's not all: your jetpack can blast away at UFOs with built-in machine guns and heat-seeking missiles. (All thanks to Q, no doubt.)
Being able to turn your head while you're flying and see the world fall away beneath you, the cartoony flames of your jetpack propelling you skyward... it really does feel like you've got your hands on a delightful prototype from a dapper '50s British spy agency. [Fireproof Games]
Curve a Bullet
Available for Samsung Gear VR in demo form.
Remember the amazing and terrible film Wanted, where elite assassins could make bullets curve in midair to hit their targets? Drift makes you feel like you're doing just that with the power of your mind. You become the bullet, directing its trajectory by tilting your headset. And of course, you can press a button to slow down time.
The initial demo is actually pretty hard, but rewarding when you get it right: it's pretty thrilling to send a shot zooming through an entire restaurant, past the patrons who are enjoying their supper, down narrow hallways, through the kitchens where cooks are preparing food, to finally hit your mark on the other side. Make sure you have a swivel chair before trying it. [DRIFT]
Available for Samsung Gear VR in demo form.
If the entire world was dark, how would you see? Like a bat, of course — using echolocation. Echo is a new VR experience for the Gear VR that has you flying through a 3D world that you can't see until you ping by tapping the touchpad. Then, sound waves visually extend into the world, briefly showing you the outlines of objects and the general lay of the land. [Echo]
Wield a Lightsaber
OK, so this demo isn't actually available for you to try, but it's one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had in virtual reality. Sixense, a company building an incredibly precise motion controller for VR experiences, decided to mock up a lightsaber demo to show off the tech... and gosh does it feel incredible to pick up a couple of the elegant weapons and deflect blaster bolts from a training droid. Just like Luke Skywaker. [Sixense]
Fly Like a Bird
Yes, it looks utterly ridiculous, and no, you won't be trying this at home. But if you ever get the chance to experience Birdly, don't pass it up.
Just curious: Which VR experiences have you tried that made you feel like a superhero?
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