Battlezone Reimagined in Virtual Reality

One of the first upright arcade machines to grab the attention of many, Battlezone, is now making a comeback on a new, modern platform: virtual reality. It’s only fitting, since the game is considered the first “virtual reality” game ever created because of how its viewed while playing, with the gamer’s face placed inside of goggles to see the game.

Battlezone’s History

Battlezone was released in November of 1980 by Atari. It was designed by Ed Rotberg. The game is set in first-person, with the gamer controlling a tank that must attack and defend other tanks and incoming missiles.

Battlezone was unique because players had to look through the viewfinder that mimicked a periscope, establishing a realistic element that connected to reality. Onlookers could still watch game play from the sides of the cabinet. Later versions of the cabinet were released with the periscope viewfinder removed.

The game caught the attention of the U.S. Army, who approached Atari only a month after the game’s release and asked if they would create a military training version. Two versions of this training machine, called “the Bradley Trainer” after the Bradley fighting vehicle, were created. One was given to the Army and another is held by a private collector.

The Modern Version

When you put on your Sony PlayStation VR headset to play the modern version of Battlezone, you’ll see that not much has changed in terms of the format. It’s still a first-person perspective. However, the previous vector graphics have been replaced by polygon shapes, giving the game a serious face-lift.

While you can’t play against your friends, you can play with up to four people against the AI enemy. Rebellion Developments, also known for Sniper Elite and Alien vs. Predator games, is the team behind the modern Battlezone.

With the game released on October 13, 2016, time will tell if it catches on the way the original arcade cabinet did over 35 years ago. If Battlezone is a success in virtual reality, perhaps other classic titles will be recreated on this platform as well. A classic gamer can hope.