You know what game was great? Spaceteam. If you never played, well, you should round up a few friends and download it onto your phone—it’s free. But failing that, here’s the idea: Your spaceship is crashing, and the crew needs to cooperate to survive. That mostly entails yelling at each other, because each player only controls one small part of the ship.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew is like Spaceteam, except you get to yell silly Star Trek catchphrases at each other while wearing a VR headset. “Full power to shields, ensign.” “Fire phasers on my command.” “Arm photon torpedoes.” “Bring us around.” “Engage.”
The game puts you on the bridge of the USS Aegis, where you’ll take on one of four roles: Captain, Helm, Tactical, or Engineer. Each player has a unique LCARS panel—for me, playing as Tactical, I could raise and lower the shields, arm and fire torpedoes, fire phasers, and scan debris or other ships. And I mean physically do those things, as Bridge Crew supports the Oculus Touch controllers. You need to physically reach out and touch the controls to activate them.
But Tactical can’t go it alone. For instance, our mission required us to scan escape pods for survivors and beam them aboard. To do that, the shields needed to come down long enough for our Engineer to lock on and energize.
Again, it’s like high-concept Spaceteam. Or exactly what you’d expect in a VR Star Trek simulator.
Moment-to-moment, it’s not like I was doing much in Bridge Crew. Pressing buttons. Admiring the scenery. Scanning enemy Warbirds. But it’s not the doing that hooks you. It’s the doing with friends. It’s hearing and seeing your crewmates on the bridge, interacting with them, living out that fantasy with them, and—yes—occasionally messing with them.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew seems like it could make for a great late-night party game—if you and four friends each have an Oculus Rift, at least. At the moment it’s essentially a polished tech demo (like so many VR experiences), but it nails the Star Trek look and feel, and I’d love to get a group of four together to run missions. Hell, if we’re going to keep comparing virtual reality to the holodeck, then Star Trek’s a pretty obvious place to start.