As I prepare to take a virtual journey into RedWood City — the main set of the movie The Harder They Fall — the attention to detail, design, and functionality is immediately evident. The metaverse virtual reality environment created by CYBR — the boundary-pushing immersive technology lab behind the Harder metaverse — looked real enough to touch and felt like I was inside the fictional western town, Redwood City.
Before entering, I was asked to choose my streaming service to ensure the settings for an optimal experience.
The first thing that caught my eye was Hotel Rae –where Rufus Buck beatdown Sheriff Wiley Escoe (Deon Cole) upon his return to claim Redwood City as his own. Inside, I had a chance to test out my shooting at the Quick Draw Arcade and win some “ROC COINS.”
After exercising my trigger finger, I set out to explore the rest of the city where I came in contact with the church where the adult Nat Love savagely killed the “priest” who was an accomplice to Rufus Black in the murder of his parents as a child. Inside the church, I saw a table set with virtual copies of The Harder They Fall soundtracks — clicking them I was taken to the merch store to purchase.
Sponsor and corporate integrations were strategically placed throughout the environment, including placements for Netflix and bottles of Jay-Z’s D’usse cognac lined the saloons.
I made my way to the “Baggage & Express” train inscribed with the initials C. A. Boseman. — an easter egg tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. Upon entering the train car, I was able to see the replica of where the Rufus Buck Gang shot up the train and broke Rufus Buck free. Inside the train, the walls are decorated with historic art posters and facts about the main characters: US Marshall Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo), Trudy Smith (Regina King), who was the leader of Bucks Gang, saloon-owner and badass “Stagecoach Mary” Fields, gang-leader, Rufus Buck and Nat Love, the man out to avenge the brutal murder of his parents at the hands of Rufus Buck.
Throughout the city, there were areas to either stream the movie or watch the trailer.
As I was making my way out of the train, the movie soundtrack playing in the background stopped and I heard the “Voice of God” emanating from within the metaverse. Turns out it was comedian Deon Cole who had jumped into the environment as a special guest to talk about how much he enjoyed the set and having the opportunity to show his acting chops outside of comedy as Sheriff Wiley Escoe. The Bullitts, co-producers of the movie soundtrack, also spoke about the making of the album.
As I wrapped up the experience, I decided to try my trigger finger again at the Quick Draw Arcade.
There were a few shortfalls, but nothing too significant that an update couldn’t solve. For instance, the sound for when Bullitts and Deon were speaking wasn’t the best and it would have worked better if we were notified of where in the metaverse we could experience the guest appearances visually. I would have loved to be able to see myself as an avatar and also interact with other avatars in the space. I refreshed millions of times on my MacBook and never got the chance to make a cowguy or cowgirl.
Overall, the experience was brilliantly executed. The team at CYBR put forth a solid offering that was beautifully interwoven with the movie. There’s definitely room for updates to provide a richer experience, but if this bold offering is any indicator of what is to come, RocNation is fully in the metaverse game and intends to win.