ACCESS to VR has never been better – and the quality is seriously improving.
But for too long it was hampered by overhead cables and very limited space.
- Sandbox VR, London, from £30 – buy now
Not Sandbox VR, an American immersive gaming giant that just opened its first UK location near London’s Covent Garden.
With all the talk of the metaverse bringing VR to the masses, we set out to try one of the six worlds currently available.
We hopped into one called Deadwood Valley, which is described as “an adrenaline-pumping zombie thrill through a zombie-infested city.”
Up to six people can participate per game.
And it takes about 30 minutes.
First things first, let’s get dressed.
There is a lot to wear for this experience – the most important of course is the headset.
There’s sensors that clip to your wrists and ankles, and then there’s a giant vest pack – it’s not too heavy, although it looks bulky.
And we each get a gun, too.
As we head down to our experience zone, we hear screams from other players.
Surely they’re a bit exaggerated? Well, not at all.
Graphics hit the right spot
Some VR out there are still a bit “meh”, with shoddy graphics and buggy kit.
This is not the case with Sandbox VR.
The graphics are still far from reality, but this is a zombie adventure after all.
All in all I think the graphics fare pretty well in a gaming context like this and it certainly did its job of delivering some jittery thrills.
We have quite a large space to physically roam together.
And thanks to the recognition technology, we can see each other’s virtual selves moving in real time, which is really cool.
Moving friends and family’s avatars with you can be a bit clunky, but it’s not detrimental to the overall experience.
Deadwood Valley’s plot isn’t new – much of the world’s population has turned into zombies and you must save a scientist with a cure while staying alive.
But that’s not a problem either, you know what you’re getting when there are zombies in play.
And very quickly, hordes are running towards us.
Suddenly the screams we heard from others made sense as we were overrun by bloodthirsty beasts.
When I’m attacked, the vest cleverly vibrates, allowing me to both feel and see what’s going on.
I get a nasty scare if someone manages to jump on my back and put their ugly face right in front of my eyes.
In real life I would probably hide behind a car, but there are still limits in the VR world. We’re stuck in a spacious box that turns red if you get too close to the real walls.
You can still move quite a distance, so be careful not to run into your teammates.
Luckily we’re not tied to one place, there are clever ways to get us moving.
The best is in the middle when we get away in an open truck and shoot zombies as they try to jump on board.
In our real-world environment, fans start blowing, giving us the added feeling of coming out of a fast vehicle.
The whole VR element actually only lasts 30 minutes, but the adrenaline made it feel like 10.
While this might seem short, it also felt like enough – shooting the undead with very few pauses is hard work.
But the fun doesn’t stop there, as after you get to watch a customized video of your team’s highlights, which is a really nice touch.
Better yet, it will be emailed to you to keep.
And if you want to stay longer, there’s also a robot bar that can whip up all sorts of fancy cocktails.
Sandbox VR is a shining example of where virtual experiences need to lead.
The ability to roam so freely has improved tremendously, and the bonus of seeing your friends in the same game and room as you is immense.
Fending off zombies is mind-blowing fun, but I’d like to see more imaginative VR stories in the future that don’t necessarily rely on weapons – we’ve been told that a new fantasy adventure is in the works next, which is welcome news.
Things like fans to create a wind effect take immersion to the next level. I’d love to see more of this – what about the heat of a burning vehicle? Or feel the crunching of rubble under your feet?
- Sandbox VR, London, from £30 – buy now
Price can also be a sticking point for some, with the cost per person varying between £30-45 depending on how many people are in your party and what time/day you visit, which could be a boost when you consider that the actual VR experience only lasts 30 minutes.
But that’s about as good as VR is getting at the moment, and you won’t find anything else remotely as smooth.
Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality – what is the difference?
Here’s what you need to know
- In virtual reality, a virtual world is simulated with a headset
- In a VR world, everything you see is computer generated
- Popular VR headsets include the HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift
- Augmented reality lets you see the real world, but “augments” (or adds) computer-generated elements
- This means you can see computer images overlaid on top of your real view
- For example, you could wear glasses that overlay directions on the road ahead
- Popular AR headsets include Microsoft’s HoloLens and Google Glass glasses
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9282089/sandbox-vr-london-review/ I wore a “metaverse suit” in a horrible zombie VR world – it still haunts me