Monday, 24 September 2018

Free Roam VR is as immersive as it gets

I recently visited Zero Latency — a Virtual Reality company specialising in free-roam experiences. I was expecting a fun, entertaining, but overall gimmicky experience.

I was blown away.

From the moment you put on the headset, you are immersed.

What makes the experience so unique is the way that you have to physically interact. It starts when you pick up your gun. It’s really there, physically in front of you on the ground. And when you pick it up, you can see it in the game. You can see it and you can feel it.

Then, you look around at your teammates. They are really there — physically and virtually. How far away they look is how far away they really are. You’re even guided by proximity warnings to stop you bumping into them. This actually increases your senses, essential when your eyes and ears are completely covered.

The social element makes it so much fun. It’s hard to believe that’s a real person standing next to you. Not like in an online game where they’re miles away — they are actually, physically there. It’s a hilarious experience.

The games see you wander around an empty, silent warehouse, waving a plastic gun around and looking ridiculous to spectators who are unable to see or hear what you are seeing and hearing. You don’t care. You’re in the game (or as Zero Latency calls it, “experience”) as much as it’s physically possible to be in a game. You believe it because you see it and hear it and feel it.

You believe it so much that when there is an object to walk around, you walk around it, even though it’s not really there. When there is something to duck behind, you duck behind it — actually avoiding virtual bullets. And when there is a rickety bridge between two buildings, you wobble. You know you’re in an empty warehouse with a flat floor. It doesn’t matter.

In the game, you walk from one end of the warehouse to the other, before clever level design coerces you back the other way. It feels like you’re exploring vast areas.

I have not stopped thinking about the experience. It was a defining moment in my gaming life. Like the first time I felt the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog, the fear of Doom, the awe of Hololens.

Like these experiences — I was blown away because I saw the potential. I realised what this now means for entertainment— and for the world. It’s not just about this experience. It’s about what this experience show us is now possible — the potential for amazing opportunities.

My mind immediately filled with ideas. Impossible worlds. Reliving dreams. Nostalgic trips. Travel. Psychedelic fun. Sharing experiences. Adventures — so many adventures.

That’s why it was so exciting, and that’s why I can’t stop thinking about it.



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