Virtual Reality, Zombies and Zero Latency – An immersive VR experience that is the best of its kind.
Yesterday, the Digital Fox team were lucky enough to gain some tickets to Zero Latency in North Melbourne.
If you haven’t heard the hype, Zero Latency is a virtual reality experience where you don virtual reality (Oculus Rift) goggles and a power pack, before shooting zombies in an environment that is both impressively realistic and thrilling.
Upon arriving at the hidden away warehouse, you walk through the entrance doors to the left. You’re then placed in a holding area – or as I like to think of it, the marine training base.
Zero Latency. Source: Digital Fox Media
There’s a huge flat-screen, which looks like a touchscreen (but isn’t). This screen displays a video-game like stats section of the current game, as well as the all-time records achieved, which focus on:
- Distance covered
- Kill count
- Head shots
- Death count
After taking this in and assessing which record you are going to breeze past, you are then asked to plot your physical description into the dashboard. If you go as a group I recommend adjusting someones height without them knowing. It’s highly amusing in game when your 6ft friend becomes 5ft. You’re allowed 6 people in a team, which works well in game.
Oculus Rift VR gaming
Once you’ve plotted in your team’s data, you are then taken through the mechanics and structure of the experience. You get one weapon, which can function as both an assault rifle with a grenade launcher on the bottom, or a pump action shotgun, which is the highlight of the game for me. Sounds awesome, huh?
Zero Latency Gun. Source: Digital Fox Media
The key things to bear in mind with the Zero Latency gun is that you have to reload, which is done by a small button underneath the gun. This can be a little awkward to find and I recommend practicing beforehand. When in game you also need to adjust your gun for the situation. In close quarters you want to switch to the shotgun, and for longer shooting you’re better off with the assault rifle. You switch between weapons with a button on the side, which is easily accessed by stretching out your index finger.
There are also some extra weapons in the game, which none of us got to use apart from Jules because he was the best at positioning himself where these guns appear. This is why he is smiling like a ginger cat in all of the photos.
These extra guns include:
- A Rocket Launcher
- A Mini-gun
- A flame thrower
- A grenade launcher
Jules was a particular fan of the flame thrower, managing to get out of a tricky situation involving a lift and about 50 flesh eaters with literal fire-power and maniacal laughing/screaming. But more on that later.
Once we were briefed on the weapons we put on the Ghostbuster like packs. These included the battery which went on your back, the gun, the Oculus Rift goggles and some headphones. They were fairly comfortable and made you feel the part. You’re then taken through to the warehouse main area, which, despite looking fairly small, is made up for by the virtual reality within the game, where you quickly feel like you’re in a larger world.
After the briefing and training, you’re free to walk around, and are immediately accompanied by an Aussie style Sergeant Johnson like voice in your headset. He shouts, “Marines, step forward”, which you of course do. You then get a quick session on firing your weapon in the training shooting range, where you fire at moving targets.
Virtual reality meets zombie horde
Then the real fun begins: you start the missions. The first of seven missions is in a burnt out parking lot, and quickly the zombies appear, running, crawling, darting towards you. And it’s genuinely scary. People who are talented at first person video-game shooters will love this, and be good at it too.
Visually, there can be a slight blurred vision through the goggles, which can be fixed with a very slight shift and adjustment. Once fixed, the vision improves and is very, very good. When a zombie does creep up on you, it can be very shocking, to the point where you want to physically jump out of the way. It really gets your heart going a lot more than I expected.
An immersive vr experience
Considering the environment that you physically wander around in is quite small, you feel like you have been on a pretty long adventure by the end. It really does feel like scenes out of Aliens, The Walking Dead or Starship Troopers. And having this experience with some good mates can be hilarious. You’re not strictly allowed to run in the game, but when that rocket launcher appears it’s very hard to resist going for it.
An improvement might be the reload button, which was tricky to find sometimes and is the last thing you want when a zombie is licking your toes, about to take a bite out of you. It was also quite hard to tell who was who in there, and the communication could have been easier to hear between the headsets and your marine comrades. But these are really minor frailties.
The highlight of the evening was Jules grilling 50 zombies in a one man onslaught, after everyone besides the great man himself had managed to be eaten. Shamelessly laughing at all of our deaths he activated the flamethrower and wandered slowly towards the threat. Charred corpses dropped to the floor and all the while Jules was laughing, giggling like a school boy. Some issues there I think.
The experience was far beyond what I had thought possible, and I would highly, highly recommend it. Excitingly there are more games being made for the same format. I desperately hope they manage to get licenses from genuine movies to build into the offering. Shooting Aliens or even running through Halo in virtual reality would be unbelievable in this environment. Although I suspect due to the pricey licensing this will remain just a pipe dream.
Oh, and right at the end there is a little surprise with some super zombies that JBM quickly moved away from, which was hilarious. Visualise a suited up, bad-ass marine taking one look at the enemy, before turning around and walking slowly away, head down in fear and shame. Thanks JBM, just leave it to us.
Zero Latency the best in virtual reality games
I believe there is a huge future in virtual reality gaming and with Zero Latency, but it is still a few years away until we see the big boy game developers really take it on as a commercial prospect.
You can book here, but please bear in mind waiting times are usually around a month. That being said, it’s well worth the wait.