The Virtual Arena: Returning Attractions – LBE VR Continues its Growth – Part 2

The commercial VR entertainment is charted by industry specialist Kevin Williams, in his latest Virtual Arena column – and in this second part of his feature and he look’s at the launch of Far Cry VR: Dive Into Insanity and the free-roaming VR experience created around the Ubisoft property for commercial entertainment.

In this second part of our regular coverage, and we continue to look at the new investment seen in the commercial entertainment market, from a London perspective. Following the global lockdown in business, a new thirst for location-based entertainment (LBE) can be charted internationally.

The investment in the standard VR arcade has grown towards a greater variety of experiences on offer (as was seen in the previous part of our coverage). The addition of free-roaming backpack PC VR has mushroomed, the latest phase of the deployment of this commercial entertainment into the market. Back in 2019, we charted in our column the appearance in London of a facility that was dedicated to offering Arena Scale VR through their purpose-built venue – MeetspaceVR located at Wembley’s BoxPark.

With the Zero Latency VR free-roaming installation, we have revisited the site and seen the growth of the business, including a VR escape room component, all part of continued investment. We returned as one of the first LBE VR sites we visited recommences business. Especially as the company has installed the latest free-roaming title and marketed a major development in the cross over between commercial and consumer IP.

The Ubisoft property Far Cry has been given the free-roaming multiple player VR experience, in a partnership with Zero Latency VR, and one of the first locations to install this new game was MeetspaceVR. The game can run eight players through the virtual environment, but due to capacity conditions following COVID is currently only operating six player games. The hardware in operation is the latest Gen2 version of the Zero Latency VR platform with HP Reverb G2 headsets and the latest PC backpacks and force-feedback weapons: totally immersing the players in a high-end VR experience. 

With Far Cry VR the experience of the video game universe has been condensed into several compelling sequences as the players work as a team to escape the murderous clutches of their captor and his soldiers. To achieve the needed level of immersion and storytelling, Ubisoft and Zero Latency VR turned to UK game developers nDreams. Known for their successful development of Phantom: Covert Ops and other titles – the company’s pedigree is allowed to shine on the powerful high-end immersive hardware used in this free-roaming experience, and the AAA quality of the game is evident.

Designed for team play, with hordes of enemy, appearing in cover-based shooting sections, where the players must watch each other’s backs, and pick off attackers, up-close, or at distance. This is achieved by giving the player the ability to swap between an assault weapon and a crossbow for distance shooting. But the action has been spaced out to allow players time to catch their breath, as well as pulled into a drug-fuelled experience in the caves of the tropical island that has become their prison – pricing at £29.99 per player for the multi-player experiences.

After a 30-minute team-based game, the player is totally immersed in the experience, and the action proved a real workout, wielding the gun and blasting attackers with a heart-pounding final boss battle. Having tried all the Zero Latency VR game experiences since they launched, this game is the most refined, and feels like a AAA title – but also has learned from much of the experience the company has gained rolling out their platform across over 50-venues internationally. 

This is the latest move by Ubisoft towards cross-platform promotion of their IP in the commercial entertainment space – with the ‘Virtual Rabbids’ VR amusement platform, the Ubisoft Escape Game VR experiences and now the license for free-roaming adaptation of their properties. It is expected that this will not be the last time we will see major game and movie properties appearing in LBE VR venues, and we expect to announce, another major property makes its way to the commercial entertainment scene in the coming weeks.

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