Zero Latency Nottingham Review - The UK’s First Free Roam Virtual Reality Gaming Arena
It takes something pretty special to make what a dull Monday night fun… Zero Latency – the UK’s first free roam, multiplayer virtual reality arena is pretty damn special.
Breezing past the sense of local pride that the first VR arena of its kind in the UK ended up in my hometown of Nottingham (suck it, London), I was lucky enough to be invited along to a special preview night before it opened to the public.
This event was both a chance to give bloggers and journalists a sneak peek of what the people can expect, and test how the system stands up to the stresses of regular, back-to-back usage.
I can answer the latter bit nice and quick - not too great at the moment. There seems to be some teething issues with the networked VR system, but the manager ensures they should all be ironed out for their grand opening.
But it’s the former you came here for. Maybe you tried to see Nottingham Post’s thoughts on this, but clicked out upon the immediate realisation you had to fill in a survey to unlock the content (seriously, stop doing that)?
Either way, for whatever reason, you’re here on a review of the Zero Latency VR, to see whether it’s actually good enough for your hard earned money. So…is it?
In one word: yes. But allow me to further divulge, dear reader.
Let’s break it down bit by bit, starting from the beginning. Putting on the computer backpack and headset didn’t require much fiddling, besides figuring out the giant cable running from the back of the headset. Once you’ve got that, it was more than fine to wear - the computer weighing next to nothing and the hardware design never feeling too imposing on your movement.
Even down to putting fans in the goggles, to reduce facial sweat for your comfort (and so it’s not gross for the next player to wear after you), these have to be one of the comfiest VR devices I’ve worn.
After a quick prep talk, we were guided into the VR gaming space and put into the pre-game lobby, which was helpful to get people acclimatised. As the gun is your controller and you don’t have any inputs placed on your hands or feet, you can’t see your limbs - definitely confusing at first to your perception.
Glad I got these first few minutes of lobby-based interaction, to actually figure out my speed of movement compared to in-game movement and hopefully not run into anyone (they have a nifty system, which slows the game and eventually stops it if you get too close to someone).
Once we all took our pre-determined spots in the middle of the room, it was on. The game of choice? Zombie Survival. With similar mechanics to Call of Duty’s Zombies mode, you had to fend off waves of the undead and keep repairing the barricades stopping your team from being overrun.
It was certainly intense, as I heard screams from other members of my team, being surprised by the horde breaking through behind them and quickly being surrounded. The sights and sounds do a great job of immersing you into this apocalypse, and the simple two-storey square construction of the map works to encourage greater levels of communication between you all (definitely keep this mode in mind for any corporate team building requirements)!
Of course, this isn’t the only game you can play. There are several others, which I didn’t get to try but will list here:
Outbreak Origins - Another Zombie game with more of a story behind it. Think like a VR version of the House of The Dead arcade game.
Singularity - What seems to be a tidy-looking space shooter. Another co-op story-based title - tasking you on taking on robots, killer drones and other out-of-this-world foe.
Engineerum - As a bit of an indie game nerd, this is one I’m most excited to play when I go back. An award-winner, this colourful walking simulator takes you to a world suspended over ocean, where “gravity does not function as expected.” A fascinating puzzler, that looks really good.
But back to Zombie Survival, the experience was enjoyed by all from seasoned gamers such as myself to those who you would consider “noobs,” who don’t quite understand how someone can spend so much time glued to a screen. The latter part of that sentence, I consider a big victory for them.
Don’t get me wrong, Nottingham’s got a sizeable nerd community mi’owd, but a business of this size in such a high-cost location would not have succeeded if it didn’t connect with the wider public. Fortunately, it does, as it turns out everybody knows how to shoot zombies.
So, I see you there wincing a little at the £34.95 price tag for 45 minutes (£19.95 for half hour), but allow me to put those price-based anxieties to rest in one sentence.
Zero Latency is arguably the best and most immersive virtual reality experience I have ever played. And speaking more locally to my fellow Nottingham-ites, it’s the most fun you can have in this city right now – high praise given we have the best donuts, burgers and a ruddy massive arcade.
Also, random side note. Found this on their YouTube channel. Probably one of the coolest ways to propose I’ve seen - even though my girlfriend was quick to request I did not do the same when I showed it to her!