Review: Zero Latency VR in Melbourne, an experience to remember

    Zero Latency is a virtual reality experience that has grown in popularity over recent years, expanding to locations across the world (70 venues across 26 countries). While I’ve covered news about Zero Latency over a number of years, I had never actually had the opportunity to experience it for myself, until now.

    I recently attended the Melbourne location with a group of friends as part of a bucks party, a common booking for the venue. When you step inside the large warehouse space, you’re greeted by a member of staff that assists with registering your group for a VR session.

    We had 6 virtual reality experiences to choose from which included:

    • Far Cry VR
    • Undead Arena
    • Sol Raiders
    • Outbreak: Origins
    • Engineerium
    • Singularity

    Our group played two games, the first of which I participated in, where the game was Far Cry VR and the second title played by some other members of the group was the sci-fi title Singularity.

    After signing into an iPad and identifying your height (important later), you’re then taken into a briefing room. Here you’ll watch a video on how the system works and fit your equipment before entering the arena.

    The VR system features a wearable HP Z VR Backpack Workstation. This wearable computer docks to a
    HP Z VR Backpack Harness and putting this on is no harder than a backpack. The rest of the VR setup is an HTC Vive headset, Razer headphones and the zero latency gun.

    In a setup like this, there are a lot of cables to manage, but they’ve done quite well to make this easy for new players, with blue buckles to attach them to the backpack, making them easy to stay with each setup and underneath are wired into the HP computer.

    Having the hardware on the players is one thing, but how do you get tracked spatially as you move about a warehouse-sized play area? A grid of overhead trackers monitors the position of a player’s gun. Zero Latency has developed a second-generation gun that houses a HTC Vive controller on top of it, allowing the sensors above to track the gun position and ultimately the player.

    When you register, you identify a couple of important attributes, your height and your preferred hand. This allows the experience to adjust the height of your character and allows it to know which hand you’ll be holding the weapon in.

    Before you start your first game, you’ll have a quick introduction sequence that allows you to get familiar with being in the virtual world and during this, you’ll select your name from the wall. This process helps the player become familiar with pointing and shooting in VR, but also helps the game identify you which then allows it to correlate your performance on the results for the leaderboard.

    The experience of being immersed in VR is one I had experienced before, but clearly, the spaces in our homes are limited, even the largest place in your house is tiny compared to this space.

    Typically when you’re in VR, you have to suspend the part of your brain that relates to you physically moving in space and here’s where the real strength of Zero Latency comes into its own.

    The tracking mechanism allows you to walk around a space (no running allowed), and thanks to the visual and audio overlay to the real world, it transports you into thinking you’re walking around a virtual world. The game felt a mix of an open world you can walk around and explore, and a game that’s on rails and you’re required to stay within the confines of a remapped world. Thankfully in most sequences, this is done really well, providing a clear path to walk along, with rock walls on either side, so there’s less temptation to walk all over the place.

    The enemies appear from all around, which definitely heightens the senses and keeps you guessing. What I enjoyed a lot, was the teamwork that naturally evolved to battle the enemies. An example of this was a scene where we entered a cable car and took positions in each corner of it to take out the bad guys.

    The game lasted around 30 minutes and was loads of fun. It certainly can get warm in there and the guys that played a couple of consecutive games were certainly sweating by the end of it.

    Once you take all the gear off, you can review the leaderboard on the screens in the reception area and I was happy to see our group managed a pretty good result, ranking 14th out of 1,561 groups with a combined score of 237,300. Personally, I came in the mid-pack with 109 kills, 22 headshots and 0 deaths but the fun that was had makes all of that pretty irrelevant.

    If you’re not actively playing, you can watch a game in progress on one of the TVs which shows you a split screen of what players are seeing in their VR headsets. This may give you a good insight into which titles you’d like to play.

    Zero Latency VR is an experience I’ll remember for quite some time, something I had fun with, with a bunch of friends and if I ever had the chance to go back, I absolutely would.

    I hope they cycle in new titles into the mix and continue to push forward on the hardware as the VR industry continues to chase higher fidelity visuals. The rest of the setup was great, the backpack and computer strapped to your back weren’t too heavy, the audio was great, the gun felt good in the hand and it all combined for a seriously immersive experience, one that’s not available at home.

    When it comes to cost, it’s really quite affordable, with standard pricing of A$59 per person for a 45-50min. experience. This includes 30 minutes of game time plus 15-20 mins of briefing, suit-up/down.

    In terms of who can play, Zero Latency is a licensed venue, all persons aged under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Children may NOT be left unattended. Players must be 10 years and over to play, selected games may have a higher recommended age. Children must be 130cm or taller in order to play.

    More information about Zero Latency VR is available here.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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