Ireland's first VR gaming arena gives us a glimpse at an exciting future
If VR gaming is the future, we're 100% on board.
It's very easy to get comfortable with just about any genre of "traditional" gaming. Even the scariest horror game is somewhat offset by the fact that you're sitting in a comfy chair with a controller in your hand.
Certainly, the same cannot be said when you forget to load your gun in Outbreak Origins, the VR zombie game in the brand-new Zero Latency arena in Sandyford. The very first of its kind on these shores, it's open from Wednesday, 6 March for everything from stag dos and birthday parties to work trips and conferences.
The first few minutes of playing the game are pretty jarring, as you feel like the regular rules apply. Being caught off guard once was enough to kick my head into gear in the hope of not letting it happen again.
The game is really hard so it did happen again, but I was much more focused...
When you walk, your character walks. One minute you're doing your best to fight the 10 enemies in front of you, the next you're dealing with the five who crept up from behind.
Bear in mind, this was my very first experience of VR gaming. While systems such as Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR have been available for quite some time, they've always looked like the early stages of an exciting new realm of gaming.
If you were waiting (as I was) for technology to catch up, things are finally getting close. Free-roaming around a 200m² facility with a VR headset and a weighty rifle is just about as close to Ready Player One as we could hope to get.
It's zombie killin' time
After being joined by three others, the first game was called Outbreak Origins and involved hordes of zombies chasing us through an entire city. This may well be a familiar setting, but the only way to make it more immersive would be to survive an actual zombie apocalypse.
Just saying, this experience will only stand to me should something like that break out.
All of your teammates are fully visible throughout, and you'll need to have good communication skills. Trying to be the hero and going off on your own won't cut it when your team is getting mowed down by the undead.
Taking out the zombies is one thing, but walking out over a narrow walkway overlooking a 100-storey drop is another. It did take a few minutes to remind myself that I was in fact still in an industrial estate in Sandyford.
The highlight of the first game involves a military helicopter picking you up from the top of a building. Looking out at the blazing skyline of a post-apocalyptic city, you suddenly realise the potential of this kind of technology.
After making our way through the zombie apocalypse, up next was a Mass Effect/Halo-esque game called Singularity. This time, we faced killer robots, rogue drones and merciless gun turrets on a high-tech military space station.
This game was more challenging than the first, but it was also far more reliant on teamwork. When there are hundreds of killer drones and MASSIVE robots shooting at you, you need to be able to get everyone into position.
The weapons range from a powerful rail gun to an uber-satisfying laser beam. Sniping off blade-swinging robots from 30m off with a laser beam will never, ever get old.
There was also a section where we walked up a vertical wall, which was pretty remarkable.
It isn't an experience you're likely to forget, but it isn't one you'll fully appreciate until you try it out yourself. The arena will be open for business on Monday, 4 March, and you can book tickets here.