Early December 2020 saw our Director, Pete Curulli go one-on-one with Tim Ruse, the CEO of Zero Latency Pty Ltd on episode 192 of the Game on AUS podcast. You can listen to that episode here where Tim, aka Rusey, told Pete about how Zero Latency VR came to be and how it’s making it’s mark on the Australian gaming market. One of our core team, Alex Savoy (Menthonso), along with seven friends were invited to a closed gaming session on December 20, 2020. Alex described the day as not just a visit but an experience, and here are his thoughts on that experience.
Given the current world circumstances, prior to attending I called up to enquire about their hygiene policies and procedures. I was ensured that all their equipment was cleaned with hospital grade disinfectant between each person’s use which was reassuring. Zero Latency VR is featured in six locations around the country. I visited the Sydney venue and Zero Latency is also found in other states with two venues in Melbourne as well as one in Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast. Upon arrival we were offered lockers to put our belongings in and given a quick orientation to the site and also what we would be experiencing on the day.
The equipment was all designed around wireless VR use, with the backpack PC utilising top grade Intel VR processors. Having a PC as a backpack isn’t a new idea for VR, but these were incredibly light with very well insulated back pads meaning less heat on your back. The headsets had relatively good audio within the game and team communication. The only downside for myself and one other was the lack of room for glasses. I initially tried without glasses but could not get the focus right so just had to deal with it digging my glasses into the side of my head a bit. To their credit, this is explained in the introduction email you are sent prior to the day, and they recommend using contact lenses if possible.
The controllers are very much designed to make it feel like you were holding an actual rifle. With a decent range of guns to shoot with, the accuracy was almost spot on. The actual VR Arena is incredibly spacious and one major plus side is that it’s all air conditioned! In reference to Freak VR in Penrith (visited in December 2019 and discussed on episode 155 of the GOA podcast), the VR Arena of Zero Latency is about double the size being approximately 30m x 20m. With eight players, you never feel cramped or stuck close to each other, unless you are on a lift or moving platform together. In terms of initial set-up, we encountered a few issues in not being able to properly connect a few times. In the pre-game lobby you all line up and ensure everyone is loaded into the game. A few times some of us were not synchronised properly but this was fixed within 5 minutes of troubleshooting. Now to the immersive part, the games! We were given the opportunity to play both Undead Arena and Singularity.
Unread Arena is a zombie survival game show style game set in a post-apocalyptic ’80s retro world, with multiple rounds of increasingly difficult waves flooding the VR arena. It was a game of stay alive, shoot things in the head and gain points. Teamwork is crucial for getting a decent score. Between the eight of us, we decided to split into groups of two and all cover an entry into the arena. Within the game type you are given three guns to choose from – a close range shotgun, a mid range full automatic assault rifle and a long range crossbow. Unfortunately, killing zombies with the crossbow did not award style points but it was still fun to snipe kills from each other with it! One great thing about the arena is there are parts of the environment you can use to your advantage. This ranged from explosive barrels you can use to decimate a large wave of zombies, to fire traps that just burn everything to charcoal. Again, killing zombies this way does not earn the most points possible (this is reserved for headshots!) but if you got in a sticky situation and risked dying, it was worth it.
Singularity is a science fiction co-operative shooter set on a secret military space station. You are sent there to investigate after a loss of communication with the team onboard, and are greeted with a grizzly scene. Once onboard, you discover there are no signs of human life; a super intelligent AI has taken over. You traverse the ship encountering waves of robotic enemies at almost every turn. The game runs for about 30-40 minutes with you exploring the ship and moving throughout it. Utilising lifts and moving platforms, the game makes brilliant use of the VR space, with you never really questioning how small or large the arena is. At one point it had us use our gravity boots to walk up the side of a wall, which we were warned it could scare and disorientate some people, but I thought it was awesome!
Within the game you are given a blaster with four different modes – Beam, Pulse Rifle, Scatter and Railgun. The Beam was a continuous beam of low level damage, the Pulse Rifle was an Automatic Rifle of mid level damage, the Scatter was a pump action shotgun of low range high level damage and the Railgun was almost like a sniper of high range high level damage with a very slow shot speed. I mainly used the Pulse Rifle and the Railgun to decimate our enemies. At the very start of the game when you are loaded in, there is an opportunity to look out into space, and boy oh boy did I take advantage of that. After we beat our first wave of enemies, we were told to get into the lift. I did the complete opposite and went to the window to look in awe at the detail of the outside space. It was magnificent and I only wish I could have taken a photo to share with you all! At the end of Singularity, you are given a multiphase boss battle to deal with. The boss had a very Zelda-esque feel to it where we had to target certain parts of the big AI killing machine, and each part you destroy gets progressively harder. One thing I did like was the utilisation of crouching behind the environment and being able to shield yourself by bringing your gun horizontally across your body. This was very important as the boss had almost one-shot mechanics where if you didn’t block them you were dead! Out of the two games we played, I enjoyed this one a lot more.
They were the only games available to play on the day, with more to come. See below for a little breakdown of some other games that Zero Latency VR offer at their other venues which will hopefully be available soon:
- Farcry VR: I was told that this was almost ready but unfortunately not for us on the day. If you like the Farcry franchise you would love this experience!
- Sol Raiders: 3v3 or 4v4 PVP shooter which would have been brilliant to experience!
- Zombie Survival: A zombie survival escape scenario
- Outbreak Origins: Another zombie survival escape scenario with apparently an incredible final boss battle!
- Engineerium: A puzzle based walking journey set in an alien world that is meant to be a head scratcher that makes you question your own steps. It apparently really forces you to think about your movement. I personally would love to experience something like this!
- Mission Maybee: One for all ages, a cooperative adventure that has you navigating your way through toxic caverns and luminescent woods on your way to a futuristic city.
Zero Latency VR Sydney is located at 219 O’Riodran Street in Mascot. If you value the friendships of the people you take, ensure they are not overly competitive especially for Undead Arena! Fight for the top score and gloat to everyone when you are there. If you are looking for a bit of fun with your friends served with a side of whoop ass, this is definitely the place to experience it! For more information and to make bookings for an amazing VR experience, head over to the Zero Latency VR website.
Written by: @Menthonso