This new Vancouver VR experience is out of this world — literally

Aug 11 2020, 11:06 am

The bay doors slide open in front of you, revealing a narrow path across an immense chamber inside the space station. Above, stars twinkle and dance as the Milky Way shines down on you. Before you, the vast face of the Earth — your home, your objective — beams across the windows that stretch from top to bottom of the spheric room.

It’s hard to remember that you’re currently in Kingsgate Mall in Vancouver, experiencing the most stunning experience by Zero Latency.

Earlier this month, a group of friends and I visited the newly opened facility to tackle one of its most popular titles: Singularity. A cooperative science fiction shooter that boasts awe-inspiring graphics, it’s one of a total of eight games to choose from (although Zero Latency is currently offering either Singularity or Undead Arena for first-time visitors).

I’d never visited a virtual reality experience before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. When my three friends and I arrived, we were briefed on the safety protocols and quickly outfitted with a VR headset, backpack, and weapon-shaped controller.

As we moved into the facility itself and lowered our headsets, my vision suddenly changed. My friends had been transformed into video game versions of themselves, like something straight out of a classic sci-fi movie. As they started laughing in excitement, I could only imagine what my own avatar looked like.

We stepped into glowing waypoints on the floor and were instantly transported into the bay of a spaceship. Immediately, I was struck by how detailed and interactive the virtual reality was. I could shoot floating boxes to send them spinning across the room; lit panels along the walls outlined the various floors in the space station; and pulsing arrows on the floor guided us to the next stage, leaving no room for confusion or frustration — just pure fun.

What also struck me was how there was zero lag (aka zero latency) in the game. All my actions were carried out instantaneously, making the experience feel even more real.

What distinguishes Zero Latency the most from other VR rooms is that it’s a free-roam experience. That means no wires, no treadmills, no walls, and no motion sickness — just you, your friends, and a wide-open space.

This is especially reassuring in the current moment when we’re all looking for new experiences to enjoy safely with the people in our bubble. Sessions are restricted to groups of eight, and it’s completely private to your party. Staff are also sanitizing all equipment between sessions, and all team members wear PPE during your visit to ensure you’re kept safe.

While the space itself is 1,500 sq ft, when you’re in the games, it feels endless. Strategic maps take you through winding corridors, down elevator shafts, through waypoints, and even up anti-gravity walls, making the facility feel immense. At no point did the experience feel claustrophobic, and our group was never nervous about walking into walls.

The highlight of the experience came near the end of the game (which lasted about 30 minutes in total) when we found ourselves in a boss battle against an enormous, angry robot. Completely assaulted by spinning robots, hover machines, and an array of beams and lasers, we were in full-game mode.

Dodging behind barriers, shouting orders at each other, and laughing as our avatars spun into the air when they were hit were all hallmarks of the intense fight. Unlimited lives helped, too, for those of us less experienced gamers, making it all fun and no stress.

When the battle was won, we emerged from our suits, tired and exhilarated. In a post-game recap, all of my friends expressed how the experience was unlike anything they’d expected. It truly is one of those things that you need to experience to believe.

For friends looking for a unique, safe, and private experience to bring them together, this should definitely go on your bucket list. It would also be a fantastic team-building experience for companies with young, professional staff.

Zero Latency is the fastest-growing network of VR entertainment venues in the world with more than 45 locations and counting. Right now, Daily Hive readers can get 15% off tickets using the exclusive code HIVE.

To get a glimpse of what the in-game experience is like and to plan your own virtual journey to another world, visit zerolatencyvr.com.

This content was created by Hive Labs in partnership with a sponsor
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