There's been a virtual reality boom in DFW's entertainment offerings, with story-driven experiences that put players in some of their favorite film franchises or in real-world landscapes that would cost a fortune to actually visit.
However, there hasn't been a place to do what all gamers truly wish they could do in a virtual environment: frag friends, enemies and total strangers with a realistic-feeling weapon and not get brought up on charges.
Zero Latency VR, the newest virtual entertainment experience that opened last Friday in the Village on the Parkway just east of the Dallas North Tollway in Addison, fills the frag gap left by places like The Void and Dreamscape in which players shoot digital enemies or real ones in one of five virtual games.
"I've always wanted Zero Latency to live in Dallas," says owner Jason Wright. "I've looked at a lot of Zero Latency opportunities and from a cutting-edge standpoint, Dallas is first class. So I decided to make a move now because they don't stay open forever."
Zero Latency's virtual experience takes place in a 2,278-square-foot space where untethered players can explore environments or plan attacks. Players can follow a predetermined path and roam in an open world from game to game with heavy rifles called Raptors that they can actually hold, aim and fire with their own hands.
The virtual reality experience's games also bring a refreshing variety to virtual gaming for players who don't have the money or space to set up a costly Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
There are two horror-themed shooters, Outbreak Origins and Zombie Survival, in which players step into a post-apocalyptic world where the only thing standing between them and their survival is some heavy weaponry and careful aim. Outbreak Origins offers a story-driven experience that takes players along a preset path sprinkled with the lumbering undead to a final big-boss fight. Zombie Survival cuts out the story path and puts players in a dilapidated barricade that's under attack by an undead horde and challenges them to keep the barricade strong enough to hold back the horde until help can arrive.
Singularity and Sol Raiders offer virtual, sci-fi experiences. Singularity puts players on an abandoned space station overrun by deadly robots that they can dismantle with a variety of space-age weapons and fend off attacks with arm-mounted shields. Sol Raiders is a cooperative and competitive shooter that pits teams against each other in a sportier challenge to score points by securing different goals as they put down their opponents, to keep them from scoring or protecting their offensive line. Sol Raiders require the right amount of strategy and skill for an esports competition, and Wright says Zero Latency is organizing a league around the game.
The virtual puzzler Engineerium offers an even more unique VR experience. The game takes place in an alien universe where gravity is not a constant force and players will have to use their dexterity and their wits to complete complex puzzles as a team.
The experience uses high-end Hewlett-Packard VR headsets that read sensors on each players' body and weapon to determine where they are standing and moving in an open space. Each player can see weapons and fellow players in an augmented reality so skills like aim and steadiness count more toward a player's score than just finger dexterity, unlike most shooters.
The environments can also really play with your head. Even though the physical isn't altered, the visor can put you on the ledge of a 60-story building that you have to walk across to get to the next checkpoint, and if you're not so fond of heights, you may feel yourself hesitate even as you tell yourself that it's not real. You'll have to walk up ramps across the flat landscape and find yourself stepping over gaps that aren't really there. You'll hide behind barriers as cover from enemy fire and to surprise your enemies with fire of your own.
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"It really felt like I was going up the scaffolding," says Graham Griffin of Dallas, who took their first test run of Zero Latency VR on Outbreak Origins and Sol Raiders. "I didn't expect to climb up and actually feel I was on those things even though they are not there and it's just flat ground."
Strolling and shooting in a virtual space that requires the use of your own legs and hands can be an exhilarating experience for gamers and non-gamers.
"I was overwhelmed," says Griffin's girlfriend, Molly. "It was awesome. I've never done anything like it. I'm not a game player, but I want to practice so I can come back and get better at it."