Zero Latency Auckland – located on Cook Street in Auckland CBD – offers a free-roam virtual reality (VR) experience in a 200m² area.
With a maximum capacity of 8 players, you book a timeslot, select a game package, don the VR headset, equip your gun, and you’re away. It’s an easy way to get into the world of virtual reality.
The best part about it is the 200m² warehouse. While the tech in use is somewhat similar to the consumer tech, you can get for your home, being able to move around freely without fear of walking into anything sets Zero Latency apart.
Currently, the games on offer are limited, they can get repetitive quickly, and replayability can be an issue. But overall, it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Utilising custom-built HTC Vive VR headsets, Razer headphones and 3D-printed laser strike-esque guns, Zero Latency offers a VR experience that’s not quite the same as what you can set up at home.
Although the main components – the HTC Vive headset and the Razer headphones – are similar to what can be purchased at your local tech store, the custom guns and the 200m² area give it a different feeling.
Inside the warehouse, there are four transmitters that each connect to two headsets, and each headset has a dedicated PC.
While playing, I had no issues with latency or lag. The headset never lost my position or didn’t sync correctly.
Being able to move around freely without desync also helped reduce motion sickness. On some VR systems, I can only last a few minutes before I feel queasy. I played two 40-minute games here and didn’t feel ill once.
The guns feel similar to what you would use at laser tag or mega zone. They’re bulky but light enough that I can’t see anyone having an issue holding it for a 30 – 40-minute game. There are four inputs on the gun, one on each side to change weapons, one underneath for manual reloads and the trigger. The gun is attached to you via a sling and can easily be readjusted depending on your dominant hand. It works well. There was no delay in commands, and each button could be reached comfortably.
It’s easy to get a comfortable fit with the VR headset. It can be adjusted to your preference, and although it can get sweaty, I didn’t notice any discomfort due to the clamp force. The headset can be focally adjusted to match your eyes, however, you won’t be able to wear glasses with it.
During the game, you can talk to your teammates via microphones in the Razer headset. This was a bit hit-and-miss. Often, I couldn’t hear my teammates, and there were a couple of occasions when the audio would cut out. You can alert the staff to the issue, and they can turn up the volume. However, that will raise the volume of the game as well.
The ground and walls of the warehouse are marked with blue and white shapes, which allow the technology to register the boundaries of the play area. It also stops people from walking into each other, and it works flawlessly.
When near a boundary, a circle would pop up in the middle of my headset showing me my location in relation to the obstacle. I would take one step away and the image would go away. Similarly, if I walked too close to my teammate, an alarm would ring in the headset, a red circle would appear, and again I would take one step, and it would go away. We played some relatively intense games in which we were moving, spinning, ducking and dodging and not once did we walk into anything or anyone.
Zero Latency offers seven different games. Some are thirty minutes long, others are fifteen minutes long, but you play them twice.
We played two games, Outbreak Origins and Farcry VR Dive Into Insanity. Both of these are wave-based games in which you move through the levels fighting off waves of enemies.
Outbreak Origins is a zombie-style game that didn’t offer much. Zombies felt spongey – you would have to shoot them loads of times for them to die – the environments were bland, and I didn’t feel myself getting lost in the game.
Far Cry VR Dive Into Insanity was much better but still relatively barebones. Made by Ubisoft for Zero Latency, in typical Far Cry fashion, you’re shooting an AK-47 and a crossbow at waves of enemies as you traverse a tropical landscape.
The physics are much better here. You can take cover behind objects, there are more opportunities for movement, and we found ourselves more immersed in this game. However, it is just endless shooting. We fought off several waves of enemies in the same areas, which got repetitive quickly.
I would’ve liked more cooperation and interactivity in both games. Although you can stand next to each other and provide cover, there aren’t any instances where you need to cooperate. Similarly, you’re just non-stop shooting. There isn’t a time when you have to figure out a puzzle or perform separate tasks to progress. You are limited to a booking slot so it’s understandable why the game pushes you along, but there wasn’t much more to these games other than point-and-shoot.
After your game, you can see your score and how well you did compared to your friends. You can see where you stack on the leaderboards and how well your team did as a whole. It’s a nice touch and provides a reason to play well.
The games offer no replayability though. If I were to play both games again the next day, I would have the same experience. We were told that new games would be coming to Zero Latency which would provide a reason to go back. However, they will need to be at the quality of Far Cry at least, to make it worthwhile.
Zero Latency Auckland is a VR experience rather than a gaming experience. The virtual reality systems work seamlessly, and it’s fun stepping into a game and interacting with the world with your entire body instead of a controller.
But the initial wow factor that virtual reality provides soon wears off, and you’ll focus more on the game you’re playing. And the ones we played felt lacking.
As a gamer, there wasn’t much that made either Outbreak Origins or Far Cry VR Dive Into Insanity stand out. While it was a unique experience playing with my friend in the same VR world, the games were repetitive without any standout moments.
Zero Latency is a great way to experience VR. The wireless systems and the 200m² make it safe, and you can get into the game knowing you won’t walk into anything, but I wanted more out of the games.
With more games set to be released, hopefully, that will change. Currently, it’s a fun way to spend 30 or 40 minutes but I was hoping for a bit more out of the games.