Last Friday, our team at GameTrader was invited to the media preview of the new Sandbox VR at Orchard Central for an out of this world VR experience. We screamed, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed ourself as we battle zombies and ghouls on a tattered pirate ship. It was truly a different kind of VR experience at a new level of realism.
By now most of you would have experienced Virtual Reality (VR) in some form or another. From the simple Google Cardboard that uses your mobile phone as a VR screen to the PlayStation VR, VR was proliferated rather quickly to the masses in recent years.
If you have a mobile phone, which you would most likely have, you can get easily buy a VR headset and jump into VR. Some of these headsets cost only SGD10. If you wish to have a better VR experience, you can also spend a few hundred dollars on higher-end VR sets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.
The current state of VR
Unfortunately, the much excitement surrounding VR has mostly been subsided in the last two years or so. It’s seems that VR is going down the same path as 3D television, in which the latter is declared a failure by the TV industry.
The major complain that I have with VR is the giddiness that I will usually get after being in VR for even just 5 minutes. Having tried the recent Farpoint VR game on the Sony PlayStation VR, I felt nauseating after less than 5 minutes of play. The main problem of that VR game was that the player uses the analog stick to move in a fairly big open space. My brain simply cannot reconcile with the fact that I’m moving in VR but stationary in the real word. What I see simply doesn’t match with what my body experience. This remains the main reason why I think VR gaming will not take off in the near future unless this issue is fixed.
Sandbox VR immersive VR
Sandbox VR opened their first store in Hong Kong in June 2017. The booking for the Hong Kong store is usually full. Customers have to make booking weeks in advance. Their success have attracted Alibaba to invest $3 million in the company. They also produced their own proprietary games such as Deadwood Mansion and Curse of Davy Jones.
What makes Sandbox VR different
Unlike other VR, Sandbox VR combined motion tracking together with latest VR hardware technology to bring about an wholistic full-dive VR experience. Other that the Oculus Rift VR headset, players would have to don on a backpack, motion tracking devices on their arms and leg as well as a tactical vest which provides mechanical feedback. If you get injured or shot, you will get vibration on the vest adding to the realism.
The combination of all hardwares together with the high fidelity graphic of the game, will literally teleport you into another world. In the virtual world, your avatar move as you move yourself physically within the room. You can also see your friends, albeit in their chosen avatar, in the same gameplay. Everything felt realistic from the sight, the sound and even the physical surrounding. I shall not spoil the game for you but the fans shown below are not to keep you cool.
Players can choose between the two games that are currently available. They are Deadwood Mansion and The Curse of Davy Jones.
The game is social unlike most VR game. Each room can accommodate 2-6 players together in the same game play. The games are design to be cooperative in nature. For example, if your party member is down, you would need to hold on to their shoulders to recover them, much like Left 4 Dead. At one point when all three of us were swamped by pirate zombies, we were literally cuddling up together at a corner of the room in true bromance fashion. Needless to say, there were lots of laughter and screaming at that point in the game.
The game that we tried, The Curse of Davy Jones, was quite unlike other VR games we have played before. It is fairly challenging. At the beginning, pirate zombies just rush to you in a haphazard manner. But towards the end, flying ghosts will dash in your direction like a homing missiles. That is when the game really get serious.
Unlike the typical escape room, we experienced a total of four different ‘room’ throughout our 30 minutes in the game. Besides the zombie horde that you have to shoot to kill throughout each level, there are also a total of three to four bosses to battle. Each has their own vulnerability that you have to figure out yourself. The game requires brawl and brain as well. To advance to next level there are also puzzles that you and your friends have to solve.
GameTrader.SG Tips for Players
Wear your contact lenses if you have.
No glasses are allowed to prevent scratches of the Oculus Rift lenses. Hence if you have your own contact lenses, do wear them. However if you don’t have, Sandbox VR does have some prescriptive lenses at various degree. They are available in limited quantity so you might not get the exact same degree as your spectacles.
Make full use of your body
Remember that this is not your typical VR game. Move your body around to avoid the enemy. Dodge the projectile like how you will in real life. Don’t be shy and move that body.
Use that torch
The team leader will be given a torch. That is actually a rather useful piece of equipment. While you are busy shooting the enemies, do not forget that your torch can help you and your team mate as well.
Teamwork is important
The zombies are going to come at all directions. Shout out to your team mate if the enemies are coming from your direction. Strategize beforehand. Assign team mates to cover certain angle so that there will be no crossfire and all angles are covered. See that zombie creeping up your friend? Shout to them or shoot them for him. When your teammate is low in health, be sure to rush to them and heal them.
Experiencing Sandbox VR
Sandbox VR is located at Orchard Central level 5 unit #5-31. Their official opening hours and pricing are as such (as of 31st March 2018) :
Official Store Launch: Friday, 30 March 2018 Pricing
● Monday – Friday from 11.30am – 6.00pm: $38/pax
● Monday – Thursday from 6.00pm – 10pm: $48/pax
● Friday from 6.00pm – 11:30pm: $48/pax
● Saturday – Sunday from 11.30am – 11pm: $48/pax
An entire session is about an hour with 15 minutes briefing and preparation of gears followed by 30 minutes of gameplay. Finally you will be debriefed and will get to see videos of your team in action which will last about another 15 minutes. At the end of the session, you will also get your gameplay video which they will upload to their Facebook page as well.
You can start booking at their home page with this link. Walk-in are also welcome.