An immersive experience, Zero Latency is the place to go in Vancouver for team-based virtual reality games and to test how you fare with this new technology.
Staff at Vancouver’s Best Places played a round of the Far Cry game and had so much fun! We can’t wait to do it again (and we aren’t being paid to say that)!
To learn about Zero Latency and its games, continue reading. To see a video showing what a game looks like at the Vancouver venue, click Far Cry Game Video.
Vancouver’s Zero Latency VR Games
Zero Latency is a company that specializes in virtual reality experiences. Originally founded in Australia, there are now over 50 Zero Latency venues in over 20 different countries. There are 4 locations in Canada and the Vancouver venue is the only one in BC. It’s located in Kingsgate Mall at 370 East Broadway.
Zero Latency focuses on free-roam games which means participants are able to move around the large empty room as they wish. There are various safety features to prevent any injury, but overall there is a fairly high degree of freedom of movement. With these games you don’t just stand still or sit in a chair. It feels unbelievably real!
Nearly all of the Zero Latency games are team-based with the players working together. Between 2 and 8 people can participate in each session and the VR environment is a full 360-degree experience. Players wear a headset with a mic and headphones that allow teammates to talk to one another.
There is no set age requirement to play. However, the company recommends that the minimum age for players should be around 8 or 9 years old. Really, what matters most is the size of the child and their ability to carry the necessary equipment (which can be heavy for smaller folk). Most of the games are aimed at a more adult audience, but there are a couple family-friendly scenarios as well.
The 2021 “Re-opening”
Zero Latency’s initial Vancouver launch did not go according to plan. They had the unfortunate timing of originally opening in February of 2020, so just a few weeks before COVID shut pretty much the entire world down. Once the pandemic fully hit BC they had to shutter their doors temporarily. Beginning last summer, however, they gradually reopened with small, private sessions.
As of July of 2021, Zero Latency has been able to expand its operations to full capacity bookings once again. Coinciding with this is the recent release of their biggest title to date, Far Cry VR. These two factors have caused the company to describe this summer as a “grand re-opening” for them.
The full, public bookings means that if you go with a smaller group you might end up with some other people in your session. So, be prepared for that if you go! It doesn’t make a big difference if you play with friends or total strangers though. Even if eight friends play together, participants are divided into two groups. You play on the same team, but only see “avatars” of all players at the same time every so often.
The Available Games
Below is a list of the different games on offer as of July 2021.
- Far Cry – the newest release, set in the world of Far Cry 3. Players must shoot their way out of being held captive by pirates on a remote island. There’s a strong narrative plot throughout. We’ve played this game and it was a blast! It’s violent, and there’s swearing, but wow is it ever fun!
- Outbreak Origins – the most popular game (at least before the arrival of Far Cry). Another story-based one, you must fight off zombies and find a cure for the deadly virus that’s created them.
- Sol Raiders – the one game where the participants shoot at each other. This is player vs player combat, and you’re not allowed to play this if it’s your first time at Zero Latency (because you need to be familiar with the setup and how the games work).
- Singularity – similar to Outbreak Origins but set in space. Players navigate a space station and have to take down ruthless robots who have taken over the command.
- Engineerium – the one fully non-violent game, this one is all about puzzles. Players must work together to get past different obstacles that lie in their path. Great for all ages.
- Mission Maybee – a family-friendly adventure, players must defeat the evil Dr. Maybee whose nefarious plans include the destruction of the natural world. The gun in this game fires bubbles instead of bullets.
- Zombie Survival – this game has less of a narrative focus than others. Hunkered down in a slowly crumbling fort during an apocalypse, your team has to hold off waves of zombies for as long as you can.
- Undead Arena – similar to Zombie Survival except that you’re a character in a Hunger Games-style game show. The aim is the same though – to survive and take down as many zombies as you can.
The Logistics of the Games
The game-room at Zero Latency is around 1,500 square feet in size. This gives plenty of space for everyone to move around in without worrying so much about bumping into each other.
Players are suited up with a decent amount of equipment in order to play. There is a vest that straps around your chest and waist that tracks your movement. On top of that there is the all-important headset which makes it so you can’t see anything outside of what is shown through the game goggles. There is also a pair of headphones with an attached mic so you can hear game sounds while interacting with the other players.
The final piece of equipment is your weapon. With a focus on action, nearly all the games involve shooting in some way. The kid-friendly Mission Maybee might not have a “gun” per se, but it does have a weapon that fires bubbles.
The mechanics of the gun are pretty simple, with only a few things to worry about. There’s the trigger, a pump to reload and a button on the side above of the trigger to switch between different types of weapons. If you start to feel a little tired it’s pretty easy to loop the weapon onto your arm rather than hold it. Just make sure that you don’t drop it!
How Much Does it Cost?
Expect to pay around $45 per person for the experience (as of July 2021). The longer experiences are about 30 minutes of gameplay. Others are 15 minutes long but they come in a bundle with another game so you still play for around 30.
Player Safety and Postgame Additions
The other players in your party show up in your game with their characters’ avatars. To help avoid any collisions a warning icon shows up in the centre of your screen when you get close to someone. As walking into a wall is also a possibility, there are bigger warnings when you’re close to one.
Overall, the experience is quite safe. No one is allowed to run or jump while playing. So as long as you abide by the rules there’s little chance of injury. That’s not to say that your blood won’t be pumping, as the experience can be quite immersive! Zero Latency knows this, and so reminds players that at any point they can take off their goggles to ground themselves in the real world again. Staff can pause the game if necessary too.
While players are in a team in most of the games, there are also individual score tallies. After the experience, players are shown their stats from the game which are e-mailed to them as well. On top of that, Zero Latency also e-mails all players a Twitch link that contains the game footage from their team’s run.
The game footage doesn’t include all the game sounds, so it’s just the overall narration and player audio. Those who want to keep the video can do so as instructions on how to download it are included in the e-mail.
Zero Latency Far Cry Video
To give you an idea of what to expect at Zero Latency, check out the following video. It shows scenes of the game Far Cry as seen by the players, as well as what the players look like as they make their way around the game room.
As you’ll see in the video, as a player, it feels like you are inside a really cool computer game. The graphics are pretty amazing, and the views depend on where you are standing. As you move around, what you can see, and your perspective, changes. It’s such a fun game and you get to shoot lots of pirates!
Tips and Advice
Below is some extra information to help you make the most out of your virtual reality game experience.
TIP #1: You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy the games at Zero Latency. You don’t have to like war games either. Some of the games are violent, so not for everyone. When we played though, even the person who hates war movies, guns and violence absolutely loved killing all the pirates!
TIP #2: Unlike paintball games, the VR games at Zero Latency don’t require a lot of physical strength or endurance. It also doesn’t hurt when you get hit!
TIP #3: In addition to playing with groups of friends, the VR Games are popular with families and co-workers. Businesses also find them good for teambuilding. You can even play on your own (by signing up for a game that has fewer than 8 players.
TIP #4: There is free parking at Kingsgate Mall. It’s good for up to 2 hours while at the mall, so more than enough time to play a game. There is also metered pay parking in the area as well as free on-street parking nearby (including by Dude Chilling Park).
TIP #5: Don’t forget that your game is being recorded. The staff can hear everything you say. You’ll also get e-mailed video footage of your game which you can then show your friends. The video is posted on Twitch. When you get the link to your game you can see recordings of other people’s games too. As a result, don’t say anything you don’t want your mother or total strangers to hear!
TIP #6: If you get a chance to play a game at Zero Latency, you should try it. We were so impressed and had such a fun time! The technology behind the game is amazing!
For more information visit the Zero Latency website.
Other activities that you might like include the following:
- Vancouver Mysteries – an outdoor adventure game company where you can solve a crime, be a secret again or battler super villains in the streets of downtown Vancouver.
- Forbidden Vancouver – a walking tour company with tours around Gastown, the West End and Stanley Park.
- FlyOver Canada – a theatre that shows multidimensional films at Canada Place.
- WildPlay – an adventure park with ropes courses and ziplines in Maple Ridge.
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