Zero Latency Review – Zombie Outbreak

A friend is down in Melbourne and wanted to try out Zero Latency. It’s a VR game in a warehouse, and the mode we played, Zombie Outbreak, involved trying to get to a dropship to escape from roaming zombies.

Everyone wears a backpack, and you also get a gun, which is quite large and heavy. The warehouse itself isn’t that big, but while playing the game, it didn’t feel too constrained. I had to wear contacts while playing, and it’s probably good that I did, as I pretty much had the lens right up against my eye while calibrating. Since the space is so small, you’re not allowed to run or jump. The game also starts beeping when you get too close to another player, which was a bit annoying in certain parts of the game. If you’re standing at the back, you can’t move forward until the other players move out of your way, but they’re busy shooting zombies, so they aren’t moving either. We co-ordinated a bit more in the later levels, so it wasn’t as much of an issue.

The game is set up so that you end up walking back and forth along the warehouse. Each “level” is set up so that you are walking towards some waypoints. Once the team reaches a waypoint, the game will go blank briefly while the next level loads. The loading times weren’t that long, and most of the time, it allowed for some brief comic relief and discussion about what we’d just done.

Interestingly, in some parts of the game, the group splits up, and so even though you’re all still in the same space, it really does feel like you’re in different area to the other group. There’s also a section where two players can move up to higher ground and snipe zombies from there, and even though they were still on the same floor as you, I think my mind tricked itself into thinking their voices were coming from up higher.

The game itself wasn’t too difficult. Your gun has two modes: assault rifle and shotgun. In assault rifle mode, you get a grenade every 30 seconds. So even if you’re not great at aiming, you can still do some damage with the shotgun and grenades. I didn’t really use the shotgun mode very much, but I also ended up standing at the back most of the time. MrFodder said he preferred the shotgun, but he was also one of the frontrunners.

He also screamed the most. It is actually really jarring to turn around and see a zombie in your face. You can’t feel them clawing you, but I definitely felt panicked. I’m proud to say that I didn’t wet my pants once during the entire event. It’s really not that scary, not like Left 4 Dead-style zombies jumping out at you scary. Most of the levels are well-lit, and you can see them coming towards you.

During the game, I felt completely immersed. In fact, one of the players tried leaning against a rail in order to steady his arm while firing at zombies and ended up falling over because the rail wasn’t actually there! If you start getting too close to a wall, the game will start flashing, and a HUD appears showing your position in relation to the wall. If you get to the point where you’re going to collide, the game pauses for everyone until you move away again. We only had a few moments of pausing (one caused by me, oops!), and I don’t think any of us crashed into a wall or anyone else, or ended up swinging our gun into someone else’s body.

The guns don’t have recoil, but they are still decently heavy. My arms were starting to get tired by the time we made it to the end of the game, but that might have been because I was an idiot and was holding my gun up for most of the game, instead of letting my arms rest while the next level was loading. Since there’s no running allowed, cardio fitness isn’t that important, but I think you should be comfortable crouching while holding a gun, as there are sections of the game where you need to use cover in order to avoid getting hit. For that reason, I’m glad I didn’t wear jeans. Be prepared to sweat, as the packs are heavy! They clean the packs between games, so they don’t have that icky sweaty feeling like you can get at some laser tag places, but I guess the venue is also fairly new (seems like they opened mid-2015), so that might be another reason.

I didn’t feel sick once during the game, and I felt sick playing games like Half-Life and The Stanley Parable. I felt like the focus on the lens wasn’t the best, I could definitely see, especially the things that were close, but it did make shooting at the raiders a little tough at some points, as I was squinting at something in the distance, and it was only after shooting it and seeing blood spurt out that I realised I had hit something. But 95% of the time, I didn’t really have any issues.

Oh, I should have put this in the feedback form, but I forgot. I guess it would have been nice to have different classes. I don’t think a medic is really necessary, as dying isn’t that bad. If you die, your avatar drops to the ground, and you turn into a white ghost (Intern Daniel is right, I really am a gweilo) for 10 seconds, during which you can’t shoot, but you can still move. You lose 1000 points form your score for every death, but other than that, it’s not a big deal.

I just thought it’d be nice to have different classes to suit the different playstyles. I feel like Sphericus and I preferred to stand back and shoot. Both Rekisu and Rich said they liked going in front – Rich ended up picking up the flamethrower. 0/ and \0 seemed to like running around and dying… Nah, I think they were the ones who did most of the objectives.

I really enjoyed the experience. At $88 per person, for ~45 minutes, it does feel a bit pricey, but it was great fun. We were a group of 6, but we were told that you can just book yourself in for a session and let other randoms book as well, so it’s something you can still do if you don’t have 5 other friends who want to play. I think it’d be more enjoyable with people you know, as there was a lot of silly banter coming through the headset.

They have other modes available, including a survival style mode, which includes building up a barricade to survive against a horde, and another one set in space. As they’re both shorter, they are bundled together in a single session.

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