During a summer trip to the United States, Amy got to experience whole-body, fully immersive Virtual Reality with Disney’s latest attraction. Actually, it’s known as ‘Hyper Reality’.
Essentially, the experience brings the Star Wars universe to life through The VOID, a multi-sensory, untethered story that allows users to see, feel and hear everything at first hand.
People could be standing on solid ground, then the next minute they’re stepping deep into darkness, looking at incredible beauty – or fending off dangerous predators.
This is what Amy had to say:
Had you heard of VOID before you went to America?
We had heard of the VOID before we went over to the United States. My dad had seen it online and forwarded it to me. So obviously I Googled it for ages! All the reviews looked amazing and I decided I wanted to give it a go, as it only has about five locations for the Star Wars story – and one just happened to be in Orlando! I think I booked it about three months in advance, as I was making sure I could definitely try it!
In terms of getting ready for VOID, what gear did you have to wear – goggles, VR suit, etc.
When we walked into the experience, the guys explained all the equipment. We had an Oculus headset that was kind of lined into a bigger helmet with headphones and a microphone. We were also given a vest that was buttoned up. It was a little heavy but not obstructive, so it helped to keep me grounded when the headset was on and you could only see the VR elements.
What is the experience like? Describe it.
It’s kind of indescribable but I’ll do my best! It’s an escape room (or rooms) but in a full VR experience. Everything you see is really well animated, but at the same time you can reach out and grab things, complete little puzzles and sit down, etc. The interactive components join with the virtual side and how it links up so well is something brand new to me and as a player it created something that I’d never seen before in a VR or gaming setting. What I enjoyed most was when we stepped into the setting and the first thing all three of us did was lift our own arms to see if we could see them – well we could – and we looked like Stormtroopers! How cool is that?
How does the experience compare to other VR experiences?
It’s totally on another level. The flow of the narrative, paired with how accurate the VR animations and spatial elements are, is something I’ve never experienced before. When you can move closer to a button and actually press it because it’s right there as a physical object, that’s really cool. When you can pick up your weapon and try to shoot Stormtroopers that are ducking and hiding behind objects, it makes it feel real. It’s also super interactive in the way that you have to work with the other people in your team to complete your goal. You can see them (as Stormtroopers) and where they are but sometimes you need to rely on them to do certain challenges, so the headsets have microphones and headphones built in. This means communication is super easy and less isolating than you’d think.
Is it an isolating experience and if so, does that make it more immersive?
Is it something non-fans of Star Wars would enjoy?
You could definitely appreciate it as a game. Obviously, it’s marketed towards Star Wars fans and if you know the story, the game is immensely more interesting. But as an experience you wouldn’t need to be a fan to really enjoy it. It’s something that not many people will have done and it’s so cool to see what other stories they could come up with in the future! In fact I think they have a Ghostbusters version at some locations
Do you think it will lead to bigger and better VR experiences in the future?
It’s definitely setting a precedent for interactive VR experiences. It’s the biggest space I’ve seen used for a VR experience but the way it goes together to complete a story is amazing. I think it’s going to be really interesting to see what other people can do to compete with The VOID, but there’s overwhelming space to grow the experience. And after trying it once, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to try different stories or features.
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