Recently we were invited to preview the new game from the full immersive VR group, Zero Latency at their Brisbane and Melbourne sites. For those not familiar Zero Latency is a gaming venue who offers full room multiplayer VR gaming for groups of up to 4 players. We previously had spoken to some of the brains behind the custom VR in a Creator Spotlight just prior to the opening of the Brisbane location.
The new title Sol Raiders is Zero Latency’s first PVP type game with previous Zombie/Space-based titles focusing on coop of up to 4 players. The new title expands this with up to 8 players in total (4 per team) able to play at once.
Players are divided into the Orange and Blue teams (you get to pick at the beginning of the game by walking and standing on the right colour with your team). A game consistents of best out of 3 rounds played on 3 different maps with your team score made up of objective and kill counts. Objectives can be “pushing” a slow-moving orb across the map or collection of data points, and kill counts are for taking out the enemy team with your weapon.
Much like other Zero Latency games, each player is fitted with a VR headset (it has focus adjustment built in so don’t worry if you wear glasses) and backpack (it’s all wireless) weighing about 4 KG with the weapon being a further 1.7 KG. Play is made possible using light tracking on your head and weapon within the darkened play area which is roughly 4.5m x 18.2m. During play, you are in contact with your team through your headset and the game director who manages your game and can take action if there are any issues such as pausing the game to reset or switch a player backpack if there is a technical issue.
Your primary weapon is a rifle like physical accessory that you pick up prior to the game starting. It has light tracking on it independent to your body and has two fire modes, rapid fire and a pump action power-up/shotgun shot. Ammo is unlimited however your weapon will overheat with too many shots too quickly in succession (bursts of 3 are ok but not enough to take out an enemy player).
The game maps progress with slight variation between them as you get more used to the game mechanics. The first match is a fairly open small maze (small enough for you to cross into the enemy side) with a central area that you can take cover and fire at other players as you push the orb across the map. The second, a darkened maze with shoot to open doors (that can kill you if you stay in the doorway when they close) where you collect data points and have a flashlight on your blaster to make you feel like a Colonial Marine. And the final round is a much more open combination of the previous mechanics with sniper nests and elevators above.
In each map, your respawn count is unlimited with no cooldown timer on respawning. However, to respawn you must walk back to the respawn point for your team and stand on the respawn platform to re-enter the match. This is not nearly as time-consuming as it sounds as when you die you drop out of the map and can walk in a straight line directly back to the spawn point and not through the map maze. Although you still have to avoid walking into members of your own team which is made easy thanks to a proximity alert that will appear if another player is too close.
The end result is a very rapid game-play with a full match of 3 rounds including time spent at Clubhouse/Shooting range prior to starting taking 15 minutes total. The end result is short matches with very rapid play like Rocket League, but with VR and shooting… so nothing like Rocket League.
At the completion of each round, a winning team is declared along with the scoreboard but you are able to view this during gameplay thanks to the secondary button on your weapon to pop open a hud. At the end of the match, you will be able to see the full scoreboard in the Zero Latency lobby after you leave the VR area but scores are also sent to the email address you registered with before gameplay.
In our play session, we were fortunate to play 2 games (6 rounds total) back to back. While there is a clear advantage for anyone who has previously played any games at Zero Latency it is fairly intuitive and easy to pick up. Sol Raiders will be available for play on sessions from February 9th at all 25 Zero Latency locations globally but what you play will be up to you with a 45 minute booked session allowing you to play 1x round of Sol Raiders and 1x of one of the other 30 minute games, or potentially even just 3x rounds of Sol Raiders back to back.
So should you play it? Yes. Aside from Zero Latency having some of the best VR gaming tech in Australia, far more advanced than the PSVR or HTC Vive you can pick up for home, this is definitely the best VR PvP you can play right now. The rapid short gameplay in close confined quarters make this hella fun and we could see players wanting to spend their entire session just playing this back to back.
To get the most out of this you definitely want to have full teams but if you do play a lot you might need to keep track of your own performance across games using the post-game scorecard you are emailed. But overall we look forward to more smaller enhancements to the game and could easily see this take off as an eSport of its own.
Sol Raiders is available to play at Zero Latency in Brisbane and Melbourne (and locations Globally) exclusively from February 9th