NiceOne Barcelona, a festival dedicated to the art of gaming, featured numerous VR exhibits this year during the four day event that recently took place in Spain. Adoption of virtual reality has been a bit slower in Europe than North America so it’s essential that companies feature various gaming options for the tech at events such as N1B.
VR gaming includes location-based entertainment, single player games, multiplayer games, competitive VR esports, experiences, and more. Each of these options was represented at the popular gaming festival that took place at the Fira venue at Gran Via in the south of Barcelona from November 28 through December 1. Fortunately I was able to attend the event and check out the various VR exhibits.
VR Master League
Members of Loyal Dogs and Phantoms, both competitive VR esports teams that participate in the VR Master League, flew from their home base in the Canary Islands to introduce virtual reality to event visitors.
Each team brought five players and over the course of the weekend, they put over 1,000 people in headsets, introducing them to VR, helping them learn the basics of the controls, gameplay, etc.
For this event, the teams featured Downpour Interactive’s Onward, a first-person shooter built from the ground up for virtual reality. Visitors to the exhibit picked up the game quickly, even if it was their first time in VR. This is the beauty of VR. Once that headset is on, if people are introduced to a well-made game, it’s easy for them to immediately become immersed in the environment and pick up on the nuances of shooting, strategy, teamwork, etc. because those things translate directly from real life or traditional gaming environments.
Juega RV is a location-based entertainment company that features traditional VR experiences such as single player games, as well as an escape room in VR and tournaments.
Throughout the month of November, Juega RV hosted seven elimination games in three locations: Barcelona, Terrassa, and Lloret de Mar. One hundred players participated in the elimination phase for high scores that would allow the top 32 finalists an opportunity to compete for prize money at NiceOne Barcelona.
The game Juega RV featured at NiceOne Barcelona was RevolVR 2, a first person shooter set in the Old West. Of course there are traditional cowboy-looking characters to choose from, including the sheriff and a ninja (maybe not so traditional), but when I played, three out of the four of us chose to play as Voodoo, a skeleton. The game is a lot of fun, especially if you just enjoy shooting things in VR, which I do.
For our readers who aren’t familiar with Spanish, “juega” means “play” and “RV” stands for “realidad de virtual” or “virtual reality.”
Neo VR Coliseum
In this location-based experience, you’re trapped in a subway type setting where it’s dark and scary. It was also damp and cold (although that part was completely in my imagination).
My teammate and I had to defend ourselves against hordes of zombies. We were doing relatively well against the increasingly larger onslaught of zombies, but when subway rats started running out from various directions and attacking our ankles, that was a bit disturbing and definitely increased the level of immersion as we tried to jump away from these evil critters and shoot them.
If our guns had been real, I would’ve obliterated my teammate’s ankles because I was determined to kill all those rats and shot without regard to the fact that they were attached to the bottom part of his legs. Neo VR Coliseum was a bit terrifying, but a lot of fun.
Although we’ve had articles about VR-Nerds’ Tower Tag and the numerous tournaments they’ve hosted, this was my first opportunity to play the location-based game.
Players were placed on teams of three, put into headsets, and then we appeared on our glowing virtual towers. The game is basically like a futuristic laser battle that takes place atop these virtual towers. You can move from one tower to another by shooting a glowing flame at the top of a tower to create a zipline that will allow you to transport there. It was very exciting to attempt to move closer to the enemy’s side of the game while attempting to shoot them and avoid being killed yourself.
Tower Tag is definitely conducive to a location-based environment where you can see your teammates and competitors. It was incredibly exciting.
This VR rhythm game from Odders Lab had me intrigued because I wondered if people who had slower reflexes or limited mobility would be able to play it. There are various levels of play so slow reflexes aren’t really an issue since the game can be played on a basic level where players are still reaping the benefits of movement as well as mental stimulation (when you try to quickly figure out which shape to make with your body). It would be nearly impossible to play in a wheelchair or seated, but if someone could stand for even limited periods, it could be incredibly useful for physical therapy since you can set your own pace and it encourages you to move all your limbs.
After the first round, I asked the booth attendant to increase the difficulty because I was on an incredibly easy mode. The second time around I was moving all over the place so that it probably looked like I was trying to do the YMCA dance on fast mode. I was literally sweating when I took off the headset, just from that one round. It was awesome. I’ll definitely be playing OhShape for exercise when I return home.
When I played this game, unfortunately it was set to expert mode. Like OhShape, Snyth Riders from Kluge Interactive is also a VR rhythm game, but specifically they call it a “dance-action rhythm game.” I cannot dance. In VR or out of VR. On expert or beginner mode.
Needless to say I did horribly, but it was still fun to listen to the music and watch the glowing balls come flying at me. My favorite part were the ones with flowing lines attached as I managed to follow those pretty well.
Although I wasn’t good at it, I did enjoy the game and it’s great that it was featured at NiceOne Barcelona. We’re building communities in VR and people love multiplayer experiences, but sometimes someone just wants to play alone. Whether they’re playing for exercise (just to keep their bodies moving), weight loss, stress relief, or whatever, games like Synth Riders, OhShape, and Beat Saber are perfect.
Iron Man VR
I had the privilege of trying Marvel’s Iron Man VR on PlayStation VR during F8 in Seattle. The experience was enjoyable, but I wasn’t used to the PlayStation VR move controllers so I went away thinking I could’ve performed better if I was ever able to play again.
At NiceOne Barcelona I had my opportunity! Once I actually made it through the controller settings (all in Spanish), then I was able to fly around just like Tony Stark, blasting targets and having a fantastic time.
Iron Man VR is set to be released on the PSVR on February 28 and I anticipate it’s going to be an incredibly popular title.
This VR arcade helped sponsor the VR Master League event by providing computers for the exhibit from Loyal Dogs and Phantoms VR esports teams. They also assisted with set up of the exhibit.
Located in Sabadell, Area Virtual is a VR arcade with a wide range of choices for VR entertainment, including traditional games, flight simulators, sim racing, a VR escape room experience, and more.
Visitors to the Area Virtual booth, which was located within the VR Master League exhibit area, were thrilled with the roller coaster simulator and the Formula 1 racecar that allowed you to race in VR as if you were really on a track. It was great fun.
Zombie Shooter Experience
One of the most popular exhibits at NiceOne Barcelona was the Zombie Shooter Experience, sponsored by Raw Organic Sport Drink.
For some reason I can’t recall at the moment, I thought this was a virtual experience. Imagine my surprise when I was ushered in and handed a gun rather than touch controllers. At first I was confused, but since we were dealing with the apocalypse, there wasn’t time to second-guess anyone. They shoved a gun in my hand and pushed me forward with my partner toward the entrance. I suspected we’d receive our headsets in the next minute or so, but noooo… Instead of receiving a VR headset, a zombie jumped out at me and as soon as I realized what was going on, I shot him.
For the next few minutes, real actors jumped from behind walls, came up under curtains, and stood up off hospital beds to attack us. It only lasted maybe five minutes, but by the time we reached the end, my heart rate was around 160 beats per minute. Perhaps it wouldn’t have scared me as much if I had known what to expect, but I guess my lesson for the future is make sure I know if something is in VR or not.
Red Helmet Experience
This is the only VR experience I wasn’t able to try while I was at NiceOne Barcelona, but I wanted to mention it here because they are doing VR esports tournaments. For people in the Barcelona area who are interested in location-based VR and opportunities for competitive esports, you might want to check out the Red Helmet Experience website or drop by their location in Barcelona.