VRCade opened its virtual reality arcade in Vodacom World, Midrand, in November 2016.
It was the first VR arcade in Johannesburg, with the company’s flagship arcade based at The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
The company kindly invited MyBroadband to come over and try out its equipment and latest VR games – an invite which any PC gamer would never decline.
VRCade houses two booths, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality headsets, and their respective motion controllers.
The booths feature high-end gaming PCs and mounted monitors, meaning your friends can see what you’re seeing when you play.
Each VR gaming PC is powered by a Zotac GeForce GTX 1070 AMP graphics card, Intel Core i7-6700K Processor, and 16GB DDR4 2,666MHz RAM.
Customers can book up to an hour-long session in a booth and use both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, depending on which games they want to play.
The VR booths feature adequate space for VR gaming, allowing players to move around freely in their virtual world.
The pricing for VRCade in Vodacom World is:
- 10 mins – R30
- 20 mins – R50
- 30 mins – R90
- 1 hour – R150
Trying not to fall
My experience with modern VR gaming has been limited to a couple driving games on the Oculus Rift using an Xbox One controller, so I was unsure what to expect from a dedicated immersive experience.
I decided to try out the HTC Vive, which allows you to move around the booth thanks to its Lighthouse tracking towers.
Adjusting the headset takes some time, but it is far more comfortable than it looks – even while wearing glasses.
First up was “the roller coaster”, which was a giant pendulum ride that swings a gondola around and frequently inverts its passengers.
Before starting the ride, the employee told me to “try not to fall”.
After initially laughing off the strange instruction, I understood what he meant when the ride began.
While my body was standing in the middle of an empty booth, my eyes were telling my brain I was hurtling around on a swinging pendulum hundreds of metres in the air.
This resulted in a desperate 10-minute struggle to stay upright, fighting the natural instinct to balance my centre of gravity with the virtual world spinning around me.
After managing to stay upright until the end of the ride, I gratefully accepted the opportunity to try out some more conventional gaming experiences.
There is a large range of games available at the arcade, from the zombie shoot-em-up HordeZ to the highly-acclaimed Hover Junkers.
I was impressed by the smooth performance of the hardware and the low latency response of both the headset and motion controllers.
There are a number of generic-but-fun stationary shooters, but it was the games that took advantage of the Vive’s room tracking that were the most exciting.
These games required you to move around in order to play and included a boxing game with a ring area the size of the booth’s floor space.
An archery title that sees you dodging and weaving to avoid projectiles while returning fire with arrows was also a lot of fun.
While VR gaming remains a fairly niche market, the technology definitely has its merits.
As most of us don’t have the capital, hardware requirements, and floor space to accommodate an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive rig at home, the VRCade is a quick and easy way to access a great VR gaming experience.