I spent some time in Vegas at the Venetian last month and got an ad for Sandbox VR on Facebook. I thought it was pretty cool so I checked the site to see where it was located. After seeing it was in Las Vegas AND inside of the Venetian where I was staying, it was a no brainer. I had to try this commercial VR experience and my aunt was just as curious to try it with me.
I know what you’re thinking…the whole Facebook algorithm worked perfectly. Not only did it know where I was staying, but it somehow knew I was a gamer. I was actually happy that it worked in my advantage. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to do? So I made a reservation and we headed to the shopping area to find Sandbox VR.
After meandering around the shopping maze, we finally found it tucked amongst all the other little shops and walked in and signed our lives away. Shortly after we were seated in a staging area with a bunch of sensors. There were two sensors for our wrists and two for our ankles. After we were cuffed, we each got to select a weapon to use on a tablet and then walked into the VR room. At this point we still had more gear to equip. We put on our helmets, haptic feedback vests, tested our microphones and were then handed our physical weapon. After some brief instruction, we were dropped into a virtual loading room with a grid floor. It was very much like the first time you put on the Oculus. This experience was so much different though. I could for the very first time, see my hands and my feet in a VR game, and I wasn’t dizzy or worried about losing balance. I was really in that VR world. To top it off, I could see my aunt right next to me. The game hadn’t even started yet and I was totally having a blast!
Sandbox VR has 8 different experiences ranging from Sci-fi all the way to zombie horror. I really wanted to see what it was like to survive a zombie apocalypse, so I chose Deadwood Valley. In this game, you are a special forces team tasked with protecting a scientist and his daughter against an overwhelming attack of zombies. When the game first loaded I was awestruck. I looked all around and it truly felt like I was there. It was absolutely amazing and already better than any home based VR experience I’ve had.
Once the action started I realized quickly that I could probably not survive this situation if it were real. Zombies started pouring in very quickly. They were relentless and sometimes hard to kill. We also had to manually point our weapons to the ground to reload them, which made things even more difficult. What was cool about the haptic vest is that if you got hit by a zombie, you’d actually feel it. If you get hit too much, you go down and need your partner to put their hand on your shoulder to resurrect you. There were regular zombies, zombie dogs, zombie birds and even big boss zombie bears! Not only that, but you weren’t isolated to one location. There was a whole section where you make an escape in an armored truck and must shoot the zombies out the back and sides of the vehicle while it’s moving. The entire experience lasted about 90 minutes and the game itself basically has 3 acts. It was well worth the $65.
When all was said and done, I was tired and sweaty but had the biggest grin on my face. My aunt, who bought me my first gaming console in the 70’s, was just as thrilled as I was about the experience. If Sandbox VR was a local venue, I’d probably go once or twice a month. It’s that good! They have locations all over the US and a few locations in Europe and Asia. You can get trailers for all the experiences at their website, Sandbox VR | Immersive Virtual Reality Experiences